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Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 09 April 2010 08:42:57PM 1 point [-]

What I keep coming to here is, doesn't the entire point of this post come to the situations where the parameters in question, the bias of the coins, are not independent? And doesn't this contradict?

estimate 100 independent unknown parameters

Which leads me to read the later half of this post as, we can (in principle, perhaps not computably) estimate 1 complex parameter with 100 data sets better than 100 independent unknown parameters from individual data sets. This shouldn't be surprising. I certainly don't find it as such.

The first half just points out that in the independent case of this particular example, Bayesian and Frequentist perform equivalently for relatively similar assumptions. But cousin_it made a general claim about the Frequentist approach, so this isn't worth much weight on its own.

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 24 March 2010 08:15:46PM 13 points [-]

This post is a decent first approximation. But it is important to remember that even successful communication is almost always occurring on more than just one of these levels at once.

Personally I find it useful to think of communication as having spontaneous layers of information which may include things like asserting social context, acquiring knowledge, reinforcing beliefs, practicing skills, indicating and detecting levels of sexual interest, and even play. And by spontaneous layers, I mean that we each contribute to the scope of a conversation, and then those contributions become discerned as patterns (whether intended or not).

Then iterate this process a few times, with my attempting to perceive and affect your patterns and you attempting to perceive and affect mine. Add some habitual or built-in (it's extremely hard to tell the difference) models in the mind to start from and it seems simple (to me) how something as complex and variable as human communication can arise.

Comment author: [deleted] 19 March 2010 01:44:56PM *  4 points [-]

Survey question:

If someone asks you how to spell a certain word, does the word appear in your head as you're spelling it out for them, or does it seem to come out of your mouth automatically?

If it comes out automatically, would you describe yourself as being adept at language (always finding the right word to describe something, articulating your thoughts easily, etc.) or is it something you struggle with?

I tend to have trouble with words - it can take me a long time (minutes) to recall the proper word to describe something, and when speaking I frequently have to start a sentence 3 or 4 times to get it to come out right. (I also struggled for a while to replace the word 'automatic' in the above paragraphs with a more accurate description. I was unsuccessful.) Words also don't appear in my head when I'm spelling them aloud, which suggests to me that I might be missing some pathways that connect my language centers to my conscious functions.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Open Thread: March 2010, part 3
Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 19 March 2010 08:08:36PM 0 points [-]

In retrospect, spelling words out loud, something I do tend to do with a moderate frequency, is something I've gotten much better at over the past ten years. I suspect that I've hijacked my typing skill to the task, as I tend to error correct my verbal spelling in exactly the same way. I devote little or no conscious thought or sense mode to the spelling process, except in terms of feedback.

As for my language skills, they are at least adequate. However, I have devoted special attention to improving them so I can't say that I don't share some bias away from being especially capable.

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 01 March 2010 02:31:42PM 0 points [-]

When you're trying to communicate facts, opinions, and concepts - most especially concepts - it is a useful investment of effort to try to categorize both your audience's crystallography and your own.

This is something of an oversimplification. Categories are one possible first step, but eventually you will need more nuance than that. I suggest forming estimates based on the communication being serving also as a sequence of experiments. And being very strict about not ruling things out, especially if you have not managed to beat down your typical mind fallacy.

And that's just for a simply dialogue. Communication in a public forum with other audiences and even other participants, well, that is even more complex.

Comment author: LucasSloan 17 February 2010 04:06:34AM *  8 points [-]

When new people show up at LW, they are often told to "read the sequences." While Eliezer's writings underpin most of what we talk about, 600 fairly long articles make heavy reading. Might it be advisable that we set up guided tours to the sequences? Do we have enough new visitors that we could get someone to collect all of the newbies once a month (or whatever) and guide them through the backlog, answer questions, etc?

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 17 February 2010 02:38:08PM *  3 points [-]

Arguably, as seminal as the sequences are treated, why are the "newbies" the only ones who should be (re)reading them?

Comment author: PhilGoetz 13 January 2010 07:35:18AM *  0 points [-]

The number of assertions needed is now so large that it may be difficult for a human to acquire that much knowledge. Does anyone have an estimate for how many facts a human knows at different ages? Vocabulary of children entering grade school is said to be around 3000 words, IIRC.

