Would you consider covering the fact that girls have been getting their periods younger and younger? It seems like a topic for a “more than you ever wanted to know about” deep dive. The question is from my wife but I happen to be interested also. To pick a a random one of many relevant links: https://epibiostat.ucsf.edu/news/what-drives-earlier-menstruation-girls

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I worked for several months writing a nerdcore rap song about cognitive biases (it's a lot of lyrics and I have a day job and a weekend gig too). Anyway the song is about how the bees have bounced back from Colony Collapse Disorder, but Negativity Bias prevented people from caring about this good news. The funny thing is by the time I released the song it became apparent that bees were now facing new problems like the Varroa destructor mite, so many of the commenters self-righteously denounced me for downplaying the problem. Still, it kind of proved my point. Anyway here's the song, let's cheer for the bees! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs8_cQpI_IM

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In a win for nominative determinism, a man named Quoc Le owned a Quickly.


It's so cute I have to wonder if it's actually his real name.

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Is today's fentanyl epidemic worse than the crack epidemic of the 1980s?

Also, is it fair to say that the fentanyl epidemic is to white Americans today what the crack epidemic was to black Americans in the 1980s?

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Does anyone else not understand why people take so many holidays? Yes, I know I sound like one of those overbearing and demanding managers, but hear me out.

I frequently hear people say that they "need" a holiday as if:

a) the excessive demands of their current work are such that they will not be able to continue without a complete break for some duration, usually in a different country

b) After this complete break, the previously excessive work will no longer be a problem due to the magical rejuvenating powers of the holiday

Is this actually what happens most of the time? Or is the real reason just that people want time off work to do something else?

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Re Book reviews: There is a review at the end of the third google doc that is not in the list.

Title of book: The Most Democratic Branch: How the Courts Serve America

Maybe this has already been mentioned?

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The homepage for this blog has started showing subscriber-only posts in the main list of recent posts to me, a non-subscriber. Given he specifically said he'd avoid this and there hasn't been any announcement from him about the change as far as I've seen, I assume this is due to a change from Substack not Scott. I just wanted to point this out in case he hadn't noticed given it presumably doesn't affect his view of his own blog.

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Almost all my scores for book reviews are in the 5-8 range and rather a lot of them are 6 or 7. (Because they're almost all at least _quite good_ and most aren't _astonishing_.) I suspect that my book reviewing may affect the final outcome more by rewarding/penalizing the reviews I've happened to choose (depending on whether I'm more or less generous than the average) than by rewarding the ones I like over the ones I don't.

(Perhaps the scoring process should normalize each rater's scores, or use them only to adjust _relative_ merits for pairs of reviews, or something, but that's not so easy to do for people who don't rate as many reviews as I do.)

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The book review review submission form doesn't seem to check the email-address field. I have definitely submitted at least one review-review with an "email address" lacking the @-sign and everything that should follow it, and I think probably at least one with nothing at all in that field. But I have no idea whether those submissions will be ignored, or treated on an equal footing with all the rest, or what. (I have not attempted to resubmit them. I have already forgotten which ones they were.)

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Reading book review contest entries, I frequently find myself thinking "this is a pretty good review of a book that doesn't deserve the attention, and its actual value to me is therefore pretty small". (One _can_ in principle write a review of a bad book that's so good on its own merits as to deserve reading, but that's difficult and most reviewers in the contest have not done it.) I've tended to give these good-ish but not great scores, because to me the value of a really good book review is typically _both_ that it's interesting or enjoyable in its own right _and_ that it directs me to a book that's worth reading. I wonder whether I'm typical in this.

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Does the book review contest really have to be about book reviews? As I’m reading I definitely feel like most reviewers have done their own thinking, and are stretching the definition of a review to talk about what they’re interested in. Which honestly I’m on board with, I just wonder if this really has to be a book review contest every year. Why not- book inspired blog post contest or something?

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I've heard that MMA helped to sort out which of the martial arts were the best since, in the beginning, anyone of any fighting style could enter tournaments. There were weird matchups like sumo wrestlers fighting kung-fu guys. Through a process of natural selection, the winners converged on the best set of fighting styles.

Has this same thing been done with sword fighting? Are there tournaments where guys with medieval broadswords fight guys with katanas or Roman gladii?

