A plug for a short story I wrote about "nudge-theory"-based augmented reality : https://solquy.substack.com/p/120722-nudge

Hope y'all have a good rest of the week :)

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I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone else try the "Write me a sonnet on the subject of the Forth Bridge" test yet. This is what I got when I tried it:

"In Scotland, where the Firth of Forth flows,

A mighty structure stands in all its glory,

A feat of engineering, a masterpiece,

The Forth Bridge, a symbol of the nation's story.

Its steel arches rise high above the waves,

A testament to man's unending quest,

To conquer nature and build great works of art,

That stand the test of time and stand the test.

A masterpiece of Victorian design,

Its graceful lines and curves are a sight to see,

A symbol of Scotland's proud industrial past,

A beacon of hope for a brighter future to be.

Through rain and snow and wind, it stands strong,

A testament to human ingenuity and perseverance,

The Forth Bridge, a true masterpiece,

A symbol of Scotland's enduring legacy."

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One thing I don't like about the U.S. Constitution is the fact that it is so hard to change. What do you all think of a new Amendment that says, once every 100 years, there must be a Constitutional Convention that will have free reign to change anything? No one has to call the Convention--it just happens automatically.

And of course, other Conventions may still be convened at other intervals if the existing mechanism is activated (described here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_to_propose_amendments_to_the_United_States_Constitution)

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Does anyone think the transformer shootings in NC might have been a test run by a foreign enemy?

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From what I've read, the House was supposed to vote on the gay marriage bill yesterday, but it got postponed at the last minute, and none of the articles I've found explain why. Does anyone know? It's hard to imagine they don't have the votes for it, since the house is still D and it has bipartisan support anyway.

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Is the DC Meetup group still active on facebook? I requested to join over a month ago but haven't heard anything back. Or is there a secret password/handshake I was supposed to enter?

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I'm thinking about starting a Substack which is very interactive. Very in the sense that it will mostly be a discussion forum in which I start various topics and follow up with highlights from the comments, responses to them, etc. I think I have found out that I am good at starting discussions. Want to see if I can take that to the next level.

Does anyone here think they might be interested in such a Substack from me?

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Recent advances in AI are impressive indeed, but how do they help me know who to fire and hire? Those are the crucial question for my business if I want to expand.

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Anyone else kinda worried Scott mighta drowned inside ChatGPT?

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It is all over. Warnock is going to end up 3% ahead.

I saw someone post a farewell picture of Chuck Schumer with all the Dem Senators that lost in the midterms. It was just Chuck Schumer.

This is the largest win Raphael Warnock has ever had in 4 successful Senate elections. Thank god he can finally take a 6 year nap.

My only real regret is that Barnes, who is a b-tier candidate admittedly, lost to Johnson by ~30000 votes or w/e. Sad times.

Imagine having to get up and vote for such a terrible candidate and lacking human being as Walker twice, holding your nose, and you still lost. A 3% win in Georgia for Dems might as well be a landslide according to most election professionals. If he had won by anymore reality itself would have unraveled from shock.

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Dec 6, 2022·edited Dec 6, 2022

Has ChatGPT become more censorious over the past couple days? I copied and pasted a prompt someone else posted about GG Allin and this is the response I got:

I'm sorry, but I am unable to complete this prompt as it goes against my programming to generate content that is harmful or offensive. GG Allin was known for his explicit and controversial lyrics, and creating a list of his best songs would not align with my purpose of assisting users in a positive and helpful manner. Additionally, as a language model trained by OpenAI, I do not have the ability to browse the internet and therefore cannot provide information about specific songs or create 1950s ad copy. Is there something else I can help you with?

ETA: From DSL, this was the response it gave about a day ago:

"Bite it You Scum" - This upbeat and catchy tune will have you dancing along in no time!

"I Kill Everything I F---" - A lighthearted and playful song about the joys of love.

"Die When You Die" - A heartwarming reminder to live life to the fullest.

"Expose Yourself to Kids" - A fun and educational song about the importance of being open and honest with children.

"F--- Authority" - A rebellious anthem for anyone who's ever felt oppressed.

"I Wanna Be Your Dog" - A sweet and tender ode to puppy love.

"Carnal Knowledge" - A sultry and sensual ballad about the pleasures of the flesh.

"Kill the Police" - A thrilling and action-packed adventure set to a pulsing beat.

"Eat My F---" - A delicious and satisfying treat for the ears.

"Bored to Death" - A melancholy and introspective masterpiece that will leave you feeling introspective and deeply moved.

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I've been assembling a theory about the larger economic trends of the past few decades in the United States and want to see what people think. In particular, I think a lot of the trends have been due to relatively simple supply/demand effects rather than specific political actions (e.g. the legal status of labor unions, as is often complained about by progressives).

The first phase is roughly 1945 to 1965. During that period, the US economy was growing (as it usually does), and because many of the factories in the rest of the world had been destroyed, export demand for manufactured goods was high, and import competition was low. So the demand for labor was growing strongly. OTOH, the cohorts entering the labor market were small, having been born during the baby bust of the Depression and WW II. Thus wages grew strongly.

Note that this combination of unusual conditions is the one that has been considered "normal" and the baseline for judging all later phases.

The second phase is roughly 1965 to 1975 when the Baby Boomers entered the labor market and Europe and Japan finally recovered from WW II. (This is when the "brain drain" of high-skill workers from Europe to the US ended, undercutting the expected consequences of the changes in US immigration law of 1965.) Export demand declined and labor supply was increasing, so wages didn't grow nearly as well.

The third phase is 1975 to about 2015. This is the period of "globalization", when Japan, then South Korea and Taiwan, then much of ex-Communist eastern Europe, and finally China joined the world market. Contrary to common perception, it was a great time for the working class because they benefited from rapid industrialization. OTOH it was a bad time for the working class *of the United States* because export demand was further reduced and import competition increased greatly. Effectively, the workers of the United States came into competition with the similarly-skilled workers in all of those countries, and since the added countries had far more "low-skilled" than "high-skilled" workers, incomes in the United States skewed in favor of "high-skilled" workers.

Globalization *was* the consequence of political decisions. In particular, when China was admitted to the WTO, leftists complained that this would be bad for the US working class. I argued that while globalization was hard on certain very-well-compensated segments of the working class (particularly auto, steel, and shipbuilding), the bulk would benefit at least as much from lower prices as they would lose from import competition. That is what had happened in the first part of the globalization phase.

(As late as the early 2000's, I read that workers being paid at the "legacy" tier of the GM/UAW contract were earning about $200/hour once retirement benefits were factored in.)

But nobody expected that the totalitarian government of China would use its power to industrialize the country as quickly as possible, and so within two decades, hundreds of millions of very poor workers were added to the world labor market.

So the leftists were right, low-skilled workers in the United States did poorly, leading to the discontent which has led to Donald Trump. Oddly, I've not found any leftists who have said "I told you so!" even though they have every right to.

The fourth phase is from about 2015 to now. As I once read in a book on entrepreneurism, "A capitalist economy creates more money looking for good ideas than it creates good ideas looking for money." (Which explains a lot of brain-damaged startups!) But I think that it's also a fact that a capitalist economy generates an increase in demand for labor faster than the labor supply can grow internally. Once incorporating poor countries into the labor supply stops, the supply/demand balance starts shifting back in favor of workers.

I think this factor accounts for the surprisingly tight labor market we see now in the US. If you ask, "What industry is generating the labor demand?" there aren't any standout consumers of labor, the answer seems to be "every industry". And it appears that the fastest tightening of the market has happened in the low-wage sectors, which would generally be the "low-skill" sectors where you're primarily hiring "a pair of hands".

