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Comment author: tgb 10 June 2014 02:19:58PM 2 points [-]

I don't think that was a judge conversation. That was just someone using the online chat program:

"I logged on to what I think is the Goostman program. Here’s the transcript of our conversation: (Eugene is supposed to be around 13 years old.)"

Not only that, but it's an old version from a year ago. (Not that I think the real judges' conversation would be significantly better.)

Comment author: Morendil 10 June 2014 10:21:18PM 3 points [-]

You're very likely right, I misinterpreted.

Comment author: KnaveOfAllTrades 23 August 2013 07:56:48AM 1 point [-]

Reply to this comment if you’re interested in being part of a rationalist house in London, UK.

Comment author: Morendil 09 June 2014 01:42:09PM 1 point [-]

Any progress with this? I'm probably going to hang out briefly with the NYC group when I visit there in August.

Comment author: Morendil 09 June 2014 01:38:04PM *  14 points [-]

This isn't strictly speaking "this month", but more "since the last time this thread was around", perhaps three or four months. (ETA: actually, the last such I took part in was October '13.)

Built a 3D printer from a kit. Learnt enough G-Code and OpenScad to be dangerous. Designed a few parts of my own, including some that replaced original parts.

Lost about 6 kilos from my max weight. Anecdotally, what seems to have worked in my case was eating lots more vegs, liberal amounts of meat, and about half my previous quantity of carbs. Also increased exercise a fair bit, incorporating a lot more walking (to or near the oft recommended 10K steps a day) in addition to a weekly run (typically 10K). One of my major objectives was to not feel like I'd gone on a diet, but instead to rewire my preferences so that eating whatever I enjoyed would lead to weight loss. I worked quite a bit on identifying and removing the trivial inconveniences that were keeping me from enjoying vegs and salad more often.

Switched banks. Sounds easy when you write it like this but it's an insane amount of hassle.

Comment author: Morendil 09 June 2014 01:17:18PM *  12 points [-]

Let's discuss a new type of Reverse Turing Test.

This simply consists of coming up with a general class of question that you think would reliably distinguish between a chatbot and a human within about 5 minutes of conversation, and explaining which feature of "intelligence" this class of question probes.

If you're not able to formulate the broad requirements for such a class of question, you have no business being the judge in a Turing Test. You're only playing the chatbot as you would play a video game.

One of my candidates for questions of this kind: ask the interviewee to explain a common error of reasoning that people make, or can make. For instance: "If you look at the numbers, there's quite a correlation between sales of ice cream in coastal locations and number of drownings. Some people might be tempted to conclude that ice cream causes people to drown. Do you think that's right, and if not, why not?"

For another example, Dennett discusses having the chatbot explain a joke.

ETA: Scott Aaronson passes with flying colors. Chatbots are likely to lack basic encyclopedic knowledge about the world which every human possesses. (To some extent things like the Wolfram platform could overcome this for precise questions such as Scott's first - but that still leaves variants like "what's more dangerous, a tiger or an edible plant" that are vague enough that quantitative answers probably won't be accessible to a chatbot.)

Comment author: Morendil 09 June 2014 12:26:52PM 8 points [-]

I've read one transcript of a judge conversation. What I find striking is that the judge seems to be doing their best to be fooled! Of course, no one wants to get a 13 year old upset.

In a Turing Test situation I'd start by trying a bunch of Winograd Schemas.

Comment author: Morendil 07 February 2014 08:00:06AM 0 points [-]

Students will learn how communicate

Didn't spot that on the first read; a member of a rare species: the self-refuting prophecy.

Comment author: Morendil 07 February 2014 07:21:35AM *  5 points [-]

Another example of a fake number is "complexity" or "maintainability" in software engineering.

Yet another is "productivity". In fact, most of software engineering consists of discussions of fake numbers. :/ This article (pdf) discusses that rather nicely.

Comment author: Morendil 07 February 2014 07:17:21AM 4 points [-]

I enrolled in the "Data Analysis" Coursera class this fall, on recommendations from online acquaintances, to see what Coursera was like and to start getting the hang of R.

As far as I can tell, it's closely similar to module 4 here. (One notable difference is that it relied on plot exclusively rather than ggplot2, for some unfathomable reason.)

The experience was a mixed bag. I did learn a bunch of things I didn't know; however only a small fraction of the course covered theoretical concepts, and as the course progressed it focused more and more on memorizing R commands without any deep understanding of the math they are based on.

I'm not at all convinced that the video format is more effective than a book with the same information. I watched videos at 1.5x speedup, sometimes read the transcripts and skipped segments of video entirely. What value I found there was in doing the exercises, and there were relatively few of those. A couple of the "correct" answers were in fact incorrect, generating controversy in the student forums, but the instructors/administrators didn't seem to care much or even notice.

MOOCs are sometimes advertised as "self-paced" learning; in the case of Coursera, this is a lie. Because I enrolled late, I wasn't able to get official credit for any of the exercise sets I completed (I also skipped the problems entirely). On the one hand it's nice that you can enroll out of phase, but on the other hand it's sort of silly that an online course is still tied to an artificial schedule. For instance, if you are going faster than the class, you will still have to wait for each segment to be opened on a weekly basis.

Finally, I've just discovered that because the class I took is now closed, I am no longer allowed access to any of the videos, quizzes and assignments - nor to my own results. I don't think I need to harp on how broken this is.

Comment author: KenChen 29 January 2014 11:20:41PM 0 points [-]

Our for-profit company, Lambda, uses Xero, a web-based accounting tool. They claim to serve non-profits as well: http://www.xero.com/us/not-for-profit/

I can't speak to how good they are for non-profits, but many startups are using Xero these days.

Comment author: Morendil 01 February 2014 09:53:54AM 0 points [-]

I second the recommendation, I've used Xero for a non-profit and found it wonderful. That was a while ago, I expect it's improved since.

Comment author: Morendil 30 January 2014 11:04:55AM 1 point [-]

This is relevant: the LW code is a little bit gnarly to set up, having this in a pre-packaged VM can help.

These days Vagrant is being superseded by Docker, I might have a go at turning the VagrantFile into a Dockerfile if anyone is interested.

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