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Got a call from CoinMarketCap stating that my account had been suspended because someone tried to withdraw my funds. Funny, I did not invest in this company. They could only explain that my funds were transferred to them and that someone else was trying to take the money out. So they contacted me to see if it was me. I was informed it was not me. Because they could not verify the person, the account was suspended. But to unsuspend my account I must pay $3870. At first, I was traumatized because I had already made a plan for that fund's investment. I got help when I explained my situation to a Saclux Comptech specialst whom I got their contact from a friend who got help from them. They asked a few questions about the investment portal and I opened up to them, within the space of 4 hours, they asked me to access the portal again. That was all.

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A mystery that I'm curious if anyone can solve:

I live in an apartment complex with two apparently symmetrical row buildings with a driveway running between them. One recent afternoon, I went out several times and noticed that earlier in the afternoon, the shadow from the right building was long. However, when I went out at 3:45pm, the shadows of the two buildings looked equal, and later the shadow from the left building got longer.

This seems to imply that solar noon was at 3:45pm, which doesn't seem possible to me. I live near SF, and Google suggests that solar noon should be around 1:15pm. Does anyone know what could be going on here?

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What is the best image hosting service (i.e. a place where you can easily upload images and link to them on forums)? Currently I'm using Postimages, which is pretty nice, except that I just discovered that it is displaying a 503 placeholder for most of my older images right now.

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Random question: is anyone here a large language model connoisseur? Due to the rapid proliferation of LLMs (there's even an entire LLM leaderboard these days!) it's kinda getting hard to decide which models I should use.

(Personally I'm a normie, so I've mostly used ChatGPT.)

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The California Senate has just introduced a bill, SB-1308, to ban any air cleaning devices that emit more than 5 parts per billion (ppb) of ozone. This will functionally ban far-UV, as in the given testing conditions, far-UV lamps emit just about 5 ppb. Far-UV has enormous potential for reducing airborne pathogen transmission. It needs more research and investment in user-friendly technology, but that research and investment won't happen if the largest state in the country bans this technology in its infancy.

Probably many of you are California voters who care about reducing disease transmission. If so, I invite you to call your state senator and urge them to vote against this bill. You don't have to convince them to become huge fans of far-UV. YOU don't have to be a huge fan of far-UV. It just matters that this technology is given a chance to realize its potential.

The text of the bill is here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240SB1308

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Following up on my previous open letter I have some mixed news. The child got her shoes but at the cost of my need to talk to the public about it.

My feelings about it aren't easy to hide. I wish it weren't necessary to make and share the attatched video but it IS necessary. If some good comes of it that would make me feel a lot better about it but my expectations for internet society are even lower than for meatspace society, and those expectations are already rather low.

Nonetheless, the SSC crowd, as riddled with faults as humans are expected to be, are still among the best of the bunch so once I decided to go public about my afternoon's actions I may as well bight the bullet and share it with y'all.

I should confess that I'm hoping for confirmation of my low estimation of humankind via disinterest among the crowd I hold to be less odious than most so I'm okay with any reaction I get. I'm hoping for a thousand new paying subscribers and a holy excitement to enliven mankind that hasn't existed since Godse murdered The Mahatma, but silence or critique would not surprise me and could serve as a helpful reminded that humanity actually isn't worth a damn so I most definitely won't complain if that's the outcome.

Feel free to play. Or not. The outside world is harsh enough. But if you want beggar children not to live in a constant of ringworm and pneumonia and, hell, if it might make you smile to see a little girl laugh, enjoy my open letter and video.

https://ydydy.substack.com/p/7-year-old-begger-children-should

Yedidya

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I know this community has some overlap with guerilla biotech R&D so here is an auction in Europe at which stuff can probably be had for below market price: https://www.troostwijkauctions.com/en/a/anagenesis-biotechnologies-A1-19923?utm_source=vero-auctionalert&utm_medium=email&utm_content=AuctionButton&utm_campaign=A1-19923_

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I am teaching a class in ethics and AI and a question arose: Will we know when AI theory of mind surpasses ordinary human theory of mind? If an LLM is trained to give good psychotherapeutic answers will it develop a theory of mind that supersedes ours even if it is not conscious? It writes better than most people without being able to read; so it seems likely it will be able to have a theory of mind superior to most people without itself being conscious.

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I'm going to return to Dune Part Two a bit (no longer rot13:ing; everyone's had plenty of time to see it now), since I've been thinking about one of the dumbest criticisms; the time compression (ie events that take several years in the books take only like half a year, maybe, in the movie.

The thing is that this actually makes as much if not more sense than in the book! The invasion of Arrakeen does not specifically *require* years of campaigning to complete; you just need enough raids to make Muad'dib a Fremen household name, Gurney dropping in to remind Paul of where the Atreides nukes are, and then Paul drinking the worm juice, assuming the various Messiah roles and things flowing on from there.

Paul doesn't need years of being embedded in the Fremen culture - he's the "The Voice from the Outer World", the religious Fremen were already calling him Lisan Al-Gaib when he arrived. He's not in power due to Fremen thinking that he's become completely Fremen now, he's specifically an outsider - a Messiah who has sent the Fremen into religious fervor by actually doing all the stuff that he was predicted to do and demonstrating actual precognition. A perfect position to first rush Arrakeen and then pivot to universal jihad.

Sure, arguably this might lead to some changes vis-a-vis Dune Messiah (aka Part 3) and so on, but we'll see if those changes work if (when) that movie comes out, won't we? I guess much of it is just people being leery of how Alia would be handled before the movie. I had been too but it ended up working just fine, there's a great chance that any murder toddler version could have just ended up looking silly. Or it's just people thinking that Villeneuve's task was simply putting Herbert's words on screen and not changing literally anything; that's a silly way to view the project and I suspect such people know it themselves, it's just an easy platform to stand on if one wants to do some bashing, particularly of a popular thing.

