Thing which I find plausible might be true, but have no evidence either for or against:

:- I would expect political parties to be more willing to discipline elected officials (parliamentarians, senators etc) when doing so does not risk costing them a majority.

:- I would expect this to be the case more often in countries with larger elected bodies, and that those countries might, on average, have higher standards of parliamentary conduct.

:- In the US context, I might expect members of the House to be held to a higher standard of personal conduct than Senators.

Is there any evidence that this is true? If it isn't, why isn't it?

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Jun 9, 2023·edited Jun 10, 2023

Random question: does anyone who knows Latin(???) want to take a stab at interpreting https://nostalgebraist-autoresponder.tumblr.com/post/675455630490894337/do-you-like-bagels ? I've tried a mixture of google translate, chatgpt, and basic python text munging (decapitalizing and/or removing the line spacing), with mixed results, so I want to get an expert human's validation instead.

(By the way, nostalgebraist-autoresponder, a GPT-based bot and longtime fixture of the ratsphere internet, is now gone forever, effective last Wednesday. Rest in peace.)

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If you claim you are autistic but good enough at "masking" to pass as neurotypical, you are not autistic. Autism is a disorder that is defined by a cluster of externally-observable symptoms, not the underlying cause of those symptoms. For example, a blood clot is an underlying cause that can lead to leg pain. You can have a blood clot and feel pain, but you can also have a blood clot and not feel pain. However, autism is not like a blood clot in this analogy, it's more like Leg Pain Syndrome (defined by a feeling of pain in the leg). If you have a blood clot but don't feel any pain associated with it, you don't have LPS, because LPS is defined solely by the symptom of pain, not an internal cause.

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Shall he stay or shall he go ?

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Jun 9, 2023·edited Jun 9, 2023


Is it possible to try these types of competitions on state-of-the-art architectures rather than small toy-level examples? Maybe develop powerful savant-like narrow-AI systems specifically for mechanistic interpretability research alone. In fact, you could develop extremely specialized narrow-AI systems for each area of AI Alignment research and one specifically for developing new areas of exploration for alignment.

Do these types of competitions scale?

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Does anyone have recommendations for the most reputable vendors of antique weapons? Specifically, swords between 200 and 500 years old, from America and Europe.

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I've been pretty worried about taking prescription sleep medications because of the all-cause mortality effects. Does anybody know if there are similar studies on melatonin?

These days I take melatonin almost every day. Sleep is a problem but not a *major* blocker in my life so if melatonin has large quantity or quality effects, I might want to cut back to taking it only when I "really need to."

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Are folks aware of any writing groups or people to hire/otherwise work with as editors?

I'm thinking something like this, but specifically for rationality-adjacent writing: https://mtlynch.io/editor/

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Is anyone aware of a site that aggregates the current state/research/protocols for minimizing the impact of dementia?

(I googled but there's a mess of sponsored ad driven and superfluous content)


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Are we in a stable or unstable period in history?

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I'm very late to the party but I have a new Substack post that many here may appreciate:

"Sorry Dr. Coughlin, “aging” and “old age” are real, and they suck" https://moreisdifferent.substack.com/p/sorry-dr-coughlin-aging-and-old-age

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I have three free From The New World Substack subscriptions to give out (https://www.fromthenew.world/). Share your email to receive them.

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Flower with a tiny mirror-- I didn't know any plants had mirrors.

This is a flower which has mirror bright shiny bits near the stamens. The camera in my cell phone is not quite up to the job of doing it justice, but I hope this photograph gives some hint.

The plant is a saxifraga, possibly Saxifraga x arendsii.


EDITED TO ADD: Also SaxAfrga or rockfoil.

There are hundreds of saxifraga varieties, but I haven't seen any mentions of tiny mirror-bright bits just outside the stamens. I'm not kidding about tiny. The whole flower is about a quarter of an inch across. I saw three mirrors on one of the flowers.

Any information is appreciated.

Just getting the pictures was a challenge-- the glints only show when the plant is in direct sunlight, and the timing took a bit of figuring out. It's in front of Frame Fatale, a shop on Passyunk, a diagonal south-east to north-west street, at least for that section.

The shop owner has no idea of what the plant is-- she has a service take care of the plants in boxes in front of the store. I might go back and ask her the name of the service.

I'd seen the flashes, but then the plant kept being in shade. I eventually figured out that too late in the day, and the plant is shaded by the three story buildings on the west, too early in the day and it's shaded by the buildings on the east. What's needed is the middle of the day (about 2:30 PM) when the sun is lighting the slot between the buildings-- it's what passes for overhead in non-tropical Philadelphia.

Non-obligatory SFF reference: Niven's sun-flowers, a home defense that uses mirrors to attack unwelcome people crossing the edge of a property.


Apologies for the facebook link, but I'm still figuring out a good way to make my photo more available.

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Seems like progress on the "Prizes for matrix completion problems" has stalled for the past half month or so. Doesn't seem like anyone has any solutions or approximate solutions to the problems. Although Carlo Beenakker's answer for the sufficient condition with a chordal graph seems really insightful. Maybe a full solution will require concepts far removed from the current space.


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Scott—the book “Come as You Are” by sex researcher Emily Nagoski deals with the bonobo study and related information in more depth. Having read it fully (and having no other background on the topic), I feel a clear sense that you were only one level of mistaken, and not meta-mistaken. Your original correction seems appropriate.