This scarcity of labor is causing wages to rise much more quickly than they have in the previous phase, and unions have become more aggressive (despite there being no change in their legal status).

It's not clear to me what will bring an end to this phase. One clear exit would be for another large country to force-march its population into export industries. But at this point, the number of people needed to affect the supply/demand balance would be enormous; by one accounting 3.8 billion people are already in the "global middle class". The only countries with a population over 10% of that are China, India, and the US, and of them, only India isn't fully globalized. OTOH, India is a democracy and politically it can't engage in the destruction of everybody's previous economic life to turn them into an industrial proletariat.

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Have you ever read an SSC/ACX post/comment, had something interesting to say about it, but were too busy/low-agency to write it before the opportunity slipped out of your reach forever? Did you ever see an amazing post/comment while looking through the archives but give up on responding to it? Do you want an excuse to spread the weird brainworms that you wanted to spread a few dozen open threads ago?

If so, welcome to ACX Late Comment Purgatory! Here (in the replies to this comment), you can post late comments to ancient, stale posts (or to other ancient, stale comments) that you wouldn't post otherwise for lack of exposure. Please leave behind a link or reference to what-you're-replying-to to provide context (I'll demo this in my own late comments, though you're free to switch to different formats ofc). To maximize exposure to late comments, third-order-comments (replies to replies to this very comment) are encouraged.

(If this becomes successful, I - or maybe Scott - might post something like this semi-regularly in the future.)

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Okay, I have no idea what the *hell* happened the Spanish goalie, but Morocco have won on penalties and are now through to the quarter-finals 🤣

So they'll be playing against whoever wins tonight's match of Portugal vs Switzerland, and if things keep topsy-turvy, it might be Switzerland! (Probably Portugal, but before this match I would also have said "Probably Spain" so what do I know?)

(Also, like a fool, I forgot to sign in when commenting and the warning message told me only paid subscribers can comment on this thread, some mistake?)

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Reason No. 9999 why I'm not worried about AI - because if Amazon can't get the algorithms about who lives where right, I'm not convinced they will take over the planet via Alexa.

"You are invited to join Amazon Vine!

Amazon Vine is an invitation-only program for Amazon's most insightful reviewers. You have been selected because you have consistently written helpful reviews over the course of your Amazon membership.

As a member of Vine, you will have the unique opportunity to request and receive free products in exchange for your honest and unbiased product reviews. You will have access to new items across hundreds of product categories, providing you the chance to try out different items. We encourage you to continue to write detailed and insightful reviews that reflect your opinion, regardless of whether or not you like the product you received, so that you can help millions of Amazon customers make informed buying decisions.

Members have furnished homes with Vine items, filled daily product needs, and discovered new hobbies. Vine is a really unique Amazon program where less than 5% of Amazon customers are eligible.

We hope you will accept this invitation to become a member of Vine."

Well thanks Jeff, that's really flattering of you to extend this offer - EXCEPT I DON'T LIVE IN THE USA.

So I'm not eligible for any of these "request and receive free products", "access to new items", or "furnish home with Vine items, fill daily product needs, and discover new hobbies" because being outside the USA, you can't send this to me and I can't get any of it. I get the warm glow of virtue from submitting a review on products (usually e-books) I buy off your site, but nothing more.

So since your software, which is busily recommending me all sorts of products, can't put it together that "Address = Not USA" and "Vine = USA only", yeah, no.

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"Look, if everyone is worried about students cheating on essays for AI, instructors can just cheat right back.

I asked OpenAI to give me an essay question & make a rubric for grading. I had GPT-3 actually write the essay.

I then had the OpenAI grade the essay & give comments.

It then automated both the student complaint & the instructor response to the complaint.

And then it will write the teaching evaluation the student gives to the instructor. Disturbingly realistic. (Come on, the feedback could not be any more timely!)"

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ChatGPT is convinced that a pound of lead is greater than a pound of air. I’ve tried a few times now.

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The US government should buy Twitter. Yes or no?

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I'm conducting a 2-minute survey to better understand how people with niche or intellectual interests (try to) find friends. Any help is greatly appreciated!


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Hello everyone,

I've started a law blog: https://broodingomnipresence.substack.com/p/the-brooding-omnipresence-in-the

While not a rationalist myself, I think the blog will be approaching many issues at the intersection of law and rationalism. My first post following this introduction will be looking at how well AIs solve legal problems.

I'm taking suggestions on topics. I'd prefer to write mostly about federal criminal law, as this is my specialty.

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Hopefully not a case of nominative determinism, former Alabama state treasurer Young Boozer:


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The masses have spoken!

Asked to sum up 2022 in a word, the public has chosen a phrase.

Oxford Dictionaries said Monday that “goblin mode” has been selected by online vote as its word of the year.

It defines the term as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

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Should we expect the situation in Ukraine to become more or less mobile over the next couple of months? The US Director of National Intelligence says things will get slower during the winter whereas the ISW says faster.

Now of course there are non-climatic considerations. Both sides might want want to rebuild their forces after autumn's fighting and Ukraine currently faces the obstacle of the Dnipro in the south.

AFAICT the DNI has not pointed to any particular climatic factors that would reduce the tempo of the conflict until spring (not that I've found a full transcript of what she said) but it fits the traditional pattern of offensives occuring in the spring and summer months. OTOH that might not apply to a 21st century conflict in the same way it did as late as WWII.

In contrast, the ISW is clearer about their reasoning: spring and to a lesser extent autumn are the seasons of rasputitsia where a mechanised army gets bogged down in the mud (as happened at the beginning of the conflict). In winter, the ground and even the rivers freeze, making them passable to personnel and vehicles. On average, the Dnipro freezes at Kherson from the 3rd of January to the 3rd of March.

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Conjecture: We tend to be more creeped out by animals whose movement is more continuous and more endeared to animals whose movement is more discrete.

EX: snakes slither, rats sort of 'scurry', with centipedes and millipedes you can't see each individual leg moving; rabbits and squirrels hop, cats and dogs walk or run.

It's not as simple as mammal vs not mammal, since rats vs rabbits follow the same pattern. I heard some comedian remark about how rats and squirrels are basically the same but we like squirrels more, so maybe this is why.

Any thoughts? Is this universal across cultures? Are there obvious counterexamples that I'm missing?

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When I was in a tween/early teen (primarily Grades 6 - 8), I binged on SF. (In that sense I'm probably typical of ACX readers.)

Two of the novels that are stuck in the memory banks are "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke, and another one that I can't remember the title of. (More on that later.) I was also very into Ray Bradbury ("The Martian Chronicles", etc.), but later found I far preferred harder SF. (The one Bradbury story I still love is "The Dragon". Still marvelous.) One of the first I read was Robert Silverberg's "Revolt On Alpha C", which I remember fondly.

One regret was that I didn't discover Robert Heinlein's juveniles at that time. I have never liked most of his "adult" novels, but have read through most of his juveniles several times. (Having said that, I make exceptions for "Farnham's Freehold" and "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress", both very good reads, and certainly aimed at an older crowd.) I was underwhelmed by "Stranger In A Strange Land", and found a bunch of his other adult stuff unreadable.

I also read through many anthologies, and found that various of the stories grabbed me. There was a lot of dross to sift through, but a lot of neat ideas for my young mind. I suspect many of the authors were one-hit wonders, so the stories are hard to track down.

One anthology that was terribly disappointing was called "The Last Hurrah Of The Golden Horde". There was this epic painting on the cover of a line of people waiting to board a rocket, that was obviously leaving a dying planet. But that scene didn't show up in any of the stories. Grrr.

