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Comment author: khafra 23 October 2014 01:14:03PM 25 points [-]

I would have given a response for digit ratio if I'd known about the steps to take the measurement before opening the survey, or if it were at the top of the survey, or if I could answer on a separate form after submitting the main survey. I didn't answer because I was afraid that if I took the time to do so, the survey form, or my https connection to it, or something else would time out, and I would lose all the answers I had entered.

Comment author: Skeptityke 04 October 2014 06:38:26PM 1 point [-]

Question for AI people in the crowd: To implement Bayes' Theorem, the prior of something must be known, and the conditional likelihood must be known. I can see how to estimate the prior of something, but for real-life cases, how could accurate estimates of P(A|X) be obtained?

Also, we talk about world-models a lot here, but what exactly IS a world-model?

Comment author: khafra 10 October 2014 02:43:59PM 0 points [-]

To implement Bayes' Theorem, the prior of something must be known

Not quite the way I'd put it. If you know the exact prior for the unique event you're predicting, you already know the posterior. All you need is a non-pathologically-terrible prior, although better ones will get you to a good prediction with fewer observations.

Comment author: bramflakes 03 October 2014 10:06:28PM 2 points [-]

"They exist but we don't have the tech to detect them"?

Comment author: khafra 04 October 2014 01:03:12AM 2 points [-]

That one shows up in fiction every now and then, but If they're galaxy-spanning, there's no particular reason for them to have avoided eating all the stars unless we're completely wrong about the laws of physics. The motivation might not exactly be "hiding," but it'd have to be something along the lines of a nature preserve; and would require a strong singleton.

Comment author: khafra 03 October 2014 05:17:38PM 3 points [-]

Alien-wise, most of the probability-mass not in the "Great Filter" theory is in the "they're all hiding" theory, right? Are there any other big events in the outcome space?

I intuitively feel like the "they're all hiding" theories are weaker and more speculative than the Great Filter theories, perhaps because including agency as a "black box" within a theory is bad, as a rule of thumb.

But, if most of the proposed candidates for the GF look weak, how do the "they're all hiding" candidates stack up? What is there, besides the Planetarium Hypothesis and Simulationism? Are there any that don't require a strong Singleton?

Comment author: SolveIt 02 October 2014 09:21:33AM 4 points [-]

What does this mean?

Comment author: khafra 03 October 2014 01:51:37PM 2 points [-]

Don't let a summary of reality distract you from reality, even if it's an accurate summary.

-- Steven Kaas

Comment author: khafra 26 September 2014 03:05:45PM 6 points [-]

It's really weird how [Stop, Drop, and Roll] is taught pretty much yearly but personal finance or ethics usually just have one class at the end of highschool.

-- CornChowdah, on reddit

Comment author: CCC 06 September 2014 03:33:56PM 6 points [-]

With regards to your example, you try to fix the gap between "consumption will increase" and "that will be a bad thing as a whole" by claiming little good use and much bad use. But I don't think that's the strongest way to bridge that gap.

Rather, I'd suggest that the good use has negligible positive utility - just another way to relax on a Friday night, when there are already plenty of ways to relax on a Friday night, so how much utility does adding another one really give you? - while bad use has significant negative utility (here I may take the chance to sketch the verbal image of a bright young doctor dropping out of university due to bad use). Then I can claim that even if good-use increases by a few orders of magnitude more than bad-use, the net result is nonetheless negative, because bad use is just that terrible; that the negative effects of a single bad-user outweigh the positive effects of a thousand good-users.


As to your main point - what to do when your best effort to fill the gap is thin and unconvincing - the simplest solution would appear to be to go back to the person proposing the position that you are critically commenting about (or someone else who shares his views on the subject), and simply asking. Or to go and look through his writings, and see whether or not he addresses precisely that point. Or to go to a friend (preferably also an intelligent debator) and asking for his best effort to fill the gap, in the hope that it will be a better effort.

Comment author: khafra 08 September 2014 03:20:57PM 3 points [-]

what to do when your best effort to fill the gap is thin and unconvincing - the simplest solution would appear to be to go back to the person proposing the position that you are critically commenting about (or someone else who shares his views on the subject), and simply asking.

