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In response to Political ideology
Comment author: Viliam 24 May 2017 10:54:01AM *  9 points [-]

Five links without any summary? Please don't do this.

Comment author: korin43 23 May 2017 04:42:51PM 1 point [-]

"The experiments involve an oil droplet that bounces along the surface of a liquid. The droplet gently sloshes the liquid with every bounce. At the same time, ripples from past bounces affect its course. The droplet’s interaction with its own ripples, which form what’s known as a pilot wave, causes it to exhibit behaviors previously thought to be peculiar to elementary particles — including behaviors seen as evidence that these particles are spread through space like waves, without any specific location, until they are measured.

Particles at the quantum scale seem to do things that human-scale objects do not do. They can tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels. This new body of research reveals that oil droplets, when guided by pilot waves, also exhibit these quantum-like features."

Comment author: Viliam 24 May 2017 10:52:21AM 1 point [-]

So, does the bouncing oil droplet also tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels?

Because to me this seems like merely an analogy that works in some aspects, but fails in other aspects.

Comment author: Viliam 24 May 2017 09:58:14AM 2 points [-]

There is already a book on this topic: Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities. Yes, it focuses on ecological communities, but most of the lessons seem to be universal.

Some things I remember:

  • Don't rely on people merely saying "I will totally join the community", no matter how convincing they sound. When it comes time to actually buy some land or building, expect that less than half of them will actually join. (Worst case: you spend your money or take a loan to buy the land/building, only to find out that actually no one joins you. Yes, there will always be an excuse: the timing is wrong; we wanted to live in a forest, but not that part of a forest, etc.) Take it as a serious project, make written agreements.

  • Make sure all of you can agree on the same vision. Put that vision in writing, because people have selective memory, and a few months later one will remember that "we agreed on X", while another will rememeber that "it was always supposed to be Y". Make sure you agree on the near-mode details, not just the far-mode applause lights. (There was an example of a group of people who moved to forest to get away from civilization. Turned out, half of them opposed civilization in principle, other half just wanted to live in a more green and less stressful environment away from the town. They started okay, but an unsolvable conflict emerged when the latter part wanted to bring internet connection to the village, which the former part opposed in principle.)

  • Think about all details of the life style: What kind of sexual behavior do you expect in your communities? What is your position on drugs? Are people going to have kids, and does that require increased safety or quiet at night? What kinds of religion are accepted? Is it okay if community members participate in politics? In other words, communicate explicitly and in detail what behavior will be okay, and what behavior will not be okay.

  • Make a formal decision-making process. Saying "oh, we will just solve everything by a consensus" is pretty much a disaster guaranteed to happen. (Consensus is easy while people generally agree with each other. You need a method to make decisions when they don't. Without clear rules, some people will try to win by increasing pressure, and soon everyone will go: "unless you do it my way, I quit".)

  • Avoid insane people, or generally people who generate tons of drama around them. One such person can be enough to destroy the whole community; there will be already enough problems happening naturally. Have formal rules for accepting new member of the community (e.g. some trial period, and approval by majority of existing members).

  • Make sure your community has someone with technical skills, and someone with people skills.

Comment author: Viliam 19 May 2017 03:52:13PM 7 points [-]

Seems to me that we have to distinguish between... uhm... relative and absolute unpopularity.

Relative unpopularity is when no one talks to John, because everyone is busy trying to talk to Elvis instead. In theory, people would prefer talking to John to being alone, but in practice they are overestimating their chances with Elvis, so John remains alone.

This can be improved by giving John a moment in spotlight, e.g. by inviting him to give a short public talk about his hobbies. And by splitting the group into smaller groups, so John no longer has to compete with Elvis directly at every moment.

Absolute unpopularity is when people prefer staying alone to talking to John. This can only be fixed by changing John.

Comment author: cousin_it 17 May 2017 08:54:29PM *  0 points [-]

Free market is recursive -- you can only gain money by selling to people who have money, who in turn gained that money by selling to people who had money, etc. If you are a starving person with no money and nothing to sell, well, sucks to be you

I guess my point was that "sucks to be you" situations don't just happen when you have nothing of value to sell, as libertarian-minded folks (like Lumifer in this thread) seem to believe. It also happens when you have stuff to sell, but the folks who would normally buy it from you can't pay you enough to survive today, because they don't have anything to sell, and the problem can start randomly and build on itself. Or at least I don't know any argument why it wouldn't. It feels like this horrible recursive process that doesn't approach anything good except by accident.

