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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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I would assume the opposite; political parties will discipline their own members mainly when they think not doing so will threaten a majority. For one thing, there will always be internal politics as well as external; if the majority is firm, you still have to worry about who holds the majority of the majority.

Listed House reprimands: https://history.house.gov/Institution/Discipline/Expulsion-Censure-Reprimand/#reprimand

Listed Senate reprimands: https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/censure_cases/intro.htm

But those aren't quite analogous to the parties; I find it completely believable the House Majority will eagerly discipline a member of the Minority.

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Jun 10, 2023·edited Jun 10, 2023

Sorry, something I should have made clear but didn't: I was thinking about "discipline for personal misconduct", not "enforce party-line votes on" - the thought was inspired by the current flare-up here in the UK, where the government, with a large majority, has allowed disciplinary proceedings to proceed against former prime minister Boris Johnson, resulting in him and two of his supporters (so far) ragequitting.

As you say, I'd expect a party with a large majority to be more willing to allow its MPs to vote their conscience against party lines. But I'd also expect it to be (edit:) less keen to sweep accusations of things like taking kickbacks, sexually assaulting aides, drug use etc under the table.

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Same answer. I expect them to sweep kickbacks under the table unless it's so egregious that failing to punish it would threaten the majority (or if the other party's doing it). I don't know about UK politics but I know Boris Johnson is a highly controversial figure who's been under intense scrutiny for years.

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Yes, sorry, edited to remove brain-lapse that completely reversed my meaning: I would expect parties with larger majorities - and hence parties in systems with larger houses - to care less about voting the wrong way but more about immoral behaviour (I think - I'm clearly half asleep today, so only 75% I'm still not saying the opposite of what I mean).. But I have no idea if they actually do.

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But that's essentially positing that a party becomes more moral as it approaches dictatorship. The more powerful they become, the more they'll respect the law.

Instead, the more powerful they become, the more they'll start thinking they've surpassed the law. Rules are an obstacle, and they've overcome it. Maybe they'll enforce it once they've reworked it into their own image, but the old guard's laws they won't care about. Unless there's still a threat to not following it.

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Sort of. It's the same kind of principal whereby rich people are less likely to commit petty theft than poor people - not because they're more moral, but because they have less incentive.

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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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Oh and here's a sequel: https://nostalgebraist-autoresponder.tumblr.com/post/675458679562207232/do-you-like-bagels

(I'm expecting it's mostly nonsensical too.)

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Jun 10, 2023·edited Jun 10, 2023

I haven't studied Latin since high school, but I'm pretty sure it's nonsense - I don't recognize any of the words, there are some really improbable letter combinations like "TELCHSES" or "ARVAIABIO", and it wanders back into English at the end.

EDIT: ChatGPT will generate Lorem Ipsum if you ask, so I imagine this bot is capable of it too.

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I was kind of half expecting it to be nonsensical but thanks for the comment anyways.

What could potentially be more entertaining, and more what I was originally going after, is to """translate""" the text from broken pseudo-Latin to broken English (with heavy scare quotes to indicate that seriously translating is impossible).

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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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> Autism is a disorder that is defined by a cluster of externally-observable symptoms, not the underlying cause of those symptoms.

First, citation needed.

Second, "masking" is not a yes-or-no thing. I assume you didn't want to say that the same person is non-autistic on a good day, and autistic on a bad day; or that a non-autistic person suddenly becomes autistic when overwhelmed.

If people cope with difficult situations by avoiding them, does it mean the symptom is gone? To use your example, imagine that your legs only hurt when you are using them, so you learn to walk on your hands instead. Does it mean that the person walking on their hands is not allowed to complain about the leg pain syndrome, because technically their legs are not hurting at that moment? From my perspective, "I have a leg pain syndrome" is a perfectly logical response to "dude, why are you walking on your hands?"

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I don't know the context of your comment (if there is any). You are discussing semantics. It's fine to say that the word "autism" refers only to externally observable symptoms, but to the extent there are internal differences between someone who naturally acts non-autistic and someone who has to make a huge effort to do so, it would be interesting to learn about those differences and in particular to have a word for them. It also matters which cluster we refer to with the word "autism" if treatment, coping mechanisms, or whatever else end up only being useful for the group with external symptoms or also for the group with internal ones. And sure, severe autism is so different from maskeable autism that I still do not quite understand why someone thought it a good idea to give them the same name, but I'm sure there are at least some good reasons to draw the semantic lines that way.

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Shall he stay or shall he go ?

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He should go. There's going to be trouble either way, but staying will cause twice as much trouble as going.

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Hello Eric! Would be great to read and understand the arguments behind, especially for the latter option. For those new to the topic, any support capable to provide more clarity is warmly welcome and appreciated. Thank you and have a nice day.

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You are talking about “The Clash” vocalist here, right?

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Jun 9, 2023·edited Jun 9, 2023

https://www.alignmentforum.org/posts/EjsA2M8p8ERyFHLLY/takeaways-from-the-mechanistic-interpretability-challenges

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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there’s a paper using (multimodal) gpt4 to interpret neuron activations of gpt2.

There is more to interpretability than mechanistic interpretability though, see my comment on that

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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 don't know what vendors are reputable. There used to be a dealer in New Orleans who sold such things and seemed to know what he was selling but that was a long time ago and he may no longer be there.

Are you limited to the U.S.? London markets used to be a good source, but no longer. There is at least one flea market in Paris that has a lot of antiques — I don't swear they have swords but I would expect them to. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul probably has people selling swords. Nearer home you can probably find antique swords on eBay, but you would have to judge them for yourself. Someone else has mentioned Fagan Arms — I used to get their catalog and think I bought a few things out of it.

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You should keep tabs on those high-profile auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's. They've been known to auction off antique weapons from time to time.

If you're more into a direct approach, look for specialized dealers who know their stuff, like Fagan Arms or Peter Finer.

You can always reach out to museums or institutions that are all about arms and armor. They might have the inside scoop on where to find the best antique swords or upcoming auctions.

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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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Here's some useful ACX-adjacent links for melatonin, which may have links to the studies you're looking for:

https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/07/10/melatonin-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/

https://gwern.net/melatonin

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Hmm neither says anything about all-cause mortality.

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tyty

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Scott had a very comprehensive article on melatonin a few years ago. I don't recall there being any significant downsides. The big takeaway for me was that most people take way too much - per Scott, the optimum dosage is 0.3 mg.

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yeah of course I take .3mg, I'm not a barbarian! :P

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Well, this barbarian tried the commonly available doses initially (3 and 5 mg) before reading Scott's article. The larger doses gave me strange and vivid dreams and heart palpitations.