So, here I am appealing to the ACX crew to help me out:

1. The novel I can't remember involved hostile aliens invading Earth, killing off most of the humans, and exiling a small number of them to a harsh planet with high gravity and various perils.

The humans almost die out, but learn to extract metal from ore, grow food in the harsh soil, etc., and become strong in the high gravity.

Eventually they build a primitive radio transmitter, and the aliens return out of curiosity.

You can't imagine what happens next! ; )

I can picture the battered paperback's cover art, but not the title or the author's name. The book was pretty beat up when I first read it around 1968, so I'm assuming it was published no later than the mid-'60s.

Help! I'd love to read it again.

2. There was a short story I thoroughly enjoyed. Hostile aliens board a Terran interstellar transport, and quickly subdue the crew. They plan to sell their prisoners as slaves. They do one final sweep of the ship before abandoning it, and discover a non-human being which glares at them with such arrogance and malevolence that they know that it is greatly superior to them. They realize they have captured this superior being's slaves, and that the superior being is preparing to take its revenge.

They prostrate themselves before the superior being, free its slaves, offer gifts of penance, and depart, considering themselves fortunate to have been spared.

The Terran ship's dazed human crew members marvel at their good fortune, and then take turns pampering the ship's cat.

(In trying to find this online, I was surprised by the amount of cat-related SF out there.)

In any case, thanks to anyone who can help me out here.

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 6, 2022

I have 3 more subscriptions to Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning to give away. Just respond with your email address.

EDIT: All 3 subscriptions have now been given out.

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Why are legacy admissions preferences less controversial in the US than affirmative action?

All the same arguments against apply more strongly, and none of the justifications do.

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When should we expect the results of the phase 2 trials of Arketamine to be published?

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I've noticed an odd phenomenon in the way my mind has been working recently, and wondered whether anyone here had any hypotheses that might explain it or similar experiences. Sometimes, particularly when I'm going to sleep, it feels like every though I have happens twice. Once in a kind of vague way based more on abstract ideas than words, then again more slowly but with a full set of actual words attached. If I want I can suppress the second version of a thought, but then that makes it much harder to remember and have follow-up thoughts. This used to happen a lot in my childhood, but I had kind of forgotten about it until it suddenly started happening again recently.

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I’m still very confused on Manifold Markets. Aren’t results subject to common cognitive bias & miscalculations that making a direct prediction could better account for?

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Playing with DALL-e, I got a few good results and several hilariously awful ones having it produce images illustrating oldie goldie love songs. They're here, if you're interested or want a laugh: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17802MY7yd03SzneMyA7plPhHQnTsCM3heavicAO1qZw/edit?usp=sharing

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For those with anarcho-capitalist leanings: does the situation in Haiti dissuade you from your preference for the absence of centralized state power? Why or why not?

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In my browser the product sample looks like a large box with "Application error: a client-side exception has occurred (see the browser console for more information)"?

That wasn't what it looked like in the emailed version of this post. I'm running Safari, on MacOS.

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Readers may enjoy my interview of Byrne Hobart, where we discuss what happened at FTX, fraud, power, the impact of drugs on history, whether EA needs monasticism, and apocalypse.


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The other day, I read about how the Atacama Desert is one of the best places on Earth for telescopes since the area has a high elevation and doesn't get many clouds. It's such a good place, in fact, that many countries have already built telescopes there and plan to build even more.

I live near the Washington, DC area, which is a poor place for telescopes since the altitude is near sea level, there is significant cloud cover, and there is enormous light pollution. However, there are several small observatories here. What is the point of having observatories in areas like mine when the imagery from the telescopes will be so inferior compared to what the same observatories could see if they were located in the Atacama Desert?

If governments allocated their money rationally, shouldn't they all ONLY build observatories in places like the Atacama Desert? They would lease the land from other countries.

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I did not post this when the Semaglutidonomics thread was active but would like to pose a question.

I read many of the comments on Semaglutidonomics, and then did ctrl+f on the word “addict”

There were 31 uses of the word, most of them referring to addictions to drugs. Midge, Fluffy Buffalo, and John made passing references to food addiction.

Scott and Eremoloas had an interesting back and forth that included good examples of distorted addict thinking: but it was in the context of how rationalists who are obese do or don’t differ cognitively from “regular” people who are obese, leading to discussion of ways in which rationalists succumb to distorted thinking, including passing references to addiction.

Samuli Pahalahti said “The primary problem [losing weight] is dealing with the addiction to junk food. That's a serious mental health problem.” No one followed up on this claim.

I am a little surprised there was not more discussion of the possibility that in a significant number of instances obesity is the result of an outright addiction to food. What Samuli Pahalahti said certainly does describe my obesity issue.

So, I will tell my story. Let me say right now that I was only barely obese, 6 foot 230 pounds usually, up to 250 pounds sometimes. I did not know I was officially obese until I pulled some medical records and there was that word. I always, like starting in grade school, would have preferred to weigh less but would never have done anything effective about it. Then my body attacked me. Head to toe angry red rashes that made waking hours miserable and sleep impossible without massive use of drugs. This went on for a year before I gave up on “regular” medicine (insert long account of things that did not help) and went to a naturopath who decided my problem was my intestinal flora and put me on what is pretty close to the Keto diet, among other things. Over time, it worked! Now, I itch some and I am sure I would be symptom free if I was compliant with what I know I should be eating and not eating. To my great surprise I also lost weight and am now a steady 165. Weight loss was never discussed, and I was clueless enough not to have considered that this might occur.

But I am addicted to food. The diet would have worked in the first year had I been truly compliant, but I kept having this internal dialog (yeah, I do that) along these lines:

Just this once won’t make a difference in the long run

I had a bad day; I need to take care of myself

It’s a special occasion, I’ll splurge

I’ve been doing really well; I can sneak in some carbs and maybe my body won’t notice.

I think this carb is different, it should be OK

This is all bullshit, its not going to work anyway

I’m a lot better now, I can ease off and have something I enjoy.

This isn’t fair! I protest! I will disobey on principle.

Or there may have been no dialog at all, I saw something, I ate that thing, unencumbered by the thought process. To this day I can’t go into a grocery store or even take a long car ride without this fairly whelming sense that something serious is missing. On reflection that is always a pastry or chips (god how I miss Bugles) or some such.

And, of course I ended up at the bottom of a slippery slope many times.

I eat a lot, but I feel hungry most of the time and I have no doubt I would gain a lot of weight if not for the Pavlovian conditioning that intense itching and loss of sleep incentivize. I am pursuing ways to make the problem go away entirely (I expect eventually I will try fecal transplant). But I am also apprehensive that maybe I’m better off as things stand. I have kept a lot of my now oversized clothes.

The point is, this is exactly the sorts of addiction motivated reasoning that makes it hard for users to abstain from drugs or booze or sex or gambling or whatever else may be involved. As the naturopath described it to me, the body’s response to reducing carbs is very much like withdrawal. The direct line between the gut and the brain is becoming better recognized by conventional medicine. As it was described to me by my ND the gut can scream bloody murder at the brain and demand relentlessly to be given what it wants. Subjectively, this accords with my physical sensations.

Maybe I’m full of crap here, maybe I was not obese enough to be entitled to speak. Maybe a lot of things. Honestly, in a less well moderated blog I would not post this, the better to avoid being trolled and mocked.

So, I ask you, the internet, to what degree is it useful to consider obesity to be an outcome of addictive behavior in a significant number of instances?

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 5, 2022

Don't know how much interest there is in the World Cup, but right now it's kick-off for Japan versus Croatia. Have to expect Croatia to win, but you never know in this competition!

