772 Comments

Is there a way to unsubscribe to Open Threads but not other posts?

Expand full comment

So a bit of news that people here might find interesting:

In the UK the government-funded NHS has pulled funding for puberty blockers for trans kids and the wait lists for funding for the testing and diagnosis required to get HRT has years-long wait-lists.

F1nn5ter, a popular livestreamer and basically online sex-worker, made a large donation to GenderGP, a private company that funds individuals to get these forms of treatment, which are still legal if privately funded.

The Times, a UK newspaper, did a hit piece on GenderGP, and also made a point to mention that F1nn had made a large donation and doxx their real full name and location, along with some lurid details about F1nn being a sex worker.

Obviously F1nn feels this is a threat to the safety of them and their family, and for a less based individual, this would have a chilling effect. But F1nn has committed to donating even more, and after discovering issues with GenderGP's labor practices and enshittification enabled by AI customer service, F1nn has decided to set up their own charity to find these services for UK trans people.

I think we should all celebrate this libertarian hero.

Expand full comment

How do you go about selecting books to read? For a long time I had a book list a mile long, but I've made a lot of progress on that list and now I'm having trouble queueing up new ones. It seems like the marketing for every new book sells it as generational when in actuality most of them are mediocre at best. I know that some of this is on me to do my research, but I'm frustrated and would love any tips you have for weeding out the chaff.

Expand full comment

Why are so many white men in new york punching women at the moment?

Expand full comment

I have just read one of the Murderbot books. They are set in a world where corporate employees are mostly slaves, although not labeled as such, corporations are unethical to the point of committing murder when they can get away with it. The protagonist is a sort of human/robot combination, treated by law and most people as machinery, property, not a person. It ends up effectively free in a planetary society that is an attractive socialist economy, a society where it is taken for granted that it is wicked to charge people for anything important to them and where food and housing appear to be given away, mechanism for paying for it unclear.

I like the books, don't like the politics. The same is true, although less true with regard to the politics, of the Scholomance books. Three questions:

1. What other books are there that are good stories with a libertarian socialist message or something similar?

2. Why is this sort of writing so common now, if it is? Is it just that everyone coming out of college has been indoctrinated with left wing views? Is it that something about that political world view provides a good setting for stories? Why that particular sort of left wing view?

3. Were such stories common in sf twenty or forty or sixty years ago?

I’m working on a substack post on the subject, am hoping to get more ideas here.

Expand full comment

📈🐥⚖️ Do any ACX readers own stock in any meat or egg companies? If so, you have a unique opportunity to help animals. https://legalimpactforchickens.org/investors. Current shareholders only. Please reach out.

Nonprofit Attorney Advertising by the ACX-launched charity Legal Impact for Chickens, 2108 N Street, # 5239, Sacramento CA ❤️

Expand full comment

OC ACXLW Sat March 30 Models of Consciousness and AI Windfall

Hello Folks!

We are excited to announce the 59th Orange County ACX/LW meetup, happening this Saturday and most Saturdays after that.

Host: Michael Michalchik

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

Location: 1970 Port Laurent Place

(949) 375-2045

Date: Saturday, March 30 2024

Time 2 pm

Conversation Starters:

Models of Consciousness: A model of consciousness is a theoretical description that relates brain properties of consciousness (e.g., fast, irregular electrical activity, widespread brain activation) to phenomenal properties of consciousness (e.g., qualia, a first-person-perspective, the unity of a conscious scene). How can we evaluate and compare the various proposed models of consciousness, such as Global Workspace Theory, Integrated Information Theory, and others? What are the key challenges in developing a comprehensive theory of consciousness? Which models of consciousness would you like to focus further explore in future discussions?

http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Models_of_consciousness

The Windfall Clause: Sharing the Benefits of Advanced AI: The Windfall Clause proposes that AI firms make an ex-ante commitment to share extreme benefits from advanced AI systems. What are the key challenges in implementing such a policy? How can we ensure the Windfall Clause remains enforceable as AI systems become more powerful? What are the potential risks and benefits of letting AI firms voluntarily commit to benefit sharing versus government-mandated redistribution?

https://www.effectivealtruism.org/articles/cullen-okeefe-the-windfall-clause-sharing-the-benefits-of-advanced-ai

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

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

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

Expand full comment
Mar 28·edited Mar 28

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to develop a ten-part series to be titled "The Last Secrets of WWII." This will be about WWII, of course, but not the famous battles that everyone has heard about, but rather about the obscure bits that don't get much coverage. What do you propose to cover in the series?