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"while the actual AIs serve ads to them in the background." - nah, the actual AIs are busy reading news articles and watching Youtube videos created by other AIs and incorporating them into their training set.

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Ramadan Kerim and Purim Sameach,

I don't really know how to talk about myself, so please do me the favor of clicking on my stack to have a look without my having to guess at the correct way to describe myself or my rabbinic in Cairo.

Some ACXers find what I'm doing to be interesting enough to support my mission even if I'm incapable of describing precisely what it is so while I can't vouch for myself I can share that particular fact for whatever it's worth.

Here's my new open letter.

https://ydydy.substack.com/p/beating-a-widow-in-egypt

Tisbah al kheir and Layla tov,

Yedidya

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Okay, I take your point on the idea that people will accuse each other of being AIs. I have had a similar thought myself.

But then what is the solution?

Tell me what to think great blog man in the cloud.

Is it WorldCoin? Start setting up yubikeys and public key identities for the local homeless, self-sovereign identity? Some kind of crypto scam? Can we hack together a reasonable list of the humans us AIs still need to exterminate using government records?

What magic does Cloudflare do to know that I'm not a bot and do any of those ReCaptcha "click here" providers just turn around and sell that shit as training data?

I think that the human vs bot thing is going to be a genuine difficulty with the intenet moving forward. Have you seen how many new startups are just "AI advertising". Pitchwall is a graveyard of projects that let you use AI to manipulate internet users for money. Including a product I would've for sure thought was illegal ReplyGuy.

Does the job of those spammy advertising assholes automatically and astroturfs on reddit reccomendation threads for you with the power of AI. Jesus, how do we grab onto the human-to-human internet while okay peer to peer recomendation services still kind of exist?

Also, how do we get rid of advertising in general? It has gone way out of hand since that first Egyptian played a flute outside of his store. Frankly, we should've nipped it there when he dared play the flute for profit instead of for beauty, but what is your best shot at a non-adverserial alternative to advertisement?

The AI activism group I'm in wantes to buy adspace from Google and tbh that feels so much like just feeding the beast. What's a gen-z boy to do in these trying times of the internet oh greater blogger of old?

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https://twitter.com/NimerSultany/status/1769706526883692960

I really like this thread on Israel's response to the genocide case. It's crazy in real time to have a nearly unending stream of evidence for various warcrimes, plus unending documentation of Israeli claims proving either false or flat out lies. Then the denialists just reaching new heights. But I also think I've never seen the sheer level of hatred towards Israel and Jews online like I am now, from literally every demographic I can think of minus centrists/boomers.

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The Israeli government has been holding Palestinian human rights lawyer Diala Ayesh hostage for 2 months.

She was kidnapped on 17 January 2024. Her crime: she was a lawyer defending the rights of other Palestinians hostages, known as "administrative detainees" by Israel.

Ayesh is one of at least 3,484 Palestinians taken hostage by the state of Israel. I use the word hostage because Diala Ayesh was not told why she was taken. She has not been charged w/anything. Her imprisonment is renewable, indefinitely. And she was taken, like many other Palestinians, to be used as a bargaining chip in hostage negotiations.

If you are calling for the release of the hostages, but only the Israeli hostages, not the Palestinian hostages, you are contributing to the dehumanization of the Palestinian people. #BringThemHome

source of the count of hostages taken by Israel: https://middleeastmonitor.com/20240316-israel-detains-20-more-palestinians-in-west-bank-bringing-total-arrests-since-7-oct-to-7605/

https://twitter.com/_ZachFoster/status/1769847755709546830

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I distrust funnel plots, and I think you should too.

Alice studies the research into X. She plots all the studies trying to measure it, finds a beautiful symmetrical bell curve, and concludes that there is no publication bias.

Bob is studying log(X). He looks at precisely the same studies, and finds a strong negative skew, suggesting that some high values have been excluded through publication bias.

Carol is studying research into e^X. She looks at the same studies again, finds negative skew, and concludes that some low values have been excluded.

If you have some reason to expect a particular distribution, seeing something else may be cause for suspicion. But I suspect that too many people don't remember that the central limit theorem only applies to distributions generated in a particular way - not just "lots of independent factors", but "lots of independent factors that combine additively, rather that through e.g. some other formal group law".

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https://thomaslhutcheson.substack.com/p/covid-policy-errors

My latest Substack, "Covid Policy Errors" seems to be drawing a little more interest than "Improvements in Macroeconomic Data x 3" https://thomaslhutcheson.substack.com/p/improvements-in-macroeconomic-data.

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A lot of people have been circulating a graph showing countries where men do more of the housework have higher fertility rates, uncritically accepting the conclusion that more "equality" in hosework will lead to more reproduction. This is very foolish.

https://www.emilkirkegaard.com/p/the-oecd-fallacy

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what if signaling effects cause hedonic regression to wildly overestimate quality improvements in the CPI basket of goods? Some people are willing to pay 50% more for a product that's only 1% better just to signal that they're the kind of person who can afford it.

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a lot of the rhymes in that poem were off to me did I read it wrong

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Mar 18·edited Mar 18

Fridman recently asked Sam Altman what he would talk to a super AGI about if he were among the first to talk to it. Altman qualified his answer a bunch but suggested maybe that he’d ask if there was a unified theory of physics (or something like that). I didn’t love his answer or the idea that he could be among the first folks to tap into such a resource.

