Comment author: 10 March 2015 11:08:24AM *  3 points [-]

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swarmwise-Tactical-Manual-Changing-World/dp/1463533152

http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2710

I like the first link because it is at least trying to move past feudalism as an organizing principle. The second link is about the fact that it is hard to make groups of people act like we want (because groups of people operate under a set of poorly understood laws, likely these laws are cousins to things like natural selection in biology).

Public choice folks like to study this stuff, but it seems really really hard.

Comment author: 10 March 2015 05:44:26PM 4 points [-]

A pdf copyof Swarmwise from the author's website.

Comment author: 09 March 2015 09:22:39PM 6 points [-]

I remember reading an article here a while back about a fair protocol for making a bet when we disagree on the odds, but I can't find it. Anyone remember what that was? Thanks!

Comment author: 10 March 2015 01:51:47PM 6 points [-]

Assume there are n people. Let S_i be person i's score for the event that occurs according to your favorite proper scoring rule. Then let the total payment to person i be

$T_i=S_i-\frac{1}{n-1}\sum_{j\ne\,i}S_j$

(i.e. the person's score minus the average score of everyone else). If there are two people, this is just the difference in scores. The person makes a profit if T_i is positive and a payment if T_i is negative.

This scheme is always strategyproof and budget-balanced. If the Bregman divergence associated with the scoring rule is symmetric (like it is with the quadratic scoring rule), then each person expects the same profit before the question is resolved.

Comment author: 17 February 2015 02:09:19PM 11 points [-]

Prisoner's Dilemma Variant

There are a few tweaks to the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma which can affect which strategies tend to be successful. A very common one is to randomize how long the round is, so predicting the end-game doesn't overwhelm all other strategy factors. A less common one is adding noise, so that what each program tries to do isn't necessarily what happens.

Does anyone know of any tourneys that have been run where, in addition to Cooperation or Defection, each program also has the choice to End The Game, simulating quitting a business relationship, moving away, shunning, or otherwise ceasing to interact with another program?

Comment author: 18 February 2015 07:09:49PM 1 point [-]

Not aware of any tourneys with this tweak, but I use a similar example when I teach.

If the payoff from exiting is zero and the mutual defection payoff is negative, then the game doesn't change much. Exit on the first round becomes the unique subgame-perfect equilibrium of any finite repetition, and with a random end date, trigger strategies to support cooperation work similarly to the original game.

Life is a more interesting if the mutual defection payoff is sufficiently better than exit. Cooperation can happen in equilibrium even when the end date is known (except on the last round) since exit is a viable threat to punish defection.

Comment author: 13 January 2015 02:14:07PM 4 points [-]

I have heard that in economics and possibly other social sciences Ph.D. students can staple together three journal articles, call it a dissertation and get awarded their doctorate. But I've recently read "Publication, Publication" by Gary King, which I interpret as saying a very bright and hardworking undergraduate can write a quantitative political science article in the space of a semester, while carrying a normal class load.

This is confusing. Now, Dr. King teaches at Harvard so all his students are smart and it's two students writing one paper but this still seems insane. I'm guessing a full course load is around 6 classes a term and people are to write a journal article or close approximation thereof in a semester when three of them will suffice to get a Ph.D. and many people fail out of said degree who are very, very smart.

Where am I confused? Is research not that hard, a stapler thesis a myth or these class projects not strictly comparable to real papers?

Abstract: I show herein how to write a publishable paper by beginning with the replication of a published article. This strategy seems to work well for class projects in producing papers that ultimately get published, helping to professionalize students into the discipline, and teaching them the scientific norms of the free exchange of academic information. I begin by briefly revisiting the prominent debate on replication our discipline had a decade ago and some of the progress made in data sharing since.

Citation: King, Gary. 2006. Publication, Publication, PS: Political Science and Politics 39: 119–125. Copy at http://j.mp/iTXtrg

Comment author: 15 January 2015 06:40:18PM 1 point [-]

From an economics perspective, the stapler dissertation is real. The majority of the time, the three papers haven't been published.