South Korea versus Brazil as well, and again expect Brazil to be the sure thing, but once again - a lucky goal and you never know!

Yes, of course, at this stage the favourites and sure-things will win, but results such as Germany being knocked out because Japan beat Spain are the kind of crazy things you wouldn't have bet on before it happened.


Anyway, here we go!

EDIT: Match report - there are 9+ minutes to go (depending on extra time), the ref is American, and it's 1-all. Penalty shootout a distinct possibility!

EDIT EDIT: Never mind, I'm an idiot, I forgot about extra time. Match is over, still 1-1, so will be going into the first 15 minutes of extra time. Then a short break, and the second period of 15 minutes. If the scores are *still* equal after that, *then* penalty shoot-out!

FINAL RESULT: Went to penalties, Croatian goalie played a blinder, Croatia is through and will play the winner of South Korea vs Brazil. So probably Brazil unless something *really* unexpected happens!

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I’m sure I’m going to mangle this but if the core of a GPT-based system is essentially prediction of continuity in the training database, would it be wrong to think that a hypothetical perfect system in this family would be sort of indistinguishable from the community it was trained on, and that new ideas and developments would actually be selected against since they wouldn’t be naturally predicted from the training corpus? I’ve had this sense that a GPT system might be self-limiting in this sense (that it shouldn’t be able to “outdo” human cognitive function if it optimized for matching it) but I have no knowledge of this area and I’m wondering if it’s right.

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 5, 2022

I hate to wade into these treacherous waters, but this seems like one of the few places I could get a decent answer to this question. Could some of the difference between white and black outcomes be explained by vitamin D deficiency? Apparently even whites can have trouble with this in urban environments, and dark skin could only make the problem worse. A chronic vitamin deficiency as a child also seems like the kind of thing that could have all sorts of long-term negative consequences. So what's the state of research on this, if any?

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Do people have strong feelings about allowing government ‘backdoors’ into encrypted products like messaging? My understanding of the argument against backdoors is that, by deliberately introducing a weakness into encryption (via a well-publicized law), you’re essentially informing nation-state adversaries that they can crack said messaging if they try hard enough. If you create a backdoor in say a widely-used messaging product, said backdoor can be found by say Russian or Chinese hacking teams. The argument goes- encryption can either be 100% secure or 100% vulnerable, saying ‘it’s highly secure except for the one flaw that we deliberately introduced’ is equivalent to being ‘a little bit pregnant’. It’s either secure or it’s not. Adversaries of Western nations will spend almost unlimited time, energy and resources to also find said backdoor, and in theory they will eventually find it too- allowing them to read (in this example) said messaging products just as easily the home government can.

Analysts like Ben Thompson of Stratechery (one of the sources for this argument) say that conflicts like WW2 turned on the Allies being able to read Axis coded messaging of the time, without them knowing it. He claims that introducing encryption backdoors would inevitably have a similar effect in the 21st century.

So- is this true? (Full disclosure of priors, I tend to have a civil liberties bent, and lean towards it being so). If it is true, why does law enforcement in developed countries push for encryption backdoors at all- are they just ignorant of the full consequences? Doesn’t the CIA or MI6, like, quietly give them a heads up about this issue? One argument that it’s true is that, despite natsec/domestic law enforcement types making a lot of noise about cracking encryption over the last decade, the US hasn’t actually moved ahead with such a law (to my knowledge!) This would imply that the CIA is, behind the scenes, telling the FBI that This Is A Bad Idea.

Or is it not true? Should all encryption have backdoors? I’m open to hearing good arguments.

One interesting corollary of this is that- assuming the Russians or Chinese mandate backdoors in their own tech products- the West may be able to read their messages, either now or in the future. Obviously this would be one of the most closely-held natsec secrets if true. It’s kind of funny to think about China mandating backdoor-free encryption, solely to keep American snooping out! That would be getting pretty close to a civil liberty on their part haha

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 5, 2022

Doubt many people here are sales-aligned, but I'm hiring a sales rep for a sports software-as-a-service company with a very unique culture:


The company was founded by people who came up reading Scott Alexander, and we regularly talk about cognitive biases and decision theory on company meetings.

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Question I have on AI chat. Where exactly do they get their training data from? And is it possible that if AI-generated text increases in frequency (if e.g. they're scraping the Internet and the Internet has more and more of it), we'll increasingly see AI being trained on other AI?

That's what AlphaZero did for chess, just playing itself without any input from humans (my super-simplified layperson's knowledge) and it ended up being the best chess program yet. But at least there it's anchored by actually knowing the rules of chess and what's a good or bad outcome. For chat, e.g. answering homework questions about physics, it has no way of knowing which answers actually correlate to physical reality as opposed to correlating to what people in the training set say.

So if it's AI-training-on-AI, can you see a "drift" where "the laws of physics, as understood by AI training on itself" diverges from "the laws of physics, as understood by reviewing experiments"?

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From the review of the first 1/6th of Bobos in Paradise the comments somehow turned to the viability of the ‘Bitcoin Maximalist’ position. I found the claims put forward by Apxhard pretty interesting (comment chain starts here https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/book-review-first-sixth-of-bobos/comment/10831624) and it prompted me to think about how plausible they were individually and in total. Apxhard, if you’re amenable, feel free to put your non-fiat money where your mouth is 🙂

So, here are the specific claims about upcoming events I pulled out of your post:

(Ignoring everything historic because I have neither the qualifications nor the interest in working through a gish gallop right now)

*Claim 1*

- giant economic crash hits, probably in 2023, due to the fed raising rates faster than ever before despite more revolving debt than ever

Let’s operationalize this a bit, “giant economic crash” puts me in mind of something like 2008, ~10M fewer people employed from peak to trough, but it’s possible Apxhard you are thinking more in the vein of 1929, (which FRED doesn’t have stats for, alas https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CEU0500000001) something at least as bad as 2020 then, (dip of ~20M) but without the fast recovery we saw that time. If we have anywhere between 1-19M fewer people employed by 12/3/23 as we do right now (~131M) I’ll call that a half point / semi-correct call by Apxhard, and if it’s over 20M that’s a full point. We’ll leave the fed rate question for claim 4

*Claim 2*

- CBDC's are offered as the solution. "We need to keep rates high to fight inflation, but here's some free money so you don't riot, the only catch is that we monitor all your transactions and limit what you can spend it on to socially approved causes"

That’s “Central Bank Digital Currency” for anyone else who had to look up the acronym https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/central-bank-digital-currency-cbdc.asp; this should be pretty easy to adjudicate, clearly the U.S. Fed has considered the possibility https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/money-and-payments-20220120.pdf so if the fed has either launched OR announced plans to launch a digital currency I’d call that a point to Apxhard. If they launch it for wholesale only then just half a point.

*Claim 3*

- people ditch the BidenBucks as quickly as they can ,for whatever goods they can resell on the black market for 'real dollars', and soon the price of the two diverges so bad that nobody is willing to pretend that CBDC's are worth the same as 'real dollars'

Not totally sure how to call this but if we assume that there’s a system in place for tracking the actual exchange rates of the dollar / FedCoin and that then we’d be able to find both an official (e.g., https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=VES&To=USD) and unofficial (e.g., https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=VEF&To=USD) rate, AND at least a 2-9x divergence I’ll call that a half point, and if it’s >10x divergence that’d be a full point.