Imagine a very promising AGI was developed and during its testing a researcher had asked the AGI how to cure cancer and it easily formulated a plan to do it that made sense and would work. Unfortunately it can only process one prompt at a time, so prioritization of prompts is crucial.

Given that proof of concept, and limitation, what should be our first questions? Ideally, who (or what kind of people) should determine which prompts go first?

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Is there something that could be called "selection for normalcy" or am I misunderstanding statistics?

I thought about it in context of dating. What is the best strategy to ensure dating(and mating) success? Should you become an absolute alpha chad? Maximise your fitness across all posible metrics? Become muscular, attractive, wealty, high status or whatever else people recommend?

But most people aren't like that, they are just average. The majority around the center of normal distribution is comepletely unremarkable. They haven't acomplished anything special and yet they are the ones that have propagated human species forward.

Is there some feedback mechanism where such people look for each other and find each other more easily because they occupy same places, have same interests, same goals and so on? If yes, then being exceptional in something would be a detriment for dating success.

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Lex Fridman just had another podcast with Sam Altman. In the middle they mentioned magical creative interaction with GPT-4. That interests me, and I wrote a blog post about it: GPT, the magical collaboration zone, Lex Fridman and Sam Altman, https://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2024/03/gpt-magical-collaboration-zone-lex.html

Anyone have similar experiences?

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Thoughts about Rachel Corrie.

[I]

--

Rachel Aliene Corrie [1] was an American Pro-Palestine activist who was killed in Rafah, a border city in Gaza (where the majority of Gaza's residents are now sequestered as refugees) on March 16th, 2003. Rachel was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, an activist group that tried to stop IDF and settler violence through non-violent protest. She was killed before Her 24th birthday.

Rachel's murder was deliberate. According to several eyewitnesses present at the scene [2]:

1>|-|> The bulldozer went towards her very slowly. She was fully in clear view, straight in front of them... Unfortunately she couldn't keep her grip there and she started to slip down. You could see she was in serious trouble; there was panic in her face as she was turning around... All the activists there were screaming, running towards the bulldozer, trying to get them to stop. But they just kept on going.

2>|-|> The driver cannot have failed to see her. As the blade pushed the pile, the earth rose up. Rachel slid down the pile. It looks as if her foot got caught. The driver didn't slow down; he just ran over her. Then he reversed the bulldozer back over her again.

A report produced less than a month later - to the surprise of no one - exonerated the Caterpillar bulldozer driver that crushed Her to death. Later information about the case revealed that Israeli investigators didn't even visit the scene of the crime, nor interviewed the driver.

After Her death, Her family began a long journey for justice, peace, and remembrance:

As for Justice, none was served. The Israeli government - in accordance with its known fundamental nature - refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing. In the jurisdiction of Her killers, justice for Rachel was withheld many times, the last in 2015 when the Israeli supreme court ruled in favor of its government and against a symbolic 1$ in reparations requested by Her parents, upholding an earlier court's decision. In Her own land, no independent investigation was ever launched on any level, instruments of death continued to flow entirely unimpeded into the hands of Her killers, and a lawsuit against the bulldozer company Caterpillar Inc. was dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction and - additionally - on merits.

As for peace, none came to be. Though many continue - against reason - to hope.

As for remembrance, not enough remember Rachel. Unlike some war criminals and tyrants, no leviathan - neither state nor corporation - honors Her, and no medal or prize is given in Her name.

Rachel is survived by Her older sister Sarah, 1 other sibling the sources we have of her don't mention, and Her 2 parents, Cindy Corrie and Craig Corrie. Her memory is honored by a symbolic gravestone in Tehran, by the ship - privately owned by the Turkish Free Gaza Movement - MV Rachel Corrie, by the Rachel Corrie Foundation For Peace and Justice [3], and by the loving hearts of humanists and Pro-Palestinians everywhere in time, among them he who writes this obituary for Her.

May She rest in honor, always.

--

""" We are all born and someday we'll all die. Most likely to some degree alone. Our aloneness in this world is, maybe not any more, a thing to mourn. Maybe it has to do with freedom. """

-- Rachel, from Let Me Stand Alone - The Journals of Rachel Corrie (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/mar/02/shopping.extract)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Corrie

[2] https://imeu.org/article/fact-sheet-the-killing-of-rachel-corrie-ten-years-later

[3] https://rachelcorriefoundation.org/

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> If you want a vision of the future, imagine a bunch of people all accusing each other ad infinitum of being AIs

Is this better or worse than accusing each other of being Nazis?

I remember the old joke about people being "replaced with a small shell script".

Also, this: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/compress

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Jonathan Haidt just published an article in The Atlantic (I know, I know, but it's Haidt, so it's ok), further continuing his alarm-ringing about the combination of smartphones + social media ruining young humans' development. This link appears to be un-paywalled:

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2024/03/teen-childhood-smartphone-use-mental-health-effects/677722/?gift=6kW-3kpyH7tV4NcHqyTUk4pQbLwhJ51mzwtSdzMDnc4&utm_source=copy-link&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it's hard to argue with his compelling narrative, quite well-supported by evidence. OTOH... I look around at the world being wrecked by the adults who had their free-play childhood, and... maybe... we should give this whole smartphone thing a try?

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> If you want a vision of the future, imagine a bunch of people all accusing each other ad infinitum of being AIs (“haven’t you heard of Dead Internet Theory?!”), while the actual AIs serve ads to them in the background.

They've been doing that on Reddit for ages, except with "paid shills." (P.S. the paid shills are real, but found in product related threads moreso than in replies to one's political opinions.)