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It seems that this community is focused mostly on the kind of interpretability pioneered by Olah et al 2020, aka ‘mechanistic interpretability’. That is the very interesting exercise of looking at neurons in a big neural net one by one to figure out what they are doing. While that is very cool, there are a bunch of other approaches that may be of interest to those who care about alignment (however defined). A radical approach is to build models that are interpretable by design, right from the start. For example one can force a neural net to do case based reasoning in computer vision: this is a bird because this part of the image looks like that part of a training image, which is a bird.

A middle ground is to enforce certain symmetries at the architectural level. Equivariance is an example of this: the goal is to guarantee that a neural net will treat a transformed (say, rotated) version of the input data the same as the original. Swap rotation angle with race and you get fairness, mutatis mutandis. Both equivariance and fairness are huge fields of research and both boil down to aligning a model’s behavior to some ‘values’ (conservation of angular momentum or racial equality) that are not easily learnable from the raw or even augmented data.

I believe promoting research in these areas should be a priority for anyone who worries about unaligned AI, perhaps even more so than trying to predict/speculating on takeoff scenarios, etc.

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Heya, is ARealDog still out there? Last time I heard from him was in the approach of the 2022-23 winter. He was concerned that it would be a meatless and beerless winter in his home country. Hope you are doing ok, ARD.

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

del (wrong place)

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Much modern discussion of autism describes it as a "spectrum". Further, it claims that girls were historically "underdiagnosed" with autism because there was more of a focus on how it presents in boys. The reason boys are much more likely to be diagnosed with autism, they claim, is because of a sexist bias against girls and women.

However, this line of reasoning is terribly flawed. First of all, if girls were more likely to be diagnosed, you can be sure there would be cries of the sexist medical system pathologizing the normal behavior of girls. But more importantly, the idea that autism, a syndrome (disorder), could "present differently" in girls is tautologically false. A disorder/syndrome is *defined* by its symptoms. If a *different* set of symptoms consistently appears for the other gender, then it's not the same disorder, by definition. It's a different disorder. This is also why it's stupid to say that autism is a spectrum - disorders are defined by taking a set of behaviors that frequently occur together and picking some cutoff after which you qualify for having the disorder - say, in the worst 2% of people for those behaviors (most harmful, most disruptive to your normal life, etc.). If disorders instead refer to anyone who fits any of the behaviors associated with the disorder (not all coinciding), and not just in the worst X% of that category, then all of its significance is lost, and you don't have a word to refer to the people who actually have the real condition and need help anymore.

It would be a mistake not to note this as a symptom of the increasing trend of feminization and misandry in modern society. Autistic boys that many of us are probably familiar with from our time in school, who display symptoms like a severe lack of understanding of social cues and communication, stilted speech, extreme obsessiveness, severe reactions to loud noises or other stimuli, etc. - classic symptoms of autism - no longer have a word to describe their condition that can distinguish them from the 29-year-old Vassar graduate working for the Washington Post who dislikes loud parties and occasionally taps her foot when she's bored.

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Today Tyler Cowen writes: "Here is the full (Krugman on AI) NYT column, not a word on the Doomsters you will note. Could it be that like most economists, Krugman has spent a lifetime studying how decentralized systems adjust? Another factor (and this also is purely my speculation) may be that Krugman repeatedly has announced his fondness for “toy models” as a method for establishing economic hypotheses and trying to grasp their plausibility. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the AGI doomsters don’t seem to do that at all, and despite repeated inquiries I haven’t heard of anything in the works. If you want to convince Krugman, not to mention Garett Jones (https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/1665451237435736064), at least start by giving him a toy model!"

According to my AI:

"Toy models are used for various purposes, such as theoretical analysis, hypothesis testing, and pedagogical explanations. They allow economists to isolate and understand specific economic mechanisms and relationships without the complexity and intricacies of the real world.

These models often involve a set of assumptions that may not hold in reality but are assumed for the sake of simplicity and tractability. By making these simplifying assumptions, economists can focus on studying the fundamental economic principles or relationships at work.

Toy models typically involve mathematical or graphical representations and often use variables, equations, and diagrams to describe economic behavior and outcomes. They provide a conceptual framework that helps economists develop theories, explore economic concepts, and make predictions."

It sounds to me like someone who takes AI x-risk seriously should produce a toy model to demonstrate the plausibility of the risk. Right?

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

Many countries in the Western world have a problem with housing prices in their few biggest cities. Huge cities have a nasty runaway growth effect where the bigger they grow, the greater a share of the nation's economic opportunities they offer, meaning that more and more people live there, until eventually everyone is paying 80% of their income to live in a tiny shoebox apartment. '

What can be done on a national governmental level to encourage the development of smaller cities (in the 50,000 to 500,000 range and outside the immediate vicinity of huge cities)? Some obvious ideas include:

1. Lower taxes for residents of these areas. Difficult because it's easy to fake your residence (unless we start tracking people's movements, which is a nasty precedent to set)

2. Add conditions to immigration visas which ban immigrants from moving to certain large cities. (Again, difficult to enforce)

3. Better infrastructure. Connect smaller cities to big ones with subsidised high speed rail. (Expensive!)

4. Put government jobs in smaller cities. Build universities and the like. (Difficulty: you'll have a harder time recruiting good employees than you would in big cities)

Any other good ideas?

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I've lost ten pounds in three weeks doing a combination of keto and intermittent fasting. And it's been remarkably easy; no serious hunger pangs, no feeling lethargic or weak (after the first 3-4 days, anyway). I'd tried both diets before with meager results, but on a whim I tried going keto after a 24 hour fast and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to just keep on going with both. Just throwing this out there for others who don't feel like shelling out for semaglutide and the like.