Comment author: Viliam 19 May 2017 03:20:41PM 1 point [-]

It also happens when you have stuff to sell, but the folks who would normally buy it from you can't pay you enough to survive today, because they don't have anything to sell,

It seems unlikely that you would have a skillset which allows you to produce valuable stuff only for poor people, but you wouldn't be able to produce valuable stuff for anyone else.

Okay, thinking hard, I can make up some situations like that, for example that you are a skiled translator into some kind of indigenous language, where all speakers of the language are too poor to actually pay you for the translations (even if they would like reading them a lot). Or that your services are limited to your local area, e.g. you can provide accommodation for people, but there are only poor people living in that area, and zero tourists.

and the problem can start randomly and build on itself

Something like... million people living on an island, where most of them can provide some valuable service to their neighbors (but not to anyone outside the island), but some critical skill is missing on the whole island... like, all of them are genius teachers or movie producers, but none of them can grow food... so they are all going to starve, despite being so skilled that an average inhabitant of the island would be a rich person if they would be teleported into our society?

In short term, this certainly can happen, especially if the situation can change overnight. Like, yesterday, there were hundred specialized food producers, but by miracle, all of them were killed by a lightning during the night. To make it sound more likely, all of them were at the same place (the annual food-producer conference), and something exploded there and killed them all.

But... I don't see how any other economical system would deal with the fact that, no matter how you distribute the money, there is not going to be any food in the island anyway. With free market, at least now all professors and movie producers see the opportunity to become millionaires overnight if they succeed to reinvent e.g. the lost art of picking fruit. Even if they would be great movie producers, but quite lousy fruit pickers.

(Actually, such situation would be made worse by an unfree market, for example if the government of the island would insist that the wannabe professor-becoming-fruit-picker is legally not allowed to pick fruit because he doesn't have a diploma from Fruit Picking University; and any attempt to illegally do the job he is not qualified for would get him arrested.)

Now, let's assume that the island actually is okay, able to grow its own food, etc. It's just that the money flow happens to be hopelessly unidirectional. No one outside the island wants to buy anything from the island. (Let's suppose they are not interested in your stuff, and you can't gain customers even for trying to sell really cheaply, because the costs of ship fuel will still make everything more expensive than anyone is willing to pay for.) On the other hand, people on the island sometimes buy something from the outside, e.g. because they cannot produce their own iPhones. Thus, money only ever goes out of the island, but never in. The island is constantly losing its global PageRank, ahem, money reserve. What happens now?

If I understand it correctly, the standard market outcome will be that -- assuming the island uses its own currency -- the exchange rate will gradually approach "1 out-of-island currency = infinity island currency". The people on the island will stop being able to buy stuff from outside, because it will become astronomically expensive for them.

Yet, within the island, people will be able to sell to each other, because both sides will pay using island currency. And there will be things to sell, for example the locally grown food. No one will be able to buy iPhones anymore, and that sucks, but the island will still be not worse than if the rest of the world would simply stop existing.

And if someone comes from the outside, and uses their infinitely valuable out-of-island money to buy the local food, then the assumption of unidirectional flow of money is no longer true; we now have money flow in both directions.

Etc, economics 101.

However, one possible solution for "people who have nothing to sell" is generally known as Basic Income. Not universally accepted, of course, but it is a way to make sure everyone can buy stuff, at the cost of doing relatively small damage to the economy. By relatively small I mean, of course entrepreneurs will complain about higher tax rate, but as far as I know, they usually complain much more about regulation, bureaucracy, or unpredictability; and Basic Income doesn't create a lot of these compared with the usual government interventions.

Essentially, Basic Income + market profit seems like a plausible approximation of our model of terminal + instrumental value, when we assign approximately the same terminal value to each human (expressed as Basic Income), and more instrumental value to people doing useful stuff to others (express as the market profit).

Comment author: cousin_it 16 May 2017 04:32:25PM *  1 point [-]

There's a free market idea that the market rewards those who provide value to society. I think I've found a simple counterexample.

