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Comment author: D_Malik 08 April 2014 08:52:24PM 1 point [-]

When I listen to music, I usually do so by putting a long multi-genre playlist on shuffle. That's what I was thinking of when I wrote that; I'll edit it.

Listening to music selected to induce specific emotions seems like it could be useful. For instance, for motivation, it might be useful to play a long epic music mix.

Comment author: badger 08 April 2014 09:03:45PM 1 point [-]

Alright, that makes more sense. Random music can randomize emotional state, just like random drugs can randomize physical state. Personally, I listen to a single artist at a time.

Comment author: D_Malik 08 April 2014 07:05:35PM *  15 points [-]

Should we listen to music? This seems like a high-value thing to think about.* Some considerations:

  • Music masks distractions. But we can get the same effect through alternatives such as white noise, calming environmental noise, or ambient social noise.

  • Music creates distractions. It causes interruptions. It forces us to switch our attention between tasks. For instance, listening to music while driving increases the risk of accidents.

  • We seem to enjoy listening to music. Anecdotally, when I've gone on "music fasts", music starts to sound much better and I develop cravings for music. This may indicate that this is a treadmill system, such that listening to music does not produce lasting improvements in mood. (That is, if enjoyment stems from relative change in quality/quantity of music and not from absolute quality/quantity, then we likely cannot obtain a lasting benefit.)

  • Frequency of music-listening correlates (.18) with conscientiousness. I'd guess the causation's in the wrong direction, though.

  • Listening to random music (e.g. a multi-genre playlist on shuffle) will randomize emotion and mindstate. Entropic influences on sorta-optimized things (e.g. mindstate) are usually harmful. And the music-listening people do nowadays is very unlike EEA conditions, which is usually bad.

(These are the product of 30 minutes of googling; I'm asking you, not telling you.)

Here are some ways we could change our music-listening patterns:

  • Music modifies emotion. We could use this to induce specific useful emotions. For instance, for productivity, one could listen to a long epic music mix.

  • Stop listening to music entirely, and switch to various varieties of ambient noise. Moderate ambient noise seems to be best for thinking.

  • Use music only as reinforcement for desired activities. I wrote a plugin to implement this for Anki. Additionally, music benefits exercise, so we might listen to music only at the gym. The treadmill-like nature of music enjoyment (see above) may be helpful here, as it would serve to regulate e.g. exercise frequency - infrequent exercise would create music cravings which would increase exercise frequency, and vice versa.

  • Listen only to educational music. Unfortunately, not much educational music for adults exists. We could get around this by overlaying regular music with text-to-speeched educational material or with audiobooks.

* I've been doing quantitative attention-allocation optimization lately, and "figure out whether to stop listening to music again" has one of the highest expected-utilons-per-time of all the interventions I've considered but not yet implemented.

Comment author: badger 08 April 2014 08:33:15PM 5 points [-]

Music randomizes emotion and mindstate.

Wait, where did "randomizes" come from? The study you link and the standard view says that music can induce specific emotions. The point of the study is that emotions induced by music can carry over into other areas, which suggests we might optimize when we use specific types of music. The study you link about music and accidents also suggests specific music decreased risks.

All the papers I'm immediately seeing on Google Scholar suggest there is no association between background music and studying effectiveness, or if there is, it's only negative for those that don't usually study to music. If that's accurate, either people are already fairly aware of whether music distracts them, they would adapt to it given time, or they don't know what kinds of music are effective for them due to lack of experience.

Comment author: blacktrance 08 April 2014 06:00:56PM 5 points [-]

Atlas Shrugged comes to mind.

Comment author: badger 08 April 2014 06:31:05PM *  7 points [-]

Hmm... Atlas Shrugged does have (ostensible) paragons. Rand's idea of Romanticism as portraying "the world as it should be" seems to match up: "What Romantic art offers is not moral rules, not an explicit didactic message, but the image of a moral person—i.e., the concretized abstraction of a moral ideal." (source) Rand's antagonists do tend to be all flaws and no virtues though.

