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Comment author: D_Malik 28 March 2015 08:39:07PM *  0 points [-]

I'm planning to get a BS and then an MS in computer science. To get the BS I have to take a certain number of course units, much more than is actually needed to fulfill the BS's requirements, and I'm not entirely sure what to fill those extra units with.

Which of these is more impressive?

  • A 2nd major in economics.
  • A 2nd major in management engineering.
  • 2 minors in any 2 of:
    • statistics
    • economics
    • management engineering
    • mathematics
Comment author: Larks 28 March 2015 11:45:23PM 2 points [-]
  • Major in Economics
  • Minor in Maths/Stats
  • Minor in Econ
  • Major in Management Engineering
  • Minor in Management Engineering

I don't know exactly what management engineering is but it sounds like a made up subject.

Comment author: Larks 18 March 2015 01:54:32AM 3 points [-]

Suppose I wanted to predict the likelihood of and degree of delays and cost over-runs associated with a nuclear plant currently under construction. How would people recommend I do so?

Comment author: Nornagest 03 April 2014 02:09:28AM *  10 points [-]

A few disorganized thoughts:

  • It's often easy to find water and hard to find safe water, so a water purifier might be a useful supplement or substitute. In the States, you can get one for about $30 at REI or other outdoor stores. Purification tablets also exist but I don't know how well they work.

  • I'm not a big fan of commercial first-aid kits; they seem heavy on stuff that'll make you slightly more comfortable in situations where you don't really need first aid, and light on stuff that'll actually help prevent or manage serious illness or injury. Probably better to skip these and go with a more targeted approach, unless you expect to be dealing with people that insist on treatment for minor trauma.

  • I am a big fan of gel bandages for blisters; they won't save your life but they will save your mobility, especially if you're not used to walking long distances or are stuck in the wrong shoes. I try to keep them anywhere I might find myself doing a lot of unexpected walking from, like my car, and they're an essential piece of backpacking kit.

  • A multitool (Leatherman or competitor) is almost never the right thing to be using, but it's very often good enough if you don't mind a little extra labor. I keep one in my car's glovebox.

  • Information about how to use things can be as important as things. A book on field medicine would probably be a good thing to keep around. One on survival skills would probably take up more room in your luggage than it's really worth, if you're planning to go somewhere you might need it; but loading one onto an e-reader app on your phone doesn't have that problem. It does have the compensating problem of battery life.

Comment author: Larks 18 March 2015 01:29:19AM 0 points [-]

I'm not a big fan of commercial first-aid kits; they seem heavy on stuff that'll make you slightly more comfortable in situations where you don't really need first aid, and light on stuff that'll actually help prevent or manage serious illness or injury. Probably better to skip these and go with a more targeted approach ...

Could you provide some concrete suggestions?

Comment author: Larks 12 March 2015 12:46:37AM 2 points [-]

Could you post the actual article? I think far fewer people will read it if they have to suffer the trivial inconvenience of clicking the link.

Comment author: James_Miller 23 February 2015 06:29:52PM 3 points [-]

We have told him that other people will think less of him if he swears, that some words are attacks on groups and hearing these words will cause emotional discomfort to members of these groups, and that his swearing causes his mom some discomfort. I have told him that while I am not inherently bothered by him swearing, I don't want him to do it around me because it will make it more likely that he will swear at school, but he claims that his swearing at home doesn't increase the likelihood of him swearing at school.

Comment author: Larks 24 February 2015 02:07:26AM 0 points [-]

but he claims that his swearing at home doesn't increase the likelihood of him swearing at school

Tough! Many adults fail to understand that they're not perfect rational agents, so instead that their habits really matter. I guess on the bright side this could be a good opportunity to teach him that he should not encultivate habits that raise the psychic cost of virtuous behaviour, even if those habits are themselves not inherently vices.

Comment author: Larks 24 February 2015 01:53:08AM 2 points [-]

they are not Buffet type investors either, they keep owning the same shares

Buffet famously doesn't sell shares - this is one feature that makes him very unusual among investors.

Comment author: James_Miller 23 February 2015 05:52:00PM 7 points [-]

How do you get a high verbal IQ, boundary-testing, 10-year-old child not to swear? Saying "don't swear" causes him to gleefully list words asking if they count as swear words. Telling him a word counts as profanity causes him to ask why that specific word is bad. Saying a word doesn't count causes him to use it extra amounts if he perceives it is bad, and he will happily combine different "legal" words trying to come up with something offensive. All of this is made more difficult by the binding constraint that you absolutely must make sure he doesn't say certain words at school, so in terms of marginal deterrence you need the highest punishment for him saying these words.

Comment author: Larks 23 February 2015 06:17:19PM 1 point [-]

What is the reason you don't want him to swear? Maybe you could tell him that.

Comment author: ciphergoth 10 February 2015 01:32:20AM *  5 points [-]

I found this exercise surprising and useful. Supposing we accept the standard model that our utility is logarithmic in money. Let's suppose we're paid $100,000 a year, and somewhat arbitrarily use that as the baseline for our utility calculations. We go out for a meal with 10 people where each spends $20 on food. At the end of the meal, we can either all put in $20 or we can randomize it and have one person pay $200. All other things being equal, how much should we be prepared to pay to avoid randomization?

Take a guess at the rough order of magnitude. Then look at this short Python program until you're happy that it's calculating the amount that you were trying to estimate, and then run it to see how accurate your estimate was.

from math import exp, log
w = 100000
b = 20
k = 10
print w - b - exp(log(w-k*b)/k + log(w)*(1-1.0/k))

Incidentally I discovered this while working out the (trivial) formula for an approximation to this following conversations with Paul Christiano and Benja Fallenstein.

EDITED TO ADD: If you liked this, check out Expectorant by Bethany Soule of Beeminder fame.

Comment author: Larks 10 February 2015 01:50:17AM 0 points [-]

I got within 10% of the correct answer!

Yeah, people often run arguments like this without actually considering the magnitude.

Comment author: Larks 30 January 2015 01:06:00AM *  22 points [-]

Donated. Go CFAR!

Comment author: KatjaGrace 18 November 2014 02:02:24AM 1 point [-]

Note that self-preservation is really a sub-class of goal-content integrity, and is worthless without it.

Comment author: Larks 19 January 2015 04:00:04AM 0 points [-]

This is a total nit pick, but:

Suppose your AI's goal was "preserve myself". Ignoring any philosophical issues about denotation, here self-preservation is worthwhile even if the goal changed. If the AI, by changing itself into a paperclip maximizer, could maximize its chances of survival (say because of the threat of other Clippies) then it would do so. Because self-preservation is a instrumentally convergent goal, it would probably survive for quite a long time as a paperclipper - maybe much longer than as an enemy of Clippy.

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