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Comment author: TylerJay 07 June 2014 06:34:29PM 2 points [-]

Great article, though I've always been a bit more of a mathematical realist myself.

the mathematical structure of a physical theory often points the way to further advances in that theory and even to empirical predictions.

The part that still fascinates me is how taking a couple of different mathematical descriptions of certain phenomena and working solely with the numbers under the "laws" of mathematics can lead to mathematical theories and predictions of seemingly unrelated phenomena.

For example, Einstein developed Special Relativity to account for the inconsistencies between classical mechanics and Maxwell's equations using primarily the observation that the speed of light is absolute regardless of the motion of the light source and the postulate that the laws of physics are the same in all inertial reference frames. He just worked with the numbers under the rules of mathematics to (independently) develop the Lorentz transformations which lead to his Special Relativity.

The key feature here is that Einstein did not perform experiments. He knew form the null-result of the Michelson-Morley experiment that the speed of light is constant, but besides that, the vast amount of the work done was what Richard Hamming called "Scholastic" in its approach. I've even heard it said that as far back as Newton, the idea of non-locality was considered preposterous and that in itself gives the idea of a universal speed limit which might have been enough, along with Galileo's Principle of relativity to get very close to Special Relativity using only the tools of mathematics he had available to him and the current theories of motion and electromagnetism.

Now obviously a lot of work went into that, but so many strange predictions fell out of it that it really is amazing, some might say "unreasonable". For example, time dilation, mass/energy equivalence, length contraction, and eventually (after GR) black holes, relativistic cosmology, gravitational lensing, and the existence of dark matter.

That we can derive knowledge about how the universe works because of inconsistencies between simpler mathematical descriptions of various phenomena really does seem to suggest that the universe "runs on math". Now I don't mean to suggest that the equations are written somewhere in the sky and that some entity "breathes fire" into them; Just that the structure of the universe is isomorphic to the ideal math that we could use to explain and predict it. I would not be at all surprised to find out that somehow, "they are the same thing," whatever that might mean.

Comment author: anonym 16 June 2014 04:08:50PM 2 points [-]

the structure of the universe is isomorphic to the ideal math that we could use to explain and predict it. I would not be at all surprised to find out that somehow, "they are the same thing," whatever that might mean.

Tegmark's Mathematical universe hypothesis is one answer to what that might mean.

Comment author: anonym 17 May 2014 04:44:16PM 1 point [-]

I think it's more useful to keep the meaning of "skill" as something like "the ability to do something well", which is what everybody expects you mean when you use the word, and talk instead about better and worse applications of skills. It's not the skill that's context dependent, but how useful or beneficial the application of the skill is in a particular scenario.

Comment author: anonym 04 December 2013 04:49:02AM 16 points [-]

Survey completed. I cooperated without thinking about it much. I believed that TDT-like reasoning would probably lead a significant number of others to cooperate too, and I felt I should support the group.

Comment author: anonym 21 August 2013 02:25:19AM 4 points [-]

When a concept is inherently approximate, it is a waste of time to try to give it a precise definition.

-- John McCarthy

Comment author: anonym 21 August 2013 02:23:44AM *  12 points [-]

The opposite intellectual sin to wanting to derive everything from fundamental physics is holism which makes too much of the fact that everything is ultimately connected to everything else. Sure, but scientific progress is made by finding where the connections are weak enough to allow separate theories.

-- John McCarthy

Comment author: Swimmer963 24 January 2012 06:00:13PM 1 point [-]

That's really interesting!

I have a similar "transition mode", but it's between one-on-one conversations and groups of three. If I'm talking one-on-one, I usually contribute at least 50% of the conversation, sometimes significantly more. In theory, talking to two other people should result in me contributing about 1/3 of the conversation...but it's more like 5%. I think part of it is because the conversation dynamics with three people are more complicated, making it hard to manage things like taking your turn without interrupting the others. Part of it is because in a group of three, I'm not needed to avoid awkward silences.

