Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

In response to Log-odds (or logits)
Comment author: Jach 19 November 2017 02:55:33PM 1 point [-]

Sorry for the necro -- the linked article is 404'd. I uploaded a backup here. I didn't find it on the author's site but did find a copy through Web Archive; still, maybe my link will save someone else the hassle.

Comment author: Jach 02 July 2014 07:12:01PM -2 points [-]

Your post prompted me to recall what I read in Military Nanotechnology: Potential Applications and Preventive Arms Control by J├╝rgen Altmann. It deals mostly with non-molecular nanotech we can expect to see in the next 5-20 years (or already, as it was published in 2006), but it does go over molecular nanotech and it's worth thinking about the commonly mentioned x-risk of a universal molecular assembler in addition to AGI for the elites to handle over the next 70 years.

I think as a small counter to the pessimistic outlook the parable gives, it's worth remembering that the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and especially the Chemical Weapons Convention have been fairly successful in their goals. The CWC lays out acceptable verification methods which aren't so demanding that if a country accepts them then they slide into complete subjugation of the inspectors... If it could be extended to cover nanotech weapons that'd be a good thing.

On the other hand, maybe they're not so much cause for optimism. The BTWC has a noticeable lack of verification measures, and Altmann cites that as mainly due to the US dragging its feet. The US can't even deal with managing smaller threats at home where it has complete jurisdiction, like 3D printed guns, so it's hard for me to see it in its current form dealing with a bigger threat of a nanotech arms race (let alone x-risks), especially if that requires playing nice with the international community.

Comment author: Peterdjones 28 November 2012 12:05:59PM *  10 points [-]

There are precedents and parallels in Causal Sets and Causal Dynamical Triangulation

CDT is particularly interesting for its ability to predict the correct macroscopic dimensionality of spacetime:

" At large scales, it re-creates the familiar 4-dimensional spacetime, but it shows spacetime to be 2-d near the Planck scale, and reveals a fractal structure on slices of constant time"

Comment author: Jach 29 November 2012 08:35:52AM 0 points [-]

I was going to reply with something similar. Kevin Knuth in particular has an interesting paper deriving special relativity from causal sets: http://arxiv.org/abs/1005.4172

Comment author: Jach 04 November 2012 12:03:10PM 25 points [-]

Took it, now give me karma.

In response to New IRC channels
Comment author: Jach 23 March 2012 11:57:41AM *  -2 points [-]

You are having an overreaction. (But I would also say the ops are being overzealous and inefficient with their goal of having less people suck at IRC, which seems like a fine goal.)

A person who does not want to suck at IRC should not want to participate in this behavior: http://pastebin.com/yBw1iX1C

(Times are Pacific, my client does not always log every channel event.)

Here's the follow-up log up until this moment, which includes various chatter and discussion on this "drama": http://pastebin.com/8Rz9PFv4

Edit: to the downvoter, I'll happily delete both these comments if you feel that context logs shouldn't be linked to so that anyone else on this site has a clue what this discussion is about.

Comment author: false_vacuum 25 October 2010 12:43:59PM 1 point [-]

Is this a standard term? I've only seen it in Alastair Reynolds's writing.

Comment author: Jach 27 October 2010 10:13:15AM 0 points [-]

It was my understanding that this is one of Kurzweil's eventual goals: reconstructing his father from DNA, memories of people who knew him, and just general human stuff.

Comment author: Morendil 09 June 2010 05:02:00PM *  6 points [-]

Please reply to this comment if you intend to participate, and are willing and able to free up a few hours per week or fortnight to work through the suggested reading or exercises.

Please indicate where you live, if you would be willing to have some discussion IRL. My intent is to facilitate an online discussion here on LW but face-to-face would be a nice complement, in locations where enough participants live.

(You need not check in again here if you have already done so in the previous discussion thread, but you can do so if you want to add details such as your location.)

Comment author: Jach 12 June 2010 09:25:27PM -1 points [-]

This has been on my reading queue for ages, might as well join in!

I live in Seattle (technically on the border of Bellevue and Redmond), which makes me #3 for this area. Meetups would be great, though I'm unavailable weekdays until after 7 or so.