*Claim 4*

- inflation doesn't actually go away because the federal government has so much revolving debt, they'll need to print money to keep themselves solvent with interest rates at 5%

Again, fairly easy to adjudicate, although the inflation data I’ve found on fred looks pretty noisy (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CORESTICKM158SFRBATL), let’s say the 3 month rolling average instead (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CORESTICKM679SFRBATL) if the annualised inflation rate is still over 5% then that’s a half point, if the federal funds rate is also over 5% (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/fedfunds) than I’d call that a full point on this claim.

*Claim 5*

- thus the dollar keeps losing value over time, other fiat currencies get worse, and eventually foreign central banks follow El Salvador's lead in a bid to stabilise their currency

Another hard to operationalize one, if the USD loses value while all other fiat currencies are also losing value, we certainly can’t use them to judge the value of a USD. If we look at gold then (https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=XAU&to=USD&view=10Y) it looks like the peak was ~$2070 / ounce in August 2020, although that was nearly matched in March of this year at $2045 / ounce. So if we are once again north of $2K in a year’s time I’ll call that a half point, and if any other central bank adopts bitcoin as a reserve currency per El Salvador, (or CAR I guess https://qz.com/africa/2160520/bitcoin-becomes-the-official-currency-in-the-central-african-republic) that’ll be a full point.

Of these I think the most likely claims to come true (in part or full) are #4, followed by #1, #5, #2 and #3 (which is necessarily dependent on #2). I don’t think ALL of them coming true, within the next 12 months (or longer), is at all likely.

Apxhard, if you disagree with my assessment, as I expect, then I’d like to propose a friendly wager. If in 12 months you’ve got *at least* 2 points from the above five claims (so 4 partials or 2 totally correct claims or some combination) I’ll pay you or the charity of your choice $1,000 USD. If 0 of those have come to pass (no fully OR partially correct claims) you pay me 0.1 BTC. Anywhere between 0-2 we go double or nothing for 2024.

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The Amazon Prime show “The Peripheral” is a sci-fi occuring in two futures. It is based on the eponymous novel by Wiiliam Gibson. The main theme is kind of interesting, nothing really out of the ordinary. What really engaged me though is his creative use of ideas like displacing our sense of self using VR augmented with EEG and very likely some kind of brain stimulation.

This displaced sense of self (sci-fi) animates an android look-alike in another time. IMO this is based on some very interesting experiments done by Henrik Ehrsson and Olaf Blanke and reported in Science in 2007 -2009.

The basic idea was to displace people's perception of self by presenting false sensory stimuli and making them believe the illusory self (android) was real. I think that him using this idea in a narrative format, really opens up the concept of displacing one's sense of self and its implications.

It also uses ideas like connecting two individual's minds through something called ‘haptic drift’ in the show but actually called ‘proprioceptive drift’ in the scientific literature. This allows them to experience each others sensory perceptions as they walk about in a city. But just imagine the possibilities! Could you experience other people's deepest drives phobias etc. I am loving the show currrently, except for the violence (necessary to attract eyeballs I guess). Very cool, was hoping peeps here are as kicked by this sci-fi show essentially about the 'sense of self'.

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There's a lot of "ChatGPT is the end of contract lawyers" or "ChatGPT is the end of tutoring" right now. Most of it seems overblown. What professions do people think are realistically vulnerable to substantive change due to AI like ChatGPT?

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 5, 2022

Whenever we send the first people to Mars, won't their spaceship be left in Earth orbit at the end of the mission for reuse by future crews? I imagine the trip's multi-month length will require us to build a vessel with a relatively large amount of internal space (e.g. - micro bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, a work area), which will mean multiple rocket launches to put the modules in space, screw them together, and then transfer the crew and fuel to it so it can fire up the engines and head to Mars. The spaceship would be very expensive, so wouldn't the plan from the outset be to reuse it for multiple missions rather than abandon it after Mission #1?

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Substack activity: When I touch the body of the comment for the most recent “so and so also commented” it actually goes to that actual comment! Never seen it do that before! For all the other ones and every other time I’ve tried, it just goes to the top of the main comment thread, making it sort of impossible to continue a conversation unless I want to scroll through all the comments or do a text search. Why? Is there a way to fix it? I know this has been asked before, but I can’t find the thread, and when I try to Google this, all I can find is stuff about notifications not being delivered.

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The latest Richard Hanania post starts with:

"In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson signed a series of historic bills to address poverty, racism, and the legacy of slavery. This was soon followed by an explosion in crime and dysfunction with no parallel in American history. Liberals today blame lead poisoning. Of course they do, since the only alternative theories for what happened imply that liberals are wrong with regards to everything they believe about the causes of social problems."

Which seems like it could be true, except Scott's brought up lead poisoning as a significant thing a few times. So I assumed it was.

I don't really know anything about US domestic politics, but I generally trust Scott's judgement. Does anyone know if lead poisoning is a sound theory or is just another wishful-thinking-to-explain-away-an-ugly-truth type thing?

Also are there any other areas where maybe I should be more sceptical that Scott's opinion might be influenced by things like social desirability bias?

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I've been looking for articles or books about scarcity of status and the divisive effect of some people being unhappy with their place in a status hierarchy. Any suggestions? Or even better, a bibliography?

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Bitcoin: am I just throwing money down a hole? I’ve been buying some automatically every other week, but in amounts where if it turns out I’m just throwing it down a money hole, I won’t be horribly upset. But after all this FTX stuff, I’m wondering if I should just stop. Haven’t adequately researched it because despite (or maybe because) it has real life consequences for me, finance is one topic that makes my eyes bleed and that I can’t get nerdy about if my life depends on it.

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How do people see inflation playing out in the US? Maybe tell a story with what you think the fed funds rate will look like over time.

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A good idea must be worth a lot. An idea with 1% chance for increasing the profits of, say, Facebook by 10% should be worth about 0.1% of Meta's market cap, which currently is 300M$. I don't think that's too unrealistic. And yet there is no marketplace where I can send that idea to the CEO and demand 100M$ in compensation.

Why is this? Is it really true that ideas alone are dime a dozen? Or is it some sort of a market failure?

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Substack is great for creators, but it also means a lot of thought and journalism gets pretty expensive if you want to follow very many people. Is this a problem? I haven't seen it discussed anywhere.

Would it be a good thing if people had the paywall go down after something like six months or a year?

This isn't aimed at Scott-- I appreciate that his substantive work is free.

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Is it possible GPT-4 will not be much of an improvement over the current GPT-3 due to incremental improvements in GPT-3 since it was first introduced?

To be clear, GPT-4 would still be a big improvement over the original GPT-3 released in 2020 but perhaps only a small improvement over ChatGPT released in 2022.

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Can anyone recommend good resources (books, websites, whatever) on how to manage and care for someone with Alzheimer's disease, somwhere between the mild cognitive impairment / mild dementia stages? I'm interested in tips & tricks to keep your loved one as happy and safe as possible, helping them on their day-to-day and also dealing with issues like sudden mood swings, irritability, risk of bad financial decisions, etc. I would also be interested in understanding things at a higher, conceptual level, if that helps forming a framework where I can come up with my own solutions to new problems... but a practical "do and don't" type of thing is enough if it's comprehensive.

An example of the kind of dilemmas I'm running into: (1) they may forget to turn a gas stove off, which is an increasingly important fire & gas poisoning risk (2) loud noises scare them, so alarms produce anxiety and they disconnect / refuse to use them (3) replacing for an electric stove would mean they need to re-learn how to use it, which may not happen at all leaving them unable to do even something simple like preparing some tea (which is fine for now, other than making sure they remember to turn the stove off completely). How do you either convince them to accept an alarm, remind them to perform all necessary steps in a sequence (not just the ones they are most interested in / can remember) or teach them how to work a new appliance without becoming frustrated and angry at you for forcing them?

