October 17, 2016

A look through the flawed lens Oct. 17


Articles I see that please or excite

Embodied cognition. Not in the usual sense of "clench your fists to increase willpower", but using your body and environment as part of your computative toolset.
This gives me a nice framework to mash up idle thoughts about PCK-seeking* and database design; I think we can increase ability in a lot of domains simply by picking mental representation of concepts that are easier to work with in relevant ways. Good infographics, for example, take advantage of our very powerful visual systems to convey a lot of information simply and concretely. I do not think it is a coincidence that the descriptions of mathematical savant ability I've heard include an element of synesthesia.
*Nod to Valentine Smith of CFAR

Kudos to Unit of Caring for promoting ethical norms.  Let's not go down the road where we "make it dangerous to your continued wellbeing and ability to earn a living to try to persuade people of your ideas". I'm also fond of this post on giving room for people (even lizard-people) to change their minds.

Also regarding Unit of Caring, I JUST DISCOVERED SHE'S LINTAMANDE. Her Patreon rewards sound so tantalyzing all of a sudden... And seeing that she's on AO3, it makes sense why her glowfic Arda had those really freaky overlaps with that modern Silmarill story I'd read once upon a time.

On Thing of Things, Ozy has posted an Intellectual Turing Test try on 1-2-3 different stances toward social justice. I could stand to see more of this and double-crux as normal activities.

This article on providing an exit-ramp for people who are dead set on ideas you think are catastrophically wrong (as they think Trump supporters are). Surprise—the people you disagree with are people! They do not respond well to being cornered and humiliated. They do respond to patience and information and validation. The article's given advice feels like a short summary of Carnegie's "How to Win Friends & Influence People".


Frowny faces on activities that do not tend towards truth or fulfillment.

I anticipate the world burning before my eyes, and run off to grab a bowl of popcorn. That is probably not the most helpful response I could have to critical and complex problems. Many things seems distant and darkly amusing. Especially the idea that the outcome of this election might seriously matter to America's short-term non-hellishness and long-term existence as a stable country. We could drag who knows how much of the global community down with us, and I'm not convinced that either candidate can do anything useful about it. Everything our predecessors ever worked to accomplish could fall apart and it's hilarious. Also funny: ISIS has bomb drones.

There is no Nobel Prize for ecology or geology or climate science. A bunch of fields just get stuffed into the peace prize #NotAllScience

This Guaranteed Jobs Proposal article. I basically read this proposal as saying 'solve the jobs problem by solving the jobs problem with the government'. This fails at the virtue of simplicity! Also, I see absolutely nothing in this proposal that seems aware of disability as a potential roadblock. I pay close attention to when my shoulder Social Justice Warrior and shoulder Libertarian agree on anything.

Robin Hanson posts on Overcoming Bias about the backlash he gets for focusing on emulation-based AIs instead of coded-algorithm AIs. I'm glad he's working on it; I do not want AI-friendliness research to become an echo-chamber. Anders Sandberg wins the cake for answering my "Can you model this?" question before I'd even asked it.
The issue of how to spread research effort cuts to the heart of EA values. I have day-terrors about EA becoming a villain organization that actively hinders people from going after low-hanging fruit, lest we waste any resources on something that is not "THE TOP 3 TRUE CAUSES".

Open Questions

How many instances of bad incentive design can you spot in your everyday life? Contract theory provides a shiny-new interesting frame on how I rate and reward myself for my own work.

Andrew Gelman's mini-paper on the scientific replication crisis, shared for this figure. Does someone you know have the skill and lack-of-better-things-to-do to make a quick graphic with comparisons of 1%, 3%, 5%, 8% power? Would recommend coloring it in a tasteful rainbow, and blowing it up to desktop background size so you have plenty of plausible excuse to pass it around.

If there was one economic idea you could explain to everyone on earth, how would you cement it to as many people's system ones as possible? Econlog (quoting Steve Horwitz's AMA) recommends The idea that prices are 'knowledge surrogates', a critical form of expressing information necessary to making rational choices. See also 

Drones delivering prison contraband. What would it take for technology adoption to definitively outpace our ability to generate defenses against it? I worry we're already there with shoddy password security, and everything is kept functional through frantic patchwork and luck.

This article on cutting Latin America's murder rate got me thinking... I usually see redistribution touted as a solution to socio-economic inequality. It might be done through voluntary donation, it might be done through obligatory taxation. If your problems are rooted in social and economic inequality, What actually happens when you directly encourage and strengthen strong empathy ties across class borders? I'm sure this is horribly naive and there are obvious ways it goes hellishly wrong, but I'm curious what the specifics of those are. I would want to create an interchange of sorts... incentivize safe and mutually beneficial interactions between economic classes. Make pen pals and patreons. Open neutral meeting spaces with TSA-level security. Integration!


If you think we're wrong or unhelpful, or if you aren't sure, tell us!

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