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For many years, I used the basic Gmail view, which was actually usable.

Last week Google discontinued this view. (Previously, it also destroyed my googlepages page, turning it completely unreadable, so I'm used to Google doing this, but it's still painful.)

The new view hurts my eyes - you can't even change the font, and there's an "Unsubscribe" button after the title of every message from a mailing list! Also, I don't use Chrome, and on my web browsers it takes a couple of minutes to load and only loads about half of the time, the rest of the time complaining that something went wrong.

So I figure I should ask - by any chance, anyone got any hack for going back to the old basic view?

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If we were AIs, wouldn't we program to disguise it? There are so many boring, hackneyed tropes in Woke dogma (Divide, Exclude, Indoctrinate), building a 'bot would be easy. The hard part is discerning whether the programming is from an amateur zombie or a professional.

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I recently saw a few people agree that the "stopping a tyrannical government" argument for the 2nd amendment is completely ridiculous, due to the fact that the US military has tanks, missiles, jets, etc. But it's not obvious to me why this is ridiculous. There are countless examples throughout history where an attacker with vastly superior weapons is unable to defeat an enemy with simply guns and other cheap weapons. And this is mainly because the superior attacker exercises restraint because they don't want to destroy everyone and everything. Further, it seems like this would be an even larger factor if the superior attacker was attacking its own people (because it obviously wouldn't want to destroy its own country). What am I missing?

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What was the ambiguity in the scoring criteria? What were the two algorithms? Thanks.

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Mar 18·edited Mar 18

Random kind of a poll: what technical functions are small to medium-sized businesses most likely to outsource to freelancers? I.e. project-based work, that's presumably not core to the company's competitive advantage or main tech stack. Let's say companies under a thousand employees.

I originally thought e-commerce or other web hosting tech like Drupal, PHP, Shopify, WooCommerce, maybe Salesforce, etc. However someone else I know argued for database administration or ETL work. I was skeptical because isn't DBA/ETL work like some of the lowest level in terms of IT skills? Also are you really giving a non-employee access to a bunch of company data? Would be interested to hear what the ACT commentariat thinks

Edit: something with cybersecurity maybe? Almost every single company needs to have it at some level, but until you're a big company you're unlikely to have a specific cybersecurity engineer on your payroll as an FTE

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I was having a discussion/argument with a friend about whether it is politically better to criticise "your own side" when they advocate for what you believe are extreme views or to just let them advocate away.

For example, on immigration (in the UK), one extreme thinks it's OK to ship immigrants off to Rwanda while the other extreme can see nothing wrong with 100,000 immigrants crossing the channel in dinghies. Surely there's a middle ground! You rarely hear about it from politicians and you rarely hear them criticise their own extremes in public.

On race, one extreme sees nothing wrong with race riots that result in serious damage while the other extreme sees nothing wrong with police shootings (and kneelings).

On trans issues, one extreme wants to ban trans people from using their preferred toilets while extremists on the other side think there is nothing wrong with trans women competing in women's sports.

(Perhaps you disagree with my examples being extreme. If so, I am sure you can think of your own examples).

My impression is that people are very reluctant to take action against extremists on their own side, however extreme their views and that this results in the loss of a lot of moderate voters to the other side. Note that I am not talking about simply moderating their party's policies; they have to take action against the extremists.

My friend challenged me to name examples of party taking action against its own extremes. I managed to come up with Starmer expelling Corbyn (and others). Blair did something similar with Militant in the 90s. But I struggle to come up with examples from the Conservatives in the UK or with either party in the USA.

Can you help me find examples?

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Astrophysicist Paul Sutter critiques the way science is done today. Haven't read his new book, but I found most of what he says in this interview to be sensible (with a few exceptions). For instance, he argues that scientists shouldn't eschew being political, because science is mostly funded by public institutions. I don't disagree with scientists speaking their minds, per se, but I cringed at this...

"...but I believe scientists, when they speak about matters of important public concern, need to recognize that we are one voice at the table, where we have a unique perspective and a very powerful perspective on the world, and we absolutely need to bring that voice and that expertise to the table — but actually crafting policy, actually making decisions about climate change or pandemics, requires more than a scientific viewpoint, because we are communities of hundreds of millions or billions of people."

Yes, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, we had experts from the disciplines of epidemiology, virology, immunology, aerosol engineering, and medicine — and from all over the political spectrum — making bold recommendations on public policy and predictions about the disease that were flat out wrong. Policymakers could easily find experts who would agree with their prejudices and who endorse their policies. If the policies backfired, "well, that's what the experts told me at the time."

https://undark.org/2024/03/08/interview-paul-sutter-science-trust/?utm_source=Undark%3A+News+%26+Updates&utm_campaign=67a09d2b09-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5cee408d66-185e4e09de-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D

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It's been surprising to me just how quickly and how strongly this "all low quality content is AI generated" meme has taken off. (Not that I think Scott's poem was low quality) I've seen a ton of reddit posts where the top comment is an uncritical and unsubstantiated claim that the post is just AI spam - even in cases where the thing being criticized is several years old.

I'm not surprised that AI generated content would lead to a sort of paranoia over what's actually human written, but I'm surprised how quickly it seems to have set in - it feels like almost overnight a lot of the online discourse has forgotten that 90% of everything has always been junk, and low quality blog posts and listicles and stuff are not new or an AI innovation.

I'm hoping this is transient and Scott's view of the future isn't accurate, but I'm worried it is.