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I have an old Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, running the Android 5 operating system. I want to upgrade it to Android 11 or higher. Here's an instructional video on how to do that, but I can't understand what the guy is saying, or his written instructions in the video "caption." [Skip to the 4:00 mark]


Can someone explain the process to me in plain English?

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I made a market on Manifold on which Book Review will win the Book Review contest. Making one option for each book would be too much work so I made one option for each letter of the alphabet. https://manifold.markets/TimothyCurrie/what-will-be-the-first-letter-of-th

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(1) Who is Noah Berlatsky, and why is he an idiot?

I've read his review of the new Disney live-action remake of "Peter Pan", now renamed "Peter Pan and Wendy", and while I don't care too much about the entire thing because I was never into the original cartoon version, this is just ridiculous. They've race-swapped, gender-swapped, and been as inclusive as they could possibly be (Wendy and her brothers are still white, or I should say White given Noah's reviews, unfortunately) and it's still not enough.

It's the colonialism, you see. Neverland is a cypher for - well, the USA? The British West Indies? The exact location isn't important, it's the idea of the British colonial possessions. Go out West and it's filled with childish natives and thus a natural place for literal (White) British children to have fun adventures.

Going by the trailers, I think the movie is not that great. But honestly, this kind of reviewing is just making me tired. "Okay, so they fixed Tiger Lily, they race-swapped Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys are also including girls, but I have to find *something* to complain about, else how will I live up to my trendy bohemian coffee-house Beatnik headshot?"

Yeah, they're giving the female lead agency, but she's still White! Problematic!

"The intention in both is to elevate Wendy as the hero, giving her more agency and adventuresomeness than the sexist prototype in Barrie’s writing. But in centering (White) Wendy, the Peters of color are pushed toward stereotype."


Yeah, the 1924 version was full of tropes we find totally unacceptable today. But today is 2023 not 1924, and the new movie is bending over backwards to be as DEI as it can be. And honestly? I find a white guy from Chicago complaining about the treatment of Native Americans in the source material to be a bit, how shall I say, precious? Somewhat like land acknowledgements, which boil down to "yeah we took this land, and we're not giving it back, so whatever".

(2) Anyway, on a cheerier note: an American Youtube cook/chef plumbs the mysteries of the Spice Bag!


I don't know who this guy is, so I have no idea if he's Youtube famous or just another cookery channel. Ignore the Irish accents, they're terrible, but he does keep the paddywhackery to a minimum and he suffers for his art - he nearly kills himself making the dish 😀

I've never heard of parboiling the chips (fries) before, and I remain dubious, but if it works? Great!

Also the curry sauce is (traditionally) Chinese chipper curry sauce and it's an optional dip rather than an integral part of the dish, but every place has its own version of a spice bag, you can buy commercial spice bag mixes (ranging from the decent to the terrible) and in the end, whatever way you make it, it's going to be great.

The only problem is that now I'm craving a spice bag!

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I submitted a book review before April 5th. I then went away on holiday for two weeks. I came back and opened my laptop and pressed one key on the google doc and deleted it straight away (the letter 'k'). This was saved on the google doc as a change/edit. I tried to 'undo the edit' that further saved that as a change too. I am unsure if you can see edits or if you have only the version I submitted on the day.

Will it show that I edited it and will I get automatically dismissed? I posted this anonymously and left no clue as to my submission date. I hope it is okay to be asking.


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How controversial would the notion of "1-10 rating scales are fake, no one actually can consistently & reliably distinguish buckets beyond 4-5" be?

I'll personally be rating reviews on a scale of 1-5, then doubling the score for submittal (except particularly egregious 1s which will stay 1s I suppose)

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Seems like a bit of a pity not to have an optional comments field for the book review contest. I think a lot of authors would appreciate the ability to see feedback for their essay.

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I see in the comments that it is OK to flog one Substack

Mine is "Radical Centrist" and you can subscribe at:


Mainly about economics, inflation, trade, immigration, taxes

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May 1

Substack's UI (or servers) has apparently lost its mind, they show the "(banned)" flair next to Carl Pham and Freddie DeBoer. Their names in other threads show just fine.

Anybody else seeing the same thing ?

