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Comment author: selylindi 05 February 2017 12:47:36AM 1 point [-]

In the Nature Podcast from January 26th, the author of the paper, Dražen Prelec, said that he developed the hypothesis for this paper by means of some fairly involved math, but that he discovered afterwards he needed only a simple syllogism of a sort that Aristotle would have recognized. Unfortunately, the interviewer didn't ask him what the syllogism was. I spent ~20 minutes googling to satisfy my curiosity, but I found nothing.

If you happen to know what syllogism he meant, I'd be thrilled to hear it. Also it would suit the headline here well.

Comment author: selylindi 14 January 2017 05:59:15PM 0 points [-]

Anyway, please dissolve my confusion.

I think the most fun and empirical way to dissolve this confusion would be to hold a tourney. Remember the Prisoner's Dilemma competitions that were famously won, not by complex algorithms, but by simple variations on Tit-for-Tat? If somebody can host, the rules would be something like this:

  1. Players can submit scripts which take only one input (their current money) and produce only one output (whether to accept the bet again). The host has infinite money since it's just virtual.
  2. Each script gets run N times where N isn't told to the players in advance. The script with the highest winnings is declared Interesting.
Comment author: skeptical_lurker 11 September 2016 02:41:05PM *  4 points [-]

Have you considered adding the geometric mean for certain questions? It should help a bit to deal with extreamly large answers.

Some things I found interesting:

1) The case for being pro-choice is so strong even neoreactionaries and fascists are pro-choice. Interestingly, on this specific issue, conservatives are to the right of fascists!

2) On political opinions, HBD is about an objective, falsifiable, scientifically mesureable characteristic of the world, whereas the other opinions are opinions. Opinions on HBD also correlates strongly with other views, and so I am interested as to how poeple's opinions would change if it was proved to them that the truth about HBD is the opposite of what they currently believe it to be. Would their other views change?

3) Some of the '90% of humanity die' risks seem extremely low probability to me, and I am perplexed by why so many people chose them:

Nuclear war: +4.800% 326 (20.6%)

The worst case scenario for nuclear war at the hight of the cold war was about 40% of humanity dies. I suppose that its possible that vast numbers of new bombs could be built, without similar investment in bomb shelters, but this does seem a little implausible.

Environmental collapse (including global warming): +1.500% 252 (16.0%)

In the 'Cretaceous hothouse' period CO2 levels were 8x higher, and there was still enough vegetation to support giant dinosaurs far bigger than the largest animal today. The worst-case scenarios are a decrease in economic growth and a migrant crisis, not 90% of humanity dies.

Economic / political collapse: -1.400% 136 (8.6%)

Its difficult enough to imagine political collapse killing 90% of the population in one country. The Syrian civil war has killed 3% of the population. The Japanese invasion of China killed 4%. I'm aware of some wars that killed 50% - parts of the thirty years war, the Mongol invasion of China - but I think these were combined with famines or disease outbreaks. In the 1870 Japanese civil war, the samurai combatants took over 99% casualties, but the non-combatants survived. 90% deaths of one country would be mind-boggling. But 90% deaths of the whole of humanity? A political collapse that affects the entire world, including countries of every culture? Including China and other countries that are not democracies?

Comment author: selylindi 17 September 2016 03:32:06PM -2 points [-]

2) On political opinions, HBD is about an objective, falsifiable, scientifically mesureable characteristic of the world, whereas the other opinions are opinions.

That's not how I interpreted the item. This was a political quiz, so to my mind it's not about "Does X exist?", but "Do you favor more X than the status quo?" For example, liberal abortion laws exist, and feminism exists, and higher taxes exist. Similarly, HBD may exist depending on its precise definition. But what's politically relevant is whether you favor more liberal abortion laws, more feminism, more tax increases, more HBD. So it's quite likely that a substantial fraction of quiz-takers interpreted being "pro-HBD" as being simply an NRXish way of saying "pro-racist-policies".