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Jun 11, 2023·edited Jun 11, 2023

Yeah for a brief period I took a higher amount (I think 3mg?) but quickly stopped because I had intense nightmares like 1/3 of the time.

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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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Probably can't offer much editing-wise, but your articles have a lot of political sniping, effectively a blogful of Young Man Yells At Cloud. The Cracks in Reality post have a whole section describing Nihilism as a series of political takes you don't like, which could be cut in its entirety (and then it gets worse with the literal "what am I even doing here?").

The book review opens with a political lamentation on the state of the US; everything before the 'fatalism' one-word summary could be cut in its entirety (alternately, throw in a "it is 1997" or something at the end, make it a joke; no reason to wait until part 3 to tell us that). Then there's the phrase "Their narratives, while falling victim to selection bias, are compelling," arguing two contradictory positions in the same sentence.

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founding

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)

Thanks!

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Not an aggregation, but you might look at Bredesen's book _The End of Alzheimer's_. He has a theory that might be right. I checked with a retired Berkeley professor I know who said that Bredesen was a reputable researcher.

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founding

very cool - thank you!

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It doesn't fully match what you're looking for, but the community at https://www.apoe4.info/ might be able to help you out.

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founding

Cool! Looks like a central point for lots of resources - thank you!

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Are we in a stable or unstable period in history?

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I'm saying stable, but at 50% odds.

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First you want to understand whether history is the result of random noise (like Brownian motion) or of evolution on some low-dimension attractor. If the second option is the case, then we need to learn the relevant dynamics in terms of equations of motion of some sort. Finally we will be able to answer your question. I don’t know whether we have enough data to even take the first step.

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Stable in what sense?

Technologically, I think the world is about to enter a period of instability due to AI. Even if we never get anything better than GPT4, as that becomes more widespread it will force a lot of change upon the world.

Geopolitically, I think we're still in the unipolar post-USSR phase, with the US as global hegemon. I think the way that's most likely to change is if China goes after Taiwan and the US fails to assert complete dominance. In an alternate reality, Russia might have upset it by a swift conquest of Ukraine, but now we know we're not living in that timeline. The number of other nations it would take to challenge the US if they banded together is shrinking, but I think it'll be a while before the US is weak enough that a realistic coalition could create an equivalent power.

Culturally, increased communication is homogenizing the world, small languages and cultures are dying out, and "Western" culture in general and American culture specifically continues to engage in narcissistic ouroborism, but all that's been going on since at least the 1950s. I don't see those courses changing suddenly, any time soon, short of an apocalypse.

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I think the prevailing wisdom is that the 2020s are an especially unstable period?

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There are still seven and a half years left in the 2020s. Kinda early to make this call. Plenty of time for large scale chaos.

Another Trump term with constitutional norms ignored? That probably would be pretty bad.

Biden dying in office? Kamala Harris is untested and currently viewed as ineffective. No way to game that out either.

An 86 year old president and China invades Taiwan. I don’t even want to think about it.

Asking a Magic Eight might provide as an accurate an answer as anything else.

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Jun 8, 2023·edited Jun 8, 2023

what other period is it comparable to? Are there more unstable periods throughout history?

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Jun 8, 2023·edited Jun 8, 2023

Read Peter Turchin. The Atlantic has two good articles to view before jumping into the books

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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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If your description is correct, the guy is a complete idiot.

After the first few paragraphs, I thought, jokingly, "LOL, he should say that age is a social construct". Then I read some more and... yep, he literally did that. (What's next? I suppose biology is a social construct, death is a social construct, reality is a social construct... in other words, "social construct" means "I don't want to talk about it, because it contradicts my opinions".)

Hey, let's apply the same "intellectual sophistication" to everything else. Declare that poverty is a social construct, and you no longer need to care about the poor. Call cancer a social construct, and you can save lots of money on healthcare. (How to make an intellectual argument for cancer being a social construct? That's easy. First, point out that it is actually a collection of a few different things, e.g. leukemia is not the same as lung cancer. Second, provide viewpoints alternative to the white cisheteropatriarchal colonialist perspective; for example, mention that some indigenous tribe believes that cancer is a gift from gods. You probably do not even have to provide evidence that this tribe exists. Third, explain how the concept of cancer is used to support inequality in our society, for example how male doctors get high salaries. Case closed; cancer was debunked, and now anyone who complains about it is a Nazi and needs to be cancelled.)

This makes my blood boil. No just that the guy is stupid, but that his stupidity is supported and celebrated by people who should know better. Yes, some people are hurt by age less than others; and yes, if you keep looking, you can find some 70-years olds who seem mostly ok (with the emphasis on "seem" and "mostly"). Sure, make a list of their names, and let's review the list 10 or 20 years later, to see whether it still supports the optimistic perspective.

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Geez, Dan, you are completely ignoring the positives that aging brings. A better understanding of oneself and the rest of the world for example. I’ve noticed a continuing trend upward in my default mood over the decades.

I’m 70 now and yeah I’ve experienced some decline in strength and stamina. I’ve had to swap my 75 pound Alumacraft canoe for a 40 pound Kevlar model to hump over mile long portages in the BWCA for example and yeah I can’t bench press the same weight as when I was a young pup like you.

But I have to tell you, buddy, I’ve never been happier than I am now.

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That's great..

Of course there are benefits to living longer like increased wisdom and "just getting better at life", as Tyler Cowen says. My post is about aging. Clearly you've been able to avoid the worst effects of aging, and I'm happy for you. But please recognize many are not so lucky. I'm also curious where you will be in 10, 20, or 30 years. At some point, aging will come for you, and very likely it will not be very enjoyable.

As far as people getting continually becoming happier as they get older, based on the other comments here I dug into that subject a bit more and it seems it isn't true! It appears most people get unhappier over time after age 65. See https://www.prb.org/resources/happily-ever-after-research-offers-clues-on-what-shapes-happiness-and-life-satisfaction-after-age-65/

This is obscured in a lot of "cross-sectional" studies because of selection effects - happier people are more likely to live longer.

Again I'm happy you are enjoying the start of old age but please recognize your experience may not translate to others. From what I have seen there are also many people who put on a "brave face" and say everything is fine but in reality they are suffering a lot. So while I'm willing to believe you in this case I don't necessarily take everyone's word that "they are fine" at face value. People often hide their health issues.

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Oh, I don’t expect to live another 30 or 20 years. Even 10 or 5 seems dicey. I like to keep my focus on today. It’s all we ever really have. My high school best friend didn’t quite make 30. Hodgkins took him at 29.