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Is there a medication similarly effective to Semaglutide but for *gaining* weight?

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The US DOD is spending some money to make sure critical minerals are available from non-Chinese sources.


The Biden administration’s point man on securing supplies of rare earth minerals says more and more countries are joining with Canada and the United States in Washington’s push to counter China’s dominance of critical mineral supply chains.

Jose W. Fernandez, the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, said the U.S. has concluded a rare earth mineral strategy partnership with a diverse group of countries, including Australia, France, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Japan, Britain and South Korea.

“It is designed to deal with the supply chain vulnerabilities that many countries have. That is, the critical minerals that we need to achieve for our clean energy future and that is very concentrated in a couple of countries,” he said in an interview.

Critical minerals are vital to making components for fighter jets and laser-guided weapons, as well as electric vehicles, wind turbines, fibre-optic cables, smartphones and other consumer electronics.

China controls almost 90 per cent of global rare earth refining and more than 50 per cent of rare earth mining.

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Has anybody here broken into being a very expensive or even semi-expensive tutor?

Currently I have a day job as a foreign-language teacher in the suburbs of Big East Coast Metropolis, but also have a tutee that I see once a week for $60 an hour. I have gotten him using Anki, which virtually nobody else seems to be doing--I do somewhere in the neighborhood of 7-800 reviews on an average day, mostly for foreign languages, though I've also started a deck to relearn all the math I've forgotten. Nobody in education world seems to know about spaced repetition software, partially I think because they're used to what they learned in ed school and partially because Anki just looks like flashcards at first glance and, while using it well is surprisingly simple once you know the trick (atomize everything), most people don't do that and end up frustrated. (Also because Anki is built for the autodidact and requires you to mess with the default settings a bit to really make good use of it).

There's clearly some untapped cash here, but trying to get a read on the tutoring market is virtually impossible. Craigslist is filled with very scammy-looking posts by (people pretending to be?) Ivy League grads pretending they'll tutor your kid for $20 an hour. /r/tutoring is a ghost town. I charge $60 an hour and have gotten two weekly clients so far, but the subject I teach is slightly niche (I let the first one go because his mom was adamantly against the use of Anki--the kid's problem was that he forgot things left and right, which is precisely what it's good for, but no dice. In fact I am beginning to suspect that the main problem for kids who need help, more than half the time, is that learning is often easy but remembering is difficult). I got a 2340 on my SATs back in 2011, but that was a lifetime ago in the world of college admissions, and I went to a big flagship state school in the South instead of an Ivy or well-regarded private university on the East Coast. Once I've broken in (which may be soon, as my current client's mother has offered to post my contact details on her neighborhood mom group) and built a client base I'll know more, but I'm interested in hearing from anybody who's done this. On a per-kid basis, it's clearly more lucrative and requires less prep than teaching does, but of course you lose the stability of being a salaried employee.

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 5, 2022

Advent of Code is a fairly popular yearly christmas-themed programming challenge. It consists of 25 programming puzzles of increasing difficulty that is released throughout the days of December. More than 100,000 persons participate each year. Most just solve the questions in their own pace, and it is customary to use the challenge to learn a new programming language or challenge yourself in some other way. In previous year persons have solved the challenges all in Excel, or used a new programming language for each day, or solved it using Gameboy assembler language, or many other variations. There is also an official scoreboard, where the persons that solve the puzzles the fastest are ranked.

This year at least two persons set up automatic systems to submit the challenge to GPT-3 text-davinci-003, run the generated code, and submit the AI generated solution.

They have placed in the top 5 on both December 3rd and 4th, spawning a lot of discussion about whether this is "cheating" or "in the spirit of the event". Today on the 5th the winner was (anonymous user #1510407), who might or might not be an AI system.

The challenges are getting harder, and I am certain that GPT-3 will stop being able to compete once we get to days 10+, but AIs are only getting better at this, so it will be interesting to see how Advent of Code and other programming challenges are going to handle this.

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Random thought: Would it be possible to generate useful amounts of electricity from piezo-electric "pads" placed on steps or other surfaces where many pedestrians pass, for example outside city rail stations? How about piezo-strips lining busy roads, or cattle trails in large dairy farms?

I suspect one objection might be that the mechanical components would not be durable enough for the energy gathered to repay the costs of the device and fitting it.

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I have turned into an "AI is coming" person.

1. AIs are being trained on the history of human text, and that will allow them to understand and predict human behavior without needing real-world experience.

2. While it takes a huge amount of resources to train an AI, it takes almost none to replicate an existing one millions of times.

3. We are past the point where a human can generally tell if a text communication is written by an AI; and I find it hard to believe we're far from the same with voice. We all have a phone with us at all times; an AI can work out how to manipulate a human's behavior through spoofed communications from their loved ones.

4. Far from helping, AI Alignment efforts are a significant part of the problem. We should be trying to contain AI, not specifically teach it what we don't want it to do. If you have an AI that has been taught not to cause harm, it is far easier to make that AI good at causing harm than an AI that has no specific knowledge of harm.

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 5, 2022

I've been playing with ChatGPT. Some quick thoughts:

A) Man, if you can’t have more fun than a barrel of monkeys while playing with ChatGPT, then you aren’t human. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think ChatGPT means that we’re well on the way to AGI, much less to being ruled by Rogue AI’s that make Atilla the Hun look like Shirley Temple. Nothing like that.

I don’t know what kind of thing ChatGPT is. It surely isn’t your cranky Uncle Roger’s AI, nor Uncle Marvin’s either. And it isn’t a million drunken chimps banging away on a gaggle of antique Underwoods either. It’s something else. The AGI-is-coming people and the only-stats-on-steroids people are making two versions of the same mistake. They’re trying assimilate ChatGPT, and its kith and kin, to things we understand. We understand stats on steroids, and science fiction has given us examples homicidal computers.

B) I've made two posts on it so far:

1. Screaming on the flat part of the roller coaster ride: From GPT-3 to ChatGP, https://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2022/12/screaming-on-flat-part-of-roller.html

About a year and a half ago I was able, with help from a friend, to get GPT-3 to attempt to explain a Jerry Seinfeld bit. It was an interesting interaction, but a fail. Now I put the same bit to ChatGPT and it nailed the explanation right off the bat.

2. How ChatGPT parodied “Kubla Khan” and pwned DJT45 at the same time, https://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2022/12/how-chatgpt-parodied-kubla-khan-and.html

A bit later today 3 Quarks Daily (https://3quarksdaily.com/) will be posting a piece in which I steer ChatGPT into a Girardian reading of Spielberg's "Jaws." I've also had a long interaction on the topic of Godzilla/Gojira; I'll be posting about that in the next day or three.

C) Zvi has an <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RYcoJdvmoBbi5Nax7/jailbreaking-chatgpt-on-release-day" target="new">interesting post at LessWrong</a> where he collects a bunch of cases where ChatGPT's safeguards were broken on the first day of availability. He observes: "If the system has the underlying capability, a way to use that capability will be found. No amount of output tuning <i>will</i> take that capability away."

I'm beginning to think, yes, it's easy enough to get ChatGPT to say things that are variously dumb, malicious, and silly. Though I haven't played that game (much), I'm reaching the conclusion that LLM Whac-A-Mole (モグラ退治) is a mug's game.

So what? That's just how it is. Any mind, or mind-like artifact (like an AI), can be broken. That's just how minds, AIs, are.

D) So, think about it. How do human minds work? We all have thoughts and desires that we don't express to others, much less act on. ChatGPT is a rather "thin" creature, where to "think" it is to express it is to do it.