Comment author: entirelyuseless 28 May 2016 12:14:18PM -1 points [-]

Yes. People can even immediately identify visual objects as corresponding to previously known tactile objects (probably via analogous relationship of parts), even though not perfectly.

Comment author: selylindi 20 July 2016 01:01:26AM *  0 points [-]

I'm under the impression that the empirical fact about this is exactly the opposite:

"Within a week to a few months after surgery, the children could match felt objects to their visual counterparts."

i.e. not immediate, but rather requiring the development of experience

Comment author: selylindi 25 May 2016 02:06:03AM *  0 points [-]

Let's take the AI example in a slightly different direction: Consider an AI built as a neural net with many input lines and output effectors, and a few well-chosen reward signals. One of the input lines goes to a Red Detector; the other input lines go to many other types of sensors but none of them distinguish red things from non-red things. This AI then gets named Mary and put into a black and white room to learn about optics, color theory, and machine learning. (Also assume this AI has no ability to alter its own design.)

Speculation: At the moment when this AI Mary steps out of the room into the colorful world, it cannot have any immediate perception of red (or any other color), because its neural net has not yet been trained to make any use of the sensory data corresponding to redness (or any other color). Analogously to how a young child is taught to distinguish a culturally-specific set of colors, or to how an adult can't recognize lapiz versus cerulean without practice, our AI cannot so much as distinguish red from blue until adequate training of the neural net has occurred.

If that line of reasoning is correct, then here's the conclusion: Mary does not learn anything new (perceptually) until she learns something new (behaviorally). Paradox dismissed.

Comment author: selylindi 21 March 2016 04:09:34PM *  1 point [-]

Hypothetical Independent Co-inventors, we're pretty sure you exist. Compat wouldn't be a very good acausal pact if you didn't. Show yourselves.

I'm one - but while the ideas have enough plausibility to be interesting, they necessarily lack the direct scientific evidence I'd need to feel comfortable taking them seriously. I was religious for too long, and I think my hardware was hopelessly corrupted by that experience. I need direct scientific evidence as an anchor to reality. So now I try to be extra-cautious about avoiding faith of any kind lest I be trapped again in a mental tarpit.

Comment author: ChristianKl 29 November 2015 04:50:33PM 2 points [-]

No. An inability to make be vague doesn't help with being clear.

In English I can say: "Dear readers," without specifying gender. In German I have to say: "Liebe Leserinnen und Leser,". German forces me to order those words. I have to say one of the two genders first. "Liebe Leserinnen und Leser," doesn't have exactly the same meaning as "Liebe Leser und Leserinnen,"

The fact that the German language forces me to specify whether I put more weight on my male or female audience is just distracting. It doesn't help me express more of what I want to say.

Another problem of "Liebe Leserinnen und Leser," is that intersex people in the audience aren't included and therefore people who highly value political correctness might object to the phrase and use a phrase that signals more political correctness.

Having to think about gender when I don't want to think about gender costs cognitive capacity. The unspecific "Dear readers," is much easier to use and therefore better. Ithkuil forces cognitive capacity to be used to be explicit about certain distinctions.

Take a sentence like: "The father of my mother feels (passively) that that my left ringfinger touches him 2 centimeters in inferior direction from his right earlobe" (At the present he lies on his back, so inferior is not the direction towards the center of the earth). How would you say that in ithkuil? I think you will run into trouble because the sentence makes a lot of distinctions that ithkuil isn't well equipped to handle while at the same time ithkuil forces you to specify all sorts of stuff that you don't care about.

Comment author: selylindi 30 November 2015 02:48:55AM *  4 points [-]

"The father of my mother feels (passively) that that my left ringfinger touches him 2 centimeters in inferior direction from his right earlobe" (At the present he lies on his back, so inferior is not the direction towards the center of the earth).

tê ömmilek audyal íčawëla tê adlaisakenniňk qe oeksrâ’as oimřalik akpʰialîk êntô’alakuňk

There you go. :) It's a very literal translation but it's overly redundant. A hypothetical native speaker would probably drop the "audyal" verb, deframe "íčawëla", and rely more on Ithkuil's extensive case system.

