So how about that excess mortality? Seems like kind of a big deal.

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I recently moved to Israel and am looking to make new (English speaking) friends. Any suggestions about people to contact/meetups or events to attend are welcome. I would also be interested in non rationality focused stuff like book clubs etc

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LW/ACX Saturday (5/27/23) Values and Shard Theory

Hello Folks!

We are excited to announce the 27th Orange County ACX/LW meetup, happening this Saturday and most Saturdays thereafter.

Host: Michael Michalchik

Email: michaelmichalchik@gmail.com (For questions or requests)

Location: 1970 Port Laurent Place, Newport Beach, CA 92660

Date: Saturday, May 27th, 2023

Time: 2 PM

Conversation Starters:

Value is fragile by Eliezer Yudkowsky https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/GNnHHmm8EzePmKzPk/value-is-fragile#:~:text=Value%20isn't%20just%20complicated,single%20blow%22%20will%20do%20so.

Shard theory of human values by Quintin Pope, TurnTrout https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/iCfdcxiyr2Kj8m8mT/the-shard-theory-of-human-values

Shard Theory: An Overview by David Udell https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/xqkGmfikqapbJ2YMj/shard-theory-an-overview

D) Card Game: Predictably Irrational - Feel free to bring your favorite games or distractions.

E) Walk & Talk: We usually have an hour-long walk and talk after the meeting starts. Two mini-malls with hot takeout food are easily accessible nearby. Search for Gelson's or Pavilions in the zip code 92660.

F) Share a Surprise: Tell the group about something unexpected or that changed your perspective on the universe.

G) Future Direction Ideas: Contribute ideas for the group's future direction, including topics, meeting types, activities, etc.

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Utilitarian question I haven't seen addressed: Supposing it's possible to be in charge of that sort of thing, is there a good way to think of population size for emergencies?

I'm not talking about life-is-suffering anti-natalism, I'm thinking about how it's really hard to move tens of millions of people away from a volcano or a tsunami. Or, of course, both.

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In a general sort of way, how does your mind work?

I read a post from someone who is normally thinking several things at once, but can't/doesn't when ill. (I hope this is vague enough-- they aren't the only person whose mind is like that.)

I think my normal state is more about thoughts leading quickly to associated thoughts-- sometimes distantly associated-- rather than multiple thoughts simultaneously.

I've put a lot of effort into actually being able to pay attention to details of movement and sensation for qi gong.

And I'm brought back to when I became able to pay attention to what I've called That Boring People stuff-- an Alexander Technique teacher had students look into each others' eyes for maybe two minutes, and it considerably broke my compulsion to skid away into not noticing people.

Did you know, the main character in Delany's _Triton_ (_Trouble on Triton-) is an asshole? The thing is, I read the book before I was at that class, and I had a hard time figuring out why Delany was so hard on Bron. After, that, how self-absorbed Bron was is obvious in every sentence. Maybe every sentence, since I then found him so annoying I haven't been able to reread the book.

Anyway, it also affected the way I saw people, but not in a way which is as clear and easy to write about.

Anyway, how does your mind work? At its best? At other times?

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Re-Evaluating GPT-4's Bar Exam Performance

"First, although GPT-4's UBE score nears the 90th percentile when examining approximate conversions from February administrations of the Illinois Bar Exam, these estimates are heavily skewed towards repeat test-takers who failed the July administration and score significantly lower than the general test-taking population. Second, data from a recent July administration of the same exam suggests GPT-4's overall UBE percentile was ~68th percentile, and ~48th percentile on essays. Third, examining official NCBE data and using several conservative statistical assumptions, GPT-4's performance against first-time test takers is estimated to be ~63rd percentile, including ~41st percentile on essays. Fourth, when examining only those who passed the exam (i.e. licensed or license-pending attorneys), GPT-4's performance is estimated to drop to ~48th percentile overall, and ~15th percentile on essays."


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Will neural nets in 2030 be trained using more than 10^27 FLOPs?

Current NNs need FLOPs _and_ good networking to train.

We got 10^15 FLOP/s with good networking in 2008 (Roadrunner). We got 10^18 FLOP/s with good networking in 2020 (Fugaku) or 2022 (Frontier) depending of if one insists on f64. (For ML proposes, we do not). If we irresponsibly extrapolate, we should have ~10^20 FLOP/s with good networking by 2030.

Given 10^20 FLOP/s, 10^27 FLOPs would take ~4 months.

However it is unlikely that networking will continue to scale, and unlikely that FLOP/s/watt will continue to scale, short of unexpected advances in material science.

However, if distributed training algorithms work out, and we can burn more electricity on more hardware, distributed, with slower networking. There is a good chance we will be spending 10^27 FLOPs on a single NN.