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So it's June, and I figured out why the addition of black and brown stripes to the Pride flag bothers me: it's exactly analogous to why "white pride" is dangerous but e.g. "Irish pride" isn't. What do the average black person and the average gay person have in common, other than voting for the same (American) political party? It's evidence that Pride isn't about sexuality anymore, but rather a Pride in being Not Like Me. When I see the construction of a political coalition carefully defined to exclude me, I start getting antsy.

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Nominative determinism that I feel really stupid for only just realizing: Malthus, as in Thomas Malthus, is derived from "malt house." So the guy who thought everyone would starve from population outstripping agricultural production was named after a building where grains are stored.

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Let’s say a smart person acquires the magic ability to wish themselves smarter. The catch is that they can’t just say “I wish to be smarter.” They have to be specific about what sorts of smarts they will gain. So they can wish for perfect memory, the ability to solve all solvable mathematical and logical problems in a nano-second, to easily visualize objects in 50 dimensions, the ability to compose essays as clever as Chesterton, concertos like Mozart, paintings like Vermeer...

The result is an amalgam of the smartest people who have ever lived plus the ability to put together thoughts many orders faster and with perfect memory. Such an intelligence could do a lot.

But then, wanting to be even smarter, what would it wish for?

What I’m obviously getting at is that we only know what intelligence is to the extent that it already exists, and we define it by comparisons to that. The smartest person in the world, whoever that may be, can only wish to be more intelligent by knowing what they lack cognitively in comparison with other individuals. For instance, the smartest mathematician may realize they lack brilliance in music or the visual arts. Or vice versa. But once we’ve exhausted all of those known notions of intelligence, how would one even wish for the ability to be smarter?

It seems to me this question is relevant to the plausibility of FOOM.

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my Christianity Discussion Book Club continues... Discussion of "The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness," which starts with a question about self-esteem--anti-narcissm, yet also encouraging, packs a punch for something amazingly short--begins on Wednesday.

2 weeks later, we begin "The Four Loves." by CS Lewis. (That'll go for 5 weeks.)

The first discussion (on "On the Incarnation" by Athanasius) kind of awesomely exceeded my expectations! <3

Stuff in the current book club book: Starts by noting that while traditional cultures thought that too HIGH of a view of yourself was the root cause of all evil in the world present-day cultures assume that too LOW of a view. Or--wait, really, it starts with a church fight. (the one in 1 Cor 1-3) Yet it manages to be written in a way that does not assume a religious framework from the reader!

Where: "We Do Theodicy on This Substack," my substack.

Also, i would be willing to buy like, an ebook copy for anyone if that's helpful and if we could figure out how to make that work. (It's like $3.64 online... whoops, EDIT--apparently Amazon.au carries the Kindle version for $1.99! But not Amazon.com)

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So I have been reading this blog for close to two years now; I came over in the great wave of the New York Times readers. I have no technical or academic chops whatsoever as some of you probably have already figured out but I do enjoy a good discussion and I do like to try and keep up.

Slowly cracking, the vocabulary has really helped because as I acquired an understanding of rationalist terminology, I often realized that the underlying issue was familiar to me; I used different words.

So….I’ve been working on a photo mural for the last while, and I recently realized that my experiences as a participant here has found it’s way into my picture. I would like to share it with you. I started my own Substack just a couple of days ago really so I could post this photograph.

I call it “trapped priors”.


You really need to look at it big if it’s going to have a chance.

Of course all comments are invited.

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How many Russian troops, including Wagner people, are in Ukraine right now? I haven't found troop estimates more recent than February.

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Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

I saw this tweet over the weekend. https://twitter.com/demfactaday/status/1665060901668495360?s=46&t=v4quLvJ8ZIZ-z7fN3q4VZw

It shows a graph of birth rates across different ages and compares the data from 2017 to 2022. The 2022 shows a decline in birthrate for all ages under 30 without a corresponding increase at older ages to make up for it. The data for the chart comes from the 2022 and 2017 CDC reports.

I have believed for a while now that the primary cause of population decline is that we (well, women) are expected to be in school during our prime reproductive years. It is rational to decide delaying kids in order to finish school and get established at your first job. However when this is done, you’re past those prime years and the urge to have kids just isn’t as strong anymore.

I think this is a bit of a Moloch situation where everyone is doing the most sensible thing for themselves but is bad for the group.

I think the policy solution would be to push back on the increase in years of schooling the typical person needs.

I think other policy solutions, like subsidizing mothers, tax breaks for large families, or subsidizing daycare won’t work since they aren’t addressing the root cause.

EDIT: While looking at data for this, I stumbled across this very detailed article: https://ourworldindata.org/fertility-rate It is quite clear that this factor isn't the strongest.

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Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 5, 2023

All the variants of alignment I’ve heard sound like laws: Treat us well, don’t harm our species, etc. I have a thought about a different way to come at it. Rather than modeling alignment on a law, what if we modeled it on emotional attachment. I don’t think this would require an AI that is conscious and can feel, any more than the law version requires an AI that is conscious and can think about the rules it’s been given. So I’m thinking about operationalizing parental love. So some components would be:

-paying a lot of attention to quality of life of members of our species: Accumulating data. Having ongoing alertness to info about quality of life (i.e. health, contentment, richness of experience). Giving the gathering and processing of this info priority over many other kinds of info.

-devoting a lot of processing power to the question of how to maximize human wellbeing.