An interesting result is that it suggests that that rate at which we can learn new concepts is not limited by our ability to learn the concepts themselves, but by our ability to learn enough facts using the concepts that we can be truly conscious of that knowledge. Or - if you suddenly loaded all of the concepts that an adult possesses into the mind of a child, without a large number of facts using those concepts, that child might be able to use the concepts without any conscious comprehension of them. It suggests an interesting reply to Searle's Chinese Room argument.

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 13 January 2010 03:06:30PM 1 point [-]

The number of assertions needed is now so large that it may be difficult for a human to acquire that much knowledge.

Especially given these are likely significantly lower bounds, and don't account for the problems of running on spotty evolutionary hardware, I suspect that the discrepancy is even greater than it first appears.

What I find intriguing about this result is that essentially it is one of the few I've seen that has a limit description of consciousness: you have on one hand a rating of complexity of your "conscious" cognitive system and on the other you have world adherence based on the population of your assertions. Consciousness is maintained if, as you increase your complexity, you maintain the variety of the assertion population.

It is possible that the convergence rates for humans and prospective GAI will simply be different, however. Which makes a certain amount of sense. Ideal consciousness in this model is unachievable, and approaching it faster is more costly, so there are good evolutionary reasons for our brains to be as meagerly conscious as possibly - even to fake consciousness when the resources would not otherwise be missed.

Comment author: MatthewB 12 January 2010 04:57:53PM 1 point [-]

High-Status relative to what/whom?

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 12 January 2010 07:00:08PM 2 points [-]

This should not be underestimated as an issue. Status as we use it here and at overcoming bias tends to be simplified into something not unlike a monetary model.

It is possible to try to treat things like status reductively, but in the current discussion it will hopefully suffice to characterize it with more nuance than "social wealth".

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 22 December 2009 06:17:34PM 6 points [-]

If you only expect to find one empirically correct cluster of contrarian beliefs, then you will most likely find only one, regardless of what exists.

Treating this is as a clustering problem we can extract common clusters of beliefs from the general contrarian collection and determine degrees of empirical correctness. Presupposing a particular structure will introduce biases on the discoveries you can make.

Comment author: Psychohistorian 13 December 2009 06:15:25AM 3 points [-]

Your point about privileging the hypothesis, and the fact that we feel a need to explain away weird facts in order to believe Knox's innocence, is excellent, though it gets rather buried in a very long post.

As far as the probability estimates go, I expect that many people (like me) did two things: erred on the side of underconfidence, and used numbers as conveying a general feeling. Particularly since it's a criminal case, it doesn't take much to disagree with a conviction. If I'd put the odds of Knox's guilt at .95, I'd say she'd been wrongly convicted, as 5% is extremely reasonable doubt - think that if that were our normal standard, we could have hundreds of thousands of totally innocent people imprisoned. So if people are somewhat like me, they probably just picked a low number to show "not guilty" and left it at that.

Of course, this is largely your point: given the evidence, there's really no reason those numbers should too much higher than they are for a random inhabitant of the city, so our willingness to compromise is itself a flaw, though, in this context, a flaw without adverse effect, as we'd still acquit.

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 13 December 2009 06:37:33AM 11 points [-]

there's really no reason those numbers should too much higher than they are for a random inhabitant of the city

Actually simply being in the local social network of the victim should increase the probability of involvement by a significant amount. This would of course be based on population, murder rates, and so on. And likely would also depend on estimates of criminology models for the crime in question.

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 04 December 2009 04:35:33PM 1 point [-]

Or more succinctly and broadly, learn to:

  • pay attention

  • correct bias

  • anticipate bias

  • estimate well

With a single specific enumeration of means to accomplish these competencies you risk ignoring other possible curricula. And you encourage the same blind spots for the entire community of aspiring rationalists so educated.

Comment author: MendelSchmiedekamp 04 December 2009 05:23:13PM 2 points [-]

Proof of how dangerous this sort of list can be.

I entirely forget about:

  • act effectively

After all, how can you advance even pure epistemic rationality without constructing your own experiments on the world?

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