Market: https://manifold.markets/Amaryllis/at-least-one-of-the-most-powerful-n-18faef58b570

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The ACX meetup in Cambridge was good,

Now Scott talks about lots of interesting things, but its clear that AI risk was on most people's minds. (Much less interest in, e.g. Scott's post on culture-specific disorders).


Person A: I think you're a cult

Person B: Go on, tell us where you think we're wrong about AI risk.

Person A: You're probably right about AI risk, but you've still managed to turn it into a apocalyptic religious cult.

Person B:L: Yeah, ok, we're a cult.

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AI Will Not Want to Self-Improve


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One post each weekday. Call it 10-30 minutes, tops.

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I'm attempting to become an amateur indoor air quality geek, both for optimizing the IAQ of my own home and for potential advocacy around improving IAQ in local congregate spaces like schools. I would love to connect with anyone with the same interest and compare notes. I'm specifically looking to know more about things like:

1. How can one get a real-world reasonable number of air changes per hour in a residential setting while minimizing cost, energy usage, and noise? CFM ratings for portable HEPA air purifiers of the Coway/BlueAir/etc type, for instance, typically assume that you are running the purifier constantly on the high setting. But in my experience, if you actually do this, it makes a terrible racket, whereas the unobtrusively quiet low setting gives you both a much lower and much more obscure real-world CFM. Supposedly their "auto" mode will use the high setting only when needed, but I am not sure I should trust their device sensor to tell when "needed" is.

2. There are now consumer-grade 222 nm far-UVC lights available, e.g. from Beacon, beaconlight.co. Have any of them worked to address some of the possible downsides of far-UVC disinfection, e.g. indoor smog generation or subtle cell damage from 222 nm exposure (see e.g. https://jljcolorado.substack.com/p/germicidal-uv-a-tradeoff-between and the links from there)? If not, is there any prospect of improving this tradeoff through better engineering, or is it baked into the physics of how UV disinfection works?

3. What does a good home IAQ measurement protocol look like? There are various sensors on the market like the Airthings ones-- but again, in the real world, how can one use these in a way that is both reasonably easy/lifestyle compatible and actually effective at measuring IAQ?

I'll keep looking for more info on these things and will share more on my Substack(s) in the future, but in the meantime any useful info anyone else has would be appreciated, and I'm also happy to keep interested folks updated on my own researches as they proceed.

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How come Metaculus and Manifold are the prediction markets talked about most here, yet when I google "prediction markets", neither of them are in the top 100 hits?

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Are landfills a problem? ChatGPT tells me they are, but I don't know how to evaluate its various claims. My prior is that landfills probably aren't much of a problem and that environmentalists just don't like the idea of them.

What about plastic bags? Obviously, plastic comes from fossil fuels and contains carbon, but if we put plastic bags in landfills, aren't we just returning the carbon atoms that we got out of the ground back into it? Sure, there's some waste in the process, but as for the plastic itself, which doesn't decompose quickly, it seems like we almost break even by putting it in a landfill.

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May 22·edited May 22

I'm puzzled that Congress and news outlets all say we should be very worried about a financial catastrophe if the debt ceiling isn't raised, and yet the Chicago Board Options Exchange's CBOE Volatility Index (symbol VIX) is at almost its lowest point since March 2020, and didn't budge in response to either of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's warnings that we face a catastrophe as soon as June 1. The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) is up 2% since her May 8 announcement, and the Vanguard European Stock Index Fund ETF (VGK, where I'd move my stock if I thought the US were in trouble) is /down/ by 2%.

Financial news outlets are all busy publishing articles like "Stocks may take a hit by June if the dollar keeps rising, analyst says", and yet it looks to me like the market responded in just the opposite way to the news: we're in a period of unusually low volatility, and the dollar will get stronger.

Am I interpreting these wrong? Did the big traders already know the debt ceiling was going to be a problem back in November, when the market made the adjustments I'd have expected it to have made after Yellen's announcement? Are they buying into dollars and US stocks because they anticipate a debt ceiling agreement, to be followed by a bull market?

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I am noting some confusion about what exactly money, and in particular the dollar, is. People talk about a trillion dollar coin, the deficit, etc. Money exists in our minds, because it is a promise to pay something to someone else in the future.

The dollar specifically has value because the United States government requires taxes to be paid in dollars, and assesses taxes. If someone gives you a dollar, you know the government will accept it. Therefore, if someone from a country other than the United States has dollars, they can give them to Americans in exchange for something of value. Everything is derivative from having to pay taxes in dollars.

If the government destroys money it has printed, nothing is lost, since they already have the money that would be accepted as taxes. If they print MORE money, then they (hopefully) can only take in so much in taxes, and a glut of dollars would fill the world. In that case, Americans would easily be able to pay their taxes and non-Americans would value dollars less, making imports more expensive and exports less. Thus, inflation.

