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Comment author: Jackercrack 22 October 2014 08:02:07PM *  0 points [-]

Huh, I was expecting no speed limits on certain roads or shops that sold dangerous drugs legally or even just the reversal of what I was saying about cigarettes earlier. Without a tax on cigarettes you necessarily end up with packs of cigarettes for 80p. Then again you did say you were hesitant to declare allegiance so I'll not push you about it. It is kind of puzzling to have an idea torn down but not be told what the tearer would rather replace it with though, normally they go hand in hand. I am not used to that.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 22 October 2014 09:13:56PM 0 points [-]

You have chosen examples where the status quo is a restriction. Lumifer has chosen examples where the status quo is no restriction. That is, you have both chosen examples that point in your respectively favoured directions.

Comment author: shminux 10 February 2013 06:33:42AM *  2 points [-]

If you live as long as you want, what would you do to make sure to not run out of purposes in life?

EDIT: restated to be more neutral, to reduce the chances of people presuming that I have a deathist agenda.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 22 October 2014 04:21:32PM 0 points [-]

If you live as long as you want, what would you do to make sure to not run out of purposes in life?

l'm willing to grapple with that for as many centuries as it takes.

Comment author: D_Malik 22 October 2014 07:33:53AM 3 points [-]

It seems likely that you could get much of the benefit of cryopreservation for a fraction of the cost, without actually getting your head frozen, by just recording your life in great detail.

A while back, I started tracking e.g. every time I switch between windows, or send out an HTTP request, etc. - not with this in mind, but just so I can draw pretty graphs. It doesn't seem that it would be beyond a superintelligent AI to reconstruct my mind from this data. For better fidelity, maybe include some brain scans and your DNA sequence.

And this sort of preservation might be more reliable than cryopreservation in many ways - frozen brains would be destroyed by a nuclear war, for instance, whereas if you put a hard disk in a box and buried it in a desert somewhere that would probably stay safe for a few millennia. To be more sure, you might even launch such a "horcrux" into space, where pre-singularity people won't get their grubby monkey fingers on it.

If the entire internet were backed up in this way, that might be a lot of people effectively preserved.

Thoughts?

(Also, upon doing something like this, you should increase your belief that you're in an ancestor simulation, since you've just made that more feasible.)

(Also, this would go badly in the case of a "valley of bad utility functions" fooming AI.)

Comment author: RichardKennaway 22 October 2014 01:04:08PM -1 points [-]

If the entire internet were backed up in this way, that might be a lot of people effectively preserved.

Thoughts?

I think it has as much chance of success as the ancient Egyptians' practice of mummification.

Comment author: James_Miller 21 October 2014 02:30:14PM -2 points [-]

Although this is fighting the hypothetical, I think that the universe is almost certainly infinite because observers such as myself will be much more common in infinite than finite universes. Plus, as I'm sure you realize, the non-zero probability that the universe can support an infinite number of computations means that the expected number of computations we expect to be performed in our universe is infinite.

As Bostrom has written, if the universe is infinite then it might be that nothing we do matters so perhaps your argument is correct but with the wrong sign.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 21 October 2014 03:50:10PM 0 points [-]

the non-zero probability that the universe can support an infinite number of computations means that the expected number of computations we expect to be performed in our universe is infinite.

Where do you get the non-zero probability from? If it's from the general idea that nothing has zero probability, this proves too much. On the same principle, every action has non-zero probability of infinite positive utility and of infinite negative utility. This makes expected utility calculations impossible, because Inf - Inf = NaN.

I consider this a strong argument against the principle, often cited on LW, that "0 and 1 are not probabilities". It makes sense as a slogan for a certain idea, but not as mathematics.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 20 October 2014 03:36:59PM *  0 points [-]

AIXI is designed to work in a computable environment, but AIXI itself is uncomputable. Therefore it would seem problematic for AIXI to take account of either itself or another AIXI machine in the world.

How well does AIXI perform in worlds that contain AIXIs, or other uncomputable entities? How well can a computable approximation to an AIXI perform in a world that contains such computable approximations? How well can any agent perform in a world containing agents with reasoning capabilities greater, lesser, or similar to its own?

