Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: WalterL 01 May 2017 07:53:08PM 1 point [-]

I am constantly vexed by people who want time estimates before they give requirements. They teach us to say 'no' to this, in college, but it turns out you can't do that in the real world. So we are placed in the position of estimating how long it will take to code 'something', without enough detail about what the 'something' is to allow us to make an educated guess.

It's maddening.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 01 May 2017 08:04:39PM 1 point [-]

Back when this was a big part of my professional life, my reply was "everything takes a month."

Comment author: Ritalin 26 April 2017 01:08:39PM 2 points [-]

Why do you get up in the morning?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 April 2017 01:42:37AM 4 points [-]

Habit. It helps to get enough sleep.

Comment author: fmgn 16 April 2017 08:44:32PM 2 points [-]

Still waiting.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 18 April 2017 02:48:39PM 2 points [-]

Don't worry, it will have been available in 2017 one of these days.

Comment author: CynicalOptimist 17 November 2016 08:08:01PM *  0 points [-]

I think I've got a good response for this one.

My non-episodic memory contains the "facts" that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the best television shows that was ever made, and the Pink Floyd aren't an interesting band. My boyfriend's non-episodic memory contains the facts that Buffy was boring, unoriginal, and repetetive (and that Pink Floyd's music is trancendentally good).

Objectively, these are opinions, not facts. But we experience them as facts. If I want to preserve my sense of identity, then I would need to retain the facts that were in my non-episodic memory. More than that, I would also lose my sense of self if I gained contradictory memories. I would need to have my non-episodic memories and not have the facts from my boyfriend's memory.

That's the reason why "off the shelf" doesn't sound suitable in this context.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 18 November 2016 10:22:01PM *  0 points [-]

So, on one level, my response to this is similar to the one I gave (a few years ago) [http://lesswrong.com/lw/qx/timeless_identity/9trc]... I agree that there's a personal relationship with BtVS, just like there's a personal relationship with my husband, that we'd want to preserve if we wanted to perfectly preserve me.

I was merely arguing that the bitlength of that personal information is much less than the actual information content of my brain, and there's a great deal of compression leverage to be gained by taking the shared memories of BtVS out of both of your heads (and the other thousands of viewers) and replacing them with pointers to a common library representation of the show and then have your personal relationship refer to the common library representation rather than your private copy.

The personal relationship remains local and private, but it takes up way less space than your mind currently does.

That said... coming back to this conversation after three years, I'm finding I just care less and less about preserving whatever sense of self depends on these sorts of idiosyncratic judgments.

I mean, when you try to recall a BtVS episode, your memory is imperfect... if you watch it again, you'll uncover all sorts of information you either forgot or remembered wrong. If I offered to give you perfect eideitic recall of BtVS -- no distortion of your current facts about the goodness of it, except insofar as those facts turn out to be incompatible with an actual perception (e.g., you'd have changed your mind if you watched it again on TV, too) -- would you take it?

I would. I mean, ultimately, what does it matter if I replace my current vague memory of the soap opera Spike was obsessively watching with a more specific memory of its name and whatever else we learned about it? Yes, that vague memory is part of my unique identity, I guess, in that nobody else has quite exactly that vague memory... but so what? That's not enough to make it worth preserving.

And for all I know, maybe you agree with me... maybe you don't want to preserve your private "facts" about what kind of tie Giles was wearing when Angel tortured him, etc., but you draw the line at losing your private "facts" about how good the show was. Which is fine, you care about what you care about.

But if you told me right now that I'm actually an upload with reconstructed memories, and that there was a glitch such that my current "facts" about BTVS being a good show for its time is mis-reconstructed, and Dave before he died thought it was mediocre... well, so what?

I mean, before my stroke, I really disliked peppers. After my stroke, peppers tasted pretty good. This was startling, but it posed no sort of challenge to my sense of self.

Apparently (Me + likes peppers) ~= (Me + dislikes peppers) as far as I'm concerned.

I suspect there's a million other things like that.

Comment author: CynicalOptimist 09 November 2016 12:29:20AM 0 points [-]

But if you do care about your wishes being fulfilled safely, then safety will be one of the things that you want, and so you will get it.

So long as your preferences are coherent, stable, and self-consistent then you should be fine. If you care about something that's relevant to the wish then it will be incorporated into the wish. If you don't care about something then it may not be incorporated into the wish, but you shouldn't mind that: because it's something you don't care about.

Unfortunately, people's preferences often aren't coherent and stable. For instance an alcoholic may throw away a bottle of wine because they don't want to be tempted by it. Right now, they don't want their future selves to drink it. And yet they know that their future selves might have different priorities.

Is this the sort of thing you were concerned about?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 09 November 2016 05:24:53PM 0 points [-]

"So long as your preferences are coherent, stable, and self-consistent then you should be fine."