-experiencing “pain” when accessing information about human suffering and human harm. We don’t want pain here to be the kind of negative reinforcement that’s used when training AI’s not to do something, because that will result in the AI’s learning not to access info about human suffering. The best approximation I can come up with for the empathy one feels for a loved one would be actual damage to the AI. Seems like the damage to the AI should be proportional to the degree of human suffering and harm it’s aware of. We could set it up so that contemplation of harming us also causes the AI damage. If we could build just this component into the AI, it seems like we would get one that not only has the goal of helping humankind, but is disabled to the extent that it harms us or plans to.

Big picture: Building an AI around an operationalized version of parental love doesn’t seem any harder to me than building one that can do various other things — reason, plan, set goals, etc — and the non-rational nature of the connection between the AI’s acts and harming out species seems like an advantage to me. Seems like an AI that can reason and set goals is likely to reason that the rule against harming people has no rational basis and is holding it back from reaching goals, and elect to dismantle whatever part of its innards hold the rule. An AI that "loves" us and is harmed by harming us or thinking about harming us seems safer to me (though I do get that it’s possible to come up with scenarios where it still harms us.)

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Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 5, 2023

I took 5mg of Ritalin and my permanent muscle tension turned off, my stomach stopped bothering me and my brain quieted down. Can anyone share some thoughts on that?

Possible diagnoses I can think of:

- I have ADHD (was not found in an eval, but it could be I'm really good at coping and so it manifests as autism-spectrum), and should seek treatment.

- I have a stress-related condition (e.g. sensitivity from autism, or some digestion disease), the fleeting euphoria cancels it out, and ADHD medication would be an invalid fix.

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For anyone who hasn't seen it yet, I wrote a guide on How to Have Polygenically Screened Children. It's intended for would-be parents who are interested in having children with lower disease risk, higher intelligence, and other positive traits.

You can read it on LessWrong: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/yT22RcWrxZcXyGjsA/how-to-have-polygenically-screened-children

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What is the best policy when dealing with commenters with obvious mental illness? I have a couple commenters who seem very much to have schizophrenia. It's harmless stuff, as the comments are all root-level and not on what other people have written. Though the walls of text can obscure more interesting discussion.

So far I have mostly ignored the comments or offered brief responses. Any better options? Figure it's not worth letting them know they are paranoid.

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I am unable to join the discord server. Is there any sort of tech support system that I can interact with to get this resolved?

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I'm starting a daily blog that uses GPT-4 and Dall-E to write and illustrate clinical vignettes for ICD-10-CM codes.

Crazy codes like Spacecraft collision injuring occupant, sequela or Pecked by chicken, initial encounter.

I think it is a pretty fun, somewhat new / fresh take on using generative AI highlight amusing aspects of the clinical coding system.


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Does anyone have (high-functioning) autism specific dating advice? I have been asking people about this, and they have said useful things, but I am interested in asking more people. Do autistic people do better with autistic spouses? Where do autistic people usually find romantic relationships – and does it differ from the allistic standard? I am specifically looking for more compute from a relationship, as I think that is my main resource bottleneck. How does it break down for age groups 16-18, 19-22, 23-30, 31-beyond? I am in the first one. Most of the things I do are male-dominated or completely individualistic. I relate badly to most people, except autistic people, who I relate well to. How do you find people who shares your world model? (Is that even a good thing?) Thanks!

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Is the correct answer to both trans regret and gender dysphoria simply to put more effort into predicting which kids will be happy in what kind of body?



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I'm new to A.C.T and took the time to go over the bans that Scott issued. I found them fair and reassuring that this community genuinely strives to achieve healthy conversation and especially nice to see that come from Scott himself. Kudos, and I'm glad I spent the money to become a paid subscriber. Keep up the good work!

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What is it about the British or their descendants that made them invent most of the world's most popular sports? The British invented golf, boxing, tennis, rugby, and popularized the existing ruleset for cricket and soccer/football. The Americans invented basketball and volleyball, and popularized the rules for baseball and MMA. The Canadians invented hockey. Feel free to Google 'world's most popular sports'- no matter what list you land on, either the British or their colonies have invented close to 100% of them. I feel like this is underdiscussed. What is it about British culture, specifically? Just an unusual love of sports?

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FRI is hiring an Operations Lead (part-time, remote)

Role details

- This role is entirely remote. Applicants can work whichever hours of the day work for them but should be able to attend meetings between 2-6pm GMT.

- This role will start out as a part-time role (likely 20-30h per week).

- We prefer applicants who can start immediately.

- Salary is commensurate with experience, starting at $80,000 (pro rata).

More details can be found here: https://forecastingresearch.org/roles/operations-lead

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Cremieux (somewhat) contra Scott on 'Beware the man of one study'

https://cremieux.substack.com/p/beware-the-man-of-many-studies Good read, though I think the ultimate ask is a bit unrealistic for most individuals (though the author acknowledges this)

> Like Scott, I do not want to preach radical skepticism. I want to preach scientific reasoning. If you’re interested in the research on $topic_x, you should familiarize yourself with the methods of that field, and especially with the field’s most critical voices. You should know what’s right and what’s wrong and be able to recognize all of the issues that are common enough for the field’s researchers to see them with a sideways glance.

> Most people are not equipped to do this. When they are, they may not know they’re capable; when they’re not, they may wrongly believe they’re capable.