Comment author: badger 08 April 2014 03:55:04PM 16 points [-]

I'm also somewhat confused by this. I love HPMoR and actively recommend it to friends, but to the extent Eliezer's April Fools' confession can be taken literally, characterizing it as "you-don't-have-a-word genre" and coming from "an entirely different literary tradition" seems a stretch.

Some hypotheses:

  1. Baseline expectations for Harry Potter fanfic are so low that when it turns out well, it seems much more stunning than it does relative to a broader reference class of fiction.
  2. Didactic fiction is nothing new, but high quality didactic fiction is an incredibly impressive accomplishment.
  3. The scientific content happens to align incredibly well with some readers' interests, making it genre-breaking in the same way The Hunt for Red October was for technical details of submarines. If you are into that specific field, it feels world-shatteringly good. For puns about hydras and ordinals, HPMoR is the only game in town, but that's ultimately a sparse audience.
  4. There is a genuine gap in fiction that is both light-hearted and serious in places which Eliezer managed to fill. Pratchett is funny and can make great satirical points, but doesn't have the same dramatic tension. Works that otherwise get the dramatic stakes right tend to steer clear of being light-hearted and inspirational. HPMoR is genre-breaking for roughly the same reasons Adventure Time gets the same accolades.
Comment author: badger 08 April 2014 05:59:08PM 15 points [-]

One more hypothesis after reading other comments:

HPMoR is a new genre where every major character either has no character flaws or is capable of rapid growth. In other words, the diametric opposite of Hamlet, Anna Karenina, or The Corrections. Rather than "rationalist fiction", a better term would be "paragon fiction". Characters have rich and conflicting motives so life isn't a walk in the park despite their strengths. Still everyone acts completely unrealistically relative to life-as-we-know-it by never doing something dumb or against their interests. Virtues aren't merely labels and obstacles don't automatically dissolve, so readers could learn to emulate these paragons through observation.

This actually does seem at odds with the western canon, and off-hand I can't think of anything else that might be described in this way. Perhaps something like Hikaru No Go? Though I haven't read them, maybe Walter Jon Williams' Aristoi or Ian Banks' Culture series?

Comment author: JoshuaFox 08 April 2014 02:14:12PM 7 points [-]

What's so special about HPMoR?

Some people seem to think that it is more than just a decent read: that it genre-breaking, that it transcends the rules of ordinary fiction. Some people change their life-pattern after reading HPMoR. Why?

For some context on who is asking this question: I've read 400 pages or more of HPMoR; as well as pretty much everything else that Eliezer has written.

Comment author: badger 08 April 2014 03:55:04PM 16 points [-]

I'm also somewhat confused by this. I love HPMoR and actively recommend it to friends, but to the extent Eliezer's April Fools' confession can be taken literally, characterizing it as "you-don't-have-a-word genre" and coming from "an entirely different literary tradition" seems a stretch.

Some hypotheses:

  1. Baseline expectations for Harry Potter fanfic are so low that when it turns out well, it seems much more stunning than it does relative to a broader reference class of fiction.
  2. Didactic fiction is nothing new, but high quality didactic fiction is an incredibly impressive accomplishment.
  3. The scientific content happens to align incredibly well with some readers' interests, making it genre-breaking in the same way The Hunt for Red October was for technical details of submarines. If you are into that specific field, it feels world-shatteringly good. For puns about hydras and ordinals, HPMoR is the only game in town, but that's ultimately a sparse audience.
  4. There is a genuine gap in fiction that is both light-hearted and serious in places which Eliezer managed to fill. Pratchett is funny and can make great satirical points, but doesn't have the same dramatic tension. Works that otherwise get the dramatic stakes right tend to steer clear of being light-hearted and inspirational. HPMoR is genre-breaking for roughly the same reasons Adventure Time gets the same accolades.
Comment author: Slackson 01 April 2014 09:48:19PM 1 point [-]

Does it make sense to apply the Kelly Criterion to Hanson's LMSR? It seems to intuitively, but my math skills are too weak.