Comment author: Jach 17 April 2010 03:15:25AM 7 points [-]


I've been lurking for a while, looks like. (My how time flies.) I'll throw my name in the pot of wanting more communication channels like IRC (looks like a room's setup, time to check it out!), especially less formal ones to ease transitioning to formal comments / top-level posts. The proportion of high-quality posts and comments around here seems awesomely high, but unfortunately makes it uncomfortable to just dive into. I also feel like I need to read all the sequences, in which admittedly I've made a pretty big hole so that there's not many posts left. (Currently going through quantum stuff, also picked up a copy of Feynman's QED.)

Comment author: komponisto 21 February 2010 09:13:44AM *  27 points [-]

This is going to sound silly, but...could someone explain frequentist statistics to me?

Here's my current understanding of how it works:

We've got some hypothesis H, whose truth or falsity we'd like to determine. So we go out and gather some evidence E. But now, instead of trying to quantify our degree of belief in H (given E) as a conditional probability estimate using Bayes' Theorem (which would require us to know P(H), P(E|H), and P(E|~H)), what we do is simply calculate P(E|~H) (techniques for doing this being of course the principal concern of statistics texts), and then place H into one of two bins depending on whether P(E|~H) is below some threshold number ("p-value") that somebody decided was "low": if P(E|~H) is below that number, we put H into the "accepted" bin (or, as they say, we reject the null hypothesis ~H); otherwise, we put H into the "not accepted" bin (that is, we fail to reject ~H).

Now, if that is a fair summary, then this big controversy between frequentists and Bayesians must mean that there is a sizable collection of people who think that the above procedure is a better way of obtaining knowledge than performing Bayesian updates. But for the life of me, I can't see how anyone could possibly think that. I mean, not only is the "p-value" threshold arbitrary, not only are we depriving ourselves of valuable information by "accepting" or "not accepting" a hypothesis rather than quantifying our certainty level, but...what about P(E|H)?? (Not to mention P(H).) To me, it seems blatantly obvious that an epistemology (and that's what it is) like the above is a recipe for disaster -- specifically in the form of accumulated errors over time.

I know that statisticians are intelligent people, so this has to be a strawman or something. Or at least, there must be some decent-sounding arguments that I haven't heard -- and surely there are some frequentist contrarians reading this who know what those arguments are. So, in the spirit of Alicorn's "Deontology for Cosequentialists" or ciphergoth's survey of the anti-cryonics position, I'd like to suggest a "Frequentism for Bayesians" post -- or perhaps just a "Frequentism for Dummies", if that's what I'm being here.

Comment author: Jach 22 February 2010 11:06:01AM 5 points [-]

I've always thought it would be nice to have a "Frequentist-to-Bayesian" guide. Sort of a "Here's some example problems, here's how you might go about it doing frequentist methods, here's how you might go about it using Bayesian techniques." My introduction to statistics began with an AP course in high school (and I used this HyperStat source to help out), and of course they teach hypothesis testing and barely give a nod to Bayes' Theorem.

Comment author: Roko 04 January 2010 01:51:02PM *  3 points [-]

Since some people have opined that maybe we're not alone in the universe, I'll write down the strongest argument in that I can think of in favor of this position. (To win, you must fight not only the creature you encounter; you must fight the most horrible thing that can be constructed from its corpse. )

The strongest reason that aliens might be invisible to us is that they are deliberately hiding. In fact I think that this is the only plausible reason.

Why would they be hiding? Well, they might be frightened that they're in a simulation, and that the simulators have some crude algorithms that search massive tracts of space (many, many hubble volumes in size) by simply looking for inhomogeneity on the galaxy or supercluster level. The advanced aliens don't want to get caught by the simulator.

This explanation would still work even if we're not in a simulation: the threat of it is enough. Even a small probability that we're in a simulation given the intelligence and data that an advanced alien civilization would have might be enough to offset the (perhaps small?) advantages of expansion, especially given recent work on bounded utility functions.

EDIT: This could be combined with the singularity hypothesis: perhaps all superintelligences, convergently decide not to expand.

Comment author: Jach 05 January 2010 09:24:27PM *  1 point [-]

While I'm not in any way an expert in simulation making, wouldn't it seem just a bit too convenient that, in all the monstrous computing power behind making the universe run, the Overlords couldn't devise a pretty clever and powerful algorithm that would have found us already? Maybe you can help me see why there would only be a crude algorithm that superintelligences should fear being caught by, and why they wouldn't have considered themselves caught already.

Apart from this, I'm in agreement with other commenters that a stronger argument is the vastness of space.

View more: Next