You’re a young man. Have some fun with however many years come your way! May you get happier with the passage of time.

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Thank you! Wise words!

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The saving grace is that this quack is probably going to get old. I hope he gets old and infirm enough to understand how his wishcasting was dangerously misbegotten.

I am getting old and have a serious health condition. I was unemployed for almost a year, and in the tech world this is the trifecta of doom (age, health, no one else wanted him..) Nonetheless I managed to get a decent gig (contracting, no benefits, no job security...)

Here's the denouement: when I was half my present age, I ran my own high-flying tech startup -- and I probably wouldn't have hired the me I am now. Partly due to ageism, but also due to the simple fact that older is not usually better.

Aging sucks, and anyone who says otherwise is either young or stupid.

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Yup.. both ageism and aging are problems. I'm only 35 and starting to notice some age-related declines. It's not something anyone talks about. People prefer to talk about the rare individual who is running marathons in their 70s or still intellectually engaged in their 80s. Reality is most people are either dead or a shadow of their former selves when they reach that age.

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*most* people in rich countries are still alive at 80, but the majority of them have serious health issues that prevent them from living like a 40 year old. But on the other hand, many still have fulfilling lives, they're just severely disabled compared to when they were younger.

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Yes, there is some data showing that "life satisfaction" increases with age. But there is other data showing it declines after age 65. The data on "happiness" is also mixed. (I was thinking about including the chart showing the post-65 decline in my post, but it seemed misleading to cherry pick one chart to fit my narrative and I didn't feel like trying to really sort out all the conflicting data & results at the time) https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/12/07/happiness-and-aging-in-the-us-why-it-is-different-from-other-places-and-why-it-matters/

As they discuss there is selection bias in the data also - happier people tend to live longer.

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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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxifraga_%C3%97_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.

https://www.facebook.com/nancy.lebovitz/posts/pfbid02G7TwMZxWa7UvkD33AVJgyYhaSzMtHJRupLwwp3CFFsk34iKqa3Szk4N1zVhpKDmXl?__tn__=%2CO*F

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

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I wasn't able to view the Facebook link, but could the mirrors be droplets of moisture?

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Thanks for asking, but no. They were implausibly small for water droplets, in very specific locations on the flowers (near but not on the stamens, and there wasn't water elsewhere. They looked flat.

I suppose the flowers could theoretically have a water-producing spot, but why would they do that?

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I would think that water would not be produced, but that dew or precipitation might be collected in a feature of the flower; perhaps one evolved to increase attraction or fulfillment for pollinators. But I'm no botanist!

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I'm seeing this in the middle of the afternoon. The dew is long gone.

Pitcher plants have water traps for catching insects, but I haven't heard of any plants which offer water to pollinators. Maybe it's so easy to get water that the pollinators aren't tempted.

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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.

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/pJrebDRBj9gfBE8qE/prizes-for-matrix-completion-problems

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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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> 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.

Maybe, but that's is irrelevant to the point you are making. The fact that in a counterfactual world people would be annoyed about different things doesn't make the annoyance in our world less valid.

> A disorder/syndrome is *defined* by its symptoms

Not necessary. There is also the consideration of causes and treatment/accomodation. In general there are multiple reasons to draw category borders in a particular way. Personally as an autistic male, I find the idea of autistic spectrum to be quite useful.

> 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.

People can come up with another sets of definitions to separate these groups. Which is exactly what happened. I do not think that anyone is seriously confused thinking that rich verbal autistic programmer requires the same amount of accomodation as poor non-verbal autistic unemployed.

> increasing trend of feminization and misandry in modern society

Oh, that's hillarious. Misandry in traditional society: men are drafted to die in constant wars. Misandry in modern society: not only male-specific symptoms are accounted for during dyagnistics of mental conditions. Though, I suppose, we can count it as an example of feminization: that even myisandry itself lost its masculinity and hardcoreness, becoming weak and effeminate.

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This is a very good reply.

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I'm a psychologist and I agree with you about the absurdity of the autistic spectrum idea. I have seen quite a few fully autistic people, and they are profoundly impaired -- often non-verbal, unable to care for themselves, sitting in a corner twitching a shiny object from side to side in a certain pattern and staring at it for hours. Could it possibly be that there are people who have an extremely mild case of the same thing, and what that looks like is: They can converse, hold a job, and look generally normal but a they are unsociable, rigid, obsessive and have a bunch of sensory sensitivities and quirks? Well, yeah, it could but I don't see any special reason to believe that's the case. And even if it is, the difference in degree is so great that it has become a difference in kind. It makes much more sense to think of "Aspies" as having a separate disorder.

To fully define an illness you need 3 things (I believe I'm remembering this right): A distinctive cluster of symptoms; distinctive abnormalities in the body at the site causing the symptoms; and a treatment that is effective in most cases. All we have for autism is the first -- a distinctive cluster of symptoms. And if you mix together profoundly impaired people with "old style" autism with functional but slightly odd and rigid Aspies you no longer even have a distinctive cluster of symptoms.

For what it's worth, I treat a lot of people whom most would diagnose with Asperger's Syndrome, and I do think those people have a distinctive cluster of symptoms, and also tend to respond to a certain treatment approach. "Aspie" seems pretty valid to me. "Autistic Spectrum" does not.

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Great comments. Furthermore, most people won’t come into contact with fully autistic people because, not only are they difficult to deal with outside the home, but they could run into a street and get hit by a car any time they are outside the home. Many also die early as I’ve read numerous incidents in places like Florida where they get outside without supervision and drown in a pond. One family adopted a little autistic girl and she wandered from the adoption party and drowned in a pond because the adoptive parents didn’t know that was something that is a possibility 100% of the time they are awake. A Georgia family sent their 22 year old autistic son on a cruise with a service and he jumped overboard and they didn’t even consider filing charges or asking for an investigation because they understood it could have happened at any time in his life. In fact a woman with a beautiful family drowned her teenage autistic son in a pond in Florida because she couldn’t imagine how the family was going to be able to handle him as he got older…she will be lucky to avoid the death penalty.

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I have no formal diagnosis and nothing but gut feeling to go on that there is definitely "on the spectrum" heritage in my paternal family, but in my early teens I had to break myself of the habit of doing that kind of repetitive patterned behaviour, because I could tell it was getting worse and I could also tell that if I indulged it, I'd end up sitting in a corner tapping my fingers in patterns for hours.