Comment author: Mark_Friedenbach 18 October 2014 06:18:18PM 0 points [-]

"massless"? Is that a funny way of saying "not actually going anywhere"?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 19 October 2014 08:47:11AM 7 points [-]

"massless"? Is that a funny way of saying "not actually going anywhere"?

Is that a funny way of saying "haw haw politicians hur hur"?

A glance at the link shows that "massless" here means using mass that's already out there, instead of hauling everything up from the Earth's gravity well. Digging a little further, the term appears to have been coined by Mason Peck of Cornell University and formerly Chief Technologist at NASA.

Comment author: JoshuaFox 17 October 2014 07:55:29AM *  0 points [-]

Certainly, it is useful everywhere to understand. But very few people actually run calculations (other than basic arithmetic). Gwern and you are very rare exceptions. I think the world could use more of that.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 17 October 2014 09:14:41AM 2 points [-]

I am greatly flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Gwern. The world could indeed use a lot more Gwerns.

But it's like what lionhearted just posted about history: when you know this sort of thing, you see its use. And by seeing its use, you can do things that would not previously have come to your attention as possibilities.

Comment author: JoshuaFox 17 October 2014 05:55:02AM *  0 points [-]

the supereconomy giant size really is a good deal

Yes, arithmetic does come in useful, for example in those cases.

Knowing prob/stats/causality, you can dismiss a lot of reporting as junk, and be able to say exactly why. yet I find myself solving those from time to time,

Can you give an example of when you have used actual arithmetical calculations to explain why some prob/stats/causality were junk, or where you solved a quadratic equation?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 17 October 2014 07:23:24AM 2 points [-]

the supereconomy giant size really is a good deal

Yes, arithmetic does come in useful, for example in those cases.

It's not some minor trick, like how to fold a t-shirt, it's useful everywhere.

Can you give an example of when you have used actual arithmetical calculations to explain why some prob/stats/causality were junk, or where you solved a quadratic equation?

It's common enough that I don't even notice it as a thing. But for example, a political survey shows a 2% advantage for one party. The sample size is given and I know at once that the result is noise. (sigma = sqrt(pqN).) Knowing how correlation and causality relate to each other disposes of a lot of bad reporting, and some bad research. Or I want to generate random numbers with a certain distribution; that easily leads to pages of algebra and trigonomentry.

For a more extensive illustration of how knowing all this stuff enables you to see the world, see gwern's web site.

Comment author: JoshuaFox 16 October 2014 08:06:56PM 1 point [-]

Yes, concrete practice may be indispensable to the insight. But once you have the insight, do you ever need to calculate to help you with a practical problem? Almost never, I think.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 16 October 2014 09:19:56PM 2 points [-]

Yes, concrete practice may be indispensable to the insight. But once you have the insight, do you ever need to calculate to help you with a practical problem? Almost never, I think.

When you know things, you discover uses for them. Knowing arithmetic, you can easily decide whether the supereconomy giant size really is a good deal. Knowing prob/stats/causality, you can dismiss a lot of reporting as junk, and be able to say exactly why. Quadratic equations are often used as an example of useless knowledge, and yet I find myself solving those from time to time, and not just at work (in the narrow sense of what people pay me to do).

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 06 October 2014 01:09:00PM 12 points [-]

Here's a proposal: popular books for statistically literate people.

I've read several books from the Oxford University Press Very Short Introduction series. I like the general idea of these books: roughly 140 A6 pages concisely introducing a subject, and a list of further reading if you want it.

In practice, the ones on quantitative/scientific disciplines seem to put a lot of time and effort into writing around public ignorance of statistics. Those 140 pages would go a lot further if the author could just assume familiarity with statistical research methods.

This seems like a consistent enough body of knowledge to "factor out" of a lot of material, as much educational material with prerequisites does.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 16 October 2014 02:57:28PM 0 points [-]

Those 140 pages would go a lot further if the author could just assume familiarity with statistical research methods.

This seems like a consistent enough body of knowledge to "factor out" of a lot of material, as much educational material with prerequisites does.

The series includes one on statistics and one on probability. How do they do as provision of such background?

For that matter, there's one on causation, although from the table of contents it appears to be 9/10 about philosophies of causation and only 1/10 about how to discover causes.

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