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In response to Weekly LW Meetups
Comment author: PhilGoetz 24 April 2015 10:15:35PM 1 point [-]

I have a suggestion for people near Baltimore: There's a bioprinting symposium tomorrow (April 25) from noon to 5, at the Baltimore Under Ground Science Space, 101 North Haven Street, Suite 105, Baltimore, MD 21224. It is only $75. The organizers are losing a lot of money on this.

You could organize a meetup at this event. HOWEVER, don't walk there, and don't plan to walk around there to get lunch or dinner. I haven't been there, but it looks on the map like this spot is on the edge of the biggest slum in Baltimore.

Comment author: RobertLumley 18 July 2011 05:07:53PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure how familiar with voting theory (or cake cutting theory) the average LessWrong reader is, so I may be preaching to the choir. But Arrow's theorem (You can wiki it, I can't give a precise mathematical definition off the top of my head.) pretty much states that having a decent voting system is impossible. Of course, we use the worst one possible (plurality) so anything would be an improvement. But mathematically, any solution proposed here will not be perfect, or perhaps even any good.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 23 April 2015 02:04:35AM 0 points [-]

But Arrow's theorem (You can wiki it, I can't give a precise mathematical definition off the top of my head.) pretty much states that having a decent voting system is impossible.

In that case, we should reinstate the monarchy right now, since no system of voting is worthwhile.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 01 April 2015 03:25:57AM *  4 points [-]

An important form of strategic analysis is the search for crucial considerations. (p257) Crucial consideration: idea with the potential to change our views substantially, e.g. reversing the sign of the desirability of important interventions. (p257)

Yes, but... a "crucial consideration" is then an idea that runs counter to answers we already feel certain about to important questions. This means that we should not just be open-minded, but should specially seek out other opinions on the matters we are most confident about.

How can you do this without being obliged to consider what seem to you like crackpot theories?

Comment author: KatjaGrace 31 March 2015 04:29:27AM 4 points [-]

Are there things that someone should maybe be doing about AI risk that haven't been mentioned yet?

Comment author: PhilGoetz 01 April 2015 03:13:30AM 2 points [-]

The entire approach of planning a stable ecosystem of AIs that evolve in competition, rather than one AI to rule them all and in the darkness bind them, was dismissed in the middle of the book with a few pages amounting to "it could be difficult".

Comment author: PhilGoetz 01 April 2015 03:10:23AM *  2 points [-]

For many questions in math and philosophy, getting answers earlier does not matter much.

I disagree completely. Looking at all of the problems to solve, the one area that lags noticeably behind in its duties is philosophy. The hardest questions raised in Superintelligence are philosophical problems of value, of what we even mean by "value". I believe that philosophy must be done by scientists, since we need to find actual answers to questions. For example, one could understand nothing of ethics without first understanding evolution. So it's true that philosophical advances rely on scientific ones. But philosophers haven't even learned how to ask testable questions or frame hypotheses yet. The ideal allocation of resources, if a world dictator were inclined to reduce existential risk, would be to slow all scientific advance and wait for philosophy to catch up with it. Additionally, philosophy presents fewer existential risks than any (other?) science.

Comment author: Romashka 11 March 2015 07:03:00PM 1 point [-]

Why does the likelihood grow exactly twice? (I'm just used to really indirect evidence, which is also seldom binary in the sense that I only get to see whole suits of traits, which usually go together but in some obscure cases, vary in composition. So I guess I have plenty of C-bits that do go in B-bits that might go in A-bits, but how do I measure the change in likelihood of A given C? I know it has to do with d-separation, but if C is something directly observable, like biomass, and B is an abstraction, like species, should I not derive A (an even higher abstraction, like 'adaptiveness of spending early years in soil') from C? There are just so much more metrics for C than for B...) Sorry for the ramble, I just felt stupid enough to ask anyway. If you were distracted from answering the parent, please do.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 March 2015 02:52:20AM 1 point [-]

I don't understand what you're asking, but I was wrong to say the likelihood grows by 2. See my reply to myself above.