It was brute force repression on my part that worked, and that seems to be the opposite of today's view that "hey, getting excited and flapping your hands is cute and should be not alone permitted but encouraged!" by some Aspie/autism people online, instead of (in my day) "this is behaving like a lunatic, stop doing it". I do think that while harsh, the "don't do that" kind of socialisation actually helped more in the long run than "society should accept that at times you'll stand there flapping your hands" acceptance for being able to fake some semblance of normality and functionality.

"unsociable, rigid, obsessive and have a bunch of sensory sensitivities and quirks?"

That is me! 😀

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Good for you for beating back that early tapping OCD before it got out of hand. I don't hear many stories of people managing to do that. About you having Asperger's: You have a playfulness of mind that is very un-Aspie. I'm not sure what to make of that, but thought I'd pass that observation on.

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There's also some evidence from heritability: mothers with milder autistic symptoms tend to have daughters with milder autistic symptoms and sons with more severe symptoms.

This suggests:

A);it's heritable

B)the female version and the male version are both caused by the same heritable factor. So we're justified in declaring them to be the same thing

C) something about being female is partially protective

(Obvious follow on questions might be: do trans women with autism have less severe symptoms after starting female hormones? That would narrow down what the protective effect is caused by)

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"something about being female is partially protective"

Obvious thing here would be the protective effect of double-X chromosomes, but could it be that simple?

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/03/230316212541.htm

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.756262/full

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemophilia/course/Hemophilia_Patterns_v3.pdf

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That's one possible mechanism, yes. ( as far as I'm aware the mechanism hasnt been identified) ... broken gene on the x chromosome, and if you have two X chromosomes you have a chance to have one working copy of the gene. But, again, it might be something else.

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X-inactivation means that if a woman has a broken gene on an X, half the cells in her body will manifest that gene only and the other half will manifest the other chromosome's presumably-unbroken version. That could very easily explain weaker symptoms in women.

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> A disorder/syndrome is *defined* by its symptoms.

I want to push back on this. When a condition is initially discovered, the only thing that you have is a set of symptoms and no explanation. As you keep researching, you discover similarities with other syndromes, and sometimes you decide to group several syndromes into a single class.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are conditions where we know the cause. For them, there is no discussion about whether the symptoms are close enough. If the cause is the same, it is classified as the same confition. The example case is cancer. The single cause is a set of cells starting to multiply. Depending on which cells starting going wrong, the range of symptoms that you may observe is huge. But we agree to group all the cancers in a single group because the underlying biological process is the same.

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"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. "

I was that autistic boy- except I'm a girl. And I'm not 29, a Vassar graduate, or any of the rest of it. Yes, there are a lot of stupid people who are so terminally online they need to find something to latch onto as the latest trend because they are so bored, but that does not mean that problems in diagnosis are "feminization and misandry".

I think all the self-diagnosed "and I have CPTSD and ADHD and and and" do need a good kick up the backside, but also girls are socialised in a way boys are not, which does help mask symptoms. If boys were heavily socialised into what social cues are, repressing instinctive reactions in the name of 'being ladylike' etc. then they would present differently.

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I agree with the parts that the "autistic spectrum" is so widely defined (includes harmless weirdos, along with people who would fail to survive without constant care) that it is confusing to talk about; and that if girls were more frequently diagnosed with something, someone would immediately cry sexism.

That said, there are different ways how the autistic (asperger) weirdness interacts with sex/gender roles. The same symptom (same when tested in laboratory conditions) can become a huge problem if it is something society expects you to excel at, and almost invisible if it is something society doesn't want you to do anyway.

As an example, the usual dating dynamic is that men approach women. Now imagine two people having the same difficulty reading social cues. For an aspie man, dating is like walking through a minefield; whenever he approaches a woman, chances are he did something socially inappropriate he is not aware of. For an aspie woman, I think a frequent problem is that she fails to recognize when polite men are hitting on her, so she will miss the good opportunities, and probably end up with someone who was very explicit ("hey, wanna fuck?"). -- For an external observer, the aspie man is obviously problematic, and the aspie woman seems normal. But it makes sense to put them in the same category.

Similarly, at school, an aspie girl may fail to connect with other girls, and may be excluded and bullied by the alpha mean girls clique. An aspie boy will disrupt the classroom. -- For a teacher, the boy's behavior is more visible.

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Take allergies for example. My latest blood work suggests I have a bunch of low level allergies, plus I know of a few that actually bother me. Am I "allergic"? It looks a lot like a spectrum, with some stuff being barely noticeable, some being worth an occasional antihistamine and a couple that I actually bothered to try to actually treat. Plus the life-threatening ones, which I fortunately don't have.

It looks to me like a disorder can both be on a spectrum, and still have various cutoffs where they affect you differently or where more aggressive treatments are worth considering.

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> I can draw a "spectrum" between a firefly and the sun; it does not mean that the sun is a giant insect.

A "lightsource" - would be a better name for such spectrum than an "insect". But of course this is a great opportunity to play the "referential class tennis".

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> it does not mean that the sun is a giant insect

Right, the sun is **pushed** by a giant insect, specifically Khepri the dung beetle.

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"I can draw a "spectrum" between a firefly and the sun; it does not mean that the sun is a giant insect." Dang, I've been misled about the sun all these years. But . .. wait, how do you know a firefly isn't a tiny sun, huh?

Actually, great point and I completely agree with you about the spectrum idea making no sense.

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"lumping socially awkward needs together with people who literally can't feed themselves"

Part of that was a political decision (the field of psychology and psychiatry and neurology is tainted by politics? heaven forfend!) due to parents and representative organisations wanting to reduce the stigma associated with autism. Parents wanted their children who weren't on the "will eat their own fingers" end of the scale, but not as functional as the Aspergers, not to be labelled with the "hopeless finger-eater" classification and basically dumped in the corner and forgotten about.

So Asperger's Syndrome was folded in, the whole idea of a spectrum was created, and this helped with the push for "we need services for our kids if they are to be any way functional". I think the very, very severe cases should be separated out, but again - that may lead to "dumped in a corner and forgotten about" because governments need to save money where they can, and if they can skimp on supports because "they're hopeless finger-eaters", they will do.

Autism is a complicated condition, and I think the idea of a spectrum does help because it presents in so many different ways. Maybe we've left behind the notion of "autism means hopeless finger-eater" but now we've swapped it out for "maths wizard who can get a cushy software engineer job and turn their nerdiness into profit" which is also not true of the vast majority.