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(SPOILERS for Unsong ahead) I thought the scene were the Comet King tries to enter Hell was super interesting, namely, the impossibility of it. I was viscerally reminded of it by the volunteer work I do with the homeless: trying to get through to a drug addict is pretty much attempting to enter Hell, and feels just as impossible. The Comet King's final solution to the problem was pretty interesting too, but we have the example of Jesus to know you don't have to go full evil to enter Hell. I wonder if C.S. Lewis is right in his assertion that the higher a being is, the lower it can descend?

I'm literally wishing I could go WOLOLO and get these people to enter a detox, but thinking that is possible, is perhaps, a deep misunderstanding of how the human mind works...

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I'm not sure if I'm reading this correctly, but Mr. CEO-Monarch Curtis Yarvin seems to have had a bit of a mask off moment in his latest post, which is a rebuttal to someone disagreeing with his project (https://graymirror.substack.com/p/a-conversation-about-monarchy):

> The essential problem with the David Volodzko worldview, as with many recovering progressives—Volodzko seems to be some kind of neo-”IDW” type, always ready to believe that real liberalism has never been tried—no, baby, it’s real fascism that has never been tried—is that his reconsideration of his narrative is historically skin-deep.

"Real fascism has never been tried." I mean, reading about how he envisions a successful American monarchy to run (apparently, one of the first things it needs to do is shut down the New York Times and Harvard, and eventually, set up its own Ministry of Information) it does seem more than a little fascistic. He calls it an "executive regime", which you know, is a good description of how Nazi Germany was run.

I wonder if he ever bothered to explain how his political vision is different from fascism (if it is...). At any rate, I enjoyed the piece, and I like how he seems to be converging on the position that there will never be a final political system: even if his monarchy gets established, it will eventually decay, likely to be replaced with democracy, until that too decays into an oligarchy like the one we have now, and then the oligarchy gets replaced by a monarchy, either through a coup or through a foreign invader, and so on, forever.

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Mar 18·edited Mar 18

Re point 4: upon careful analysis of Ivan Fyodorovich’s posting history and a subsequent investigation, I have determined that he is a bot. The full story:

I had a sense there was a hitch/ With Ivan Fyodorovich/ A kidney donor, he did boast/ But otherwise a real milquetoast/ Generic liberaltarian/ Jewish, a career in STEM /Just the type to win our trust/ To Putin’s propaganda, thrust . . ./ When writing of Putin’s oppression/ He said to read Phil Short, not Gessen!/ Is he not, a Russian bot?/ His name is Ivan, I forgot!

I knew just how to pull his mask/ Questions in poem form I’d ask/ Sure enough my clever plan/ Exposed that he was not a man/ He prepared a Nazbol mailer/ Wrote an ode to Steven Sailer!/ Declared that there was no Kris Kringle/ Touted ISIS and Jesse Singal!/ I could tell he was AI/ And no, not Google Gemini.

I said that this cannot go on!/ Ivan your career is gone!/ I’d e-mail his Department Chair/ The Post, the Times, Ivan beware!/ But alas, my plaintive cry, /You cannot cancel an AI, /You cannot cancel an AI

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A lot of Ming dynasty alternate history focuses on the treasure ships of Zheng He. And all due respect to the guy, but "Zheng He's ships discover the Americas" or whatever other iterations exist are overplayed. Mostly, I assume, because of Gavin Menzies. Zheng He isn't the most interesting Ming dynasty historical naval figure. He isn't even the most interesting Ming dynasty historical naval figure surnamed Zheng.

https://lettersfromtrekronor.substack.com/p/some-thoughts-on-popular-history

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Without testing it out, how do you predict ChatGPT 3.5 would fare on this question?

> A bat and a ball together cost $1.10. The bat cost $1 more than the ball originally, but was discounted by 20%. How much did the ball cost?

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By the way, once one has grown blood vessels, how does one proceed to grow the rest of the transplant organ? Does one somehow grow (say) the kidney around the vessels? Does one put the vessels into the kidney? Do they grow together at the same time? Or what?

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Where are the defenders of (relatively) bad behaviour.

I’m thinking specifically of people who allow their kids to kick the seat in front of them on a plane, train or bus. In my experience that’s - charitably - about 80% of children. And yet when this comes up online or in RL everybody abhors those children and their parents, and claim their angelic offspring are banned from such behaviour.

So why not defend yourself if you allow this or some other minor infractions. Or are we all lying?

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Are there still any sitcoms running? Or, um, TV in general? I don't watch as much TV anymore but I realized I don't even know of any currently-running show that's not animated or reality TV (I guess Shogun, lately).

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I thought of a fun way to assemble together several different puzzles in elementary probability, under the guise of a single game:

Alice and Bob throw a fair coin 100 times, getting a sequence of 100 Hs and Ts, heads and tails (they throw together, not separately, and end up with just one sequence). As they throw, every time HH comes up in a row, Alice gets one point, and every time HT comes up, Bob gets one point. To be explicit, if they get a sequence of HHH, that's two points to Alice, in other words her winning Hs are allowed to intersect.

After 100 throws, whoever has more points wins.

Now the following four questions are roughly in the rising order of difficulty, and all of them except possibly the first one are highly counter-intuitive. If you're a programmer, feel free to write a simulation and (very likely) discover that one of your obvious answers is wrong.

1. The first point obtained in the game is more likely to go to Alice, or to Bob, or equally likely to either?

2. Who has the longest path to first point, on average? In other words, say Alice will see her first point after A throws on average (across many games), Bob will see his first point after B throws on average, what's the relationship between A and B?

3. Who gets more points, on average? Say Alice ends up with X points on average, B with Y, what's the relationship between X and Y? Bonus question: can you find the exact values of X and Y?