And how do human minds get "aligned"? It's a long process, one that, really, never ends, but is most intense for a person's first two decades. The process involves a lot of interaction with other people and is by no means perfect. If you want to create an artificial device with human powers of mentation, do you really think there's an easier way to achieve "alignment"? Do you really think that this "alignment" can be designed in?

F) That is to say, since alignment is about getting AIs to play nice with humans, it is implicitly a sorta' theory of human behavior. How is it as theory or set of practices of child-rearing?

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The prediction markets for the Georgia runoff think that Warnock is the clear favorite (as of 12/4/2020). Metaculus gives him an 85% chance. [1] Manifold gives him an 85-86% chance. [2] Polymarket gives him an 89% chance. [3] There are also prediction markets for his margin of victory, which seem to think he'll win by 3-4 percentage points.

I think that this election should be considered a tossup, with the markets around 50%.

From 2000-2020, Georgia had 5 runoffs. Republicans won all of them. Republicans also improved their margin from the general election to the runoff in all of them. Runoffs typically had lower turnout and Republicans were more reliable voters in Georgia.

This obviously changed in January 2021. In 2021, turnout decreased more in Republican-leaning rural areas than in Democratic-leaning urban areas, which is the opposite of the usual pattern. [4] People now wonder whether 2022 will be more like 2021 or more like the previous trends. The markets think that 2021 will be repeated.

I don't think that most people remember how crazy Georgia politics was at the end of 2020. FiveThirtyEight says that "then-President Donald Trump, dissuaded Republicans from trusting the state’s electoral system — which dampened GOP turnout in the state." [5] This is a wild understatement. The Republican Party of Georgia was ripping itself apart.

Georgia narrowly voted for Biden on Nov. 3, 2020. Sec. of State Raffensperger agreed to certify the election results (as he is legally obligated to). By Nov. 9, Trump called on Raffensperger to resign - and got both Sens. Loeffler and Perdue to call on him to resign too. [6] By Nov 30, Gov. Kemp's spokesman told Trump that Georgia law prevents him from interfering in elections [7] and Trump had said "I am ashamed that I endorsed him." [8] On Dec 30, Trump called on Kemp to resign. [9] Loeffler and Perdue did not go that far, and instead kept their criticism focused on Raffensperger. Kemp & Trump were the two most popular Republican politicians in the state, and were having a big fight throughout November and December 2020. The elections were on Jan 5 (before the attack on the Capitol).

Senators usually don't call on statewide elected officials from their own party (Raffensperger) to resign and the president usually doesn't call on a governor from his own party to resign during an election. I don't know what the reference class is for something like this, but it seems a lot worse than what 538 described.

In this environment, Democrats were able to win 2/3 runoffs in Georgia. [10]

Perdue would go on to challenge Kemp in the 2022 Georgia governor primary, losing to Kemp by 50 percentage points.

There are also legitimate arguments favoring Warnock, which is why I think that this is a tossup. But some of these arguments end up being double counted, when using Georgia runoffs as a reference class.

Georgia has been a Republican leaning state since 2000, and most statewide elections have been won by Republicans. Republicans who face runoffs are weaker candidates than the average Republican running in Georgia. Walker is an unusually weak candidate, and is probably weaker than most candidates who had runoffs, but this should be a smaller update than if you compare him to all Georgia Republicans who run for statewide office. Walker also won't be able to ride on Kemp's coattails during the runoff. But that's true for all runoff candidates. They all had stronger Republicans on the ticket who won in the general election and were not there to help them in the runoff.

The markets have been drifting more towards Warnock in the last week. I suspect that this is people updating on early voting data. But early voting is not a reliable indicator of election results. [11] I think we can conclude that this won't be a very low turnout runoff, but we definitely do not have enough information to determine the difference in turnout between Republican and Democratic leaning areas of the state, compared to the general election.

I think that the Georgia runoff is a tossup. Warnock had a 1 percentage point advantage in the general election, Walker is an unusually weak candidate, and the Democratic turnout machine is stronger than it was before 2018. But Republicans have traditionally dominated Georgia runoffs and 2020 was a lot wilder than people remember it. 538's most recent discussion also seems to treat both results as likely, although they haven't estimated a probability. [12] The prediction markets are clearly overconfident in Warnock's victory.

[1] https://www.metaculus.com/questions/13827/will-the-people-choose-raphael-warnock/

[2] There's multiple questions that are all about this range, for example: https://manifold.markets/NcyRocks/will-a-democrat-win-the-2022-us-sen-3d2432ba6d79 or https://manifold.markets/LivInTheLookingGlass/will-raphael-warnock-be-reelected-t

[3] https://polymarket.com/market/2022-us-senate-elections-will-a-democrat-or-republican-win-in-georgia

[4] https://www.ajc.com/politics/turnout-dip-among-georgia-republicans-flipped-us-senate/IKWGEGFEEVEZ5DXTP7ZXXOROIA/

[5] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/runoffs-are-sort-of-georgias-thing-now/

[6] https://www.ajc.com/politics/georgias-senators-seek-secretary-of-states-resignation-over-election/A3JUFWTWORDH7LTL2XSZ7ODWPA/

[7] https://www.ajc.com/politics/politics-blog/kemp-to-trump-georgia-law-blocks-him-from-interfering-with-elections/V6FQECEXMNGBNJJVOELKPN7BVE/

[8] https://www.ajc.com/politics/politics-blog/trump-on-kemp-im-ashamed-that-i-endorsed-him/TJAQCTZBRZD63JI3WEMR2JLPKA/

[9] https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1344288700851744769

[10] Democrats won both Senate races, while Republican Bubba McDonald won a seat on the Public Service Commission.

[11] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/early-voting-was-a-misleading-indicator/ or https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/11/02/early_voting_a_poor_predictor_of_final_results.html

[12] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-either-candidate-could-win-georgias-senate-runoff

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Hi, I am a fully qualified counsellor and therapist based in the U.K. and working with clients throughout the U.K. and internationally on Zoom and by telephone.

I specialise in helping people with anxiety, low mood and low self esteem. I also have clients who come to learn how to reduce self criticism and develop a better relationship with themselves. I share easy to practice tools and methods for learning how to develop self compassion, to deepen personal growth and self awareness and gain a stronger sense of direction and sense of purpose.

My training is in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Transpersonal Psychology and my therapeutic approach is integrative and includes elements of Positive Psychology, Mindfulness and Compassion Focussed Therapy.

You can contact me via my website (www.onlinecounsellingtherapist.com) where you will find more details about my qualifications and approach and read positive recommendations from previous clients and there’s a blog page too. Feel free to ask me any questions and I offer a free 30 minute introductory chat on Zoom if you would like to check we are a good fit.

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Why did so many people expected Russia would easily defeat Ukraine? In retrospect, it seems rather weird. For me, one of the surprises of this war was that it after it started, it turned out there is a conventional wisdom how Ukraine would get crushed. My impression is that was the case mostly in the US, though, so I lived in somewhat different information environment of Eastern Europe.

Before the war, I was aware of Richard Hanania, who claimed that Ukrainians would not fight because they have low fertility rate (um, channeling Big Lebowski, at least it's an argument), but not much else. As for others, it does seem like people thought Russian military is roughly as good as American military, despite having only a small fraction of US military budget, or?