It's also possible to publish empirical work produced in a few months. The issue is where that article is likely to be published. There's a clear hierarchy of journals, and a low ranked publication could hurt more than it helps. Dissertation committees have very different standards depending on the student's ambition to go into academia. If the committee has to write letters of rec to other professors, it takes a lot more work to be sufficiently novel and interesting. If someone goes into industry, almost any three papers will suffice.

I've seen people leave because they couldn't pass coursework or because they felt burnt out, but the degree almost always comes conditional on writing something and having well-calibrated ambitions.

Comment author: 10 December 2014 08:23:06PM 1 point [-]

This looks very useful. Thanks!

Another one of those interesting questions is whether the pricing system must be equivalent to currency exchange. To what extent are the traditional modes of transaction a legacy of the limitations behind physical coinage, and what degrees of freedom are offered by ubiquitous computation and connectivity? Etc. (I have a lot of questions.)

Comment author: 10 December 2014 09:09:08PM 1 point [-]

Results like the Second Welfare Theorem (every efficient allocation can be implemented via competitive equilibrium after some lump-sum transfers) suggests it must be equivalent in theory.

Eric Budish has done some interesting work changing the course allocation system at Wharton to use general equilibrium theory behind the scenes. In the previous system, courses were allocated via a fake money auction where students had to actually make bids. In the new system, students submit preferences and the allocation is computed as the equilibrium starting from "equal incomes".

What benefits do you think a different system might provide, or what problems does monetary exchange have that you're trying to avoid? Extra computation and connectivity should just open opportunities for new markets and dynamic pricing, rather than suggest we need something new.

Comment author: 09 December 2014 10:37:17PM *  2 points [-]

Maneki Neko is a short story about an AI that manages a kind of gift economy. It's an enjoyable read.

I've been curious about this 'class' of systems for a while now, but I don't think I know enough about economics to ask the questions well. For example- the story supplies a superintelligence to function as a competent central manager, but could such a gift network theoretically exist without being centrally managed (and without trivially reducing to modern forms of currency exchange)? Could a variant of Watson be used to automate the distribution of capital in the same way that it makes a medical dignosis? And so on.

In particular, I'm looking for the intellectual tools that would be used to ask these questions in a more rigorous way; it would be great if I had better ways of figuring out which of these questions are obviously stupid and which are not. Specific disciplines in economics or game theory, perhaps. Things along the lines of LW's Mechanism Design sequence would be fantastic. Can anyone give me a few pointers?

Comment author: 10 December 2014 07:35:24PM 6 points [-]

My intuition is every good allocation system will use prices somewhere, whether the users see them or not. The main perk of the story's economy is getting things you need without having to explicitly decide to buy them (ie the down-on-his-luck guy unexpectedly gifted his favorite coffee), and that could be implemented through individual AI agents rather than a central AI.

Fleshing out how this might play out, if I'm feeling sick, my AI agent notices and broadcasts a bid for hot soup. The agents of people nearby respond with offers. The lowest offer might come from someone already in a soup shop who lives next door to me since they'll hardly have to go out of their way. Their agent would notify them to buy something extra and deliver it to me. Once the task is fulfilled, my agent would send the agreed-upon payment. As long as the agents are well-calibrated to our needs and costs, it'd feel like a great gift even if there are auctions and payments behind the scenes.

For pointers, general equilibrium theory studies how to allocate all the goods in an economy. Depending on how you squint at the model, it could be studying centralized or decentralized markets based on money or pure exchange. A Toolbox for Economic Design is fairly accessible texbook on mechanism design that covers lots of allocation topics.

Comment author: 10 May 2014 12:00:06AM 0 points [-]

The Revelation Principle feels like one of those results that flip flops between trivially obvious and absurdly impossible... I'm currently in an "absurdly powerful" frame of mind.

I guess the principle is mostly useful for impossibility results? Given an arbitrary mechanism, will you usually be able to decompose it to find the associated incentive compatible mechanism?