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I can not find the SSC post talking about how scarcity leads to politics and scott makes up a fictional example of if there was 10% of the available water all the interest groups would fight for it but with enough water it is a nonissue. It could be a ACT post but I think its older.

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So Hinton has decided that the current AI race dynamics really are dangerous: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/01/technology/ai-google-chatbot-engineer-quits-hinton.html

I wonder whether now others will follow?

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A lot of what humans "feel" corresponds to the presence of chemicals such as neurotransmitters and hormones. Are there analogs to these chemicals in how AIs work? I would think we would want there to be if we want AIs to feel things.

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Our microwave oven died, and I went to a couple of local appliance-parts stores to buy the defective part (a thermistor, a.k.a. thermal cutout). Neither store was able to help me, so I bought the part online.

The part was $13.88, shipping was $20.00, and tax was $4.07 for a total of $37.95*.

A comparable replacement would be $249.99 + 12% sales taxes, so if the oven goes another couple of years it will have been well-worthwhile.

But here's the thing - I'm irked over the shipping cost. (And that is irrational in itself; I spent close to two hours driving around looking for the part, and however much in gasoline and wear and tear on the van, before looking online.)

But in any case, had the part been $33.88 + tax, with free shipping, I would have been quite happy.

So is this sort of reaction normal or explainable? Would I have felt better ordering a bunch of other small widgets to amortize the shipping cost over a more expensive purchase?

* All prices are in C$.

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In the news: Adidas shareholders sue Adidas, because Kanye: https://www.axios.com/2023/04/30/adidas-sued-yeezy-partnership-ye

Why is this type of lawsuit permitted? I would understand if they were suing the CEO, etc. But all this lawsuit can do is waste a lot of time and money on legal expenses. The shareholders are effectively suing themselves.

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Are people who wrote a review allowed to vote?

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Scott's essay is about the Glowmar response confirmed!

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À-propos of the comments in the fantasy thread about the recondite vocabulary of Stephen Donaldson in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, I have to share these star examples from Chesterton's treatment of the English novelists Thomas Hardy and George Meredith:

"For it is the remarkable fact that it was the man who had the healthy and manly outlook who had the crabbed and perverse style; it was the man who had the crabbed and perverse outlook who had the healthy and manly style. The reader may well have complained of paradox when I observed above that Meredith, unlike most neo-Pagans, did in his way take Nature naturally. It may be suggested, in tones of some remonstrance, that things like "though pierced by the cruel acerb," or "thy fleetingness is bigger in the ghost," or "her gabbling grey she eyes askant," or "sheer film of the surface awag" are not taking Nature naturally. And this is true of Meredith's style, but it is not true of his spirit; nor even, apparently, of his serious opinions. In one of the poems I have quoted he actually says of those who live nearest to that Nature he was always praising —

"Have they but held her laws and nature dear,

They mouth no sentence of inverted wit";

which certainly was what Meredith himself was doing most of the time. But a similar paradox of the combination of plain tastes with twisted phrases can also be seen in Browning. Something of the same can be seen in many of the cavalier poets. I do not understand it: it may be that the fertility of a cheerful mind crowds everything, so that the tree is entangled in its own branches; or it may be that the cheerful mind cares less whether it is understood or not; as a man is less articulate when he is humming than when he is calling for help."

And from the Wikipedia article on Meredith's succès de scandale novel "The Ordeal of Richard Feverel":

"Sir Austin Feverel's wife deserts him to run away with a poet, leaving her husband to bring up their boy Richard. Believing schools to be corrupt, Sir Austin, a scientific humanist, educates the boy at home with a plan of his own devising known as "the System". This involves strict authoritarian supervision of every aspect of the boy's life, and in particular the prevention of any meeting between Richard and girls of his own age. Richard nevertheless meets and falls in love with Lucy Desborough, the niece of a neighboring farmer. Sir Austin finds out and, disapproving of her humble birth, forbids them to meet again, but they secretly marry. Sir Austin now tries to retrieve the situation by sending Richard to London. Here, however, Sir Austin's friend Lord Mountfalcon successfully sets a courtesan to seduce Richard, hoping that this will leave Lucy open to seduction by himself. Ashamed of his own conduct, Richard flees abroad where he at length hears that Lucy has given birth to a baby and has been reconciled to Sir Austin. He returns to England and, hearing about Lord Mountfalcon's villainy, challenges him to a duel. But this goes badly: Richard is seriously wounded. Lucy is so overcome by this turn of events that she loses her mind and dies."

