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Comment author: Tem42 29 August 2015 07:40:31PM 2 points [-]

It is not really interesting that a circle can be X if you first change the definition of circle.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 29 August 2015 08:34:54PM 1 point [-]

It's not arbitrary redefinition, though. like the old joke about "calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one"; it's actually a consistent geometry.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 27 August 2015 12:28:38AM 1 point [-]

There is a difference between things that are impossible per se and things we think are impossible. Logical impossibilities are impossible regardless of anyone's opinion. Good luck with that square circle survey.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 29 August 2015 02:37:17PM 1 point [-]

Square circles exist in the Manhattan metric.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 26 August 2015 04:48:29AM *  4 points [-]

I find myself occasionally in conversations that aim at choosing one of two (or more) courses of action. Here are some patterns that arise that frustrate me:

A: We'll get to City in an hour. When we're there, do you want to do X? Or maybe Y?
B: I haven't thought about it yet, I've been dodging sheep and potholes. What do you want to do?
A: Whatever you're comfortable doing.
B: Umm ... Which is easier to get to?
A: I don't know. Or, we could do C, D, or E?
B: Now I'm getting choice paralysis.
A: Well, I wanted to see if you were really enthusiastic for any of them when I mentioned them. Like "Ooh, C, we have to do C, it's awesome."
B: Are you enthusiastic for any of them? Or are there some that we can rule out because they'd be hard on you?
A: Well, I'm not very interested in X but I'd do it if you wanted to.
B: Wow, X was like the first option you proposed. I would have guessed that was the one you most favored.
A: No, that was the one I thought you would most want to do. It sounds okay but not great to me.

(It may be relevant that A has a mild physical disability and self-describes as an introvert, while B self-describes as an extrovert diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Both are relatively neurotypical for around here.)

A: Where should we eat dinner tonight? Can you look on the search results for "City restaurants"?
B: Well, there's Anna's Afghan, Caonima Chinese, Dack's Deli, and Ed's Ethiopian, plus a bunch of taquerias and burger joints.
A: That's too many options. Which are any good?
B: I already filtered out the ones that really didn't sound like we would like them. Like Pat's Pork-Fat BBQ Smokestack.
A: Ew, yeah, good idea, but it's still too many. We should narrow it down.
B: Okay, how about Dack's Deli? I could go for a turkey avocado sandwich.
A: How about Bob's or ... hey, there's a second page of search results. Flora's Flounder Fish, Greg's Garlic Gustables, ...
B: Wait, I thought you said we needed to narrow down the list we already had?
A: Well yes, we do.
B: So, I nominated Dack's Deli and you didn't respond, and extended the list of candidates instead. Should I take that as meaning that you're rejecting Dack's Deli outright and narrow the list down?
A: No, I just want more information. Any of these could turn out to suck.
B: Well, sure, but we don't need to find the very best budget restaurant in City. We just need to find one that is nice enough that we like it,
A: Caonima Chinese has an alpaca on their logo, but I'm not sure I want to go to a restaurant that tells me to fuck my mom.
B: Yeah, that is a little creepy. Mumble mumble hipsters mumble.
A: So you really want to go to Dack's Deli?
B: Not particularly but since all we know about any of these is the listings, we might as well choose kind of arbitrarily.
A: FIne, let's do that.

(The deli turned out to be closed, but the fish & chip shop next door was fine.)

It feels like we're running two different negotiation scripts. Mine (B) works by collecting a pool of candidate results (by brainstorming, or using a search engine, then filtering out things that we're definitely not up for doing, then doing a tiny bit of stack ranking and presenting the list. A's script seems to start out by proposing the option that A thinks I will like most, even if A doesn't want that option very much, then falling back to "rattle off some results and see if any elicit +++ enthusiasm.

Assume that the conversational partners have heard of NVC, value of information, basic business negotiation; and also assume that one another are acting in good faith. The limiting factor is not "can we come to equitable terms?" or "is this going to lead to a big fight?" ... it is more "can we more rapidly converge on a common-knowledge prediction of an enjoyable dinner, without spending huge mental effort on it up front?"

Comment author: ETranshumanist 12 August 2015 05:08:29PM 1 point [-]

We could double humanity's genetic "shuffle rate" by allowing couples to have one child naturally but requiring men to donate their sperm to a central bank, and women to carry and give birth to "randomly-fathered" children.

Obviously the institutional and logistical (not to mention ethical) challenges make this impossible in any present society. But for a planned community of fixed size (e.g. a small colony of humans attempting to rapidly populate a planet, or a starship designed to support the minimum possible human population with the highest possible genetic diversity), such measures may be a practical necessity.

I suspect this has been explored in Science Fiction, though I've never read anything in which this idea was put into practice.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 13 August 2015 12:56:02AM 4 points [-]

I seem to vaguely recall a novel in which a world government had declared that in order to promote hybrid vigor and resistance to disease, same-race marriages and matings should be considered equivalent to incest. People who were not already mixed-race were permitted to marry or have children only with a partner of a different racial background.

The slightly-secret reason for this was to prevent future outbreaks of racial violence by blending the races. Although everyone in the story's present day was opposed to racism, it might come back in the future. (I'm guessing the novel was written in the '60s or '70s.)

