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Comment author: datadataeverywhere 12 September 2012 11:58:42AM 0 points [-]

For the record, I think programming is so measurable and has such a tight feedback loop that it is one arena in which it's relatively easy to recognize ability that far exceeds your own.

1) Code quality is fairly subjective, and in particular novice (very novice) programmers have difficulty rating code. Most professional programmers seem to be able to recognize it though, and feel awe when they come across beautiful code.

2) Code quantity can be misleading, but if you're on a team and producing a 100-line delta a day, you will notice the odd team member producing 1000-line daily deltas; coupled with even decent ability to tell whether or not that code is maintainable and efficient (in terms of functionality / loc), this is a strong indicator.

3) Actually watching a master write code is fantastic and intimidating. People that code at 60 wpm without even stopping to consider their algorithms, data structures or APIs, but manage at the end of an hour to have a tight, unit-tested, efficient and readable module.

I can think of five people that I know that I would classify as being in discrete levels above me (that is, each of them is distinguishable by me as being either better or worse than the others). I think there are some gaps in there; Jeff Dean is so mindbogglingly skilled that I can't see anyone on my list ever catching up to him, so there are probably a few levels I don't have examples for.

Comment author: jhuffman 14 September 2012 07:18:20PM *  0 points [-]

People that code at 60 wpm without even stopping to consider their algorithms, data structures or APIs, but manage at the end of an hour to have a tight, unit-tested, efficient and readable module.

I've never seen this or even imagined it can happen. I can't even write comments or pseudo-code that fast (without pause) because I can't design that fast.

Comment author: DanielLC 01 August 2012 09:37:00PM 2 points [-]

What is a "hologram-like avatar"? Do the figure that a robot body isn't good enough, and they want one that A) can't interact with the world meaningfully, and B) is physically impossible?

Comment author: jhuffman 03 August 2012 05:26:29PM *  3 points [-]

I interpret this as pandering to people who cannot presently comprehend how you can be alive without a body. I doubt it is a serious plan. But I think its more likely there is no plan to do anything but get funded.

Comment author: Thomas 02 July 2012 04:48:07PM 1 point [-]

Nonsentient AI doing all the work necessary is a far better option. The protocol regulating uploading and multiplying them should be implemented in time.

An upload may be only a pleasure recipient, nothing else.

Comment author: jhuffman 02 July 2012 07:01:07PM 1 point [-]

So you would contrive to make it illegal and/or impossible for an upload to do any productive work? At least none that they receive more benefit from than the average of all others?

Comment author: beriukay 31 May 2012 08:46:12AM 12 points [-]
Comment author: jhuffman 01 June 2012 07:45:45PM *  2 points [-]

I still find myself tempted to make fun of people who are just today learning the lesson of that comic - e.g. those original down-voters.

Comment author: shminux 31 May 2012 07:22:31PM 0 points [-]

This can continue until the accelerating expansion of the universe places any other galaxies beyond our reach, at which point some unimaginably huge superintelligent minds will, billions of years later, have to face some unpleasant problems, assuming physics-as-we-know-it cannot be dodged, worked around, or exploited.

Due to my innate, if misguided, belief in the fair universe, I hope that everyone can get their own baby universe to nucleate at will. The mechanism has been proposed before:

The bubble universe model proposes that different regions of this inflationary universe (termed a multiverse) decayed to a true vacuum state at different times, with decaying regions corresponding to "sub"- universes not in causal contact with each other and resulting in different physical laws in different regions which are then subject to "selection", which determines each region's components based upon (dependent on) the survivability of the quantum components within that region. The end result will be a finite number of universes with physical laws consistent within each region of spacetime.

All these "unimaginably huge superintelligent minds" have to do is to control this process of bubbling.

Comment author: jhuffman 01 June 2012 07:37:23PM -1 points [-]

This "mechanism" provides no facility for spontaneous generation of new matter and energy resources.

Comment author: billswift 01 June 2012 04:36:12PM *  2 points [-]

The modified theory is that one should sometimes expose themselves to high-quality counter-arguments, etc.

You should always expose yourself to high-quality counter-arguments; after all, you might be wrong. That is the major reason I post anything online. I am too autistic to really be very convincing about anything, in person I tend to be anti-convincing (if that's a useful term), so I have learned to keep my mouth shut.

Comment author: jhuffman 01 June 2012 04:49:48PM 3 points [-]

You probably shouldn't spend 100% of your time exploring even very high quality counter arguments. Rather, you should probably spend some time on it.

Comment author: [deleted] 05 April 2012 09:12:58PM *  11 points [-]

This could stem from availability bias. It suggests that we underestimate within-class variance and we overestimate between-class variance. This could be because it is easier for us to mentally draw a sample opinion from similar-to-me idealizations of people than from different-from-me idealizations.

For example, I agree with Ron Paul on many political issues, and often when someone says something to me like, "But Ron Paul will adversely affect education, I mean he's a creationist for Pete's sake" I tend to be very surprised. I think to myself, "Ron Paul and I have similar views on non-interventionism and fiscal policy.. when I mentally simulate what he must think about evolution, well, of course he must believe in it." I am drawing a simulation of Ron Paul's belief from a similar-to-me distribution, where I am underestimating the variance among people that are similar to me in certain dimensions.

It is available and easy for me to simulate views that agree with mine. Especially if I then attribute them to famous or influential people. And what's even more terrifying is that I then file this away in my brain as if it were evidence that my own beliefs are valid. It is simulating the truth state of a fact by appealing to lazy, easy simulation, and then generalizing from my own simulation which is mostly fictional!