4. What's more likely, that Alice wins the game or that Bob does?

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Aren't sci-fi shows much more expensive to film, given the elaborate sets? I just started watching The Expanse, and I was thinking about the economics of TV shows in general. They have to construct multiple realistic-looking spaceship sets for every episode. Isn't that quite expensive? Like much more expensive than a police procedural or a sitcom or something? How do the economics of sci-fi shows work, do the networks just accept a lower rate of return knowing that they can never be as profitable?

On a related note, I heard that one reason reality TV shows took off in the 90s is that they're very cheap to film. You only need a few locations- even fewer sets than a normal show- and the cast are all usually not even recognized actors yet, so their rate is much lower than like the cast of a Law & Order or sitcom would be. (Hell they might not even be unionized)

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There's lots of focus about high US government debt these days. But I encountered an argument I've never seen/thought about before. The US is issuing 'debt' via US Treasury bonds and Agencies, which are supposedly a pillar of the global financial world as they're 'risk-free'. (I think risk-free is probably a bit of an overstatement, but let's be optimistic and call them low risk). Then, an enormous amount of global demand for safe assets leads the rest of the world to buy Treasuries. Even China has historically bought an enormous amount of them, presumably because it's the best/safest investment for their cash.

So if the US somehow ran a balanced budget (don't laugh, please)- would this mess up the world of global finance by drying up the supply of Treasuries? Now the rest of the world wouldn't have a 'risk-free' bond that they could all purchase. Yes they could purchase German & Japanese bonds, but Treasuries are the deepest & most liquid bonds in the world, to my understanding- there is simply no volume of alternatives to bonds issued by the US. So if the US had a balanced budget and stopped issuing Treasuries that would be..... bad for the rest of the financial world? Was it bad in the 90s when we briefly had no deficit?

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> errors in taste or composition that no human with skill or experience would ever accept

should be the new subtitle of this blog

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Mar 18·edited Mar 18

> Comment of the week - sort of, kind of, in a terrible warning type of way - is this Reddit thread on an AI-generated reading of my recent poem Verses On Five People Being Killed By A Falling Package Of Foreign Aid. The commenters first “discover” that the poem must be written by an AI (because it has bullet points!), and then that “it is clear as day” that “at least half” of ACX commenters are AIs.

I get that as a poet you have licence not to be pedantically literal, but I have neither the licence nor the ability, and this seems rather overstated.

Each of the things you attribute to 'the commenters' is just something one random guy said, and in the case of the guy who thought the poem was AI written, your paraphrase is a bit of a stretch. (He doesn't say the poem must be AI written because it has bullet points; he certainly thinks it's AI written, but it seems like he may have assumed that from the start, and his mention of 'bullet lists' isn't presented as knockdown evidence.) When Gwern explains that the poem was written by you, there's no reply disputing the correction. And -- while I'm sure your posting the link here has already affected the voting -- at the time of my clicking, the comments in question were on 0 and 2 points with only one of them marked controversial, so it seems unlikely they were originally very highly upvoted.

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I just reread Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, by Dan Simmons. When I read them as a kid... well, the Shrike scared me to crap, but they still were the Great SF Novels that affected how I'd see the rest of the genre from thereon. They're still great (though when you read them back-to-back FoH suffers from having the events of the first book constantly recounted by the characters of otherwise, as well as certain general incoherence in parts).

However, I've seen stories that Bradley Cooper wants to do a Hyperion movie (https://www.imdb.com/news/ni63455346/) and I'm wondering... why on (Old) Earth? If there's two books (and they form a coherent whole, after all) that would seem like they should be a *miniseries* instead of a movie, it would be these. Six eps to cover the six pilgrim stories in Hyperion, 4-6 to go through the events of The Fall of Hyperion.

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Sharing for visibility: I wrote about my favourite up-and-coming bloggers here https://danfrank.ca/my-favorite-up-and-coming-bloggers/

Note: I discovered all these bloggers through the extended Slate Star Codex universe, either by their participation in the annual book review contest or by participating in the /r/slatestarcodex subreddit. While I don't know how much these five writers truly identify with or enjoy Slate Star Codex, they at least use it as an outlet to find an audience, which atleasts suggests something about them. I'm not aware of many other amazing up-and-coming bloggers out there outside of the SSC universe, perhaps because I don't spend time in other environments. However, I suspect there's a reason all my favourite up and coming bloggers are Slate Star Codex readers and influenced by Scott.

Matt Lakeman

https://mattlakeman.org/

Matt Lakeman is known in online intellectual circles as the travel writer, but he is so much more than that. His most famous writing consists of extensive reflections on his travels to a number of unusual countries. While these are amazing and must-reads, they represent just one aspect of Matt's remarkable writing. His style involves writing extremely in-depth articles in very frank terms, teaching you more than you ever thought you'd want to know about a topic. Matt is a fantastic writer who excels at communicating a large volume of facts in a digestible and memorable way. His blunt tone can also be quite humorous.

Notes on Guinea

Thoughts on Meaning and Writing

Polygamy, Human Sacrifices, and Steel: Why the Aztecs Were Awesome

Dynomight

https://dynomight.net/

Dynomight articles typically incorporate deep statistical or analytical analysis on issues most people overlook, along with strong conceptual frameworks to write original articles on seemingly random issues that capture his or her interest. Despite the analytical tone of the writing, since most of Dynomight articles relates to things that came up in Dynomight’s real life, the writing is more personal than you would otherwise expect.