And the real reason for it was to reduce population, since most people were still System-1 racist even though they were System-2 anti-racist. Making the only socially acceptable partners be ones of other races meant that people were overall less likely to find partners and have children.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 12 August 2015 10:59:40PM 3 points [-]

It's not a crazy idea at all; it's more on the field of "The world is a dumber place because this needs to happen and hasn't yet."

Comment author: fubarobfusco 13 August 2015 12:44:55AM 2 points [-]

Metrication of industrial products: clear benefit.

Metrication of road signage: somewhat less clear benefit.

Metrication of kitchen units: no.

Comment author: HungryHobo 12 August 2015 05:33:48PM 3 points [-]

More generally I do sometimes worry that attack vectors which seem obvious and dangerous to me simply haven't been though of by deeply unimaginative malicious people and so feel vaguely worried about even mentioning them as a negative possibility if I can't find people already proposing them with google.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 13 August 2015 12:34:06AM *  1 point [-]

Eh, that's not really what I'm worried about. It just seems to me that there can be very little good outcome of (say) posting "crazy ideas" here about how to recreate slavery or whatever. Not because it'll make LW look bad, or because there's a significant chance of it coming about ... but because people shouldn't practice at creating social ills, since you get better at what you practice.

Post "crazy ideas" about how to accomplish good ends, sure. But "crazy ideas" for creating conditions that nobody would want their son or daughter to live in? Why bother? History is bad enough.

(This is intended to be a politically neutral argument, applicable equally given progressive or conservative premises.)

Comment author: IffThen 12 August 2015 09:17:05PM 0 points [-]

Speaking of crazy ideas.... sitting around Googling methods of terrorism may not be the best way to stay of the CIA's watch-list.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 13 August 2015 12:28:43AM 0 points [-]

I hope the CIA spend more time tracking people who actually have contact with terrorist organizations, and less time tracking people who are idly curious about how to blow things up and set them on fire ... if only for the future of the Boy Scouts.

Comment author: lmm 12 August 2015 06:04:58AM 0 points [-]

That wasn't the insight. Google+ did more real identity than Facebook.

I'd say Zuckerberg's crucial insight was "people will still use a social website even if you don't let them customise the look of their page".

Comment author: fubarobfusco 12 August 2015 06:35:04AM *  2 points [-]

I'd say Zuckerberg's crucial insight was "people will still use a social website even if you don't let them customise the look of their page".

Or "the right seed population for a social network is young rich sexually-active people — e.g. Harvard students, then other college students, then whoever they drag in."

Comment author: MattG 12 August 2015 06:14:44AM 1 point [-]


Comment author: fubarobfusco 12 August 2015 06:31:16AM 2 points [-]

Well, we definitely should not torture or enslave them.

Comment author: MattG 12 August 2015 05:47:37AM *  2 points [-]

A portion of a student's first two years salary (say, 10%) should go to the people who taught them the hard skills necessary to get that job (relative to how much those skills are needed on the job)


Companies could use relative importance testing to figure out which skills they valued to which degree, and teachers could keep track of which skills they taught students, and use standardized microdegrees to prove they had taught those students those skills.

immediate prerequisites would get say, 3% of the that 10%, and pre-pre-requisites would get 3% of that. So that when you get all the way to their kindergarten teacher who taught them all how to count, he's getting only a tiny fraction of that salary (but of course, almost ALL his students will be using the skills he taught, so he might still make a decent amount from it)

Rationale: -Teachers have a HUGE positive externality in that they don't capture MOST of the economic value they create. The best teachers not only teach the material - they foster a deep love for what they teach, and may cause their pupil's to take on careers related to what they teach.. This incentive scheme captures that distinction, which I believe is a huge criticism right now of incentive schemes based purely on standardized testing.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 12 August 2015 06:29:16AM *  6 points [-]

Here are some perspectives on education:

  • Education of an individual provides expected benefits to that individual. He or she will have better career opportunities than if he or she did not receive that education. Therefore, the cost of education should be borne primarily by the individual, for instance in the form of debts that must be repaid.
  • Education of an individual provides expected benefits to the whole society in which that individual lives and works. He or she will be capable of greater productivity, which will have positive but diffuse externalities for a very large number of people. Productivity increases, however, accrue mostly to the wealthier members of society. Therefore, the cost of education should be borne primarily by the public in general, for instance in the form of tax-funded grants, but these should be funded by progressive taxes on income or wealth.
  • Education of an individual provides expected benefits to the individual's future employers, as workers with particular skills are scarce and obtained on a competitive job market. When an educated person is hired (and thus removed from the job market for the moment), there are fewer educated candidates available to the next employer. Therefore, the cost of education should be borne primarily by employers of educated workers, for instance in the form of a payroll tax; or a payment to the educator from the employer.
  • Education should not be modeled as a future economic benefit to particular parties, but as a duty of society to its own next generation, based on the benefit of past education: to a first approximation, everyone has received benefits that would not be possible without oneself and one's fellows and predecessors having been educated; therefore, everyone bears responsibility to pay it forward, proportional perhaps to the benefit that they themselves have received.

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