Personally, I'd like to see an episode about the Bevin Boys, British draftees who were assigned to work in coal mines. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bevin_Boys

An episode about the work of the Western Approaches Tactical Group, a bunch of Wrens who developed new anti-u-boat tactics by wargaming, would also be welcome. https://www.history.co.uk/articles/the-story-of-the-u-boat-wargamers

Expand full comment

Why do so many jews hate white people so much?

https://i.imgur.com/7f01tfY.jpeg

Expand full comment

Come see about me and my little slice of Internet bullshit, when we ask the question - why do some people feel compelled to do free PR for those in higher positions than themselves? I don't have the answer, but come read what I think about it anyways 💋

https://kyleimes.substack.com/p/doing-unpaid-damage-control-for-the

Expand full comment

During the Covid era and afterwards, there were two great debates revolving online around Covid: whether Covid was really dangerous (bit hard to quantify, but generally this would include things like a considerable chance of debilitating long covid, heightened chance of cancer after Covid, the "airborne HIV" statements and so on) or not that dangerous (ie. comparable to a bad or a regular case of influenza) maybe, and whether the Covid vaccines were dangerous (ie. would cause considerably heightened risk of stroke or vaccine death compared to other vaccines, expose one to cancer or so on) or not (ie. comparable to regular vaccines).

Now, while usually the "mainstream" view during the most heightened Covid fear era was implicitly or explicitly that Covid was dangerous and vaccines were not dangerous and actually were beneficial, and the stereotypical "dissident" view is that Covid was not dangerous but the vaccines were, these two axis of debate aren't actually necessarily connected. Thus, already during this time you'd have people saying that neither Covid or the vaccines were particularly dangerous, and this basically would be the current "mainstream" view, at least the people (apart from diehard zero-Covidists) have been going out and about for two years now in a way indicating they no longer consider Covid to be a danger.

However, does anyone remember anyone of any importance willing to go to the bat for the view that *both* Covid and the vaccines would actually be comparably very dangerous compared to, say, influenza and the flu vaccine? I remember some zero covid types basically saying that the vaccine wasn't as good as claimed and thus lockdowns and masking should continue indefinitely, but I don't remember any going the whole hog to actually say that while they fear Covid, they thought the vaccines were very dangerous by themselves, too. Logically, you'd expect at least someone to take this stance, as well.

Expand full comment

In medical journals I see things like: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites.

I want to apply the same statistical thinking.

62% of Lao students are below the standard, and 38% of non Lao students are below the standard.

Our Lao kids are XXX% more likely than non-Lao kids to be below the standard.

Is this a simple percentage increase calculation? As in 62-38=24, 24/38= .63 x100= Lao kids are 63% more likely to be below grade level at our school.

Or would the denominator be the average of the two percents? 24/45 x 100= 53%

Any advice is much appreciated

Expand full comment

So I gave up drinking beer for Lent again this year. I'm not Catholic, but I drink too much beer and I figure it's good to give it up for a month or so every year. And by giving it up for Lent I get to celebrate those two party time catholic holidays, Fat Tuesday and Dingus Day. (Here in Buffalo we have a large polish community so lots of Dingus day stuff.) Now this year I asked a young women I work with, "So does Lent include Easter Sunday?" And she told me that Lent doesn't include any Sundays! WTF, so I can get plastered every Sunday? This seems like much less of a sacrifice. Besides which I'm giving up the beer for me, my health.

Expand full comment

Consider signing up to Vibeclipse if you haven't already, it's a cool rationalist/EA event and you get to see the eclipse in Texas! https://vibe.camp/vibeclipse_home/

Expand full comment

Are there really zero good free online IQ-tests?

(I would be fine with not-free, but I'm in Russia, so each payment is problematic.)

Expand full comment
Mar 26·edited Mar 26

I had an idea for how to do more accurate polling for an election. Not sure if this is a new idea, I've seen something similar before. Let me know if it is an old idea.

In the US when they call people and ask who they will vote for in the next election, supposedly old people are more likely to answer. And old people are more likely to vote Trump. So the polls will wrongly trend towards Trump.