Money is made of promises. Some promises are stronger than others.

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Stable diffusion text-to-image generators take the text prompt and use it as a guide to modify a seed, a random cluster of dots, into an image that fits reasonably well (depending on how much you constrain it) with your prompt. I'm looking for a text-to-text generator that works the same way: It starts with a phrase you give it, say "a sidewalk in a small 1950's southern town" and a random cluster of *words,* and uses your prompt as a guide to selecting and organizing the words in the cluster into sentences that fit reasonably well with your prompt. I am interested in injecting randomness into prose. Does anything like this exist? If you don't know of anything, do you have any pointers for searching for one other than just googling a brief description of what I'm looking for?

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Why don't those who oppose abortion laws argue for unconstitutionality based on the Establishment Clause? The reasoning for Roe v Wade, that the fourth amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures protects the right to abortion but only during certain times in the pregnancy, appeared to me to be ridiculous. But this sounds a lot less ridiculous: our founders passed the first amendment to prevent us from having to live under religious laws. Since essentially all of the motivation for abortion bans comes down to religion, they should be struck down as Establishment Clause violations.

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Seeking suggestions for activities in the Sacramento–Berkeley corridor, June 16-17 (Friday and Saturday). I will have a car.

Friday, I'll be starting from Davis/Sacramento and have dinner plans in Berkeley. Saturday I'm free all day, but I have to end up back in Sacramento by day's end.

I like day hikes over rocky, uneven terrain (including some bouldering). I love scenic views. (I also like well-stocked guitar stores.)

Thank you in advance for any pointers!

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For the past year I've been manually tracking when I go to sleep and wake up. https://i.imgur.com/np9uI2V.png

Soon after starting I realised I can use my browser history as an approximation because most of the time I would turn my PC on and off after waking up and before going to sleep, so I have 3 years of pretty accurate data.

It seems that each year there is a bump in sleep times in winter and for some reason 2 smaller bumps in summer. What could this mean?

Since I started tracking my sleep I also tried to intentionally bring it closer to midnight but mostly unsuccessfully. It seems that I can't escape this yearly rythm of bumps.

One explanation I found is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase_response_curve. This would mean than my sleep advances with the rate of advance of sunrise. So the ambient light coming through curtains arrives in my eyes early relative to my sleep during spring but this gradient slows down as summer solstice approaches. Though this doesn't explain the double bump in the middle of summer...

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I get spam mail now sent to an alias I probably mentioned once in a thread from this substack (nowhere else, ever). Fuck you, whoever it was.

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I just looked it up, and you are right about mail-in votes in European countries.

I think you are wrong about 'there's no particular problem with mail-fraud in elections'. The Democrats are just too openly crooked, and they monopolize the bureaucracies. And the bureaucracies are the real government, not the ceremonial remains of elections.

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The last episode of this season of Hi-Phi Nation went out last Tuesday, its about three different AI music technologies, vocal emulators, fully generative music, and musical improvisation, including a guitar solo contest between two humans and two different guitar-solo generators. Check out the whole season also on the ethics of digital futures. https://hiphination.org/season-6-episodes/s6-episode-6-rise-of-the-music-machines-may-16-2023/

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I was made aware of this in a newsletter about malware and security, and I have to say, I don't get it:


"Google Registry has launched some of the most popular (and secure) top-level domains, such as .app and .dev. Today, we’re adding eight new extensions to the internet: .dad, .phd, .prof, .esq, .foo, .zip, .mov and .nexus."

The newsletter article was pointing out how .zip was a dumb idea and the problems with cybersecurity involved, but that aside, who the heck wants a domain name like .dad or .phd?

"Knock, knock. Who’s there? With Father’s Day right around the corner, .dad is here for the jokes, the games and the advice. Whether you’re a fit.dad, a gay.dad or a dude.dad, .dad is the place to celebrate fatherhood."

Uhhh - there are already sites like these, granted on the distaff side - Mumsnet and the like. Do they really expect enough people will want an address like Gary.dad in order to go "yes, I'm Gary and I'm a dad"? As for the rest of it:


May means graduation season for many in higher education. We’re celebrating graduates and the professors who taught them well by launching .prof, .phd, and .esq. Whether sharing legal advice for everyday life or teaching courses on behavioral science, these new domains are perfect for showing off your credentials. Hats off to these early adopters:

Erika.esq: Erika Kullberg is an attorney and money expert who is passionate about better positioning people for success.

Casey.prof: Professor Casey Fiesler is a technology ethics educator and science communicator.

Rafael.phd: Rafael Misoczki is an expert in post-quantum cryptography, fully homomorphic encryption, privacy enhancing technologies, and the application of these constructions."