From which the moral is, I guess, don't homeschool your kids! 😁 Also, based on a true story, apparently:

"In 1856 George Meredith's wife Mary began an affair with the artist Henry Wallis. In the following year, pregnant by Wallis, she ran away to join him, leaving her son Arthur behind. Meredith undertook to bring the child up. The parallels with the opening chapters of the novel are obvious, though Sir Austin is certainly not intended as a self-portrait. Meredith was equivocal in his attitude to Sir Austin's favourite educational theories, which, it has been shown, derived largely from the medical writer William Acton's Prostitution, Considered in Its Moral, Social & Sanitary Aspects (1857) and The Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs (1857), from Herbert Spencer's essay "Moral Education" (Quarterly Review, April 1858), and from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's novel Émile."

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I think AI maximalists, which appears to be almost everyone, are making a bet on bad odds while under the influence of our natural cognitive inclination to believe that we're special https://freddiedeboer.substack.com/p/the-bet-youre-making

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City planners/engineers/architects:

Have any of you ever come upon a model that describes population density as a fractal pattern, where the highest density is in the very center and the lowest density in the very edges (or maybe a model with many clusters of population that are separated by areas with population density=0)?

I'm somewhat fed up with the "missing middle" rhetoric and I'd love to be able to refer to a model that shows that ideally, any density is surrounded by areas of both lower and higher density. Related material is also welcome.

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May 1·edited May 1

"Imagine that in the year 2025, a new virus occurs somewhere on Earth. This virus has a mortality estimated in the range of 0.1–1.0%. Not much later, scientists discover two things. One discovery is encouraging: there is a small number of people who are naturally immune, and who can transmit their immunity to others. The more disturbing discovery is that their immunity is transmitted only sexually. If one has intercourse with an immune person, one can acquire a partial, but not complete, degree of sexually transmitted immunity.

The medical authorities proceed to advise everyone to seek intercourse with one or multiple immune persons. Some consent, others do not. The former generally become immune, but only partially; the latter are usually not immune.

Because the partly immunized are still susceptible to infection, some of them are pressuring the medical community to find a way to immunize the non­consenting. A brilliant doctor invents a procedure that can immunize people without full­blown sexual intercourse: required is only penetration, by an immune person, with a penis­-like object—a medical dildo. . . . Alas, only a small number of additional persons agree to receive immunization by dildo. The rest object that penetration by dildo is too similar to intercourse for them to consent to: after all, receiving dildo penetration would ordinarily count as cheating on their partners.

What to do now? . . ."




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May 1·edited May 1


I feel like it is difficult to communicate to a layperson how AI could have divergent goals. So, I wrote this short story to try and fill the gap. I had intended to publish it on LessWrong, but it got rejected due to a recent uptick in activity. :( Thus, I figured I would post it here. Any feedback is welcome.


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Hooray for Book Reviews! It's the most wonderful time of the year.

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I'm hearing a lot about the Supreme Court needing ethics standards because of some stuff some (apparently only republican?) justices received. I don't understand the issue for two reasons:

1. The Supreme Court, by definition, decides what is right and wrong in all situations. All of the justices know that bribery is bad. If any "gifts" attempt to influence their decisions they ought to decline the gifts, using their own judgement.

2. The check on the Supreme Court for this kind of thing is impeachment. If Congress determines a Justice has been improperly influenced then the Justice should be removed.

Is this simply another case of trying to change the political composition of the Supreme Court, like having 15 Justices instead of 9?

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May 1

Why have all of the sub parts of review as links? The words that comes to mind is "ridiculously confusing". The set-up makes me uninclined to read any complete review.

1. Book (year), author; review title

2. Book (year), author; review title

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It'd honestly be sorta great to have one year where every single book review was secretly ghostwritten by Scott. A true test of writerly aptitude: can he successfully artistically-ITT dozens of different commenters?

Also precommitting myself to not leaving novella-length book review comments, nor savaging ones I dislike. If you're reading it, it's for you, and all that...

