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Meetup : SF Meetup 7/10

0 wubbles 01 July 2017 04:14PM

Discussion article for the meetup : SF Meetup 7/10

WHEN: 10 July 2017 08:53:47AM (-0700)

WHERE: 1769 15th St, San Francisco, CA 94103-3333, United States

This meetup we will be trying something new for this meetup: we will have a discussion topic. The topic for this meetup will be making decisions in groups: various methods from Vickrey-Clark-Groves to parliamentary procedure have all been used. I'll be talking about Vickrey-Clark-Groves.

Text 201-213-9379 if you have problems getting in or finding the place.

Discussion article for the meetup : SF Meetup 7/10

Comment author: Lumifer 13 June 2017 01:52:38AM 1 point [-]

Here you are, spoiling a nice meme with actual history.

Comment author: wubbles 16 June 2017 02:54:16AM 0 points [-]

Temporarily: their allies turned on them and Athens soon rebuilt its navy. Ultimately Alexander and Rome ended the whole struggle permanently.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 June 2017 02:58:20PM 0 points [-]

I'm not exactly sure about the intended meaning with the specific wording but as far as the general content goes:

Petrov day isn't exactly a modification of a specific traditional holiday but it's about reminding us about our values. Solstice celebrations also are about reminding us of the values for which we strive.

Comment author: wubbles 16 June 2017 02:53:45AM 0 points [-]

I was considering modifying holidays to make them support these values and remind us of them.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 June 2017 08:33:25AM 0 points [-]

Compared to whatever we could likely do, the Athenians were insular. We are connected to the internet and to very much information. We have cheap travel that allows traveling to another continent for a conference and then flying back.

Comment author: wubbles 16 June 2017 02:51:32AM 0 points [-]

That's correct. But I worry that some projects in the rationalistsphere are about turning our backs on modernity in very strong ways.

Comment author: cousin_it 12 June 2017 01:48:48PM *  1 point [-]

I think logical induction could've been popularized with just as much effort (that is, a lot). For example, the second problem from the post linked by endoself was discussed by Wei and me in 2012, with >40 comments each. If we'd been better at mass appeal, instead of coasting on the audience attracted by Eliezer, we could've had even more engagement. (Note the comment from thescoundrel in the second link, that's the kind of good idea out of nowhere that mass appeal is all about.)

Comment author: wubbles 16 June 2017 02:50:53AM 0 points [-]

Does popularization produce the goods? Lots of people have the background and skill to contribute to this problem who aren't currently in our community and don't have day jobs.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 11 June 2017 05:30:12PM 10 points [-]

We're neither Athenians nor Spartans. Athens and Sparta were city-states. Greek culture thrived because Greece is a mountainous archipelago that prevented large empires from forming. The Greek city-states were constantly at war with each other and with the outside world, and so they had to develop strong new ideas to survive.

You mentioned the Netherlands, which is quite similar in the sense that it was a small country with strong threatening neighbors, but still became successful because of its good social technology. The story of Europe in general is basically the same as Greece. The complexity of European geography meant that after the fall of Rome no power could dominate the whole continent. So Europe was made up of small independent political entities that were constantly fighting each other. This competitive environment meant that they were forced to innovate good social technology.

Comment author: wubbles 11 June 2017 11:38:33PM 0 points [-]

But we are a community that faces a choice about what values we want: insularity and strong group membership, or openness and intellectualism. This seems fairly analogous to me, and after all don't we need strong new ideas to stop the AI apocalypse or improve lives all over the world? Perhaps the Amish vs. liberal German judaism would be a better analogy.

Comment author: ImmortalRationalist 11 June 2017 05:40:48PM 5 points [-]

I remember a while ago Eliezer wrote this article, titled Bayesians vs. Barbarians. In it, he describes how in a conflict between rationalists and barbarians, or to your analogy Athenians and Spartans, the barbarians/Spartans will likely win. In the world today, low IQ individuals are reproducing at far higher rates than high IQ individuals, so are "winning" in an evolutionary sense. Having universalist, open, trusting values is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but should not be done to such an extent that this altruism becomes pathological, and leads to the protracted suicide of the rationalist community.

Comment author: wubbles 11 June 2017 11:36:12PM 1 point [-]

Dysgenesis is worrying, but we have the means to fight it: subsidized egg freezing and childcare, changes to employment culture, and it is a very slow prospect. I don't think that is a correct summary of the essay at all, which is really pointing to a problem with how we think about coordination.