So, you go back to the person you're going to argue against, before you start the argument, and ask them about the big gap in their original position? That seems like it could carry the risk of kicking off the argument a little early.

Comment author: KnaveOfAllTrades 20 August 2014 09:08:14PM *  5 points [-]

Is this in support of or in opposition to the thesis of the post? Or am I being presumptuous to suppose that it is either?

Comment author: khafra 03 September 2014 01:35:46PM 1 point [-]

The opposition is that the number of observers able to ask questions about royal siblings is not heavily correlated with the actual number of royal siblings historically present; while the number of observers able to ask questions about a lack of large thermonuclear exchanges is heavily correlated with the actual number of historical large thermonuclear exchanges.

Comment author: Yvain 22 July 2014 04:21:27AM *  48 points [-]

"Hard mode" sounds too metal. The proper response to "X is hard mode" is "Bring it on!"

Therefore I object to "politics is hard mode" for the same reason I object to "driving a car with your eyes closed is hard mode". Both statements are true, but phrased to produce maximum damage.

There's also a way that "politics is hard mode" is worse than playing a video game on hard mode, or driving a car on hard mode. If you play the video game and fail, you know and you can switch back to an easier setting. If you drive a car in "hard mode" and crash into a tree, you know you should keep your eyes open the next time.

If you discuss politics in "hard mode", you can go your entire life being totally mind-killed (yes! I said it!) and just think everyone else is wrong, doing more and more damage each time you open your mouth and destroying every community you come in contact with.

Can you imagine a human being saying "I'm sorry, I'm too low-level to participate in this discussion"? There may be a tiny handful of people wise enough to try it - and ironically, those are probably the same handful who have a tiny chance of navigating the minefield. Everyone else is just going to say "No, I'm high-enough level, YOU'RE the one who needs to bow out!"

Both "hard mode" and "mind-killer" are intended to convey a sense of danger, but the first conveys a fun, exciting danger that cool people should engage with as much as possible in order to prove their worth, and the latter conveys an extreme danger that can ruin everything and which not only clouds your faculties but clouds the faculty to realize that your faculties are clouded. As such, I think "mind-killer" is the better phrase.

EDIT: More succintly: both phrases mean the same thing, but with different connotations. "Hard mode" sounds like we should accord more status to politics, "mind-killer" sounds like we should accord less. I feel like incentivizing more politics is a bad idea and will justify this if anyone disagrees.

Comment author: khafra 22 July 2014 11:54:37AM 2 points [-]

Can you imagine a human being saying "I'm sorry, I'm too low-level to participate in this discussion"?

Yes, this is what I thought of when I read this:

In the same thread, Andrew Mahone added, “Using it in that sneering way, Miri, seems just like a faux-rationalist version of ‘Oh, I don’t bother with politics.’ It’s just another way of looking down on any concerns larger than oneself as somehow dirty, only now, you know, rationalist dirty.”

It's not that politics isn't important to get right, it's just that talking about has negative expected value. Nearly every political argument between two people makes at least one person further entrenched in error.

Maybe "politics is like that scene in a thriller where the two guys are fighting to reach a single gun; but in this case the handle and trigger are actually poisoned."

Comment author: wedrifid 10 July 2014 02:24:35AM 4 points [-]

Experience by itself teaches nothing... Without theory, experience has no meaning. Without theory, one has no questions to ask. Hence, without theory, there is no learning.

This is false. It is false in theory and it is false in practice. Learning can occur without theory. I spent years researching and developing systems to do just that. And on the practical side (actually human psychology) learning frequently---even predominately---occurs without theory. Abstract theoretical reasoning is a special case of 'learning' and one that is comparatively recent and under-developed in the observed universe.

Comment author: khafra 10 July 2014 03:31:33PM 3 points [-]

Learning can occur without theory. I spent years researching and developing systems to do just that.

If you're talking about unsupervised classification algorithms, don't they kinda make their theory as they learn? At least, in the "model," or "lossy compression" sense of "theory." Finding features that cluster well in a data set is forming a theory about that data set.

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