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Are we expected to read and mark all the book reviews. Or just the ones that we are interested in?

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There are climate related concerns / fearmongering about the "La Niña" phase ending and "El Niño" starting. It looks like a topic very hard to research, does anyone here have insight to that or can point me in a promising direction?

Video by "Just Have a Think": https://youtu.be/rwdxffEzQ9I

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Anyone know if night owls were a thing before the light bulb? Hard to envisage candlelight being enough for someone to maintain that they perform better in the later hours / early hours. Seems much more plausible that people are overstimulated these days and thats the dominant factor. I know nada tho.

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Software developers:

I keep coming up against situations where my instinct is that I need to code a tool to help make the coding easier during a project.

To give concrete examples:

- I made a quick-n-dirty system of batch scripts that did primitive dependency management because using official repos in established package managers looked like a sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut solution.

- I have a thing and I want to give it wrappings for several popular languages (C, C#, Python, Javascript, etc). I'm thinking of writing something that autogenerates the wrappings every time I change the api.

- I'm working with a fairly complicated data structure (nothing insane, but it's not intuitive to reconstruct the "real shape" of the data from the JSON in debug print statements.) I'm considering building a graphical tool to visually display the data so I can see it better during debugging.

The downsides of creating these tools are obviously time lost, plus you've littered your project with lots of little project-specific helper tools you now need to document, and that anyone who comes in has to learn how to use.

I'm never sure whether I'm going about things in the smartest way. I've realised that I have *no idea* how often other people run into this kind of situation, or what they do about it when they get there.

In most cases I either don't find a generic tool online (in many cases because I don't know what to search for); or the generic tool is heavyweight and would require me to alter my project's layout in a way that I don't want to do; or the generic tool is too complicated to understand and I don't want to spend the time getting to grips with it, just to have it turn out that it doesn't actually do what I want; or, sometimes, the generic tool has an introverted and byzantine UX and I don't want to have to deal with remembering it all if I come back to the project after a long time.

What's the real prevalence in projects of little project-specific helper tools? How reasonable is it to come in to work on an existing project and find that it uses a bunch of custom and unfamiliar systems? What do the rest of you do?

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I got GPT to summarize all SSC posts. There are so many gems in there, but there's no way I will find the time to read 5 years of posts.

The idea is to build an index that you could quickly scan so you can choose which posts to (re)read.

The result looks pretty neat. I am happy to share it with the world. Every summary links to the original post.

Scott, are you cool with this? ACX folks, do you predict Scott will be cool with this?

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Please recommend me an online community of deep learning practitioners, i.e. a nice place to have and read technical discussions of deep learning with other people.

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There was a new image generation AI released this week, called DeepFloyd. It is supposedly better at compositionality (like drawing a green ball on a purple cube behind a purple pyramid) than previous models. It is publically available at e.g. huggingface. It was interesing to see how it fares with the prompts relating to Scott's bet about compositionality. I have tried entering the prompts (except that I looked only at 4 images rather than 10 as dictated by the bet's terms), and I think only the farmer with a basketball succeeded. Otherwise, it seems it generates images with insufficiently high resolutions to capture small details (i.e. a bell on the llama's tail, a key in the raven's mouth, and the lipstick on the lips of the fox), and only gives an option to upscale after that. As for the prompt "An oil painting of a man in a factory looking at a cat wearing a top hat", I kind of feel that many human artists, if not given a chance to clarify, would assume slightly bad wording and draw the top hat on the man rather than the cat, so it seems the hardest prompt of the five. However, I am stiil extremely confident Scott will win the bet given that AI models have two more than two years to develop.

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Slaves to AI


Thinking about the Future has me concerned that we end up as Wage-Slaves to AI .

I am operating on a few obvious true ( at least i think so ) starting conditions.

1) we will continue to live in a capitalistic society ( quite frankly after all

the rich are going through to keep it that way I believe its beyond naive

to think that will suddenly change , even if we should have general AI )

2) AI takes the form of expert systems like StableDiffusion

Since we can already see Artists being replaced by cheap workers typing prompts

into StableDiffusion I think its logical to extrapolate this to all fields .