Ah yes, Erika, I'm sure that having a vanity plate website is going to do wonders for your professional reputation. And were I trying to look up an "expert in post-quantum cryptography", I would not be at all confused by a domain name like Rafael.phd

And this one? david.mov: Watch videos by David Imel in this liminal space.

It is horrible and redirects to Youtube, where most people are going to go looking for videos in the first place. That is not a "liminal space", it's a mess.

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The Wold is a long-running Dungeons & Dragons campaign world that emphasizes play-by-post gaming and a commitment to write one game turn every weekday. We are a community of about 65 gamers in nine long-running games, and we are looking for new members. I'm recruiting for first level players for a new game, in which the players are would-be heroes migrating to an embattled dwarf clan to help them survive and thrive. We have openings in current games, too, at higher levels. What do you need to know about the Wold?

• We are here to stay! The campaign dates back to 1985, and we have online archives back to 1996. You can expect to start a character and play through 20 levels over the course of a 10 year career.

• We are free! There’s no cost to join and no test to pass. Check out some of the links below, and if you like us, you are in. As our founder, Jerry says, “There is no tryout or application. My experience is that those players who stay are the ones who would have passed any application or tryout anyway. So I let the players weed themselves out or remain to become a permanent player.”

• We offer a very rich gaming experience! We have our own homegrown gods, nations, races, and peoples; we have custom classes, spells, feats, items, and more — all detailed in our own wiki. We play by the Pathfinder 1E flavor of the Dungeons and Dragons rules these days, but we are eager and glad to teach players who need help.

• We focus on heroic themes! All our player characters are Good. Feel free to create a troubled and conflicted character, so long as you are interested in redemption, nobility, and overcoming obstacles to become a true hero.

• We are a friendly community of people from all over the world, from all walks of life, and of all ages! The gaming groups that stick together over time are the ones in which players become friends, and we encourage that.

Check out the following links to get started:

Woldian Games: https://www.woldiangames.com

The Woldipedia: https://www.woldiangames.com/Woldipedia/index.php/Main_Page

For more information, please e-mail me:

Cayzle - cayzle@cayzle.com

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It's funny how in the ACX book review contests, all the finalists are good, but one of them is so outstandingly good that it is clear within 5 seconds who's going to win. I wonder why that is. Is this true for most contests in life, which have good enough incentives to draw in high quality participants?

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May 22·edited May 22

I've noticed that the "hard part" of a lot of physical activities isn't what I would have expected before doing them with some regularity.

- Running: My limiting factor is breathing properly, not my legs getting tired. I wind up gasping for breath long before the rest of my body is tired.

- Bouldering: My mind being tired is a bigger problem than my body being tired. With the former, I barely trust myself to be on the wall at all, since I'm worried that I will zone out for a second and fall off and hurt myself.

- Bicycling: What makes me want to stop isn't my legs being tired, it's my butt being in extreme pain from sitting on a seat for so many hours.

I'm not sure if this is a common phenomenon related to outsider versus insider perspective, or something else.

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Interesting conception of modern LLMs not as software (reliable and precise, but extremely limited), but as a crappy human intern (inconsistent and low-quality at most things, but can be useful). https://www.oneusefulthing.org/p/on-boarding-your-ai-intern

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YouTuber I recently came across in the realm of political philosophy. I think this was the first time I'd seen a clear minimally-politicized explanation of what "cultural Marxism" means: https://youtu.be/4JX4bsrj178

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Has anyone else tried both prescription + over-the-counter options for ADHD? Historically I was on an extremely low dose of instant-release Adderall (I would break up the pills into tiny ~1mg pieces). The main downside with that was the inevitable crash in the afternoon which turned me into a zombie in the evenings. I guess that could be fixed by using an extended release instead, but the problem with XR is that I can't break it into lower-dose pieces, so the dosage would likely be much higher than I'd be comfortable with.

Lately I've been using over-the-counter Thesis instead, and while it's better than nothing, it's certainly no Adderall. But on the plus side, there's no crash.

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Lengthy piece (from a Caribbean economist) arguing that Caribbean nations should abandon their local currencies and just use the US dollar, as Panama, Ecuador, and El Salvador do now. Apparently a candidate for president of Argentina is loudly arguing for doing the same thing. Author takes on/discredits arguments for monetary sovereignty, devaluation, etc.


I've thought for a while that a stablecoin US dollar might actually explode dollar usage globally- not sure developed country residents understand how strong the demand is for a stable currency in inflation-prone countries (could be the euro or the yen too).

Kind of funny that as US relative power declines, some aspects of it actually increase. I'd argue the US has more cultural power (TV shows, celebrities, music) than 20 years ago, even as US military & economic power has declined a bit. Apparently English is just becoming more & more dominant as a global lingua franca. Maybe the US dollar will actually (counter-intuitively) become *more* entrenched as the global reserve currency, even if the world shifts to being multipolar!