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deletedJun 7, 2023·edited Jun 7, 2023
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Calling drawing the category border this particular way to be "making shit up in order to scam people into treating the mentally ill better" is extremely unfair, unless you also call the previous way to draw the category border to be "making shit up in order to scam people into treating the mentally ill worse".

There all kind of meaningful ways to draw category borders with their own psychological consequences and all of them technically require to "make shit up" - use a new term or redefine an old one.

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I do think Aspergers should not have been folded in under the umbrella, and I think autism does present differently in girls and boys. Part of the problem is, "what exactly is autism?"

There's a range of symptoms which could be hived off and have a different label slapped on - social awkwardness could be agoraphobia or something else, etc.

There's also the difficulty in getting diagnoses - thankfully, a hell of a lot better now than when I was a kid, but adult autism diagnosis is like pulling teeth if you're any way functional (at least over here) and as I said, the various symptoms can be labelled as something else - 'oh, you're not autistic, you have X and counselling will sort that out!'

https://autism.ie/information/faq/autism/

I have no magic solutions. I understand the politicking but gods damn it, I wish things could be treated without the need to make special categories in order to force governments to provide the health services due to the people.

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When I was little, the term was associated with a deep isolation and strangeness - my disturbed introduction to it was some '70s ladies-magazine piece I ran across, about "blue roses" or some such nonsense; then I was told my next-door neighbor's visiting boy cousin, who rocked back and forth and flapped his hands and did not have speech, was autistic.

In adult life, as exemplar I invoke a boy I encountered, for years, whilst subbing in the special needs classroom of the local school. He spoke clearly, but generally in repeated rote speeches, unless he was upset with the other kids, and then he emoted normally enough. His passions were the songs of a pop singer of an earlier day; and a particular household appliance. A day of good conduct was rewarded, according to a system set up by school and parent, with e.g. being allowed to use or take apart said appliance when he got home. When we walked about the school, he liked to (or compulsively did) peer up at the lights in order to count them. He was no savant in anything but it was always odd to present various little worksheets to him amid the other severely mentally disabled kids. He could *if he chose* do the work without trouble, while they of course never got it at all.

I sometimes reflected that he was in strange company (there was no one else like him). But somehow it did not seem like he belonged elsewhere in the school. He seemingly came from ordinary people (I don't mean that in a negative way, only sometimes autism is I think associated with somewhat high-IQ parents?), and perhaps that was why there was no suggestion of brilliance at anything, but only competence. But it was no easier to get him to do his work than it was with the kids for whom the work would be forever out of reach.

So much effort was expended in those classrooms. I can think it was a near-total waste of time, for which kindness and pleasant surroundings would have been a perfectly good substitute, while also bristling at the idea that those diligent special-ed teachers didn't give their all - their lives really - to the project (when parents of some of the special needs kids regularly complained, in the media and at school board meetings, that it was "not enough" - whether money or miracles).

After an interval of some years, he recognized me and greeted me politely by name at the local business where he had a little work experience thing set up by the school district. He would each time recite the same speech to me about his job. It evidently didn't work out as a permanent thing. He was still staring at the overhead lights, I noticed, and I didn't observe him to do the simple work task without prompting.

It is hard for some of us to set aside these rather-distinct impressions of autism - different as even these two boys seem, and how much or none of that difference was due to how they were treated - in favor of the more diffuse idea promulgated by supposedly autistic people (known chiefly by their "feelings") who seem unusually glib on twitter. Some patience may be required, or forgetting.

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The online self-diagnosed are the irritating ones. They have an entire bingo card of afflictions they gabble off as to why nobody can disagree with them, or else it's all prejudice and bigotry and bias and neurotypical privilege.

People really on the autism spectrum, even at the most functional end, don't have the time or energy to complain that nobody is stroking their egos enough.

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I would assume it was in fact easier to change the diagnosis, that's a relatively simple task.

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Excellent question. It never ceases to boggle my mind.

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Click on the three dots next to Reply. An edit option will appear.

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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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Is AI risk qualitative or quantitative? According to your AI, it would have to be quantitative in order to make a toy model. I think, however, that it is qualitative.

I think the biggest risk we have from AI is simply assigning it too great of tasks. "Computers make very fast, very large errors." If we merely ask AIs for advice and decide on our own whether to implement the decisions then we will be better off for the quick suggestions. But when we automatically implement AI decisions we could set ourselves up for something catastrophic.

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I would think the last thing one would want from an AI is advice. The great power of ai to me is pulling signals out of noise. I wouldn’t ask a truffle pig for advice, to make a truly capricious analogy.

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To continue the analogy, you absolutely would ask a truffle pig for advice. You ask it where truffles are, and then verify they are indeed truffles. It seems to me that that is exactly how we want to use AIs, pulling signals out of noise. But then we check to be sure they are actually signals.

I understand AIs can examine x-rays and flag some for cancerous anomalies. This can help doctors. But don't let the AI write prescriptions, inform the patient, or perform surgery based on its findings.

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>You ask it where truffles are, and then verify they are indeed truffles

Well I would not call

that advice , but never mind.

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Sounds to me like more economists thinking they are experts on everything. Since I don't think economists even get the economy right, why should I believe them on AI risk, doom or no doom?

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Well, you may not. Since most all of the scenarios of AI takeover I see on Less Wrong or in Bostrom's _Superintelligence_ involve economic behavior as key to their speculations, I'm inclined not to take any of them too seriously if economists do not.

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> involve economic behavior as key to their speculations

Unless you're defining "economic behavior" so broadly as to make this claim basically meaningless, I don't think this is true. Some people do think takeover scenarios which involve something like full automation happening first are plausible, but this isn't a necessary or even particularly likely component of many other people's models.

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> 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?

There's been plenty of writing describing causal models of why we ought to expect x-risk from our current course of AI development. Tyler either hasn't bothered reading any of it, or wants something different, but since he hasn't explained what a convincing (to him) model would look like, I don't see why anyone ought to spend their time trying to create one. At a first guess he wants something with made up numbers where some threshold being crossed indicates x-risk, where people can poke at various multipliers or whatnot, but that's obviously much worse in terms of actually conveying a valid argument if you have a straightfoward causal model you can present directly instead.

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If I wanted to educate myself about x risk theories what would be worth reading?

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Depends on what your starting point is. The task of "write up decent introductory materials for a variety of audiences" has not yet been completed to my satisfaction, alas.

I think https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/eaDCgdkbsfGqpWazi/the-basic-reasons-i-expect-agi-ruin is pretty good at drawing out the relevant key points, but it does rely on some mildly technical background and shared context. Rob's other recent posts may also be relevant.