So in the near future Human experts will no longer be needed , replacing high paid jobs with

minimum wage jobs consisting of obeying the AI instructions ( implement AI generated Code )

/ feeding it Data ans sorting it ( StableDiffusion) .

Which means the only avenue we had of bettering our lives ( remember the saying learn to code )

is being closed to us . ( actually it already is , ChatGPT produces better code than me , I`m one of those that learned to code later in life) .

As they train their models on different fields this will become ever more apparent .

Regulation may slow this down but ultimately wont stop this . Googles driver-less cars could already replace all Truck Drivers

( seeing as it drives better than most Truckers that I see on the road ) but regulation requires a higher standard that may take a few years / bribes to overcome (seriously can you imagine a human that in a situation where his car veers out of control makes a calculated decision into which group of people to crash his car into ? [that trolley problem ] )

So what is left is the minimum wage job of loading / unloading .

Minimum wage jobs for all of us .

I'm writing that down here because i hope you can show me that i am wrong .

So what do you think ? ( and if there is already a discussion about this on the net somewhere a link would be appreciated )

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You know how Askell et al. (2020) argued that alignment meant making LLMs "helpful, honest, and harmless"? Doesn't that sound a whole lot like making LLMs say things that are necessary, true, and kind?

Sounds really familiar...🤔 https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/03/02/the-comment-policy-is-victorian-sufi-buddha-lite/

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Hi Scott, thank you for sharing the book reviews! I look forward to reading a bunch of them!

Is there a deadline (official or unofficial) for submitting our review ratings, or are you going to eyeball it and say, "eh, I think I've got enough ratings" at some point?

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Is there such thing as impactful software engineering jobs that don't always feel like everything is always on fire all the time? Bonus if it is high paying. All I've ever known is either very very fast paced software jobs, or else software jobs that weren't impactful, because no customers really wanted what we did. I've never known a middle ground. I grow so weary of feeling like there is absolutely no time to ever go slower, or take it easier at my job. No matter what, we are always making trade offs between supporting features for like 5 to 10 big B2B customers. And that's not even considering the constant influx of high profile policy compliance work and ops fixes. Everything is just barely strung together as a result, and there's no "normal" time. All time is stressful and high priority.

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This week in nominative determinism:

Jameel Jaffer and Jamil N. Jaffer are two politically prominent U.S. lawyers with diametrically opposed politics.

Someone who's good with Arabic names please dig deeper into why it's never a coincidence!


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Been trying to do fiction writing as a hobby for a long time now, and keep bogging down whenever someone needs to open their mouth. Anyone have any good resources on how to write solid dialogue?

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What's the current rule regarding “please interact with my thing” posts? My understanding was that it was “keep it to a couple times per year outside classified threads”, is that not/no longer the rule?

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Does anyone (Scott?) have strong opinions on the recent fad of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)? Whether through personal experience or just in general. I'm an early-middle aged man who's open to the idea of raising my test levels a bit, but I'm also pretty cautious of health issues from it (supposedly higher blood pressure, cardio problems- also I've kept most of my hair to date....) I'm finding more and more older men are doing some version of TRT, so I was interested to hear what the rationalist community thinks of it. There's a strong vein of shady doctors prescribing it, but apparently some legitimate ones as well.

Yes I am doing everything possible to maximize my test levels naturally.

It does sort show how thin the line is between 'medicine' and just cyberpunk body modification. Technically low T is a medical condition, but in practice I think we all know lots of men just want to improve their quality of life as they age. Does kind of suggest a future where we're all tweaking our hormone levels a bit to stay in whatever range we prefer

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I don't know if others are having this issue, but attempting to open the Google Docs is causing my web browser (Firefox) to crash.

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I haven't rated reviews before, and am interested in how other people are arriving at their ratings. Was thinking of a system where I rated 4 things:

-Quality of book reviewed (0-2 points)

-Summary of book's content: clarity and depth. (0-3 pts)

-Quality of reviewer's thoughts about books -- their criticisms and extensions of books ideas (0-3 pts)

-Misc: wit, inventiveness, entertainment value of review. (0-2 pts)

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Anybody have any interesting insights or interesting anecdotes related to the recent Isaac King whales/minnows manifold? Interesting thoughts? I want to steal them for a thing I'm doing.