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If Jim Cramer is such a terrible investor, couldn't you make money with an investment strategy to do the opposite of whatever he suggested?

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Anyone else notice the strong Christian themes in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie? For populist entertainment, it surprised me. [spoilers ahead]. For example, the villain is the God-denying “High Evolutionist,” who engages in the worst imaginable form of eugenics because he alone can perfect life. The end of the film is basically Noah’s Ark, and the hero StarLord dies while saving everybody then comes back to life. There’s also a theme of every life is sacred. It’s just a bonus, I suppose, that the villain is black and the children he is tormenting are all blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryans.

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Does anyone else get the impression that the debt ceiling "talks" have some other objective? It seems more and more like theater, with the announcement of reaching the ceiling months ago, and soon we will have a last minute "save". Oh, the drama!

I actually am thinking this is about something else completely, and we, the public, are completely in the dark as to the actual objectives.

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To those of you who used spaced repetition systems to memorize information: how do you do this with books? It's pretty easy to use Anki to memorize foreign language vocab, formulae, and dates, but I'm at a bit of a loss for how to create cards to help me remember more of the content of non-fiction books.

I've thought about summarizing the chapters and then trying to memorize my own summaries, but this seems a bit cumbersome. It's also hard to know what counts as getting the card "right". Do I have to repeat the summary verbatim? If not, what level of detail is acceptable?

Any suggestions?

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The Alignment Research Center has an option to donate.


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In re hypergamy: I haven't read all the comments, but does this mean that some number of men (incels and the like) built a lot of their lives around an idea that might not even be true?

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How do spam emails know my SO's pet name for me?

I’ve been having a weird experience with spam emails lately. I get the usual mountain of spam emails in my personal email account spam folder, except they are addressed to the pet name my partner calls me. Crucially, this pet name is correct phonetically, but not as she would write it down. Is it possible that spam email accounts have obtained this name through listening to our conversations via one or more devices? I don’t use this pet name for any online accounts or usernames, and she only uses it around me (not when we’re with friends etc). It's only really a verbal nickname for me and isn't written down anywhere.

Below is a pseudonymous example of the scenario:

My name is Peter Johnson

My GF calls me "Peej" (and writes it like that in texts)

My email account is PeteJ@whatever

I get spam emails saying “Dear Peaje Get 10 free spins etc”

How come these emails are formed this way? Is one of my devices listening to me?

N.B. I don’t have an Alexa or any smart speaker type thing that is designed to listen around the house.

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While I appreciate the originality, this idea just wouldn't work. For one, you once again assume Trump supporters are going to react to things the same way you would. But for another, the setup is physically much less safe than you seem to think. Elephants weight a *tonne*, and there's no guarantee all that weight will stay sitting obediently in one place. Imagine if one mouse gets in and causes panic amongst the herd: now the whole airship is coming down.

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I've written a piece on 'Oumuamua recently (https://www.thequantumcat.space/p/oumuamua-alien-spacecraft-or-dark). Avi Loeb argues it was probably a piece of alien space trash. The rest of the astronomical community is sceptical and has rapidly coalesced around the idea of a "dark comet". We saw no signs that it was a comet when it flew past us, but recent papers have argued it probably had an invisible hydrogen tail. Loeb, meanwhile, says the dark comet idea is bullshit and physically unsound. Since 'Oumuamua is now far beyond Pluto we'll never know for sure, but it is fun to speculate.

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This is another update to my long-running attempt at predicting the outcome of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Previous update is here: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/open-thread-272/comment/14821511.

14 % on Ukrainian victory (up from 13 % on April 17).

I define Ukrainian victory as either a) Ukrainian government gaining control of the territory it had not controlled before February 24 without losing any similarly important territory and without conceding that it will stop its attempts to join EU or NATO, b) Ukrainian government getting official ok from Russia to join EU or NATO without conceding any territory and without losing de facto control of any territory it had controlled before February 24 of 2022, or c) return to exact prewar status quo ante.

45 % on compromise solution that both sides might plausibly claim as a victory (up from 43 % on April 17).

41 % on Ukrainian defeat (down from 44 % on April 17).

I define Ukrainian defeat as Russia getting what it wants from Ukraine without giving any substantial concessions. Russia wants either a) Ukraine to stop claiming at least some of the territories that were before war claimed by Ukraine but de facto controlled by Russia or its proxies, or b) Russia or its proxies (old or new) to get more Ukrainian territory, de facto recognized by Ukraine in something resembling Minsk ceasefire(s)* or c) some form of guarantee that Ukraine will became neutral, which includes but is not limited to Ukraine not joining NATO. E.g. if Ukraine agrees to stay out of NATO without any other concessions to Russia, but gets mutual defense treaty with Poland and Turkey, that does NOT count as Ukrainian defeat.