My (very rough) attempt was this: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/qoG4tR8TGEYjoDmw2/transcript-of-a-presentation-on-catastrophic-risks-from-ai , but includes various details that probably aren't relevant (i.e. social proof).

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I'm wondering why no economist--as far as anyone knows--has put AI x-risk into language economists use, particularly since most all of the AI takeover scenarios involve predictions about economic behavior. It seems like economists would be naturally interested in doing this, yet for some reason they are not. I'm inclined to think that they are unable to come up with scenarios which pass the smell test. Maybe that will change in the near future, though.

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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 don't agree that it's a problem that people want to live in big cities – the cost is already largely internalized. But if the government thinks this is a problem, I think they should just move the capital and its institutions into the middle of nowhere, thereby seeding a city there. Brazil has already shown that this works, with around 3M people now living in the capital conurbation.

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Smaller cities have plenty of government jobs. Local, State, or Federal Gov jobs plus Universities and Healthcare are often all in the top 10 employers in the cities of the size you are talking about. Getting the state or fed government to put an office or installation in a city is a big focus of state and congressional reps (it's a great thing to campaign on!).

#3 is basically just pushing things further and further into the suburbs. Even if it's "high speed rail" you are still just pushing people to the outskirts of a city.

Bigger cities are more productive. People moving to these cities is great! It leads to more wealth and prosperity for all by raising the development of the country. The issue is constraints on the supply of housing. Nothing will change that reality. We have to remove those constraints.

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5. Use a land value tax to discourage moving into bigger cities. Set it much higher in the biggest cities compared to every other part of the country, discouraging new people from moving there. Ideally also ban new residents from owning property in the biggest cities for the first ~5 years after moving to the country.

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As long as most of the economic gains are poured into the land where they happen the situation isn't going to change much. The solution is quite obvious: Land value tax + UBI. And the removal of zoning restrictions.

Public trasportation also wouldn't hurt but it wouldn't change the underlying dynamics.

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

The problem isn't growth, the problem is NIMBYism. Just look at Tokyo or Houston.

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Neither Tokyo nor Houston seems like something to aspire towards. Tokyo is horrendously crowded city where the average dwelling size is 66 square metres and nobody has any privacy; it's a fun place to visit but I'd hate to live there, and it's a horrible place to raise children which is why nobody has any.

Houston, on the other hand, is a never-ending sprawl about eighty miles across, it takes hours to get from one side of the other... and it's not even a fun place to visit.

Neither ultra-density nor ultra-sprawl is desirable. What _is_ desirable is to agglomerate people into smaller clusters that actually support comfortable life.

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So you don't like density, don't like sprawl... what do you like? You want a small city surrounded by lots of rural land? What's the advantage over living on the edge of someplace like Houston?

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

It sounds like your problem isn't with expensive housing then, you just don't like big cities in general for some reason.

Also, without even looking up any data, I would predict that people are having more children in Tokyo than in rural Japan, so I think your "which is why nobody has any" claim is wrong.

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Per Statistia, the total fertility rate of Tokyo Prefecture in 2020 was 1.12, while that for Japan as a whole was 1.37. I don't know where to find the TFR for rural Japan specifically, but I sincerely doubt that it's the other large cities that are bringing up the national average.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1329390/japan-total-fertility-rate-tokyo-prefecture/

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Houston would be great if it wasn't on the Buffalo Bayou.

All the food, music and art of a major city, without any sudden changes into no-go areas.

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How is 1 (assuming it works) different from effects of house price? Lower cost of housing already provides the same incentives, wouldn't it?

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It does, but apparently not enough, so tax rates might help tip the balance.

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Instead of trying to get people to move out of e.g. London to places like Manchester or Liverpool, it would be better to remove restrictions on development in the areas just outside of London. Economic activity will concentrate in one area, but it will be a large, sprawling area with different local governments.

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I used to be in charge of recruiting for gov't jobs in a small town. One problem I had is how many gov't jobs require a degree, even though the town had no university. The gov't office had been placed there in the 60s to create jobs for small towns, but the educational requirements had continued to creep up.

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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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out of these 10, 5 is water associated with glycogen. No glycogen => no water to hold it.

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How do you know that's the correct ratio?

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You can guess somewhat from plausible rates of fat loss, which are strictly limited by the caloric deficit you're in. That probably isn't much more than 800 calories or so if you're not feeling any hunger pangs. That would account for 1.6 pounds of fat loss per week. Everything else is water and glycogen. This comes off no matter what just from being in a deficit, but is especially pronounced with low carb diets for pretty obvious reasons (can't replenish glycogen if you're not eating carbs).

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Thanks, that makes sense.

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There isn't a correct ratio, it's just fixed value which is not associated with further fat loss.

In first week, most of weight lost would be glycogen + water, if one manages to lose 50 pounds then ratio is ~0.1.

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It can't be too fixed; it's gotta be dependent to some degree upon the initial mass/volume of the person starting the diet.

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Yes, of course. Fixed meant in respect to body response to diet.

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So how did you know it was five pounds, then?

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Yeah, the last time I tried intermittent fasting, my body only switched to ketogenesis after doing 64-hour fasts, but then switching to a keto diet for my few meals let me sustain it when eating more regularly. Not that I felt hungry, it's just that I found that I enjoy eating, so I kinda want to eat more often.

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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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I'm not sure which flag you're actually referring to, but the Daniel Quasar flag (which I think is the most popular of the revisions? No real way to be sure.), with the trans/BIPOC/stigma wedge on the left, is just meant to show solidarity of queer folks with other marginalised groups, which may or may not intersect. There is no sophisticated exegesis beyond that.

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My understanding of this is that that ISN"T the pride flag, it's the "progressive flag". The pride flag is still the normal rainbow (at least as far as i know), but the progressive flag is defined by whatever current policies are "progressive". So in 20 years the flag won't have the rainbow anymore and will have...idk the red cross symbol or something.

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Black and brown? Don't forget the Ukrainians!

https://gcn.ie/dublin-pride-ukrainian-solidarity-flag/

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I think it's stupid because it implies that race is a sexuality and that black and brown people can't be LGBT.

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

It's the continual ever-chopping finer the degrees of politicised victimhood. The Oppression Stack in operation.

Within feminism, for example, there have long been complaints about how the white, middle-class, second-wave feminism was not representative of black and brown women and their problems and struggles (I'd say it was also not representative of white working-class women either, given somebody threw a quote at me about the "comfortable concentration camp" of having to drive your kids to Cub scouts and use a vacuum cleaner - oh, the horror! meanwhile, my mother was trying to look after her bedridden mother and us kids in a house with no running water).