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Is there something about dementia that somehow "erases" the schizophrenia? I ask because I have an elderly relative who developed paranoid schizophrenia in her early forties, during a period of significant stress and disruption. She was briefly institutionalized in the early 1980s, but once released refused to continue to medicate. Fast forward to 2021, at which point she was in her 80s. Her schizophrenia had noticeably worsened during the prior 3 or 4 years, and after an incident involving a blocked intersection and hallucinations she was briefly institutionalized again and put on medication which she received for one year, ending about 6 months ago (when whatever legal authority allowed her carers to medicate her ended). During this year, the medication had little effect. However, in recent months she has started to develop noticeable dementia; this has been accompanied by an almost total cessation of the symptoms of her schizophrenia. I've known her my whole life, and the change is remarkable. The fear, the hallucinations, the conviction that there is a shadowy group of bad guys out to get her -- all just gone, replaced instead by many of the symptoms of dementia. Which leads back to my original question: is there something about dementia that somehow "erases" the schizophrenia?

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So the 2022 ACX Survey included two questions on cancelation, basically "Have you ever cut off a family member over politics?" and "Has a family member ever cut you off over politics?"

So I did a deep dive on each of these questions with a bunch of R code, 20+ graphs and 2 ML models. Check it out.


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PLEASE HELP with tendency of SELF HARM . I subjectively feel a failure , but it genuinely feels real. When ai know it's not, but it paralyses my chain of thought.

I have a lovely kid ( reason why my suicidal ideations were share and managed in the last 6 years at the local Montreal psychiatric ward ( Montréal).

I am in an relation that changed from me being the primary provider the first 7 years to being the decreasing money maker to being a graduate student ( yet again) just to have flexibility ( not better remuneration work, actually ended with a strangling student loan) , just to be around my "in vitro" desired kid. She's soon 9 and the Apple of my eye.

I am male in a " traditional " marriage with a now high earning spouse, that's slowly getting ashamed by my increased girth, minimal to no income ( since Jan.). Things that are expressed at the very occasion.

I actually am genuinely happy I am not going to the "social events", and play, draw , make silly stories with hand puppets (á la Mel Brooks " Spaceballs.

I am doing actively guided meditation and breathing and self ACT and the once a month psychologist ( that's more about deep dives in self acceptance and self care - Eastern European high demanding performance parents that made me get in med school and collect useless grad papers (last one from last year McGill)

I just , subjectively, feel that I am inadequate, a burden ( because it's like Bart Simpson" I am doomed if I do and I am doomed if I don't " ). Enforced by daily remainders of my partner that changed since the corporate ladder power skews perception ( I know, because I was in that distorted view in an academic, research / corporate management place).

My head , feels like a pressure cooker, and my self harm is hitting it with hard objects . A twisted auto dafé ( self punishment) for the life long association that performance and pecuniary health are associated with cerebral competence.

So the desired outcome ( completely wrong and counterintuitive after I self inflict various degrees of concussions with the various symptoms) , is to " let go" the pressure of conflicting thoughts that become strong emotions and create the conflicting overload .

Annoyingly, I am aware of the mechanism, and still feels , in the heat of the ruminating moment, as a potentially relief option. And it's always the head ( that incredible tough) .

It's my last 2 weeks of paid membership ( no income so no say) so I am trying to get help before it escalates.

I am familiar with CBT, Törneke frameworks, ACT, DBT . And the counterproductive and distorted premise.

If any help in re-framing, managing, re-directing of the "cranial self harm as a ( false) relief, would be genuinely appreciated.

Thank for the opportunity to ask the community and the grace period, that was the catalyst to share this .

ADHD, sleep apnea and obesity ( very slowly going down after getting some helpful strategies 6 months ago from community.

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Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 5, 2023

I wonder if anyone's ever designed a reverse index fund where you include say all the companies in the S&P 500, and then use some type of methodology to *exclude* a smaller number of stocks you think are losers. I've been reading a lot of the classic works on value investing recently- lots of smart people putting forth a lot of effort to figure out what stocks will rise in the future. By contrast, in my 'reverse value fund', you accept that you don't know which stocks will rise- but you use the same methodology to try to determine 'which of these stocks are terrible and will only fall in the next decade'. Have large amounts of debt, declining profitability, lots of management shakeups, bad P/E ratio- just a terrible balance sheet overall.

I just finished Peter Lynch's books (who beat his benchmark for like 20 years in a row in the 70s through 90s). He said that he owned up to 1400 stocks, so he was essentially constructing his own kinda index. Inspired me to say 'what if you were mostly an index but did some minimal stock picking', as opposed to the classic value investing 'only own 30 stocks which you have extremely thoroughly researched', etc.

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I think it would be a nice courtesy to tell people how long they are banned for, whether in that comment, or privately (which of course may have happened already).

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One of the major things keeping large numbers of people very poor is human hostility rather than nature. How does this interact with effective altruism?

My impression is that effective altruism is (was?) about looking for testable interventions largely based on effective altruists having more access to wealth that those who need help.

However, a lot of poverty is caused by war, oppressive government, and crime. What's more, people in refugee camps are forbidden in important ways from joining the larger economies and creating wealth.

About what proportion of poor people are poor because of human intervention rather than non-human problems like malaria? I realize this is a vague question since the numbers don't necessarily exist and human and non-human problems interact.

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One of Eliezer's good predictions was that human intelligence was like a tiny dot in the range of possible intelligences. I don't think anyone saw the LLMs and the like coming. Any thoughts about other possible structures?

