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Comment author: kilobug 17 July 2014 07:56:14AM 17 points [-]

For those interested, Douglas Hofstadter (of the famous Gödel, Escher, Bach) wrote recently a book called Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking which develops the thesis that analogy is the core and fuel of thinking, and does it quite brilliantly.

I'm only half-way through the book yet, but so far I liked it very much, the first part on language for example develops somewhat similar ideas, but with a quite different viewpoint, than the "Humans Guide to Words" Sequence on Less Wrong, and both complement each other well.

Comment author: Maybe_a 10 July 2014 09:23:21AM 7 points [-]

I don't care, because there's nothing I can do about it. It also applies to all large-scale problems, like national elections.

I do understand, that that point of view creates 'tragedy of commons', but there's no way I can force millions of people to do my bidding on this or that.

I also do not make interventions to my lifestyle, since I expect AGW effects to be dominated by socio-economic changes in the nearest half a century.

Comment author: kilobug 13 July 2014 07:55:14AM 1 point [-]

I think that's a common misconception for not actually running the numbers. We individually have a very low chance of changing anything at large-scale problems, but the effects of changing anything in large-scale problems is enormous. When dealing with very minor chance of very major change, we can't just use our intiutions (which breaks down) but we need to actually run the numbers.

And when it's done, like it was on this post, it says that we should care, the order of magnitude of changes being higher than the order of magnitude of our powerlessness.

In response to Too good to be true
Comment author: kilobug 12 July 2014 02:17:33PM 5 points [-]

I don't think the "95% confidence" works that way. It's a lower bound, you never try to publish anything with a lower than 95% confidence (and if you do, your publication is likely to be rejected), but you don't always need to have exactly 95% (2 sigma).

Hell, I play enough RPGs to know that rolling 1 or 20 in a d20 is frequent enough ;) 95% is quite low confidence, it's really a minimum at which you can start working, but not something optimal.

I'm not sure exactly in medicine, but in physics it's frequent to have studies at 3 sigma (99.7%) or higher. The detection of the Higgs boson by the LHC for example was done within 5 sigma (one chance in a million of being wrong).

Especially in a field with high risk of data being abused by ill-intentioned people such as "vaccine and autism" link, it would really surprise me that everyone just kept happily the 95% confidence, and didn't aim for much higher confidence.

Comment author: kilobug 06 July 2014 07:38:02AM 4 points [-]

You often get those kind of problems when playing strategy games, especially 4X (civ-like) games, with developing your cities/bases vs producing military units. The main difference with your "toy problem" is that in games the N isn't fixed, but probabilistic, which makes it much harder.

I often tend to spend most of the time developing my production capacity (as you said, it's the most efficient thing to do with a fixed N) but sometimes I do it too much and I get caught unprepared by an attack...

Comment author: kilobug 04 July 2014 07:44:31AM 6 points [-]

First, thanks Kaj for doing your best out of a complicated situation. I'm op on some IRC channels, and I also know how difficult it is to take such decisions.

I don't think the ban was a mistake as a penalty (nothing prevents Eugine from creating another account, so it's not that harsh a penalty) but I do think it doesn't solve the main problem. The most important remediation would be to undo all of Eugine's mass downvotes, and if not easily possible, all of Eugine's votes. Any chance of that to happen ?

Comment author: kilobug 23 June 2014 02:24:52PM 5 points [-]

Relatively also implies the lack of absolute time - it doesn't make sense to speak of "before" or "faster" or "now" in absolute. What matters for pleasure/pain of sentient entity is relative to their frame of reference, their subjective time.

And while observers in different frames will disagree on "what time is it ?" they will agree on the subjective experience each person has. And the only way to "sum" the pain/happiness between difference frames of inertia is considering when they can mutually agree on something - when the signal from one can reach the other.

If person A is on Earth suffering and person B is on a spaceship in happiness, it only matters to sum the suffering of one with the happiness of the other when a signal from Earth towards the ship (or vice-versa) can reach its destination, and you'll find that doing all the calculation the prediction of the two frames will be the same.

The only point where this can be tricky is if the ship goes beyond our event horizon - if due to expanding universe it reach the point where it can't reach Earth anymore because it's going away from it faster than light. There I've to admit it makes knots in my head.

Comment author: kilobug 11 June 2014 03:52:20PM 5 points [-]

I think a part of the solution is on how you ask the question. It may feel a bit silly for rationalists like us to put such importance on the form rather than on the content, but for a lot of people (and even to a point, I've to admit, to myself), it's very easy to fall in "group 1" or "group 2" depending how the question is formulated. It may either feel as genuine interest and desire for details, or for an aggressive (questioning trust) move, depending how the exact question is formulated.