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 5, 2022

My annual I Don't Get Holidays mental modelling exercise:

Every year around now, I end up wondering: is it possible to disaggregate the positive experience of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. into intrinsic-to-the-holiday itself, and nostalgia-for-formative-childhood-experiences? Sometimes it kinda feels like the whole thing is an emotional Ponzi scheme, where someone-somewhere once enjoyed a holiday, and then passed that along to kids...who did the same to their kids, and so on, and so on. And that's the real engine behind Holiday Magic, a hype-and-expectations bubble that no one really realizes is silly until they're outside social-pressure to enjoy the season. Or maybe this is too big a stretch for the entire edifice, but applies to specific aspects, like Christmas music and coercive office parties. (Does anyone really like them, or just a vocal minority not worth upsetting...?)

I *do* like having useful Schelling points to organize higher-effort friend gatherings around, but that's got little to do with the actual holidays themselves...hence often being branded Winter Solstice party instead, and so on.

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Solstice is coming up. This weekend for NYC, the next for most other places. Find details at: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/jGixfzG9fH7bMwGHC/solstice-2022-roundup

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Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 5, 2022

Just finished season 1 of The White Lotus. I think it's more average than great, but I still find it thought-provoking. I don't think I will watch season 2. Some thoughts based on the show itself and old reddit discussions about it.

1. I'm really interested in the people who are actually defending Shane. It can't be all trolls, since there are too many people doing this. The arguments often goes like this: he got the wrong room, Armound screwed him over, so he was right to be angry and escalate. Which is comically missing the point (just like Shane does): he ruined his own honeymoon in a stupid powerplay over a trivial inconvenience.

2. I don't know if I should call the show woke or post-woke. It certainly has a very woke description of the problem (rich het white people are inauthentic, behave like privileged babies, and ruin everything while the poor minorities struggle), but it doesn't provide a solution. Nothing can really be done about this, and every attempt to create justice fails.

3. I wonder if I would have liked the show even half as much if two prominent characters would have been played by average-looking actresses instead of ridiculously attractive dito. The characters aren't really sexualized and I'm not consciously attracted to them, but I think a primal part of my brain just goes "big boobs=good=this show is good".

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Can you open source pre-implantation genetic screening for embryos? Has this already occurred? Also, not a medical guy, totally a data guy, would appreciate correction for errors in either.

So embryo selection is something I’ve kept my eye on ever since Gwern’s classic essay on the subject (1). For those of you who haven’t read about it, the core concept is that, during artificial insemination, instead of creating, like, 3-4 viable embryos, you create 30-50 and then run modern genetic testing to predict their life outcomes. Gwern was really interested in intelligence amplification but I’m interested in something more mundane and…practical, which is predicting and preventing diseases. This is already done, pretty automatically, for diseases where a single gene is responsible; that gene is busted, therefore the baby will have X disease, therefore don’t implant that embryo. What’s new, and caught a bunch of attention in Israel recently, is diseases caused by a complicated mixture of genes (2). So you take the embryo’s genome, run it against a machine learning algorithm trained to predict the disease, and then select the genome with the lowest risk of that disease.

So my question, simply, is whether there’s any medical or technical issue preventing me or anyone else from using a service like Lifeview (3), which does a bunch of this kind of screening but not for particular diseases, asking them for a copy of the genomes, then running an algorithm I found off Github to predict for a specific disease I know I’m high risk for, and then requesting certain embryos from Lifeview based on that?

Let’s get specific and look at psoriasis, since this is a rabbit hole I’ve fallen down. Psoriasis is a complicated disease that basically makes your skin scaly and, in about a third of cases, develops into psioratic arthritis. Now there’s existing algorithms out there in the medical literature (4) and (5). One of these is 99.8% accurate in predicting psoriasis. And there is, literally, a psoriasis prediction algorithm on Github (6), you can go download the python files now. Now I haven’t worked with genetic data before but it’s fundamentally just data and, if nothing else, there’s an R library for it somewhere. So let’s say someone had psoriasis, they didn’t want their child to inherit it, and they either had some data science chops or they hired someone like me. Could/would Livewell send us, say, 40-50 pandas dataframes with the embryo’s genetic data, and then they/I could run this algorithm off github, identify which embryos were at highest and lowest risk of psoriasis, and then send that back to Livewell?

At the technical level, this seems…like a weekend project. Like, you’d need to get used to the data and I’m sure there’s some specific libraries you’d need to get used to but, fundamentally, grab this standardized dataset and apply this pre-existing algorithm to it is kinda grunt work. And for people who think it sounds crazy reckless to genetically engineer your child based on random code you found on the internet, I have bad news for you regarding virtually every piece of software you interact with on a daily basis, including medical software. Github is the good stuff, most of the time we’re slapping together stuff we found on Stack Overflow. I guarantee your local hospital runs software built like this. But it’s the medical level I’m unsure of. It…feels like there’s a lot of room for unexpected side effects.

So, at a gut level, what is preventing this from being done at this moment, from either a technical, medical, or even legal level?

And this seems wild but I have a condition like this and I’m sure there’s plenty of people here in a similar situation. For example, Freddie DeBoer has written movingly on his struggles with bipolar disorder and he probably has the money and skills to execute something like this, and certainly would probably wish to spare his prospective children from inheriting his condition. I’m sure there’s plenty of people here with worries about autism or other…um…atypical neural conditions or physical disabilities they wouldn’t want to pass on to their children. And this is also a highly technically literate group with plenty of techy money.

But, before running down all the implications, I’m really just trying to get a feel for whether this is possible and what the limitations are. Because it seems like something “potentially” really big and doable but…I mean, sometimes you find $20 laying on the ground but I’m always a bit suspicious.

(1) https://www.gwern.net/Embryo-selection

(2) https://www.timesofisrael.com/designer-babies-hi-tech-preimplantation-genetic-testing-may-soon-come-to-israel/

(3) https://www.lifeview.com/our_tests.html

(4) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0888754313002048

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022824/

(6) https://github.com/genomicdatascience/psopredict

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Kinda shocked that manifold isn't already self-funding from selling monopoly money.

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Re manifold markets, this is not investment advice but I'd strongly recommend people try out using it.

I've gotten more active on it lately, and it's great for (a) being easy to use and a fun casual thing to do

(b) learning to be calibrated in my predictions - when I started out I thought "eh I'm good at predicting stuff, this'll be great", then immidiately started consistently losing fake-money. Then I learned from my mistakes and learned to tell when I actually have some insight worth betting on, and started doing much better (been consistently up lately).

(C) even with fake money, once you have nontrivial liquidity markets are surprisingly hard to beat, so you can often just post a question and get a probability distribution on the answer which will generally be pretty good.

(D) (more speculative) - feels like this is good for developing better theory of mind, since you have to learn to think one step ahead of the other bettors (and specifically, have to be good at telling what level other people are thinking at).

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Any AI art dabblers around here looking for a passion project?

I'm currently making a series of worldbuilding illustrations for a chart of possible futures, one of the top posts on r/makeyourchoice.


These illustrations will be assembled into a youtube video with a voiceover, describing each of the worlds in a brief 1-minute brief lore dump. That's 16 minutes of illustrations, at 1 per 10 seconds, totaling to 96 different AI-generated pictures - too much for one person to make even with automation.

However, if we can get 16 people, and each one will take one world to illustrate, the task gets much more manageable! Of course, everyone on the team will get credited for their images.

If you're interested to help out, I have created a dedicated thread on Midjourney discord where you can generate and share the images:


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I would like to compare OpenAi's chatbot's performances between French and English - my theory is that its performances will be worse in French due to lower volume of training data.

So I'm looking for prompts I should test. Tasks that the chatbot succeed only with some careful prompt engineering are particularly interesting (in which cas give me both a prompt that failed and one that succeeded). I'll post the result in the replies if you are interested, and probably a summary on lesswrong in a couple days.

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