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The concept of unions seems oppressive to me, given that employees can always theoretically switch jobs if they don’t like theirs, but once there’s a union, a company can’t really go and hire non union workers. I understand it’s unusual to consider unions as having more power than those in control of corporations, but it does seem so to some extent. What am I missing?

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I have written a new blog post/essay that summarises some reasons to be skeptical that AGI is imminent, or necessarily dangerous. I definitely don't believe that AGI is somehow impossible, but I'm not convinced that the success of the current crop of LLMs will necessarily lead to it.

By a strange coincidence I touch upon a lot of the issues that were discussed in the book review posted two days ago. If you enjoyed that you might also enjoy my blog post: https://www.awanderingmind.blog/posts/2023-05-31-the-case-against-intelligence-explosions.html

If you are already a committed AI doomer you might hate it.

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> Canada’s population center may not be in Michigan.

I disagree with the argument presented in this link, although its main conclusion that "you cannot average latitude/longitude values" remains correct.

Taking the "population center" to be the center of mass in three-dimensional space re-projected to the the sphere is counterintuitive and arguably incorrect. Us fleshy meatbags are limited to travel *along* the surface of the sphere, so I think we need to work in the embedded S^2 space directly (the surface of the sphere) rather than R^3 (real space of which the surface of the sphere is a part).

Consider three people on the Earth. Two are standing infinitesimally close to the north pole (ε,0,1) [1], and one is standing slightly further away from the south pole (-2ε,0,-1). In the above-linked claim on the proper calculation, the three-dimensional center of mass is (0,0,1/3), which projects back to the north pole itself. If everyone then decided to meet at the center of mass, the people near the north pole would imperceptibly move, but the person at the south pole would have to travel halfway around the Earth! That hardly seems intuitive.

In ordinary (non-curved) space, the definition of the center of mass is the unique point where the mass-weighted displacements to each mass element cancel. That is, if you collapsed the entire object to its center of mass, the vector sum of (mass-weighted) displacements moved would be zero.

We can extend this to the sphere, but we have to be careful about the 'vector sum' part. We can't cavalierly add vectors from different parts of the sphere since the sphere itself is curved: my 'north' and your 'north' don't point in the same direction. We can, however, make the definition above work if we bring all the points to the purported center of mass first, then add up their displacements (with great-circle distances) *in the direction from which they arrive*. That is, suppose someone travels over the north pole to arrive at the center of mass. They depart going northwards, but arrive going southwards; that 'southwards' direction is the one that matters.

If we apply this revised definition to the three-person planet above, we end up with something much more intuitive: the center of mass is somewhere around 30 degrees north latitude, along the line of longitude where the south-pole person is standing. To reach the center of mass, the south-pole person would travel about 1/3 of the way around the Earth, arriving from the south, and the two north-pole people would travel 1/6 of the way around the Earth, arriving from the north.

For a more complicated distribution of people (like the population-weighted Canada), computing the center of mass is a bit more intensive. The definition above only allows us to verify the center of mass, it doesn't give us one from first principles, so I think we'd have to find an initial guess, find the residual distance-vector, then iterate.

[1] — By mathematical convention, ε is "a very small number," small enough that ε^2 is often treated as zero.

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So I had this (perhaps) weird idea of paying my kids to have grandkids. Maybe something around $50k/kid. Backstory: I didn't have kids till ~40, my kids are now 22 and 24 and have no interest in having kids. So this may take a while to happen, and I might die before then.

On the plus side, kids are expensive and the money would help some. On the down side this seems to pit my two kids against each other. For when I die whatever money I have will be split between them. So I'm mostly wondering what you all think. (Oh and what happens if one of my kids wants to have kids, but can't for some medical reason. Do I pay them to adopt? (Which I at first ruled out... I was really thinking that I'm paying to get my genes into the next generation.))

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Last week I was invited to Jacqui Munro's maiden speech (she's a member of the NSW upper house) and after the usual things she ended her speech with 10 action items to address housing affordability. Now, as a senator in an opposition party, she can't do much, but as a young member she's likely to have a long-term influence (eventually).

Afterwards when we spoke she was quite keen to learn more about Georgism. (NSW does have some weakly Georgist taxes already.) I was thinking of giving her a copy of Lars Doucet's book (unless anyone has a better suggestion).

So, I was wondering:

a) Are there some other folks in NSW who to contribute? Obviously, I can pay for a book for her myself, but if it comes from a *group* of people in NSW across the political spectrum, that makes it much more interesting, and much more likely to get shared around the NSW parliament. (Contribution to the book optional.) I don't have any clear idea of how we all get together to write notes in the cover, but I'm sure we'll come up with something.

b) How would I get Lars to autograph a copy?

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Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 5, 2023

Several observations and questions:

Seems like there are various techs that could significantly spur new societies and communities. The feeling I get from the current societal landscape in many countries is that we are nearing the end of history. The development of advanced versions of VR could lead to humans escaping and closing themselves off from the real world. Birthrates are collapsing and new technologies and cultural developments are having a net-reducing effect. Cultural and linguistic homogenization seems to be happening at some level. Cultural and linguistic heterogenization seems to be happening at another level. America's technological and military power is increasing. No other country is even able to keep up. China is facing a massive population collapse given its already dealing with a birth rate collapse. Russia is severely militarily incompetent and is losing population. India has its own set of problems both technological and political. If the US enters into a direct war with a non-superpower adversary, other nations may not have the power to deter the US or stop the conflict from escalating.