As for the main issues, rich people paying lower taxes, when it's the case it's often because rich people have ways to play on various loopholes in the law to avoid paying part of their taxes, or as a negative side-effect from tax incentives. Like here in France, you can deduct from your taxes part of the money you spend in improving heat isolation of your primary home (in order to encourage energy savings) and the combination of many similar schemes makes it possible, at the end of the year, for upper-class or upper-middle class people to pay less in income tax (even if the base rate is highly progressive) than low-middle class people (really poor people don't pay any).

Comment author: kilobug 08 June 2014 08:39:30AM 10 points [-]

My own view is :

  1. Mass downvoting of most/all a user wrote regardless of content defeats the purpose of the karma/score system and therefore is harmful to the community.

  2. Mass downvoting is rude and painful for the target, and therefore is harmful to the community.

So we should have an official policy forbidding it. For the current case, I would support using first 1. (it's always good to ask for reasons behind an act before taking coercive action), and then apply any of 2.an 4. and 5. depending on the answer (or lack of it).

Comment author: V_V 14 May 2014 09:12:59PM *  2 points [-]

A personal or privately operated self-driving car should probably minimize the passenger travel time as this probably best aligns with the customer's and, in a reasonably competitive market, the manufacturer's interests.
The crash case is more complicated because there are ethical and legal liability issues.

Comment author: kilobug 15 May 2014 08:17:36AM 8 points [-]

I think there is a confusion going on there. Should reflect to what is ethical, what would be the best option, and I don't see how the manufacturer’s interests really matter for that. Self-driving cars should cooperate with each other in various prisoner's dilemma, not defect with each other, and more generally, they should behave in a way to smooth traffic globally (which at the end of the year would lead to less traffic time for everyone if all cars do so), not behave selfishly and minimize the passenger's travel time.

Now, in a competitive market, due to manufacturer's interests, it is indeed unlikely they would do so. But that is different from should. That's a case of pure market leading to a suboptimal solution (as often with Nash equilibrium), but there might be ways to fix it, either from manufacturers negotiating with each others outside the market channel to implement more globally efficient algorithms (like many standard bodies do), or through the state imposing it to them (like EU imposing the same charger for all cell phones).

Of course there are drawbacks and potential pitfall with all those solutions, but that's a different matter than the should issue.

Comment author: brazil84 14 February 2014 01:28:01PM *  0 points [-]

It's quite blunt and non-discriminating, while people have very different metabolism. I don't practice any "calorie restriction" (I just try to avoid eating too much fat/sugar), I eat as much as I feel like eating, and yet I weight like 55kg, and I know many other people eating "as much as they want" and not having any overweight problem, quite the opposite.

The difference is not so much in the metabolism as in what "as much as they want" means. When people eat ad libitum (which is a fancy way of saying "as much as they want," ) they vary quite a lot in their caloric intake. Some people engage in mild caloric restriction naturally and some don't. Of course my discussion assumes that one has conscious control over one's food intake. So "as much as they want" doesn't really enter the picture.

It just focus on "calories" without any consideration of what kind of calorie (ie, what kind of food), if they are taken regularly or not, ...

Re-read . . I pointed out that I have a basic daily diet -- not only is it reasonably consistent in terms of calories, it is also reasonably well balanced and consistent in terms of macro-nutrients. I use calorie counts to make fine adjustments.

It doesn't say anything about life quality.

I do say a little about it, but the calorie restriction I engage in doesn't have much effect on my quality of life. That's not totally true since I like being thin. On the other hand I don't like denying myself pizza and nachos every day.

I would be interested in seeing cognitive performances evaluation for someone eating "normally" and doing calorie restriction, for example. The brain is a massive calorie burner.

Well what kind of calorie restriction are you talking about -- mild, moderate, severe, or something else?

Comment author: kilobug 14 February 2014 02:02:58PM 0 points [-]

The difference is not so much in the metabolism as in what "as much as they want" means.

Not so sure about that. Comparing how much I eat with how much other people eat, and I would say I eat more than most of them. On the other hand (and much less anecdotal), there has been recent studies showing link between obesity and the kind of gut bacteria someone has.

Well what kind of calorie restriction are you talking about -- mild, moderate, severe, or something else?

Everything :) Ideally, we would have many test subjects, measure their cognitive performances initially, make them follow different kind of "calorie restriction" (none, mild, moderate, severe) for weeks or months, and then measure again their cognitive performances, and see if there is a variation.

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