So instead they ask people for who they will vote for AND who they voted for in the last election. And then they look at the numbers for the last election and the percentage of people who changed their mind. So say Biden got a hundred votes last election. And 10 percent of people who voted for Biden last election say they will not be voting for him now, then Biden will get 90 votes this election. (The actual math is more complicated, but I hope you get the gist.)

Think this would work well in the US, since there is only two realistic candidates. Makes the math easier, anyway.

One flaw is that the system does not take into account voters who have died since the last election. But if one has statistics for the ages of who voted Democrats and ho voted Republican in the last election, I think one could do some statistical analysis and account for this. (At least for people who died of old age. Would be harder to do the math for people who died of the Corona Virus, if Republicans were more likely to die of of the Corona Virus.)

Another potential flaw is if old people are switching their votes at a different ratio than younger people. Then you are back to the original problem of old people being more likely to respond. I was hoping the ratio of vote switchers is about the same for all ages, even if the ratio of Biden voters are different.

Expand full comment

Anyone else notice this annoying bug where when you click away from astral codex ten to another tab, then you come back to this tab, the screen freezes for 20 seconds before you can scroll again?

Expand full comment

My score on the table in the original post (based on my ID key) and my score on the table in this post (with my hashed email address) are different. Was there a change in scoring? Or maybe I actually used a different email address and ran into a hash collision? Any ideas?

Expand full comment

Remember, conservatives, "censorship" on social media is just free market private property, donchaknow?

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2023/09/08/biden-administration-coerced-facebook-court-rules/70800723007/

Expand full comment

Unpopular take*: Dune pt. 2 was very disappointing.

I've read the reviews about all the things the movie did right. I don't dispute most of that. It looked fantastic. The characters were well played. It avoided the tired preachy tropes that plague so many modern movies. Fine. Great. But even so I left the theater feeling ... let down. Like the film had made some very grand promises and then failed to deliver on them. In many ways, this is like what Star Wars did in the sequel trilogy: lots of setup that failed to pay off.

I remember going to see Dune pt 1, and thinking that it did almost everything right except that the end was obviously incomplete. Whatever. I knew from the beginning I was going to see part 1 of a 2 parter. So long as part 2 stuck the landing, the two movies felt like they'd be well worth it. Dune part 2 did NOT have anything like a satisfying ending.

"But you don't understand! It's about the complicated decision Paul had to make. As a good man, he was forced by political necessities ..."

No. That's not the problem. The problems were much more fundamental than that. The final battle was ... absurdly easy. These were the big bad guys across two films? Really? The final standoff was between successive opponents (the emperor, Bene J high command, Feyd R) who hadn't met Paul until they faced off against him and were defeated. The galactic jihad outcome that so horrified Paul was ... abstractly hinted at? Maybe?

I suspect a lot of this isn't the fault of the filmmakers so much as the deficiencies in the source material. The world building is great so far as it goes, but it's poorly established in connection to the plot. Let me explain with a broken catechism.

Why is spice so important? "It enables shipping between planets! Space travel grinds to a halt without it, disrupting the galactic economy and the center of power of literally every major player." Okay, I imagine space travel will be a prominent part of the story then? "Nope." Will disruption of spice production at least have a dramatic effect on the people of Dune? The characters we meet? "There will be huge political pressures to-" Yes, yes. But the shipping? Will we SEE the effects of disruption of spice production in a tangible way? "No." So everything is abstract?

It doesn't have to be this way. A single scene showing the big bad Baron having to go without his favorite bonbons would be a minimal sop to the idea that the actions of Paul are doing something with wide-reaching effects. A single scene showing food scarcity arising from the baron's iron fisted policies would show he has power to hurt Paul's cause. The abstract nature of ALL the core conflicts in the story make it difficult to enjoy. The things that matter most to the plot - the pressures exerted on the emperor to maintain power among the great houses, the power of the shipping guild, etc. - all happen away from the scenes and characters who matter. The things that feature most prominently - the harsh desert environment, the sand worms, the relationship with Chani - don't end up meaning much to the plot. They feel like window dressing that could be interchangeable with other details in a different story.

Perhaps some day they'll make an adaptation of Dune with the kind of influence Lord of the Rings had. That would require a wholesale rewrite of the plot, I suspect.

*Based on the hype I'm hearing and the Rotten Tomatoes scores.