Imagine a loaf of bread is worth 1 dollar to consumers. If you make 100 loaves and sell them for 99 cents each, you've provided 1 dollar of value to society, but made 99 dollars for yourself. If you make 100 loaves and give them away to those who can't afford it, you've provided 100 dollars of value to society, but made zero for yourself. Since the relationship is inverted, we see that the market doesn't reward those who provide value. Instead it rewards those who provide value to those who provide value! It's recursive, like PageRank!

That's the main reason why we have so much inequality. Recursive systems will have attractors that concentrate stuff. That's also why you can't blame people for having no jobs. They are willing to provide value, but they can't survive by providing to non-providers, and only the best can provide to providers.

Comment author: Viliam 17 May 2017 01:56:10PM *  1 point [-]

The trick is in the word "value".

If you play some motte-and-bailey around it, you could redefine "value" to mean "that, which is maximized by the free market", and then prove that free market indeed maximizes value. I expect that most pro-market answers you will get at most places will be a variant of this.

The question is, how closely related is such definition to our intuitions about value, i.e. what we actually mean by "value". That is tricky, because human intuitions are in general unreliable (e.g. likely to change if you describe the same situation using different words), inconsistent, implemented on a broken hardware, etc. But of course that doesn't give us a license to redefine words arbitrarily, so... as the saying goes, it's complicated.

You are correct about the similarity between free market and PageRank. Free market is recursive -- you can only gain money by selling to people who have money, who in turn gained that money by selling to people who had money, etc. If you are a starving person with no money and nothing to sell, well, sucks to be you; there may be tons of food on the market, but no way to sell it to you, unless someone gives you some money first.

Money is not the same as value, though, and that is one of the places where the whole process is grounded in something other than recursion. Value can be created by work, or by selling or renting resources you have.

Also, economical value can be brought from outside of the free-market system. For example, an African warlord can extract resources locally using murder or slave work, but then can exchange those resources at the international free market for something else. What I am hinting at here is that even if you would in abstractly prove that "free market benefits all participants", that doesn't necessarily mean it benefits all humans, because some "participants" at the market are e.g. slave owners, and the "benefits" for them include the ability to exploit their slaves more safely and easily. That doesn't necessarily imply that it benefits the slaves, too; it may sometimes be the other way round. (Lenin would say: "Those naive libertarians in Silicon Valley keep inventing and selling on free market a cheaper and stronger rope with which we can now hang more people, mwa-ha-ha-ha!")

Speaking about human values, we have terminal and instrumental values, and the instrumental values are also recursive by nature.


Seems to me that the recursive nature could be a red herring. Markets are recursive. Instrumental values are recursive. Maybe these things actually match each other well. Perhaps we should focus on (1) whether the non-recursive parts also match each other; and if there is a difference, (2) whether the recursive parts amplify the difference.

(I do have some opinions on that, but this comment is already too long, and contains important parts I wouldn't want to get ignored just because I write something controversial afterwards.)

Comment author: ChristianKl 16 May 2017 12:49:10PM 1 point [-]

The first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes are fucking hard, but it gets easier like any habit change.

As far as I understand the literature suggest that many people succeed with the first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes only to have the yoyo-effect later in the process.

Comment author: Viliam 17 May 2017 09:38:53AM *  3 points [-]

I suspect many people are doing things that are unsustainable or difficult to sustain in long run, such as:

  • dehydrating themselves (the easiest, but also completely stupid way to lose your first kilogram);
  • eating tasteless food (unsustainable unless you are willing to give up eating tasty food forever);
  • spending too much time on e.g. slow exercise or complicated calorie counting (when real life comes back, you will not afford doing 3 hours of yoga each day).

Which is why for myself I tried to (1) minimize the time spent exercising, which ultimately led to exercising with my own body weight at home, and (2) optimize also for the taste of the healthy food, even if it means letting an extra calorie in, as long as the outcome remains better than my previous food habits.

As a consequence, I was able to keep doing this for almost a year, even if real life keeps happening, because I like the taste of the new food (so I am not tempted to replace it with the old one), and if sometimes I only have 30 minutes of free time during the day, I can still do some meaningful exercise (as opposed to shrugging "well, no time for gym today").

Comment author: Brillyant 16 May 2017 09:26:24PM 0 points [-]

Things you cannot control directly - what your metabolism actually does with the food you put in your mouth

Agreed. Some people have significantly higher metabolisms.