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There has got to be a more sensible way of putting out the book reviews than giant google docs with them all copy-pasted in. Hell, it would not be hard to create a link that opens a random review on a single page and asks for a rating at the end.

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Cobalt mining and in general mining for minerals that find applications in battery tech seems to be pretty bad for the miners and the environment. The issue is not politically charged, perhaps because doing without batteries/smartphones/electric cars is not feasible and we all prefer to turn a blind eye to this. Did EA look into the issue?

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I admire whoever took on the impossible task of doing Heidegger's Question Concerning Technology

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I talked about people in love with their AI chatbots last week on the show, this week we are going to follow a team of rag tag gig workers who tried to peek inside the black box algorithm that pays them, and discuss what constitutes fairness in pay among gig worker. Gig work episode out Tuesday. https://hiphination.org/season-6-episodes/

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Did Scott enter the contest? Speculate with manibucks now https://manifold.markets/warty/did-scott-alexander-enter-his-own-b

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Interested to hear what ACX think about my post on Japan's most famous song. It's one that developed virality pre internet due to its cultural resonance.


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Why can't the English teach their children how to speak? (Or, missed status signalling opportunities)

As someone who generally agrees with the idea that a lot of human behaviour is about status-seeking and status-signalling, I've been puzzled recently by all the easy status-increasing opportunities that people often seem to miss.

An obvious example is manners of speech. Many people around the world speak with low-class low-status accents, or use low-class slang, or make status-lowering errors. Why? It's not all that difficult to change your manner of speech, and while a cockney is unlikely to pass for a member of the aristocracy they can at least try to go "one notch" above their current accent to increase their opportunities in life. There's no shortage of examples to imitate.

Possible answers: 1: people care more about the approval of their immediate peers than society at large, and their immediate peers are all low-class too. 2: it's actually much harder than I think. 3: a higher-status accent actually doesn't help your social status as much as I think. 4: people are just dumb and leave easy social status on the table all the time.

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While I appreciate this is a problem of Knightian Uncertainty, I'm curious to hear how comprehensive people in this community think our understanding of reality is.

A prompt relating to this idea:

if all animals were deaf, would we be likely to come up with the idea of and understand the existence of sound?


before abiogenesis occurred, could a theoretical observer understand the concept of life?

Going back to the original question: do you suspect there are all sorts of senses/forces/modalities/dimensions etc. we can't observe and lack the faculties/concepts to even contemplate?

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I posted this to last week's open thread but was a little late to the party, so pasting here again to see if I can get a little more feedback:

Interested in what ACX readers think about the stigmas surrounding serious mental illnesses such as bipolar and schizophrenia. I started writing my own blog about my experience living with schizoaffective disorder in part because I do want to reduce stigma, but I want to do so in a way that is rational and doesn't brush aside or ignore the dangers and seriousness of untreated mental illness. A lot of advocacy around this issue pushes for the rights of the seriously mentally ill to not take medication, for example, which is more than arguably counterproductive from a harm-reduction point of view. Those who refuse medication will often end up on the streets where they hurt themselves or someone else. The lack of mental institutions to house and care for such individuals is another issue.

What do readers think a rational kind of mental health advocacy would look like? Would it include calls for a reintroduction of institutionalization and forced treatment? Also, do you think that a reduction in mental health stigma would be possible through a kind of "coming out" movement among the successfully treated, similar to the one that fueled the increased acceptance of gays in the 2010s when so many gays and lesbians were disclosing their orientations to their families and the world? Are there forms of mental health stigma that are justified and actually good for society?

Thanks for any thoughts on this! (and shameless plug: feel free to check out my Substack and share any thoughts you have on my writings there :))

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I'm running a "Christianity Discussion Book Club" on my Substack! (Feel free to come for just 1 book!)


1. "On the Incarnation of the Word."--Athanasius (3 weeks, then a 1 week break)

2. "The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy"--Tim Keller (1 week, 1 week break)

3. "The Four Loves"--CS Lewis (5 weeks, 1 week break)

4. "Bold Love"-- Dan B Allender, Tremper Longman (6 weeks)

Details are on my Substack, and first post / discussion thread on Athanasius will be 1 week from today!

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Anyone from Santa Barbara?

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