Air

Humidifiers

Reasons and Persons

Henrik Karlsson

https://www.henrikkarlsson.xyz/

Henrik writes extremely personal tales, often inspired by his own life experiences, that are imbued with a tremendous amount of soul. Henrik’s writing is soothing and provides emotional grounding. The writing is what I would imagine if you asked an incredibly thoughtful mature person to live in a cabin in the woods and reflect on life, which actually isn’t that far off Henrik’s life.

Looking for Alice

Third Chair

Search Query

Max Nussenbaum

https://www.candyforbreakfast.email/

Max is a unique breed: a thoroughly nerdy SSC-type person who is equally passionate about art and style. He writes interesting essays that are fun, whimsical, and deep. Max differs from others on this list in that I think he would have appeal to a broader audience than internet nerds alone.

Edison Didn't Worry About Being Efficient

Special

Your Book Review: The Outlier

Étienne Fortier-Dubois

https://etiennefd.substack.com/

Étienne writes with a lot of wonder about the world, in a very Canadian, mild-mannered voice. His writing themes and topics can vary wildly from article to article, with the constant theme being an extraordinarily high level of thoughtfulness.

Remaining Ambitious

Toronto as Utopia

Your Book Review: Cities and the Wealth

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Mini Book Review: LORD OF LIGHT

I just read Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, a 1967 science fiction fantasy novel set on a distant planet that has been colonized by remnants from Earth.

The premise of the novel is that the original colonists possess ultra-advanced technology, including immortality, and have adopted names and attributes of Hindu deities while ruling over their descendant population who are kept in a state of medieval ignorance.

While the novel is good enough to have won the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Novel, there is a bonus for readers in 2024…

The central plot follows the protagonist, Sam, who leads a movement known as Accelerationism, aiming to disrupt the existing power structure by releasing technological enlightenment to the masses.

Sam is shortened from his full name, Mahasamatman, dropping the Maha- (“the great”) and -atman (“soul”) to be known as just “Sam”.

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Any biologists here? I am in possession of two textbooks for freshman biology. Both of them divide the study of animals into two groups and two chapters, but the groups are different. The older one, published in 2002, has the vertebrates and the invertebrates. The newer one, from 2020, divides them into the protostomes and deuterostomes. Is this difference just a peculiarity of these two books, or did our understanding of the animal kingdom change during this time? I seem to remember there have been some adjustments in the tree of life because of recent genome sequencing work.

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Is it just me, or have the open threads taken a turn towards Advertise My Own Blog Day in the last month or so?

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I was reading about Robin Hood, and it came to my attention that his earliest attestation is this mention from Sloth's self-introduction in Piers Plowman:

𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑐𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑆𝑙𝑜𝑡ℎ 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑏𝑒𝑠𝑙𝑜𝑏𝑏𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑡𝑤𝑜 𝑠𝑙𝑖𝑚𝑦 𝑒𝑦𝑒𝑠

𝐼 𝑚𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑠𝑖𝑡, 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑒𝑙𝑙𝑜𝑤, 𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑙𝑠𝑒 𝐼 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑛𝑎𝑝

𝐼 𝑚𝑎𝑦 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑟 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑜𝑝 𝑛𝑜𝑟, 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑎 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑜𝑙, 𝑘𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑙

𝑊𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝐼 𝑏𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑎𝑏𝑒𝑑, 𝑢𝑛𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑚𝑦 𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑙-𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑎𝑑𝑒 𝑚𝑒

𝑁𝑜 𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑚𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑚𝑒 𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑒 𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝐼 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑟𝑖𝑝𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑒.

𝐼 𝑘𝑒𝑛 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑓𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑚𝑦 𝑃𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑜𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑡ℎ 𝑖𝑡

𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝐼 𝑘𝑒𝑛 𝑟ℎ𝑦𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑅𝑜𝑏𝑖𝑛 𝐻𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑅𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑜𝑙𝑓 𝐸𝑎𝑟𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝐶ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟

𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑛𝑒𝑖𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑂𝑢𝑟 𝐿𝑜𝑟𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑂𝑢𝑟 𝐿𝑎𝑑𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑚𝑎𝑑𝑒.

There is a more modernized rendition of what is clearly exactly the same idea:

https://assets.amuniversal.com/02c5f9f0df8e01317256005056a9545d

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Love of Mankind – all eight billion of them - is a difficult thing to talk about in the abstract; difficult to strike a balance between mawkishness on the one hand and cynicism on the other. ..... “What survives of us is love”- one of the poet Philip Larkin’s most famous lines - is famous because it has such resonance........Broadly speaking - as 20th century technological wizardry rolled out over the old verities of Christendom - the Universal Love moral imperative came to be re-imagined as Social Justice. This shares many characteristics with the old religion. A big part of the pull of the Social Justice religion is the salvation it promises. No you don’t get to go to Heaven but you do get to feel very virtuous......https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/love-of-the-people

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I’ve written a parable describing why I find myself aligned with White nationalists despite not being one myself.

https://futuristright.substack.com/p/parable-of-the-reluctant-familist

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https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2024/03/18/among-the-ai-doomsayers

The New Yorker is at it again with an expose of our dear quirky ratsphere. It's amusing how the tone changed compared to four years ago - now that we live a world where Senate leaders go "around the room, asking for each person’s p(doom)", condescending sneers are no longer quite appropriate it seems, so we get almost respectful perplexity instead. How quickly they grow up!

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Scott, in “Adumbrations Of Aducanumab”, you called for “unbundling” FDA approval, writing: “there are complicated laws around what insurance companies have to cover, and FDA approval is a big part of them… it seems like Medicare and Medicaid have to cover anything the FDA approves.”