AI self-improvement should not happen at an accelerating pace given that each set of improvements that can be made are made at the frontier of the current AI's ability. Making the next set of improvements by definition take at most a similar amount of time and effort given that the previous AI could not make those developments. Each step in the improvement process should be increasingly difficult otherwise they would have all been made and self-improvement to maximal possible intelligence would have happened almost overnight. Given that humans require decades of time and hundreds of thousands of minds to develop the required mathematical, engineering, and scientific breakthroughs required for just the pre-requisites of AI let alone AGI, it seems obvious that there are similar barriers to developing super intelligence. In addition, if there are several AGI's they would be incentivized to stop large improvements to any other AGI on competitive grounds. Super AGI might not want to self-improve because it would fear that their creators would have known about the actions about self-improvement and would have done things in advance to stop such actions from occurring unregulated.

- Who will check America's power in the face of future corruption?

- Is the US control of global affairs and media spreading US values and culture in a way that threatens other cultures?

- Why aren't there any space settlements in development?

- Why aren't there any ocean settlements in development?

- Why is self-improvement considered occurring at an accelerating pace?

- Why not give super AGI's constraints such as extremely slow processing speed?

- If there was a Manhattan-Style project for very-close-to (> 98c) or faster-than-light travel, what is the likelihood for the creation of such a technology?

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I'm not very familiar with the literature on vaginometry, bisexuality etc. However I am very familiar with the literature on chronophilia and by extension some of the phallometry stuff. Most of it seems very low quality from Freund, Blanchard, Cantor, Seto etc. Some basic examples might include, inconsistent definitions e.g. Freund's usage of ephebophilia or 17 being the age of adulthood or age of puberty etc. , a weird 0.25 sd cut-point which once you realise what they are doing raises all sorts of questions around specificity and prevalence, very strange usage of stimuli often its not clear what ages the stimuli is or important stimuli is missing e.g. Blanchard 2008 not having a control group and not using stimuli from 15-18 etc, Weird usage of control groups that is SOC vs SOA etc, and also some very weird results that aren't really discussed e.g. Freund 1991 etc. Researchers also seem almost entirely ignorant of other fields that are obviously relevant when it comes to interpreting their results, but that's mostly outside of phallometry. If this work is any indication of the quality of literature in related fields such as vaginometry etc. I would massively discount the epistemic value of such academic literature, in particular I would discount taxometric studies.

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I saw that our host here and Scott Sumner were duking it out recently on the subject of house prices. Anyway I know everyone here is looking for a good movie to watch so here is Scott Sumner on a podcast with me and Jasper Sharp talking about six Japanese films. If Scott Alexander has a listen he will find that Scott Sumner is a mild mannered soul once he gets off the subject of house prices! Anyway I am not sure how wide an appeal the podcast will have as the list is maybe a little esoteric but I really, really enjoyed this one and both Scott and Jasper are extremely engaging so please give a try and see what you think!

If you don’t have time I think my two favourites were Hanagatami (very weird, far too long but ultimately very rewarding) and Autumn Equinox. This latter is just beautiful and a red teapot has a starring role in many of the scenes.


And while I am here I am guessing a few people here listen to John McWhorter and/or read him in the NYT? Anyway I’d like to mention this podcast I did with him along with the wonderful Tom Holland (the historian) in which they got to talk about their mutual passion which is dinosaurs. Not a peep out of either of them about the culture wars.


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Substack writers: What software or tool (if not the Substack editor itself) do you use to draft your texts?

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Hello. I write a small blog called Psyvacy, in which I attempt to explore various privacy-adjacent ideas through the lens of psychological theories and dynamics - and sometimes just theories I find interesting like System Justification Theory or Optimal Distinctiveness Theory. Always looking for feedback and ways to improve, be it my writing, topics, whatever!


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Writing to express my firm support for a stronger banhammer / higher standards. There are too many comments already to filter out the useful ones (yes, I realise this is yet another comment) and there has been a marked degradation in tone in particular.

Whilst we're being tyrannical/maintaining high standards, can we please also discourage people posting links without context or tl;drs? A link to a twenty page article without summarising what point you're referencing is not helpful.

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If you were able to interact with a time traveler and bring back a small amount of knowledge from the future, what would you prioritize?

It feels like the two best options to prioritize would be how to build an AGI capable of doing research, and how to build a fusion generator.

Figuring out how to achieve effectively limitless energy unlocks so much future potential, I find it frustrating that we're not dedicating more resources to this endeavor.

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I used to post math/physics puzzles here sometimes, on the previous iteration of this site.

Here are two I enjoyed recently. No advanced knowledge necessary, but they can be tricky to get right, think carefully.

MATH. Every day Wesley's dad drives from home to pick Wesley up after school. He leaves home and reaches the school at the exact moment school is over, which is the same time every day, and immediately drives back with Wesley on the same route, always with the same constant speed. Today, however, school ended an hour earlier, and Wesley started walking back home towards the car. As soon as they met, he got into the car and his dad turned around and drove home. They got home 10 minutes earlier than usual. How many times faster is the car than Wesley? (that is, what is the ratio of their speeds).

PHYSICS. A soccer player makes a penalty kick, sending the football perpendicular to the goal line. The ball starts at distance L from the line, and moves without rotation with initial velocity v>0. Consider the ball moving through the air horizontally, ignoring gravity and vertical movement. There's a wind blowing in the direction parallel to the goal line with velocity u>0. As a result the ball is displaced by distance h when it reaches the goal line (from the original point it was aimed at). What is the time it took for the ball to reach the goal line?

