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

Comment author: eli_sennesh 16 December 2014 02:32:42PM 4 points [-]

I think the nasty part of the Hard Problem of Consciousness is probably in finding a naturalistic explanation for how things come seem subjectively objective: for why the wavelength of red feels from the inside like a built-in quality of the world rather than a perception generated by a mind in response to a stimulus. I think the "social processing theory of consciousness" doesn't quite explain this, at least not to my satisfaction.

Of course, the random thoughts I record in Open Thread are not liable to be high-quality.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 17 December 2014 01:15:04AM 2 points [-]

for why the wavelength of red feels from the inside like a built-in quality of the world rather than a perception generated by a mind in response to a stimulus.

For any agent, self-reflection has to bottom out somewhere, since working memory and cognitive capacity are finite.

That said, some meditation practitioners report being able to notice "the arising and passing away" of individual sensations, so it may be that this is just a matter of training rather than an essential feature of consciousness.

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 13 December 2014 02:27:36PM *  0 points [-]

I might edit the OP. It's not about there being a right or wrong answer. The whole point of asking the question is to discriminate between "'what exactly is a number?' is a deep, nebulous, philosophical question we don't have a satisfactory answer for" and "'what exactly is a number?' is a trivial question I simply haven't asked myself yet".

It's also not necessarily about posing awkward questions to other people, but about mechanically assembling these questions for any given topic, which we can then ask ourselves.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 13 December 2014 10:15:03PM *  1 point [-]

A number is anything that acts numbery under certain operations.

Integers are very numbery. Reals are pretty numbery. Polynomials and matrices are still pretty numbery. Strings and graphs are somewhat less numbery. Rubber chickens are scarcely numbery at all.

"What is a mathematical operation?" is maybe a better question.

Comment author: Kawoomba 12 December 2014 10:45:20PM *  5 points [-]

Some of the awkward personal details which are so deliciously expounded upon come close to character assassination. Shame on the author, going for the cheap shots. I can just imagine an exposé of the very same style used to denigrate, say, Alan Turing.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 13 December 2014 03:25:29AM *  1 point [-]

Dude was crazy about long-distance running.

Comment author: Vulture 10 December 2014 06:16:58AM *  5 points [-]

(That said, Richard Feynman is dead and therefore cannot sexually harass any of his current readers.)

A similar argument could be made that a pre-recorded lecture cannot sexually harass someone either (barring of course very creative uses of the video lecture format which we probably would have heard about by now :P ).

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 December 2014 06:29:54AM 3 points [-]

From the MIT press release, it sounds as if the former professor emeritus¹ has been harassing online students through means other than pre-recorded videos.

¹ Would that be a professor demeritus?

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 December 2014 03:08:53AM 2 points [-]

After WWI Germans did try to copy American culture and might have copied scientifically motivated racism. On the other hand that stopped a bit with the Nazis. They didn't care about copying the US. "Blut und Boden" ("blood and soil") was a quite old idea.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 December 2014 03:58:33AM *  0 points [-]

"Racial hygiene" isn't really the same as "scientific racism". The latter seems to be used more to refer to the anthropological theories of racial superiority, now euphemistically called "human biodiversity" by their advocates.

But "racial hygiene" policies included the elimination of "undesirable" gene lines within the advocates' favored race — first through forced sterilization, and later through killing.

The German 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring reads like an echo of Harry Laughlin's 1922 Model Eugenical Sterilization Law, which was the model for the sterilization provisions in Virginia's 1924 law.

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 December 2014 03:04:31AM 2 points [-]

Have you been in any discussion with practical implications about a voting system, based on which you make that statement or is your experience mainly about talking with people who don't have an influence on actual voting systems?

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 December 2014 03:29:01AM 1 point [-]

It was, in fact, to do with student government. :)

Comment author: ChristianKl 09 December 2014 06:09:36PM 4 points [-]

I know this has no chance of happening in a real government anytime soon, but I'd still like to talk about it.

That depends very much of what you mean with real government. There no reason why the student body of an university can't be persuaded to elect their Student Government President that way.

Various open source projects govern themselves through complex processes.

LessWrong didn't use an election to pick a moderator but we could have, if we would believe that a democratic process would have been better.