Comment author: NatPhilosopher 02 January 2015 07:02:14AM -2 points [-]

There is fairly extensive data (not published in the peer reviewed literature) that groups which are unvaccinated have far lower autism rates than the general public.

UPI Reporter Dan Olmsted went looking for the autistic Amish. In a community where he should have found 50 profound autistics, he found 3. The first was an adopted Chinese girl who'd had vaccinations rushed before she was shipped from China and more here on the way to the adoptive parents. The second had been normal until developing classic autism symptoms within hours of being vaccinated. The third there was no information about. http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/e.4.pdf

Olmsted continued his search for unvaccinated Amish with autism beyond that community, finding none for a long time, but eventually found a Doctor in Virginia who had treated 6 unvaccinated Amish people from various places with autism. 4 of them had very elevated levels of mercury.

A telephone survey commissioned by the nonprofit group Generation Rescue compared vaccinated with unvaccinated boys in nine counties of Oregon and California [15]. The survey included nearly 12,000 households with children ranging in ages from 4 to 17 years, including more than 17,000 boys among whom 991 were described as completely unvaccinated. In the 4 to 11 year bracket, the survey found that, compared with unvaccinated boys, vaccinated boys were 155% more likely to have a neurological disorder, 224% more likely to have ADHD, and 61% more likely to have autism. For the older boys in the 11-17 year bracket, the results were even more pronounced with 158 % more likely to have a neurological disorder, 317% more likely to have ADHD, and with 112% more likely to have autism. [15]

In addition to the Generation Rescue Survey, there are three autism-free oases in the United States. Most publicized are Amish communities, mainly studied in Ohio and Pennsylvania [16].The Amish are unique in their living styles in largely self-sustaining communities. They grow their own food. Although they have no specific prohibitions against medical care, very rarely do they vaccinate their children. In local medical centers available to the Amish, most centers reported that they had never seen an Amish autistic child. The only Amish children that were seen as a rule were those with congenital disorders such as fragile X. The one autistic Amish child that was discovered during the surveys was taken to a medical office for an ear infection where the child was incidentally vaccinated, probably without the mother’s consent.

The second is the Florida-based medical practice of Dr. Jeff Bradstreet. While treating several thousand autistic children in his practice, Bradstreet has observed that “there is virtually no autism in home-schooling families who decline to vaccinate for religious reasons” [17]

The third, the “Homefirst Health Services” located in Chicago, has a virtual absence of autism among the several thousand patients that were delivered at home by the medical practice, and remained non-vaccinated according to the wishes of the parents [18].

Clusters of autistic children have also been found among parents with occupational exposures to chemicals prior to conception [19], and in children exposed prenatally to organochlorine pesticides [20].

excerpted from:

http://vactruth.com/2012/03/13/vaccines-human-animal-dna/

Reportedly the CDC has been surveying the vaccination status of the Amish for years, attempting to induce them to vaccinate (with some success I believe), and has consistently refused requests to include an autism question with their survey to gather data.

Its probably worth noting that Seneff et al, http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/14/11/2265 who have identified one pathway by which vaccines might be causing autism, have also in other work argued that glyphosate may invoke the same pathway, and the same groups may also be avoiding glyphosate. http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/WAPF_Slides_2012/Offsite_Seneff_Handout.pdf

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 March 2015 02:50:22AM *  0 points [-]

The Amish are unique in their living styles in largely self-sustaining communities. They grow their own food.

The Amish vary greatly from one place to another. Here in Mercer County, they don't grow much of their own food, and when they do, they can it. They do make their own milk, but they like fast food and packaged food. Storing ingredients without refrigeration, cooking fancy meals on a wood stove, and cleaning up after them with no hot running water, isn't so simple.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 16 January 2015 08:26:16PM 1 point [-]

The article you cite says,

This study does not dispute the safety of vaccines but reinforces the need to study long-term effects of early exposure to neuro-toxic substances on the developing brain.