Incidentally, "Dear readers" is "atpëkein".

Comment author: [deleted] 29 November 2015 05:27:46PM *  1 point [-]

In English I can say: "Dear readers," without specifying gender.

"The father of my mother feels (passively) that that my left ringfinger touches him 2 centimeters in inferior direction from his right earlobe" (At the present he lies on his back, so inferior is not the direction towards the center of the earth). How would you say that in ithkuil?

I think one of us has misunderstood ithkuil (it may be me). I've only done a bit of looking into it, but my understanding is that it can do both of what you mentioned above. The difference is that you can't say "dear readers" of a non-specific gender without specificying that you mean a non-specific gender. Which means you only say "dear readers of a non-specific gender" if you know that's who you're addressing, if you're addressing only male readers it would be a completely different sentence. In other words, you can be general but you can't be ambiguous. If you're trying to get clearer in your thinking, this is a property you want.

Ithkuil also has all sorts of conujugations that get very specific with object placement and relation to one another. It's almost ideally suited for your second sentence.

Comment author: selylindi 30 November 2015 02:46:59AM *  0 points [-]

responded to wrong person

Comment author: selylindi 17 October 2015 02:48:41AM *  0 points [-]

This is probably the wrong place to ask, but I'm confused by one point in the DA.

For reference, here's Wikipedia's current version:

Denoting by N the total number of humans who were ever or will ever be born, the Copernican principle suggests that humans are equally likely (along with the other N − 1 humans) to find themselves at any position n of the total population N, so humans assume that our fractional position f = n/N is uniformly distributed on the interval [0, 1] prior to learning our absolute position.

f is uniformly distributed on (0, 1) even after learning of the absolute position n. That is, for example, there is a 95% chance that f is in the interval (0.05, 1), that is f > 0.05. In other words we could assume that we could be 95% certain that we would be within the last 95% of all the humans ever to be born. If we know our absolute position n, this implies[dubious – discuss] an upper bound for N obtained by rearranging n/N > 0.05 to give N < 20n.

My question is: What is supposed to be special about the interval (0.05, 1)?

If I instead choose the interval (0, 0.95), then I end up 95% certain that I'm within the first 95% of all humans ever to be born. If I choose (0.025, 0.975), then I end up 95% certain that I'm within the middle 95% of all humans ever to be born. If I choose the union of the intervals (0, 0.475) & (0.525, 1), then I end up 95% certain that I'm within the 95% of humans closer to either the beginning or the end.

As far as I can tell, I could have chosen any interval or any union of intervals containing X% of humanity and then reasonably declared myself X% likely to be in that set. And sure enough, I'll be right X% of the time if I make all those claims or a representative sample of them.

I guess another way to put my question is: Is there some reason - other than drama - that makes it special for us to zero in on the final 95% as our hypothesis of interest? And if there isn't a special-making reason, then shouldn't we discount the evidential weight of the DA in proportion to how much we arbitrarily zero in on our hypothesis, thereby canceling out the DA?

Yes, yes, given that there's so much literature on the topic, I'm probably missing some key insight into how the DA works. Please enlighten.

Comment author: ScottL 18 August 2015 01:53:20AM *  0 points [-]

Thanks for the advice. It was a mistake. I have updated it to: "Only one of the following premises is true about a particular hand of cards".

Comment author: selylindi 01 September 2015 07:28:44PM *  0 points [-]

FWIW, I still got the question wrong with the new wording because I interpreted it as "One ... is true [and the other is unknown]" whereas the intended interpretation was "One ... is true [and the other is false]".

In one sense this is a communication failure, because people normally mean the first and not the second. On the other hand, the fact that people normally mean the first proves the point - we usually prefer not to reason based on false statements.

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