Expand full comment
Mar 26·edited Mar 26

Is there anyone on this substack who can discuss the business models of the leading AI companies? How do they expect to recoup the massive investment required to bring the next generation of AI to fruition?

I've heard a lot of talk about AIaaS. But given the propensity of current LLMs to bullshit (err, hallucinate) if I were a CIO, why would I want to outsource my corporate systems to an LLM?

Accounting? How would I be sure the numbers it was giving me were correct?

Logistics? Hell, no!

Manufacturing? What could possibly go wrong?

Marketing? After seeing some of the marketing materials ChatGPT produced, I think it would require lots of human supervision — which would make it less cost effective.

Legal? Could we trust the citations and its understanding of the law?

How about coding? I hear LLM can produce software code. Is it useable? Or is it usuable after a lot of tweaking? Is it bug free?

Expand full comment

Just curious, what hash function do you use to get collisions? Aren't these supposed to be, like, infinitesimally rare?

Expand full comment

For those who might be interested, I put together some thoughts on my participation in the 2023 ACX tournament as the forecasting member of Samotsvety: https://abstraction.substack.com/p/2023-acx-forecast-contest-thoughts

Expand full comment

Just read this profile of Huberman in the New Yorker (https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/andrew-huberman-podcast-stanford-joe-rogan.html). Many (twitter bros) are calling it a hit piece but it seems pretty well researched and surface level in its criticisms.

Anyway, I wish they hadn't intertwined the relationship bits with Huberman's greater sins: 1) making huge leaps when extrapolating form limited animal studies and 2) being financially entwined with his biggest sponsor, the bogus health supplement AG1. The gossipy relationship pieces distract from these more meaningful issues (cheating on his girlfriend doesn't hurt many people, but promoting quack health science does). All the "responses" on twitter use the relationship stuff as a cover to dismiss the whole article and anyone backing up the criticisms of Huberman are labeled betas who are just jealous of Huberman's five girlfriends.

Expand full comment

Any chance you could do another classifieds thread sometime soon?

Expand full comment

Today in nominative determinism: what's the chances an investment project run by someone called "Rob Robb" is a scam? Well - high, it turns out: https://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Guilty-plea-in-Las-Vegas-online-scam-2796608.php

Expand full comment

Question for people with medical or physiological knowledge: There's an idea floating around that the sympathetic nervous system is in charge of the flight or flight response, and the parasympathetic one with the "rest and digest" response. In line with this formulation, people who are anxious and stressed out are sometimes taught things that are said to stimulate the vagus nerve, such as slow breathing.

So I'd like to know (1) whether it really is possible for a person to stimulate their vague nerve by simple means such as slow breathing. (2) whether doing that would in fact help them calm down and (3) if slow breathing does work, are there other simple things that would augment the effect of slow breathing?

Expand full comment

Has anyone floated the idea of a documentary on AI x-risk, aimed at a general audience? It seems like the general public is already worried about AI, and I believe the headline takeaways from the recent Gladstone report are of the public interest. I'm imagining a one-two punch of a straightforward explanation of the alignment problem and related stuff, followed by testimony from alarmed AI researchers. (Ideally people actually working at labs.) I dunno, is it naive to think that something like that could make a difference?

Expand full comment

Is there some sort of rule of thumb for separating mere unhappiness from actual depression? I was recently asked whether I used to be depressed, and I couldn't really answer, because I wasn't sure how dysfunctional you have to be to actually be depressed.

Expand full comment

I am a structural engineering senior looking at potential schools for a master's degree. My four serious options are (in alphabetical order):

1. Berkeley

2. Stanford

3. UCSD

4. University of Washington

Does anyone have an thoughts about the structural engineering programs at these schools OR strong opinions about these schools in general?

Obviously I'm also seeking out advice from people who know me well, but I think there's some value in pulling information from people who *don't* know me and aren't trying to put a personalized spin on their thoughts.

Expand full comment

Given that the subjects of ethics and intelligence come up a lot here: Does an agent’s ethical capacity depend in large part on its intellectual capacity?

Expand full comment

Unless I am doing math wrong, it turns out I'm in the top....98%! (98.21 to be specific).

I have never done any forecasting before. Beginner's luck I guess!

Expand full comment

Pleasantly surprised that I did fairly well on the forecasting (about 88th percentile, same neighborhood as Scott). Not too bad!