If you think you have a system for better governance than it's a mistake to focus mainly on the national level. It's bad to suggest that the national level should switch to a system that hasn't proved it's worth on a smaller scale.

As a young and idealist college student who wants to change governance, student self governance is the ideal playground. On the one hand you are facing smart people who have other interests than you, on the other hand you don't mess up too much if you get things wrong.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 December 2014 02:46:38AM 2 points [-]

That depends very much of what you mean with real government. There no reason why the student body of an university can't be persuaded to elect their Student Government President that way.

Many folks' response to advocacy of weird voting systems seems to be something like — "The only reason you would advocate that weird voting system is because it gives your party some sort of sneaky advantage. I don't know enough about voting systems to know what that sneaky advantage is, but I know enough about humans to know that you're up to something."

Comment author: shminux 09 December 2014 09:53:48PM *  19 points [-]

Making the news today is MIT taking down all Walter Lewin videos (most now, some at the end of the term) as a result of their investigation into sexual harassment allegations. This seems like a gross and unprecedented overreaction (a rough equivalent of removing all Bill Cosby videos), so I would estimate that this decision will be partially or fully reversed within 1 year, with probability of 75%.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 December 2014 02:44:25AM 1 point [-]

Richard Feynman may have been a creep-and-a-half, but it would be a shame to stop publishing the Feynman Lectures on Physics on that regard.

(That said, Richard Feynman is dead and therefore cannot sexually harass any of his current readers.)

Comment author: Lumifer 10 December 2014 02:00:48AM 1 point [-]

For starters, a system to be sure that a user or service is the same user or service it was previously.

That seems to be pretty trivial. What's wrong with a username/password combo (besides all the usual things) or, if you want to get a bit more sophisticated, with having the user generate a private key for himself?

You don't need a web of trust or any central authority to verify that the user named X is in possession of a private key which the user named X had before.

I'm more interested in if anyone's trying to solve it.

Well, again, the critical question is: What are you really trying to achieve?

If you want the online equivalent of the meatspace reputation, well, first meatspace reputation does not exist as one convenient number, and second it's still a two-argument function.

there's no attempts to run multi-dimensional reputation systems, to weigh votes by length of post or age of poster, spellcheck or capitalizations thresholds.

Once again, with feeling :-D -- to which purpose? Generally speaking, if you run a forum all you need is a way to filter out idiots and trolls. Your regular users will figure out reputation on their own and their conclusions will be all different. You can build an automated system to suit your fancy, but there's no guarantee (and, actually, a pretty solid bet) that it won't suit other people well.

I expect Twitter or FaceBook have something complex underneath the hood

Why would Twitter or FB bother assigning reputation to users? They want to filter out bad actors and maximize their eyeballs and their revenue which generally means keeping users sufficiently happy and well-measured.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 December 2014 02:30:11AM 1 point [-]

That seems to be pretty trivial. What's wrong with a username/password combo (besides all the usual things)

"All the usual things" are many, and some of them are quite wrong indeed.

If you need solid long-term authentication, outsource it to someone whose business depends on doing it right. Google for instance is really quite good at detecting unauthorized use of an account (i.e. your Gmail getting hacked). It's better (for a number of reasons) not to be beholden to a single authentication provider, though, which is why there are things like OpenID Connect that let users authenticate using Google, Facebook, or various other sources.

On the other hand, if you need authorization without (much) authentication — for instance, to let anonymous users delete their own posts, but not other people's — maybe you want tripcodes.

And if you need to detect sock puppets (one person pretending to be several people), you may have an easy time or you may be in hard machine-learning territory. (See the obvious recent thread for more.) Some services — like Wikipedia — seem to attract some really dedicated puppeteers.

Comment author: Punoxysm 10 December 2014 01:58:09AM *  0 points [-]

If the Bay Area has such a high concentration of rationalists, shouldn't it have more-rational-than-average housing, transportation and legislation?

Sadly, I know the stupid answers to this stupid questions. I just want to vent a bit.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 December 2014 02:13:35AM 5 points [-]

Are rationalists more or less likely than non-rationalists to participate in local government?

View more: Next