Comment author: 23 November 2014 02:10:01PM 1 point [-]

I'm on board with "absurdly powerful". It underlies the bulk of mechanism design, to the point my advisor complains we've confused it with the entirety of mechanism design.

The principle gives us the entire set of possible outcomes for some solution concept like dominant-strategy equilibrium or Bayes-Nash equilibrium. It works for any search over the set of outcomes, whether that leads to an impossibility result or a constructive result like identifying the revenue-optimal auction.

Given an arbitrary mechanism, it's easy (in principle) to find the associated IC direct mechanism(s). The mechanism defines a game, so we solve the game and find the equilibrium outcomes for each type profile. Once we've found that, the IC direct mechanism just assigns the equilibrium outcome directly. For instance, if everyone's equilibrium strategy in a pay-your-bid/first-price auction was to bid 90% of their value, the direct mechanism assigns the item to the person with the highest value and charges them 90% of their value. Since a game can have multiple equilibria, we have one IC mechanism per outcome. The revelation principle can't answer questions like "Is there a mechanism where every equilibrium (as opposed to some equilibrium) gives a particular outcome?"

Comment author: 17 November 2014 07:42:32PM 9 points [-]

an additional 1% migration rate would increase world GDP by about 1% (i.e. about one trillion dollars)

I am having strong doubts about this number. The paper cited is long on handwaving and seems to be entirely too fond of expressions like "should make economists’ jaws hit their desks" and "there appear to be trillion-dollar bills on the sidewalk". In particular, there is the pervasive assumption that people are fungible so transferring a person from a $5,000 GDP/capita economy to a$50,000 GDP/capita economy immediately nets you $45,000 in additional GDP. I don't think this is true. Comment author: 17 November 2014 09:29:29PM 1 point [-] The paper cited is handwavy and conversational because it isn't making original claims. It's providing a survey for non-specialists. The table I mentioned is a summary of six other papers. Some of the studies assume workers in poorer countries are permanently 1/3rd or 1/5th as productive as native workers, so the estimate is based on something more like a person transferred from a$5,000 GDP/capita economy to a $50,000 GDP/capita economy is able to produce$10-15K in value.

Comment author: 17 November 2014 03:51:49PM 7 points [-]

Would supporting open immigration count as part of effective altruism?

Comment author: 17 November 2014 07:19:41PM 1 point [-]

For context on the size of the potential benefit, an additional 1% migration rate would increase world GDP by about 1% (i.e. about one trillion dollars). The main question is the rate of migration if barriers are partially lowered, with estimates varying between 1% and 30%. Completely open migration could double world output. Based on Table 2 of Clemens (2011)

Comment author: 28 September 2014 05:20:33PM 1 point [-]

Giving them different exponents in the Nash product has some appeal, except that it does seem like NBS without modification is correct in the two-delegate case (where the weight assigned to the different theories is captured properly by the fact that the defection point is more closely aligned with the view of the theory with more weight). If we don't think that's right in the two-delegate case we should have some account of why not.

Comment author: 28 September 2014 06:35:56PM 1 point [-]

The issue is when we should tilt outcomes in favor of higher credence theories. Starting from a credence-weighted mixture, I agree theories should have equal bargaining power. Starting from a more neutral disagreement point, like the status quo actions of a typical person, higher credence should entail more power / votes / delegates.

On a quick example, equal bargaining from a credence-weighted mixture tends to favor the lower credence theory compared to weighted bargaining from an equal status quo. If the total feasible set of utilities is {(x,y) | x^2 + y^2 ≤ 1; x,y ≥ 0}, then the NBS starting from (0.9, 0.1) is about (0.95, 0.28) and the NBS starting from (0,0) with theory 1 having nine delegates (i.e. an exponent of nine in the Nash product) and theory 2 having one delegate is (0.98, 0.16).

If the credence-weighted mixture were on the Pareto frontier, both approaches are equivalent.

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