This update is brought to you by a cheap natural gas.

Price of natural gas on Dutch TTF exchange, which largely determines gas and thus electricity prices over the EU, over the previous week dropped back basically to pre-covid levels. You can follow it here: https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/eu-natural-gas. I think it is probably caused mainly by weaker than expected (by me, anyway) economic recovery in China.

My very crude model goes something like this: Ukraine probably cannot avoid defeat without substantial Western support - > this support is constrained by how much public pushback/support is there against/for it - > magnitude of the public pushback is dependent on economic costs of support - > cheap natural gas means lower costs - > which means higher political support for Ukraine.

I also think, however, that low prices are dependent on the fact Russian energy exports are still substantial (although no doubt much lower than they would be without sanctions), and further attempts to squeeze Russian economy would again prop them up. Given that current level of sanctions and overall support to Ukraine is imho probably insufficient to safeguard Ukrainian victory, I’ve updated only modestly (alos because low price might not last, of course).

*Minsk ceasefire or ceasefires (first agreement did not work, it was amended by second and since then it worked somewhat better) constituted, among other things, de facto recognition by Ukraine that Russia and its proxies will control some territory claimed by Ukraine for some time. In exchange Russia stopped trying to conquer more Ukrainian territory. Until February 24 of 2022, that is.

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A petition that seems important, unfortunately those with poor critical thinking skills haven't questioned the assumptions the media makes about the issue, vs. basic logic and history:


"Stop Domestic Voter Abuse, Restore Fair Elections: Ban Mail Voting (with at most extremely limited exceptions) in every state.

The secret ballot is recognized globally as a human right: but a vote cast by mail does not protect the voter's secrecy in a safe space like a polling location. Behind closed curtains, so no one knows it is happening, a vote can be coerced by domestic partners [ the CDC says 49% of women and 46% of men experience coercive control by a partner in their lifetime, would voting be an exception?], employers or unions or others and can tilt elections, as evidence from around the world, history, and logic explain.

Human nature has not magically changed to prevent an exact repeat of problems this country suffered through before.

Voting was not secret for this country's first century; votes were cast publicly. That led to the growth of such widespread problems, including violence and deaths, that in 1889 President Grover Cleveland declared they had become: "perils which threaten the existence of our free institutions, the preservation of our national honor, and the perpetuity of our country." Most states adopted them over the next few years.

It is crucial in this toxic political era that we prevent an internet accelerated repeat of that era with an internet accelerated campaign for reform to restore the secret ballot by banning mail voting (with at most extremely limited exceptions if no other approach can be found). You need to pass this along to others and help them grasp why this issue is important.

For detailed logic and cites supporting these concerns, see TheBigIllusion.com . People have blind spots preventing them from taking the problems seriously. That site addresses those and can help you persuade others. It also addresses other major problems with our democracy hiding in plain sight: but you do not need to agree with anything it says to agree we need to Stop Domestic Voter Abuse and Restore Fair Elections by Banning Mail Voting (with at most extremely limited exceptions). "

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What would make you consider immigration to another country? One where they don't speak your native language? Would this answer change if you had kids?

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There's been lots of "book banning" recently, according to many headlines, although I can never fully grasp what "book banning" means according to the stories. It always seems to involve removing books from school libraries. Apparently there was a case in the 1970s which went all the way to the Supreme Court, which found for a group of students from Long Island who had sued their school, claiming that their civil rights had been violated by the removal of some books which had been deemed "obscene" or something by the school board. (I believe one of the books was Slaughterhouse-Five.)

But there has also been many cases in recent years where books deemed "offensive" have been removed from mandatory school reading lists. Those books tend to be old classics like Huckleberry Finn, which features the "n-word" prominently, which now offends people out of sheer spelling. Apparently removing those books from mandatory assignments isn't considered "book banning" because those books remain accessible to students in the school libraries.

I get that there is a difference between a book being required reading for a student vs. a book which is merely available in the library. However, I don't understand how the removal of books from a school library could violate a student's civil rights anymore than removing a book from a mandatory reading list does. Aren't school libraries rather choosy about which books they acquire in the first place? Do many school libraries stock old joke-books full of racist and homophobic jokes? Probably few do. So how is the removal of a book from a library qualitatively different from a refusal to stock a book in the first place?

I'm not in favor of actual book bans, which I consider to be when a government bans a book from publication or sale. But until every school is willing to stock Naked Lunch, The Anarchists Cookbook and Truly Tasteless Jokes: Volume II on its library shelves, it's hypocritical to call the removal of any book from its shelves "book banning".

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Blog post on AGI - tl;dr I don't think the doom scenario is likely (mostly because, in my view, it rests on the orthogonality thesis, which is more of a series of assertions), but I think the alternative (a post-scarcity utopia) is almost equally scary.