Yes, absolutely.

And yes, the fact that my preferences are not coherent, stable, and self-consistent is probably the sort of thing I was concerned about... though it was years ago.

Comment author: mirefek 31 October 2016 12:22:18PM *  0 points [-]

I find it extremely unlikely. It certainly hasn't in the past.

You mean that it didn't happen here or in the global society? Discussions about religion seems to me to be equally unproductive in general.

I can imagine that if the site endorsed a political ideology its readers would may become biased forward it (even if just by selection of readers). Surely, it is not the intent of the site. But there is a possibility that that happened with the religion issue...

Comment author: TheOtherDave 01 November 2016 03:35:06PM 0 points [-]

You mean that it didn't happen here or in the global society?

I mean that it's unlikely that "the site [would] end up with a similar "rational" political consensus if political discussion went through".

Discussions about religion seems to me to be equally unproductive in general.

In the global society? I agree.

I can imagine that if the site endorsed a political ideology its readers would may become biased forward it (even if just by selection of readers).

Sure, that's possible.

But there is a possibility that that happened with the religion issue.

Sure, that's possible.

Also, let me cut to the chase a little bit, here.

The subtext I'm picking up from our exchange is that you object to the site's endorsement of atheism, but are reluctant to challenge it overtly for fear of social sanction (downvotes, critical comments, etc.). So instead of challenging it, you are raising the overt topic of the site's unwillingness to endorse a specific political ideology, and taking opportunities as they arise to implicitly establish equivalences between religion and politics, with the intention of implicitly arguing that the site's willingness to endorse a specific religious ideology (atheism) is inconsistent.

Have I correctly understood your subtext?

Comment author: ChristianKl 31 October 2016 06:49:00PM 2 points [-]

I don't think we have discussions about which political ideology is correct. Most political discussions are about other issues. I would also hold that political ideologies are mostly wrong. For most issues it's makes a lot more sense to study the issue in detail than try to have an opinion based on precached ideology.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 01 November 2016 03:25:48PM 0 points [-]

Yup, agreed with all of this. (Well, I do think we have had discussions about which political ideology is correct, but I agree that we shy away from them and endorse political discussions about issues.)

Comment author: rmoehn 30 October 2016 06:44:25AM 0 points [-]

Aren't people on LessWrong quite good at solving their own problems? So if you're looking for low-hanging fruit (which there should be many out there), here is the wrong place. (At least this is my expectation. I'm not following LW too closely.) See here for someone who knows how to find good (and profitable) problems to solve: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/resources/

Comment author: TheOtherDave 31 October 2016 01:57:08AM 1 point [-]

Aren't people on LessWrong quite good at solving their own problems?

Nah, not necessarily. Merely interested in better ways of doing so. (Among other things.)

Comment author: mirefek 31 October 2016 12:48:26AM 0 points [-]

Hi,

I am a bit surprised that contemporary politics is kind of suppressed here (by FAQ). Well, I understand the reason that it is a controversial topic in society. I get that people tend to be biased in it. This is just because it is such a wide topic and lot of people have a political standpoint. I agree that it is probably better to train rationality on less known topics.

So, what is confusing me?

I think that there is another topic with a similar controversy level in society: Religion. I can see the analogy. In my view, arguing with a religious person is similar to arguing with a political "opponent". Both topics are very complex (from philosophical standpoints through world issues to daily life). There can be many misinterpretations, lot of uncertainty, and other problems.

Isn't the "Quaker Republican" example an argument against discussing religion as well? I think that the article could be simply modified. "A Christian may read your blog so be careful and do not address the philosophy as a whole piece", "you should rather discuss ancient religions", and so on.

Despite of it, I did not met a warning before promoting atheism here. Why?

I can see a correlation. By surveys, readers of the site mostly consider themselves as atheists but their political leanings are colorful (social democratic, liberal, libertarian). Yet, the causality is not so clear for me. What do you think? Would the site end up with a similar "rational" political consensus if political discussion went through?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 31 October 2016 01:46:34AM 2 points [-]

Yeah, there's a communally endorsed position on which religion(s) is/are correct ("none of them are correct"), but there is no similar communally endorsed position on which political ideology(ies) is/are correct.

There's also no similar communally endorsed position on which brand of car is best, but there's no ban on discussion of cars, because in our experience discussions of car brands, unlike discussions of political ideologies, tend to stay relatively civil and productive.

What do you think? Would the site end up with a similar "rational" political consensus if political discussion went through?

I find it extremely unlilkely. It certainly hasn't in the past.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 October 2016 09:39:34PM 2 points [-]

I assume that if you want to talk with someone, ambient white noise is better.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 October 2016 12:53:30AM 3 points [-]

This comment taken out of context kind of delighted me.

View more: Next