Comment author: badger 01 April 2014 11:03:10PM 0 points [-]

What do you mean by applying Kelly to the LMSR?

Since relying on Kelly is equivalent to maximizing log utility of wealth, I'd initially guess there is some equivalence between a group of risk-neutral agents trading via the LMSR and a group of Kelly agents with equal wealth trading directly. I haven't seen anything around in the literature though.

"Learning Performance of Prediction Markets with Kelly Bettors" looks at the performance of double auction markets with Kelly agents, but doesn't make any reference to Hanson even though I know Pennock is aware of the LMSR.

"The Parimutuel Kelly Probability Scoring Rule" might point to some connection.

Comment author: ahbwramc 01 April 2014 02:07:49AM 4 points [-]

Continuing the use of LW as my source for non-fiction recommendations...

Any suggestions on a decent popular-but-not-too-dumbed-down intro to Economics?

Comment author: badger 01 April 2014 12:36:34PM 3 points [-]

Hidden Order by David Friedman is a popular book, but is semi-technical enough that it could serve as a textbook for an intro microeconomics course.

Comment author: Coscott 26 February 2014 08:40:02PM 5 points [-]

Here is one improvement to OKcupid, which we might even be able to implement as a third party:

OKcupid has bad match algorithms, but it can still be useful as searchable classified adds. However, when you find a legitimate match, you need to have a way to signal to the other person that you believe the match could work.

Most messages on OKcupid are from men to women, so women already have a way to do this: send a message, however men do not.

Men spam messages, by glancing over profiles, and sending cookie cutter messages that mention something in the profile. Women are used to this spam, and may reject legitimate interest, because they do not have a good enough spam filter.

Our service would be to provide an I am not spamming commitment. A flag that can be put in a message which signals "This is the only flagged message I have sent this week"

It would be a link, you put in your message, which sends you to a site that basically says. Yes, Bob(profile link) has only sent this flag to Alice(profile link) in the week of 2/20/14-2/26/14, with an explanation of how this works.

Do you think that would be a useful service to implement? Do you think people would actually use it, and receive it well?

Comment author: badger 26 February 2014 09:43:20PM 5 points [-]

Scarce signals do increase willingness to go on dates, based on a field experiment of online dating in South Korea.

Comment author: VincentYu 26 February 2014 12:39:44AM 2 points [-]

There are some techniques that can be used with simulated annealing to deal with noise in the evaluation of the objective function. See Section 3 of Branke et al (2008) for a quick overview of proposed methods (they also propose new techniques in that paper). Most of these techniques come with the usual convergence guarantees that are associated with simulated annealing (but there are of course performance penalties in dealing with noise).

What is the dimensionality of your parameter space? What do you know about the noise? (e.g., if you know that the noise is mostly homoscedastic or if you can parameterize it, then you can probably use this to push the performance of some of the simulated annealing algorithms.)

Comment author: badger 26 February 2014 02:20:25AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the SA paper!

The parameter space is only two dimensional here, so it's not hard to eyeball roughly where the minimum is if I sample enough. I can say very little about the noise. I'm more interested being able to approximate the optimum quickly (since simulation time adds up) than hitting it exactly. The approach taken in this paper based on a non-parametric tau test looks interesting.

Comment author: Lumifer 26 February 2014 01:09:46AM 1 point [-]

Hm. Is the noise magnitude comparable with features in your search space? In other words, can you ignore noise to get a fast lock on a promising section of the space and then start multiple sampling?

Simulated annealing that has been mentioned is a good approach but slow to the extent of being impractical for large search spaces.

Solutions to problems such as yours are rarely general and typically depend on the specifics of the problem -- essentially it's all about finding shortcuts.

Comment author: badger 26 February 2014 01:55:03AM 0 points [-]

The parameter space in this current problem is only two dimensional, so I can eyeball a plausible region, sample at a higher rate there, and iterate by hand. In another project, I had something with an very high dimensional parameter space, so I figured it's time I learn more about these techniques.

Any resources you can recommend on this topic then? Is there a list of common shortcuts anywhere?

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