Would love your thoughs!


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I made an RPG setting inspired by Archipelago, all done except for pictures. It uses Traveller rules and has a 3D star map. Any TTRPG fans interested in playtesting?

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I realized something about ambidexterity -- Scott used it as a baseline to compare with bisexuality etc. in recent posts.

Everyone uses their "off-hand" for some things. Forceful actions in one-hand, fine-dexterity in the other. Or some split.

Maybe there's semantic differences in how people understand and self-identify as "Ambidextrous". I myself write with my left hand but do plenty of things right-hand-dominant... do some people call that ambidextrous? And are certain types of people more likely to classify themselves as such?

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"opinion on human challenge trials"

FWIW, Tom Scott had a nice recent short video on what a challenge trial is like from (approximately) a participant's viewpoint: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v8u3ua6BPk "The people who get paid to get sick"

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Would love to share my substack on culture in Japan and how it's taken on by the West. Writing from living between Japan and Australia


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Wanted to see if I can assess people’s feelings about free will in a way that doesn’t degenerate into “well what do you mean by self, choice, natural, and the universe?”

Say you have a computer powerful enough to simulate the entire universe you’re in and you can look into it and see yourself a few seconds in advance. I suspect this isn’t possible but we’ll take it as a given.

Two questions:

Must anything be true of your feelings about the actions the computer shows you performing in order for them to come true?

Would your actions in this universe with the computer be any different than your actions in the universe without the computer?

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I’ve noticed a lot of rationalists expressing anxiety or fear at the thought of AGI ruin. This doesn’t make sense to me, as someone who accepts MWI and who would have thought most rationalists do too. Am posting this in case it helps anyone suffering such anxiety or fear, but keen also for feedback.


Given (i) MWI, and (ii) that AGI ruin occurs with less than P = 1.0, then by quantum suicide/immortality logic, none of us should fear personally experiencing AGI ruin.

The key reasoning is as follows:

MWI remains our civilisation's best theory of the nature of reality.

Under MWI, since all phenomena are quantum mechanical in nature, it follows that every phenomenon that can occur under the laws of physics does occur in some part of the multiverse, ie in some universe.

Any phenomenon that involves obliteration of your consciousness, while it does occur in some measure of universes, is not something that can be subjectively experienced by you. You should therefore never expect to subjectively experience death.

AGI ruin entails your - and everyone's - death (AGI ruin scenarios that follow from premises such as the orthogonality thesis and instrumental convergence involve inadvertent disassembly of all humans).

AGI ruin occurs with less than P = 1.0. Or rather does not occur in all universes.

In universes where AGI ruin occurs, no humans will be there to experience it. AGI ruin scenarios do not readily admit of a situation where humans should continue to survive in a state of severe disadvantage or discomfort.

You should therefore not expect to subjectively experience AGI ruin. This alone should be sufficient to alleviate any personal fear or anxiety one might feel at the prospect of AGI ruin (whatever your views are on the measure of universes experiencing AGI ruin).

This reasoning is not new, and is I think a trivial extension of quantum suicide/quantum immortality thought experiments - so long as you accept that QM describes reality.

So what do you think. Should this alleviate a rationalist’s concerns? Is this an idea worth spreading?

Incidentally, should there be, for example, a moratorium against development of advanced AI, many of us should expect to personally experience living in a world deprived of the benefits of advanced AI - and to suffer from experiencing any ill that might otherwise have been averted by advanced AI. For those who place more weight on anticipated subjective experience, rather than, for example, negative outcomes in a measure of universes that will never be subjectively experienced by anyone, a moratorium would be dispreferred - which may justify a continued tech accelerationist outlook.

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Aside from currency, the one thing I thought blockchain would be useful for is for things like platform-agnostic libraries of content. For example, you might own a key for a game on the blockchain, and you could then play that game via any participating digital distribution platform (ie Steam clone) that had that game in its library. This would protect your game library in case Valve or whoever shuts down, it would allow you to purchase one copy of a game that would be playable on PC and mobile, it would allow better competition between storefronts, and you could then sell the game key on when you're done.

I get why existing platforms would not want to implement this unless under heavy pressure, but why have I not heard of any new platforms offering this service? Is blockchain not as useful for this as I imagine? Is it a bad idea for other reasons? Do consumers not actually care?

Blockchain tech has been very underwhelming in general considering the hype ~10 years ago. But at thw very least these kinds of use cases seem like they should have been exploited by now.

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Somewhat similar to my question last week on the open thread: has anyone been pulled out of a depression through falling in love with someone? I've been writing about my experience with schizophrenia over on my Substack, and Friday's installment featured the thing that sparked my interest in working out and taking care of myself, as well as for life in general. And that thing was falling for a girl who was unavailable. I'm not a romantic, per se, but I think there is something to the whole Lex Fridman-esque belief about the power of love to move people to good in the world. Interested in what ACX readers think about love and the power it has to move people both individually and collectively to make things better.