Things this model doesn't even mention - there are other important things about the food, not just calories

Agreed. I'm not talking about nutrition, just weight loss.

Comment author: Viliam 17 May 2017 09:00:45AM *  4 points [-]

I mentioned the nutrition because that used to be my problem in the past.

I had low level of iron, so the answer "just exercise and burn some calories" was quite useless to me -- I was barely able to wake up in the morning. Repeatedly I tried to exercise regularly for a few weeks, but the outcome was always pathetic: after a few moves I was exhausted, and there was no visible long-term progress. Of course, after doing a difficult thing with zero benefits, after a few weeks my motivation was gone.

Meta problem was that "checking my levels of iron" wasn't even on the list of things I was thinking about, when I was thinking about how to get rid of some fat. (People around me assumed the opposite causal model: I have a problem with energy, because I am not doing any sport or exercise, duh!) It happened quite randomly; a friend of mine was reading somewhere on internet a list of symptoms of iron deficiency and mentioned it to me, and I was like "huh, sometimes I have similar symptoms, too". Yet it took a few years until once I asked a doctor to measure my iron level. Turned out, it was at the lowest end of the "healthy" interval... so, according to the doctor, not worth mentioning unless I ask explicitly, because I am still technically healthy. I guess being technically healthy is important from the official medicine point of view, but I would rather get closer towards the optimal health, so... I bought some iron supplements, and...

With the level of iron fixed, it was a completely different game. I suddenly felt full of energy, which was something I only remembered happening decades ago. Suddenly, exercising hard became possible. (At the risk of making a pseudoscientific explanation, I suppose that iron plays an important role in the process of converting "calories in" into energy available for exercising.)

Then, after a few months of exercising hard I lost some fat, gained some muscles; people who haven't seen me for a longer time say I have visibly changed. (I don't even check my calories, but I started eating more fresh vegetables, so maybe it happened as a side effect.)

So my experience is that exercising more, and eating less calories (not by eating less in general, but by eating different food) worked for me, but I had to "unlock" this option by doing something else first. In other words, when "calories in, calories out" finally started working for me, the problem was already halfway solved.

Comment author: Thomas 15 May 2017 03:31:52PM 1 point [-]

I can't be objective here, because you are linking me too. Of course that I like that.

But that aside, your filter is an interesting product by itself. So much so, that I will suggest its url as as kind of beacon, here, locally among friends and associates, coworkers.

Comment author: Viliam 16 May 2017 12:21:59PM *  3 points [-]

Yeah. Just looking at this list changes my feelings from "rationalist community is dying" to "OMG, we are so insanely productive!" And by "we" I mean people other than myself, but it still makes me happy. :D

On the other hand, unless the goal is to "impress people with a ton of stuff", the important next step would be to pick the best content. Perhaps best ones per category, but still. Best monthly selections, later distilled into best yearly selections, for people who are coming later to the party.

Comment author: strangepoop 15 May 2017 11:36:23PM *  4 points [-]

Why does patternism [the position that you are only a pattern in physics and any continuations of it are you/you'd sign up for cryonics/you'd step into Parfit's teleporter/you've read the QM sequence]

not imply

subjective immortality? [you will see people dying, other people will see you die, but you will never experience it yourself]

(contingent on the universe being big enough for lots of continuations of you to exist physically)

I asked this on the official IRC, but only feep was kind enough to oblige (and had a unique argument that I don't think everyone is using)

If you have a completely thought out explanation for why it does imply that, you ought never to be worried about what you're doing leading to your death (maybe painful existence, but never death), because there would be a version of you that would miraculously escape it.

If you bite that bullet as well, then I would like you to formulate your argument cleanly, then answer this (rot13):

jul jrer lbh noyr gb haqretb narfgurfvn? (hayrff lbh pbagraq lbh jrer fgvyy pbafpvbhf rira gura)

ETA: This is slightly different from a Quantum Immortality question (although resolutions might be similar) - there is no need to involve QM or its interpretations here, even in a classical universe (as long as it's large enough), if you're a patternist, you can expect to "teleport" to another exact clone somewhere that manages to live.

Comment author: Viliam 16 May 2017 12:09:51PM *  1 point [-]

you ought never to be worried about what you're doing leading to your death (maybe painful existence, but never death), because there would be a version of you that would miraculously escape it.

I am worried about the version that feels the pain but doesn't die.

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