The toxicity of Al is much lower than that of thimerosal

Mild post-vaccine symptoms in young infants, especially neonates, are non-specific and considered tolerable; rare (neurologic) adverse effects are unlikely to occur as a result of adjuvant-Al per se or in combination with thimerosal-Hg.

From the article I didn't gather what type of exposure was more worrying to the authors---acute or chronic. They seem to admit acute exposure has been proven safe, but on the other hand they dare not make any definite statements on chronic exposure. And above all, they never suggest that vaccinations should be stopped: in their conclusion they make it very clear that the purpose of understanding better the toxicity profile of vaccines is for increasing trust in vaccination.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 22 March 2015 08:36:17PM 0 points [-]

in their conclusion they make it very clear that the purpose of understanding better the toxicity profile of vaccines is for increasing trust in vaccination.

That's a huge red flag right there. It means they've already decided what research must prove.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 11 March 2015 06:17:38PM *  3 points [-]

Basic question about bits of evidence vs. bits of information:

I want to know the value of a random bit. I'm collecting evidence about the value of this bit.

First off, it seems weird to say "I have 33 bits of evidence that this bit is a 1." What is a bit of evidence, if it takes an infinite number of bits of evidence to get 1 bit of information?

Second, each bit of evidence gives you a likelihood multiplier of 2. E.g., a piece of evidence that says the likelihood is 4:1 that the bit is a 1 gives you 2 bits of evidence about the value of that bit. Independent evidence that says the likelihood is 2:1 gives you 1 bit of evidence.

But that means a one-bit evidence-giver is someone who is right 2/3 of the time. Why 2/3?

Finally, if you knew nothing about the bit, and had the probability distribution Q = (P(1)=.5, P(0)=.5), and a one-bit evidence giver gave you 1 bit saying it was a 1, you now have the distribution P = (2/3, 1/3). The KL divergence of Q from P (log base 2) is only 0.0817, so it looks like you've gained .08 bits of information from your 1 bit of evidence. ???

Comment author: PhilGoetz 11 March 2015 11:22:25PM *  2 points [-]

I think I was wrong to say that 1 bit evidence = likelihood multiplier of 2.

IF you have a signal S, and P(x|S) = 1 while P(x|~S) = .5, then the likelihood multiplier is 2 and you get 1 bit of information, as computed by KL-divergence. That signal did in fact require an infinite amount of evidence to make P(x|S) = 1, I think, so it's a theoretical signal found only in math problems, like a frictionless surface in physics.

If you have a signal S, and P(x|S) = .5 while P(x|~S) = .25, then the likelihood multiplier is 2, but you get only .2075 bits of information.

There's a discussion of a similar question on stats.stackexchange.com . It appears that the sum, over a series of observations x, of

log(likelihood ratio = P(x | model 2) / P(x | model 1))

approximates the information gain from changing from model 1 to model 2, but not on a term-by-term basis. The approximation relies on the frequency of the observations in the entire observation series being drawn from a distribution close to model 2.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 11 March 2015 06:17:38PM *  3 points [-]

Basic question about bits of evidence vs. bits of information:

I want to know the value of a random bit. I'm collecting evidence about the value of this bit.

First off, it seems weird to say "I have 33 bits of evidence that this bit is a 1." What is a bit of evidence, if it takes an infinite number of bits of evidence to get 1 bit of information?

Second, each bit of evidence gives you a likelihood multiplier of 2. E.g., a piece of evidence that says the likelihood is 4:1 that the bit is a 1 gives you 2 bits of evidence about the value of that bit. Independent evidence that says the likelihood is 2:1 gives you 1 bit of evidence.

But that means a one-bit evidence-giver is someone who is right 2/3 of the time. Why 2/3?

Finally, if you knew nothing about the bit, and had the probability distribution Q = (P(1)=.5, P(0)=.5), and a one-bit evidence giver gave you 1 bit saying it was a 1, you now have the distribution P = (2/3, 1/3). The KL divergence of Q from P (log base 2) is only 0.0817, so it looks like you've gained .08 bits of information from your 1 bit of evidence. ???

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