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I wrote a history of how independent courts gained the power of judicial review in common law systems. It's a history focused on the institutional questions -- how do the courts internally discipline themselves, and how do they use this discipline to influence other branches, despite lacking the power of the sword or of the purse -- and so it's rather different than the standard case-focused histories of this which lawyers tend to write.

Link: https://cebk.substack.com/p/producing-the-body-part-two-of-three

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This is my second (and last) time posting this in an open thread before the next classifieds thread, but my sister (trans-woman, 24 years old) has recently moved to Seattle and is striking out left and right trying to find a job. She graduated a year ago with a bachelor's degree in actuarial sciences, has some coding experience, and has a good chunk of capital to use on finding the right position (rent for multiple months while unemployed or in a poorly paid internship, headhunter fees, etc.).

Didn't mean to bury the lede like this, but does anyone have any advice? Specifically in Seattle, but Portland or the Bay Area would be similar enough that I'd be interested. Are there agencies or single contractors who specialize in job-hunting that you've worked with? Does your company have openings for someone with that kind of CV? Have you been in a similar position and found a strategy that worked well?

Feel free to respond in a comment below or email me at: 7o2wzrybd (at) mozmail.com

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'''$500 Bounty/Prize Problem: Channel Capacity Using "Insensitive" Functions'''


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I’ve been thinking recently about the concept of the “deep state” through the lens of Franz Kafka. While it’s common to compare the current state of the world to Orwell’s 1984, I believe two of Kafka’s novels, The Castle and The Trial, contain themes which are more relevant to understanding the insidious power structures of society. Kafka imagines a world in which bureaucracy is a sort of Frankenstein, an unthinking malevolent force created by humans which has, without anyone really noticing, enslaved the humans. The law does not exist for man; man exists for the law.

One might compare the law to the rules of an algorithm abided, not by the pure logic of microchip circuitry, but by fallible humans. In Kafka’s universe, the chief weakness of man is stupidity in all of its manifestations: incompetence, immaturity, narrow-mindedness, pettiness, incomprehension. Kafka’s anti-hero, K, is not stupid. But everyone he encounters: his work assistants, cops, lawyers, clerks, officials of The Castle, magistrates, the mayor, schoolteachers, tavern workers, the townspeople... are drowning in stupid. The world is a bafflingly idiotic yet complicated place full of rules which, at every turn, work against an honest, earnest man who merely wants to do his job and stay free of prison.

Unlike with Orwell, Kafka’s novels are not dystopian warnings to the world. How can one warn the world that the world is too stupid to function according to its own rules? It isn’t the rules which are stupid; it is the people living by and enforcing them! It is the cops and lawyers, the judges and juries. And it isn’t a stupidity which one can be educated out of. A court magistrate may have a sophisticated understanding of the law, for instance, but is also petty and narrow-minded. Stupidity is a cancer that has spread throughout the organism.

I started thinking about this subject while pondering AI risk. It struck me that we’ve already created a monster that is much like an alien intelligence running our world which is indifferent to the plight of humanity. It is all our bureaucracies!

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May 22·edited May 22

About the birth rate problem, it's odd that there aren't companies or businesses or even business models coordinated around trying to increase birth rates.

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Does anyone have experience with EDMR they are willing to share? The wikipedia page positions it as pseudoscience and I'm wondering where it falls on the spectrum between "pure snake oil" and "worth trying". I have a traumatic experience from two years ago that still jumps to mind multiple times a day. Thanks for any pointers!

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A few times over the last few years, commenters have put "AI" and "Moloch" together (e.g. from a cursory search: Maxwell IV and Mr. Doolittle). I'm curious if others, seeing the rather impressive evolution of AI-safety discourse (including AI-not-kill-everyoneism, AI-not-make-everything-worseism) would like to revisit this comparison.

I.e. if you go back and read Ginsberg's original and Scott's commentary on it, do you now more than before get an "aww shit advances in machine learning is gonna accelerate this" feeling and if so do you have thoughts to share on it?

Or, of course, thoughts to the contrary?

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I have a somewhat specific ask: I’m going to be living in Washington DC for the next year or so, and during that time, I would love to meet people who are also interested in reforming US college tuition wholesale--especially if you’re already involved in something along those lines. I specify DC because it’s where I am and I assume it would involve something on the policy side, but am certainly open to talking to anyone interested in possible solutions, regardless of where you’re from. I’m especially interested in people with backgrounds in insurance (bonus points for health insurance), antitrust, or university administration. If you are interested, my email is harrisongfriedman@gmail.com.

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Will you release the initial voting scores for all the entries (including unsuccessful) at some point?

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