Hence we get mujerism and womanism:

https://bmrc.lib.uchicago.edu/portal/curated/womanism/

https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/Womanist-and-Mujerista-Psychologies-Intro-Sample.pdf

In the same way, BIPOC LGBT claim that the white experience is not inclusive of them; the Pete and Chasten Buttigieg couples as the face of gay marriage/gay rights activism ignores poverty, sex work, and (of course) intersectionalism:

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-intersection-of-lgbtq-and-poc-5204007

Hence the need for "Progress Pride" flags with ever more groupings: black and brown stripes, trans colour stripes, the intersex symbol/colours in some versions:

https://queerintheworld.com/lgbt-progress-pride-flag/

As progress is made, the various elements now all clamour for the high ground of "but *we* are still being oppressed!"

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I don't think it does imply that or is meant to imply that, and this is the first I'm hearing of someone interpreting it that way.

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Obviously, it's not *intended* to imply that, but that's certainly the way it comes across.

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The black and brown stripes aren't meant to represent "the average black person", they're meant to represent LGBTQ people of colour. (Whether the inclusion of extra stripes is a good or bad idea is a separate issue, but you and several others in this thread seem to be misunderstanding what they are there for.)

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I want a stripe for indignant, smart, sad-but-still-trying- hard wasp mutts of the low-power gender. Maybe purple, so sort of pink but melancholy? I'm straight but can't help it, ya know?

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"straight but can't help it"

Keep trying, I'm sure you'll get there one day. I know it's hard but none of us overcome our limitations without being persistent.

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You have a heart of stone, Quiop. I want some fucking sympathy for my problem feeling the hots for my own gender. I didn't ask to be born this way.

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Your pain finds its echoes in my stony heart, Eremolalos, and I resonate with sympathy for the hot feelings of all genders and orientations. But regardless of whether you were born this way or have become this way, I hope you may come to feel both joy and pride in these feelings, for they are one of the foundations of our shared humanity.

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We are all born the way we are born, and become the way we become.

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Some are born queer, some achieve queerness, and some have queerness thrust upon them? Really???

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deletedJun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023
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Asian people are represented by the small letters "made in China" on the flag.

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The black and brown stripes are explicitly not intended to denote a literal range of skin colours, but if you are an LGBTQ Asian who feels that the flag excludes you, or if you are trying to support people in that category who do feel that way, I would encourage you to work together with like-minded individuals to design a new flag that you feel is more inclusive and present your arguments for its widespread adoption.

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The word "literal" is in that sentence for a reason.

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The silliest thing about it is I guarantee you that the vast majority of "black and brown" people have no idea they are "represented" on the the Pride flag and probably most of them would prefer not to be.

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Yeah, but these kinds of signals are not for the vast majority of people. It's the very online activist contingent who need to invent new grifts to keep the sweet white liberal guilt cash and attention flowing.

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The culture war has divided the gay community too. I've lost several friends because I'm a non-woke liberal.

I used to use the pride flag on my facebook avatar to piss off homophobic relatives. I wouldn't use it today.

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

So today *you* are the homophobic relative for not being in line with the current set of demands?

The one thing in all this march onwards and upwards, twirling twirling as we go, as a crusty old social conservative, that makes me laugh is precisely this. The people who were smugly waving flags in the "homophobes" faces and going "we're here, we're queer, get used to it!" are now going "but I never thought the leopards would eat *my* face?"

Not making light of your situation, but the shoe is on the other foot now, and how do you like the jeers and smears being directed at *you* for objecting to, or simply not being 200% enthused by, certain of the elements of the movement?

Maybe your relatives were homophobes - or maybe, like yourself now, they were just on the wrong side of the Overton Window.

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I got on the train and got off at my destination. Now that train is heading into a wall. I have no regrets, basically.

I won't make common cause with the social conservatives until they agree to stop trying to ban abortion. That's a hard no for me.

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Abortion is a hard no for me, but the other way round. At least you're honest about it and sticking to your principles.

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To me it kinda looks like a giant wedge of identity politics being rammed up between the legs of a beautiful rainbow.

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Personally, I object to the addition of more elements to the pride flag (and to the LGBT acronym) because it ironically makes it less generally inclusive by focusing on specific inclusions. So, when it was just the "gay pride flag," you could understand this as "gay" sensu lato, i.e. representing sexual minorities in general, and this is how it was taken. But when you add elements specifically representing another sexual minority, you imply the previous symbol wasn't already covering everyone before, and then invite other sexual minorities to question why they're not specifically represented as well. Of course, this is dealt with by just adding more elements (first the transsexual colors, then the yellow field and circle, and likely more to come in the future), but there will never be enough elements to cover every conceivable sexual minority identity, so it becomes an effort in futility that ensures someone will always be left out, with that omission being all the more acute the more other groups are represented, rather than just having a symbol or acronym that's understood to represent everyone even if it does so pars pro toto. So by continuing down this wild goose chase of specific representation, general representation is further eroded, good vexilology and catchy acronyms are replaced with garish banners and nonsensical corporate keyboard spam, and everyone in the movement these things were meant to serve is worse off for it. Hopefully Scott's "hyperstitious slur cascade" can be ignored and at some point some critical mass within the LGBT movement can insist on a return to the original flag and acronym based on a better conception of "inclusivity" than the untenable one being used now.

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Never fear, Blue's Clues is here to teach you how to recognise each and every flag:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4vHegf3WPU

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founding
Jun 5, 2023·edited Jun 5, 2023

While I think your central point is probably right, it nevertheless seems important to note when analogies fail:

> "Irish pride" isn't.

Maybe I listen to too many IRA fight songs, but it seems to me like Irish Pride was in fact dangerous.

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Explain please.

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founding

Irish pride looked to be causally upstream of people getting hurt, hence "dangerous". (And moreover, part of "Irish pride" specifically was being proud of being dangerous.) This is not intended as commentary on whether or not it's net good, just that if you're going to pick an ethnic pride that seems benign, probably you should pick a less bellicose one.

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

I remember once hearing an Irish nationalist song about Admiral Nelson. I couldn't make out many of the words, but it seemed quite surprising that they would be celebrating an English hero, even though Ireland was part of the UK in 1805 when Nelson won his famous victory at Trafalgar. Perhaps they disliked his adversaries at the time, the French and/or Spanish, even more than the English, I pondered, although that seemed somewhat implausible.

It turned out the song celebrated blowing up a statue of Nelson in Dublin. DOH! I might have guessed.