To state it in an entirely obfuscated way that has as its only merit the fact that it helps me contextualize this, the result suggests that my brain is performing some kind of bootstrap procedure to impute the preferences of others on dimensions I have not measured by appealing to dimensions that I have measured, and then using a crappy acceptance-rejection process to actually draw the simulated sample, then filling in the missing dimensional data with my crappy simulation, and then treating those filled-in dimensions like they count as much as genuine observed data would count.

In fact, unless I am directly contradicted (like in the case of Ron Paul's creationist beliefs, which forced me to recognize how I was simulating his opinions on unknown issues from my own opinions just because we have some overlap), I probably will "remember" these imputed ideas as if they were facts that I learned more directly from evidence.

This could explain a lot of petty disputes (e.g. "You didn't turn off the coffee pot", "Yes, I did"): we rarely recognize when we're reasoning from imputed within-class generalizations, when we do realize it we rarely challenge it ("what do I think I know and why do I think I know it"), and when we challenge it we default to believing our imputations must have been factually motivated, unless we're easily contradicted.

It would be fun to make an iPhone app called ContradictThyself which makes a nice interface connecting claims you made based on imputed conclusions with data that is available on them. Even better if it uploaded to a web interface where I could see nice statistical breakdowns of the areas where I am prone to believe my imputations vs. areas where I'm more vigilant.

Can anyone answer how much it would cost to commission people at SIAI or other rationality-promoting organizations to create such an app/website? Is such a thing of general interest? I see it as a good contribution to quantified life: having statistics about when you claim to know something strongly but are in fact incorrect. I'm sure I would have no problem convincing my girlfriend to help me by logging what I say weekly with such an app :)

In response to comment by [deleted] on File Under "Keep Your Identity Small"
Comment author: jhuffman 07 April 2012 03:20:43AM 0 points [-]

I'm interested in your ideas for such an app - how would you interact with it? The only ideas I come up with amount to window dressing on a journal.

Comment author: Manfred 06 April 2012 02:16:35PM *  3 points [-]

If "you" refers both to the person who dies and the person who lives, you will both die and live with 100% probability. However, if we create the clone with a few extra atoms of indium, the person with fewer atoms of indium will survive with 50% probability.

So your claims about probabilities are just window dressing on the bare assertion that both the person who lives and the person who dies should be referred to as "you."

Comment author: jhuffman 07 April 2012 03:06:02AM 1 point [-]

Yes, 100% is my expectation for both outcomes as well. Otherwise it wouldn't be a fork.

Comment author: Dmytry 30 March 2012 02:55:27PM *  0 points [-]

Well, few things to note:

  • Making up reasons against pascal's mugging based on 'it must be wrong' feeling sounds awful lot like rationalization. One got to stick to really solid logic; only in mathematics can you believe rather strongly in a conjecture, be motivated to prove it, and then make a valid proof.

  • One man's decision affecting 3^^^^3 people, got to be very rare occurrence to find yourself in; you're much more likely to be among those 3^^^^3 . You got to adjust your prior for that. This should be enough for not giving $5

  • Other issue is that it is a hostage situation, and even in normal human hostage situations, whenever you should, or should not give the money to the hostage holder, depends solely to whenever you have higher probability that the hostages will be killed (or tortured) if money are given, than if money are not given. Without further information about people whom hold 3^^^^3 beings hostage for $5, you can not make any prediction - the expected effect of giving $5 on the suffering of 3^^^^3 beings is 3^^^^3 * 0 = 0, and thus the expected utility of giving $5 is equal to expected utility of not giving $5 , minus the utility of having $5 in your hands rather than in mugger's hands. It does not matter how many up arrows the mugger stacks; it may well be that on average, giving money gets hostages killed in the situation when the kidnapper is this psychopathic. Then one may estimate that giving the money has immense dis-utility. Caveat: one can imagine the inconvenient world where psychopaths hold their words and release hostages when demands are met.

Comment author: jhuffman 30 March 2012 08:53:55PM 0 points [-]

Other issue is that it is a hostage situation, and even in normal human hostage situations, whenever you should, or should not give the money to the hostage holder, depends solely to whenever you have higher probability that the hostages will be killed (or tortured) if money are given, than if money are not given.

Actually in real life, we also consider the future consequences of unspecified potential future hostage takers who may be motivated to take hostages if they see a hostage taker paid off. This is ostensibly why the USG will not (directly) pay off a hostage taker.

Also, we have to consider the value of the money, and our next best alternative to saving a hostages life. For example, if Dr. Evil is holding a hostage (doesn't matter who) for $1B, and you know we will not catch him if you pay him off, then you should probably just let him execute the hostage and use the money to buy food for a few thousand starving people somewhere who are just as desperate.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 February 2012 06:39:11AM 3 points [-]

I think from my own experience a conversion is just a switch of tribal affiliations. That means, it takes two components:

  1. a sense of rejection from your previous community.

  2. a sense of connection to the new one.

So the reason why indirect arguments seem to work better would be because if you argue directly you don't normally argue with someone but against them which reduces if not reverts the sense of connection. If my theory is correct then in direct conversation a more socratic method would be better. But you will probably not be successful until you somehow disconnect the theist from his circle or catch him at a time when he feels somewhat disconnected.

In response to comment by [deleted] on How can people be actually converted?
Comment author: jhuffman 10 February 2012 12:26:33AM *  2 points [-]

I'm sure this is true in some cases but not all of them. I've barely ever talked to anyone about my own fall from grace as a child and then again after a relapse in my teens, it was almost a completely introspective experience although what is interesting is that my relapse into Christianity was very much a social product. Still, atheism has never been an important part of my identity. In my mind the fact that I don't watch televised sporting contests sets me further apart from my peers than the fact that I'm an atheist.

I de-converted my wife just by being an atheist and never making a big deal about it one way or another; I think she just needed to see an example of someone getting along fine without the theism.

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