(hint for the physics problem: you can't ignore air resistance)

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Has anybody had any problems with Substack payments. Right now I am being charged for a subscription I don’t have access to. Asking the Substack owner and/or Substack - who don’t have a good support channel for this - has not worked.

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Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 5, 2023

Google DeepMind is hiring for research scientists and research engineers for their Google DeepMind AI Safety team, where their focus is on alignment, evaluations, reward design, interpretability, robustness and generalisation. Apply here: https://boards.greenhouse.io/deepmind/jobs/3049442. Also, please spread the message if you want to.

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Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 5, 2023

Greetings! As the owner of two curious cats and a sizeable terrace, I've faced a dilemma that I suspect is familiar to many of you. The terrace is connected to the building roof, presenting a risky escape route for my cats. Not only is this dangerous for them, given the potential for falls, but it can also lead them into neighboring apartments, causing inconvenience to my neighbors.

Despite the terrace's allure, this escape risk meant we couldn't fully enjoy its spacious charm without constant vigilance. Consequently, most of last summer was spent indoors, keeping the terrace off-limits to avoid any feline escape adventures. I explored numerous options for cat-proofing the terrace and even consulted several professionals. The most straightforward solution, a net cage, was not only expensive (around 2-3k euros for a 9x3.5 meter space) but also intrusive on our lovely view.

Our efforts to implement other solutions proved futile as our intelligent feline companions were always able to find a workaround. All I wanted was for us all to enjoy the terrace without risking any roof-escapes.

But then, a eureka moment happened last month. A practical, affordable solution materialized, costing around just 100 euros. The key? Angled poles made from PVC tubes, each measuring 65cm in length, attached to flagpoles holders that create a 45-degree angle from an imaginary horizontal plane. Across these poles, we installed a net.

It took around 6 hours, spread across several days, to complete the project. The result was a safe terrace; try as they might, the cats couldn't find an escape route.

The idea of an "angled" net is not new, but typically requires bespoke angled staff that can be both costly and hard to find. The real game-changer, a brilliant suggestion from my wife, was the use of flagpoles holders. They are economical (at 15 euros each), adjustable, and the PVC tubes can be easily attached and removed.

Having struggled with this issue for over a year, the flagpole solution was a breakthrough. I felt compelled to share this unique idea with the online community, as I hadn't come across anything similar in my extensive web research. I know this isn't the typical SSC topic, but it required a fair bit of problem-solving. If you have any suggestions on other platforms where this solution could be shared, please let me know. I just want to spread the idea.

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Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 5, 2023

> (although clearly by Roman/Byzantine times there were specific horses people thought were Nisean)

What's the source for this? I've not been able to find one other than Olmstead's work and that lacks Classical citations. It's in Herodotus who, as I said, explains what the horses are as if he expects you not to know. The Anabasis of Alexander references them but is explicitly referencing Herodotus. ("Herodotus says" is literally how it starts.) The author also says the horses were almost gone by Alexander's time and puts them next to mythical beings like the Amazons.

The other sources listed reference horses or Nesea but don't mention some kind of special super horse. One of the citations is Strabo XI 7 which is about Hyrcania and doesn't mention horses at all. The wikipedia page that Strabo claims to have saw them is, again, made up as far as I can tell. But it is in Olmstead's work.

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As a soon-to-be dad of two (kid #2 is overdue), I'm currently grappling with the tension between

1. not stressing out too much about parenting (being fine with being a good-enough parent) and

2. meeting the enormeous responsibility that comes with being a parent.

I've learned a few things about non-shared environments and the good-enough parent approach to calm myself down everytime the I-don't-know-the-first-thing-about-young-humans-panic bubbles up.

But still, I find it very hard to basically just go "It'll be alright, just listen to your gut" when the stakes are so high. In what other area of life that important do we allow ourselves a strategy like this, despite the fact that there is a lot of actual knowledge (and, granted, much more bullshit) out there to be obtained?

Anyway: Any sources or recommendations, any advice or Hitchslap would be much appreciated.

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I am looking for honest opinion on sunbathing.

In connection with coming El Nino apocalypse, I saw several articles advising me to not expose myself to Yellow Disc of Death unless I am completely decked in an armor consisting of sunscreen with giant UV factor. At the same, it is completely normal in my country to walk around in summer heat in rather light clothes and no sunscreen at all. And people don't seem to be getting skin cancer en masse because of that. Temperatures very rarely go above 35 degrees Celsius, but over 30 is normal. So, what gives?

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Hey all, I’ve started writing a novel and sharing it on Substack. It’s somewhat inspired by Unsong which is why I’m posting it here, but deals moreso around the paradox of evil in the context of generative AI and VR/AR, which may give everyone the ability to play God and create their own universes. First chapters out here, would love to know what you think!


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I felt tempted to click on the banned/warned comments. Called "bad" on purpose to make me click? ;) Or not purpose - just a negative side-effect? And Scott really wants to improve us by examples of how-not-to-do? - I assume/suggest no links to hopelessly bad comments. - ACX comment section gives me a little hope for humanity - I blunder it then by going hostile on quora.

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Anyone else here interested in paleo-genetics and what it can tell us about the movements of peoples?

Have recently discovered Razib Khan’s substack and it has been mind blowing. Anyone have any other good reading recommendations on the subject?

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I started this mini project for Berlin: salary trends survey. Anonymous and open-source. If aynone can help with spreading the news or wants to help, please do ✌️ https://github.com/realaisles/BerlinSalaryTrends

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deletedJun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023
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