We are the Athenians, not the Spartans

13 wubbles 11 June 2017 05:53AM

The Peloponnesian War was a war between two empires: the seadwelling Athenians, and the landlubber Spartans. Spartans were devoted to duty and country, living in barracks and drinking the black broth. From birth they trained to be the caste dictators of a slaveowning society, which would annually slay slaves to forestall a rebellion. The most famous Spartan is Leonidas, who died in a heroic last stand delaying the invasion of the Persians. To be a Spartan was to live a life devoted to toughness and duty.

Famous Athenians are Herodotus, inventor of history, Thucydides, Socrates, Plato, Hippocrates of the oath medical students still take, all the Greek playwrights, etc.  Attic Greek is the Greek we learn in our Classics courses. Athens was a city where the students of the entire known Greek world would come to learn from the masters, a maritime empire with hundreds of resident aliens, where slavery was comparable to that of the Romans. Luxury apartments, planned subdivisions, sexual hedonism, and free trade made up the life of the Athenian elite.

These two cities had deeply incompatible values. Spartans lived in fear that the Helots would rebel and kill them. Deeply suspicious of strangers, they imposed oligarchies upon the cities they conquered. They were described by themselves and others cautious and slow to act. Athenians by contrast prized speed and risk in their enterprises. Foreigners could live freely in Athens and even established their own temples. Master and slave comedies of Athens inspired PG Woodhouse.

All intellectual communities are Athenian in outlook. We remember Sparta for its killing and Athens for its art. If we want the rationalist community to tackle the hard problems, if we support a world that is supportive of human values and beauty, if we yearn to end the plagues of humanity, our values should be Athenian: individualistic, open, trusting, enamoured of beauty. When we build social technology, it should not aim to cultivate values that stand against these.

High trust, open, societies are the societies where human lives are most improved. Beyond merely being refugees for the persecuted they become havens for intellectual discussion and the improvement of human knowledge and practice. It is not a coincidence that one city produced Spinoza, Rubens, Rembrandt, van Dyke, Huygens, van Leeuwenhoek, and Grotius in a few short decades, while dominating the seas and being open to refugees.

Sadly we seem to have lost sight of this in the rationality community. Increasingly we are losing touch as a community with the outside intellectual world, without the impetus to study what has been done before and what the research lines are in statistics, ML, AI, epistemology, biology, etc. While we express that these things are important, the conversation doesn't seem to center around the actual content of these developments. In some cases (statistics) we're actively hostile to understanding some of the developments and limitations of our approach as a matter of tribal marker.

Some projects seem to me to be likely to worsen this, either because they express Spartan values or because they further physical isolation in ways that will act to create more small-group identification.

What can we do about this? Holiday modifications might help with reminding us of our values, but I don't know how we can change the community's outlook more directly. We should strive to stop merely acting on the meta-level and try to act on the object level more as a community. And lastly, we should notice that our values are real and not universal, and that they need defending.

Comment author: Alicorn 17 March 2017 01:46:56AM 21 points [-]

If you like this idea but have nothing much to say please comment under this comment so there can be a record of interested parties.

Comment author: wubbles 17 March 2017 02:12:02AM 1 point [-]

I am interested! Note that zoning might make this hard, but maybe we could buy adjacent bungalows and reconfigure them. Wasn't the bay supposed to be commune friendly?

Comment author: Manfred 05 January 2017 01:39:13AM 4 points [-]

"Proper scoring rule" just means that you attain the best score by giving the most accurate probabilities you can. In that sense, any concave proper scoring rule will give you a good feedback mechanism. The reason people like log scoring rule is because it corresponds to information (the kind you can measure in bits and bytes), and so a given amount of score increase has some meaning in terms of you using your information better.

The information measured by your log score is identical to Shannon's idea of information carried by digital signals. When a binary event is completely unknown to you, you can gain 1 bit of information by learning about it. For events that you can predict to high accuracy, the entropy of the event (according to your distribution) is lower, and you gain less information by learning the result. In fact, if you look at the expected score, it goes to zero as the event becomes more and more predictable (though you're still incentivized to answer correctly).

But I think this leaves out something interesting that I don't have a good answer for, which that this straightforward interpretation only works when you, the human, don't screw up. When you do screw up, I'm not sure there's a clear interpretation of score.

Comment author: wubbles 07 January 2017 03:21:00PM 0 points [-]

The logarithmic scoring rule measures the information carried by the event given your predictions. Reducing its expectation corresponds to reducing the information carried by the event when it arrives.

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