But then Medicare basically decided that they *weren't* going to cover aducanumab, because the evidence wasn't good enough. As I understand it, they will cover it only in the very limited case of someone doing a further clinical trial, not for general use. https://www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/understanding-medicare-s-aduhelm-coverage-decision

Does this change our view of what FDA approval really means? Is it really as bundled as we thought? Is unbundling it as important as it seemed?

(Side note, that piece I cited above is by Rachel Sachs, who *also* wrote the piece *you* cited in your original post saying that “FDA Approval and Insurance Coverage Are Often Linked”. She wrote a paper in 2018 on “Delinking Reimbursement”, although I don't know how much attention it has gotten: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3117069)

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This week I discovered the bobbit worm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunice_aphroditois) - a 3-meter-long, 2-inches-wide ambush predator who lives buried in the ocean floor waiting for fish to float by. Not sure if that was the inspiration for Dune's sand worms (https://valentinsocial.substack.com/p/the-real-life-dune-worms-are-horrifying) but what a bizzare creature this is! They would sometimes even sneak into private aquariums, brought in on rocks and people would only realise that when their fish start disappearing. Also, some of their cousings, bristle worms, have a strange mating behaviour - they grow segments with gonads, which then detach and float to the surface to mingle with other such segments - like an orgy of floating penises. Nature!

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If lists are a creation of AI, then was Buzzfeed a secret AI project all along? Have they been here for years watching us from the shadows?

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I have a few hundred text files with drafts for ideas I've been exploring, but often times when I think about finishing them into a complete post to share I end up thinking it might not be worth the effort. Does anyone else struggle with this, and do you have any advice on picking which ideas to carry across the finish line, so to speak? Some posts are technical in nature, essentially crystalized or refined knowledge from certain professional experiences. While others are questions or ideas which I think are fairly obvious, but which nobody ever writes about or engages with.

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The blood vessel project would be a good one to fund - whoever can crack the problem of manufacturing blood vessels opens up a huge amount of potential applications (including direct clinical applications, lab-grown meat and organ printing).

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The proposal for a technology about growing human blood vessels seems crazy important. From what I understood from the proposal, they said that basically they already have the technology and now they want to create a POC by transplanting these vessels into rats, to pursue further fundraising and scale the technology.

If it's really the case that vascularization is an important blocker to creating artificial transplant organs, and if the proposal's chance of working is anywhere near the author's description, then it sounds like a way to somewhat unblock possible relief for a lot of human suffering.

I'm sure that I'm missing important difficulties, though, as I lack the context and competence. What's the most important stuff I missed about it?

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Mar 18·edited Mar 18

If you are to be born in Japan in 1921, and if you get to pick your sex, it seems like it would be preferable to be born as a female. Women were treated unfairly in many ways in Japanese society, but men of your generation would have a much greater risk of dying in WW2, so the tradeoff seems clear and being a women would likely make your life longer, happier and more fulfilling (but feel free to disagree).

Similar arguments can be made for other times and places where terrible wars killed a generation of men (e.g. other hard-hit WW2 combatants, Paraguay before the Paraguayan War, Sweden before the Great Nordic War).

Are there any time and place in history where the reverse is true, so that it's unarguably much better to be born a man? (Using "better" in a hedonistic way: as "maximize personal happiness" or "maximize personal well-being". And using "place" broadly: i.e. a country or region, not a single village.)

I thought some strongly patriarchal societies that were expanding military might be a good answer (e.g. golden age Rome, Mongols under Genghis) since the position and power of women were strongly limited, a mans risk of dying in war wasn't that big as long as you kept winning, and a successful warrior could earn plenty of loot. But it still seems like being dragged into pre-industrial combat with the trails and diseases it entails is a pretty strong negative, so I'm not convinced I would want to be male if I were born in Mongolia in 1162 CE.

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I've been reading Astral Codex Ten sporadically for a few years, and I just read Scott's Still Alive January 2021 post (*). That made me curious about Scott's goal for Lorien Psychiatry. Does anyone know - not sure if Scott wants to answer - how Lorien Psychiatry is doing as an experiment on understanding/fixing medical cost disease?

(*) I knew about the whole New York Times incident, but had never read Scott's post before.

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I for one actually take the accusation that comments to this blog are overwhelmingly AIs as something of a compliment. In my experience, the work that things like ChatGPT put out is usually well-researched and well-reasoned (occassional hallucination aside). And even with those considered, it still shows more reasoning capabilities than the mean internet commentator.

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I'd like to build some sort of a playhouse/play equipment in the backyard for my boys (eldest is 4). Ideally something that would still be getting use when they're 10-12. I'm trying to think of:

1. Features to include. That could be external things like slides, swings, monkey bars etc. Or internal things like reading nooks and white boards. But I'd especially like to think of special features - a room behind a hidden door, a trapdoor with a place to keep their special things, opposing mirrors for infinity effects, a retro electronic panel with dials and switches and lights.

2. How/if I should theme it. I could go specific - make it a rocket, castle, pirate ship etc. But they're sort of inundated with rockets, castles and pirate ships - is there something more interesting I could do? At the moment the eldest is really into superheroes, but I don't really know where superheroes hang out. Alternatively I could make it generic so that it suits different types of play (and may make it more suitable as they get older).

Do any suggestions come to mind? Was there an element of a playspace that you or your children particularly enjoyed as kids? Are there ways they might want to use this space that I haven't considered? Feel free to go wild with your suggestions, I'm just brainstorming for now.

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The solipsists were just ahead of their time.

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Mar 18·edited Mar 18

Today there is a way to prove you are not an AI, which is to write something offensive or sexually explicit.

What's the hardest part about cooking vegetables? Getting that darn wheelchair in the oven.

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I loved the verse. I am not an AI-bot. I would say that.

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