The amount I'll actually talk in a group conversation drops even more steeply above three. I wouldn't say specifically that I'm less relaxed, that I'm uncomfortable, or even that my comments become less interesting, but I tend to go to "listening mode" instead of "talking mode", which is less work for me anyway.

I have no problems in public speaking, or elaborating on a question someone asks me specifically during a group discussion.

Comment author: anonym 27 January 2012 07:35:43AM *  1 point [-]

I'm the same. Great one-on-one, and extremely awkward when there are two or more other people, which I find to be very exhausting due to the extra conversation dynamics you note. It's also very difficult too when you're the sort of person who likes to periodically be silent for a period in order to think more deeply about what you're talking about -- with more than one other person there, somebody else will just start a new conversation on a new topic to avoid the "dreaded silence".

Comment author: jhuffman 09 January 2012 05:11:31PM *  1 point [-]

Yes this is nice. I have some thoughts about why some people interested in Transhumanism will find it interesting and compelling. The reasons are not complimentary, though.

Comment author: anonym 10 January 2012 04:30:05AM 3 points [-]

Do you mean complimentary, and not complementary?

Comment author: Lightwave 17 December 2011 08:04:52AM 0 points [-]

How is it for you now? If you have any problems, can you please make a screenshot (and upload to http://imgur.com or somewhere else) to help us diagnose the problem?

Comment author: anonym 17 December 2011 08:12:28PM -1 points [-]

It's much better now. The only issue remaining is that the 'Frequently Asked Questions" is just a tiny bit too wide to fit on one line inside the containing box, so the 'ns' of 'Questions' sticks outside of the gray box it is supposed to be inside.

Comment author: anonym 13 December 2011 04:59:43PM 0 points [-]

On the topic of how the site looks in different browsers, and finding out whether the layout is borked on some browsers, you could use http://browsershots.org/.

At the moment though, it fails due to an internal server error when it tries to fetch http://friendly-ai.com/robots.txt. If you fix that, you should be able to easily see how the site looks in a bunch of different browsers on different operating systems.

Comment author: [deleted] 12 December 2011 10:50:54PM *  5 points [-]

on linux, latest version as of a few days ago. May be my fonts?

That sort of thing happens when the element that is colored isn't constrained to the text element. Somewhere in there is an assumption about font size or dpi or something which is bound to be broken by some clients.

EDIT: it's not my fault. Here's your problem:

#link_boxes {
margin: 30px -40px -15px -40px;
padding: 0 40px;
height: 180px;
background: #f6f6f6;

the height: 180px is the problem assumption. I think If you just removed it, it should work in all cases. If I figure out how to make opera hack css teh way it can hack the html, I'll test it.

EDIT2: that doesn't fix it, also have to change this part:

#link_boxes a.box, #link_boxes a.box:link {
width: 160px;
height: 150px;
float: left;
display: block;
background: #f6f6f6;
border: none;
text-align: center;
padding: 15px 11px;

pixel measurements all over the place. I hate web designers.

EDIT3: for a quick hack that should make it a bit more flexible, replace px measurements with something approximately the same in em measurements. I think em is properly tied to dpi and font size.

EDIT4: FAQ page is broken too. The 'Questions' part of the 'frequently asked questions' header word-wraps onto the table of contents. interestingly, it doesn't when I give the browser less room. The font size increments when I give it enough room to draw those damn margins, but again, the assumptions of DPI and font size don't let it fit properly. In this case the whole fixed content width idea should be thrown out. Let it fill the window. The whole point of HTML is that it reflows with different browser windows. At least there's no horizontal scroll.

I'll stop trying to break the site now. Sorry about all the hate.

Comment author: anonym 13 December 2011 04:54:24PM 0 points [-]

I also see the FAQ page as broken with 'Questions' in the header appearing overlayed on the #2 and #3 items in the 'contents' list. With Firefox 8 on Linux at default zoom, and zooming down to make the fonts smaller than normal does fix it.

I agree with nyan_sandwich that things would be much improved if the CSS used ems instead of pixels, which are guaranteed to break if users have non-standard fonts or font sizes or their browser happens to have different enough default CSS rules.

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