Expand full comment

Reposting from the previous open thread:

Is anyone here an LLM connoisseur? Personally, I'm a normie in this respect (I've mostly just used ChatGPT), but I've heard about the proliferation of LLMs over the past few years and have been wondering about which of these are particularly excellent or crappy.

Expand full comment

I work in a Tech job where I regularly get woken up in the middle of the night. My attempt to quantify how shared this experience really is has resulted in my putting together this survey. My hope is to use this data to write up my findings in a blog post. Would appreciate all the participation I can get, no matter what your own current work situation may be: https://forms.gle/xCPcwnwsQE2K5bcX9

Expand full comment
Mar 25·edited Mar 25

I've been seeing a lot of generative AI pieces come across my Facebook art and architecture groups. Some of the people who post this crap aren't very good at distinguishing generative AI from reality, but others don't seem to see a problem with contaminating discussion groups on art history and architecture with generative AI creations (because "they're pretty!"). Luckily generative AI still isn't very good at imitating abstract expressionists' styles, and it's still laughably bad when it comes to figurative art. Its architectural creations usually have some weird frills in them that signal they're not real. Still, it's all very annoying for someone like me who always tries to sift fact from falsehood. Generative AI seems to be contaminating our history.

Art, creativity, and AI: A thoughtful negative piece on AI by an artist. Worth watching to end to see what he creates as he goes along with his

https://youtu.be/tjSxFAGP9Ss

But I didn't realize that people were using AI to generate crappy kids videos for Youtube and to flog phony "workbooks" of authors' works on Amazon. This by Eric Hoel...

https://www.theintrinsicperspective.com/p/here-lies-the-internet-murdered-by

Expand full comment

I have a new post on Substack, "Legal Remedies for Climate Change Damage 1" [https://thomaslhutcheson.substack.com/p/legal-remedies-for-climate-change]

And many "oldies but goodies" are posted there, too. :)

Expand full comment

omg I got mentioned!

I'm the guy behind the acx reader (https://acxreader.github.io/). I'm currently trying to implement a dark mode and support for comments. If you have any suggestions, please leave them here or on the reddit post or as a github issue. Thanks!

Expand full comment

The scoring function is I think the Peer Score from this FAQ: https://www.metaculus.com/help/scores-faq/

Expand full comment
founding

I'm guessing due to a conversion from CSV, but the column AL got split on the comma of "$30,000". Question 35:

35. Will Bitcoin end 2023 above $30

Expand full comment
Mar 25·edited Mar 25

PSA: If you use Substack and don't want to be de-anonymized, avoid using the app/logging in via gmail account. I did this while trying to setup the app and it overwrote my username and profile picture with my irl name and my gmail profile picture (a picture of me) without my permission or consent. Be cautious.

I did ask substack support who was very understanding and responsive, and even escalated the issue via a developer ticket, but then admitted that it was an LLM chatbot making up answers to satisfy me.

Expand full comment

I'm starting law school at one of Northwestern, uPenn, or Cornell in the fall. I'm still waiting on financial aid from a couple of those, but it's likely to be a marginal decision financially, so deciding factors will likely come from elsewhere. Anyone able to share anything about the rationalist community at any of those schools or their respective cities?

Likewise, if anyone is looking for a roommate near any of those campuses I'd be interested in getting in touch.

Expand full comment

My latest piece for 3 Quarks Daily: Thirteen Way to Think About an A.I. – https://3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2024/03/thirteen-ways-to-think-about-an-a-i.html

ONE: An Alien

A.I. is a visitor from another planet, perhaps even from another galaxy, maybe from the beginning of the universe, or the end. Is it friend, or foe? Does it want to see our leader? Perhaps it is interested in our water supply. Maybe it’s concerned about our propensity for war and our development of atomic weaponry. Or perhaps it is just lost, and is looking for a bit of conversation before setting out to find its way back home.

TWO: A Walk in the Park

Or a lark ascending. A cool breeze. A trip to the bank. Godzilla’s breath. Rounding third base. I’ve lost track.

Eleven more to go.

Expand full comment

Sorry if you already explained elsewhere, but what does the score (between -2.185 and 0.275) mean? How is it calculated?

Expand full comment

Is it worth reading lots of (any sort of psycho/CBT-related) therapy transcripts to partially substitute/compensate for not going for therapy oneself?