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Yeah, I was gonna say…

And quite a few Irish were well in with Napoleon back in the day. It was a very divisive issue.

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When I went looking for flag songs, here's one (surprisingly, *not* by the Wolfe Tones):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp4Ski7MC5E

Flags are and were a source of controversy in the North:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_flags_issue

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When I was 15 years old, I went to Ireland for the first time in my life to spend the summer in a village called Strokestown(it’s more on the map now than it used to be due to the famine museum there).

The first Friday night I was there there was a dance; that kind of Irish country dance party, where they put up a big tent, and there’s a country and western cover band.

I was looking forward to it and Whitmore. I had a beautiful new shirt I had bought for myself in Canada just before I came over.. it was bright orange.

I went to the dance and during a break when people went outside to smoke, I went outside, and there was a young man standing by the doorway, wearing a green tweed suit (I swear to God, it’s true), and eyeing me in a very belligerent way. He’s sucked every dram of saliva that he could into his mouth and expectorated on my shirt, and then looked me in the eye as if to say, what are you gonna do about it ?

I didn’t have a clue about the orange thing I was 14.

To this day, I cannot look at that color without remembering him, spitting on me, and having very dark thoughts about Oliver Cromwell

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I'm sorry that was your first experience of Ireland, it was just a very unfortunate coincidence.

And he was a dickhead, anyway; you were a stranger, how were you to know about that?

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In retrospect, I should’ve known better. My mother was an Irish Catholic woman married to an Anglican Brit and my father he was orange, and my mother she was green.

It was the strangest mix-up that you had ever seen

I hadn’t really put it together enough when I was 14. It makes me laugh now.

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YeahI know. I had a great time there, and lots of funny stories that being one of them.

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Specifically, "Irish Pride" is not currently dangerous in America, the way "Slovakian Pride" is not currently dangerous in Ireland.

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I remember the moment when I looked up the lyrics to "Zombie" by The Cranberries.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ejga4kJUts

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And not just in Ireland, it caused violence in the Americas even several generations before the birth of the IRA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenian_raids

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Oh come on.. Im sorry but the Irish were not waging a war of aggression against the British, they were resisting colonization, and what they got up to in Canada in the 1860s was a proxy war with the newly minted USA and the UK being the main players don’t you think?

The only foreign country the Irish successfully took over is Australia and who was it put them up to that?

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German pride had uh...a few arguable downsides, too, I think the record will show.

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deletedJun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023
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You could easily march in a current Pride Parade under the Suffragettes' Flag, the colours would blend right in!

https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/gb_suffr.html

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IMO the current social movement (not sure what to call it) has simply been much more successful than the other movements you mention.

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One of my favourite things is that this very idea of flags representing nations has been a reason for certain people to oppose the very idea of flags. We are all one people, not seperate countries, love and peace, blah, blah blah.

And so you inevitably get merchandise simultaneously decrying flags in general while also proudly emblazoned with the Pride flag in particular: https://www.noflag.co/collections/no-flag-ground-zero-drop/products/no-flag-one-love

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

To be fair, that's a much longer rainbow than a flag would have. It's not flag shaped. It's the same *design* as the classic Pride flag, but it isn't actually the Pride flag.

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In a mostly-non-US sense, "nation" can mean "people", regardless of whether they have a physical state of their own. So by that logic, it makes sense to me? And in America, there's previously been room for stuff like the Gadsden flag ("Don't Tread On Me"). I suppose it could be viewed as a falling apart of the FDR-WWII-era imposed sense of national unity, but into different coalitions than the states that made up the Union.

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deletedJun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023
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I think of a lot of the signage as being like Havel's greengrocer's sign, where "Workers of the World, Unite" is translated to mean, "I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace."

By the way, if anyone reading this hasn't read "The Power of the Powerless" by Vaclav Havel, I strongly suggest you do, at least the first 11 sections (34 pages in the below version). It's a brilliant dissection of a totalizing ideology.

https://archive.org/details/the-power-of-the-powerless/

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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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Yes but his first name was Thomas, as in Doubting Thomas.

So "Thomas Malthus" means "person who is doubtful about grain storage".

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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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The equilibrium point would seem to be knowing everything you believe you need to know. That’s very subjective. Invention is driven by discontent.

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In the fields I have studied, learning more opens up new vistas, and you see new things to master or new questions to ask. I don't think I've ever reach the end of *anything,* and realized that no further development was possible for a practitioner of that subject or activity. And I would guess the world's smartest mathematician also sees, from his very advanced vantage point, a vista before him: Specific things like theorems he's never been able to prove, but also a lot of things he intuits, but cannot get a hold on -- the way this field and that field are isomorphic, but it's a very subtle isomorphism. But if you could show that it was, and get a handle on how it was, all kinds of things would become possible. Why then, you'd *finally* be able to see the Remick Paradox from a different angle. And if you could do *that* then you might finally be able to . . . etc. So I think that the reason you end up thinking that the idea of being smarter has a limit is that you are imagining that it's possible to specify with some precision what being smarter would be like -- what you would be able to do, what topics you would know everything about, whose performance you would be able to equal. But if I were wishing to be smarter, the way I would formulate it would be that I would like to be able to keep stepping forward rapidly into the new vistas I see ahead, and that I never reach one so subtle and weird and complicated that I can't master it, and in doing so gain access to the next vista.

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I would expect that upon gaining nearly any capability with sufficient breadth and depth, new potential capabilities would be discovered. This is most obvious to me with math - there seems to be a bottomless well of meaningfully unique problems that can lead to new problems. But you can apply the same thing to music - you become the perfect performer and composer, then you invent new genres, new instruments, new modalities, then you become the perfect performer and composer for all of those, repeat to infinity.

The practicality might cap out at some point, but I wouldn't expect the gain in capabilities to stop, assuming unlimited resources.

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

Right, superintelligence beyond what we've seen in humans, might not exist.

It might be equivalent to the smartest humans.

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But the smartest humans I have heard talking about their work all see things they would love to do, but can't master yet. They still hope they will be able to. They've had some ideas recently about new ways to come at it. And beyond the things that can *almost* do the glimpse other astonishing possibilities.

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Why do you presume that none of the many many forms of intelligence you grant yourself as part of the initial process will grant insight as to what to wish for next? Even granting your premise that the average person is limited to asking to have the capabilities of others it can see, by the time we reach the limit of that we no longer have an average human intelligence and that person will be able to think of far more.

Even the other comments already have good suggestions for going beyond, and as bright as this commentariat is they're not nearly at "peak human in literally every field simultaneously"

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