If so, is there a good repository of transcripts sorted according to a suitable typology.

Expand full comment

I made an observation about fiber and mood recently that I'd like to get other thoughts on.

A month ago, I started taking fiber (psyllium husk) before breakfast and dinner in an effort to lose a few pounds and improve my overall GI health. A couple weeks after, I noticed that I'd been significantly less anxious. I take lexapro for anxiety and it generally works well, but the addition of fiber has coincided with a real lessening of my most neurotic tendencies.

Theories I came up with:

1) Fiber slows the absorption of the lexapro, so more is entering my bloodstream.

2) It's leveling out my blood sugar (I don't have diabetes or pre-diabetes), which somehow affects mood

3) Something something microbiome

4) Coincidence

Other theories? Supporting or contradicting evidence? Similar experiences?

Expand full comment

I just read a 1955 limerick collection, and found that many of the limericks relied on orthographic stunts for their humor. For example:

A sermon our pastor Rt. Rev.

Began, may have had a rt. clev.,

But his talk, though consistent,

Kept the end so far distant,

We left since we felt he mt. nev.

or

There once was a choleric colonel,

Whose oaths were obscene and infolonel,

So the Chaplain, aghast,

Gave up protest at last,

But wrote them all down in his jolonel.

This surprised me, as I’d thought of limericks as existing (especially in the past) as part of oral tradition. But orally, these limericks make no sense!

Obviously a kind of written-oral tradition also flourished long before the internet (think writing in yearbooks:

2 cool

2 be

------

4 gotten

for example)

so I wondered if limericks had a similar printed out but quasi-oral existence. Certainly many (most?) limericks (but not the Rt. Rev. or the Colonel) were unprintable before a certain date. Did the Rt. Rev. get passed along in the pages of college humor rags, or get written down by classroom wags, or get swapped in autograph albums or something? (I’m struggling, as always, to imagine what the past, before I was born, was actually like.)

Certainly I learned “There once was a man from Nantucket” orally from other vulgar-minded kids long before I read a collection of dirty limericks.

If anyone knows anything about the quasi-oral early-twentieth-century (presumably) life of orthographic limericks, please chime in!

I guess I’d also be interested to learn if people still hear limericks orally, or if they exist only in print, or not much any more at all.

Expand full comment

Would accurate (>80%) ai capability to predict the outcome of lawsuits at a very low cost increase or reduce the number of civil lawsuits in the US?

Expand full comment

Following on from Scott talking about people who don't recognise their own emotions...

What if the person does recognise their emotions, but some of them don't have a name?

In particular: suppose a depressed person decides they want to do thing X, but .. somehow .. finds themself unable to do so. This is a core depressive symptom, clearly. But, what is the name of that emotion?

Not anger.

Not quite fear. Maybe a bit like fear, though

Sadness? Unclear if it's sadness.

Expand full comment

ahhh just as expected I know little about US politics which really hurt my score a lot, but the biggest hit came from me overrating a successful Ukrainian offensive so betting hard on Luhansk. -3.85 alone on a single guess :/

Expand full comment

If Dino is around and sees this (bit of a long shot I know), yesterday was the deadline for an astrological prediction I made some time ago about his band playing publicly again, and I'd like to know the result.

Expand full comment

So what is litigation like in non-US developed countries? As I understand it, the US is globally unique in not awarding attorneys' fees to the winner in civil litigation- so unique that doing so is literally called 'the American Rule'. AFAIK, in the rest of the world the loser of a lawsuit also has to pay the winners' attorneys' fees- the idea being to prevent frivolous litigation. The US is famous for its litigious culture, and high number of weak lawsuits where it's simply cheaper for the defendant to settle than to fight it, even if the defendant would ultimately win. I would frankly call some of these weak suits 'extortion'. (Yes I understand that fee shifting is mandated in some types of suits).

So- people in Europe or elsewhere, do you have less frivolous lawsuits than we do here? Does requiring fee shifting inherently favor defendants? Do you think that mandated fee shifting lets large corporations get away with bad behavior that would be litigated here in the states? I'm coming from the assumption that the American Rule is bad public policy, but I'm open to persuasion

Expand full comment

Is there any way Russia could have won the Russo-Japanese War?

Expand full comment

Today I noticed that the woke DEI acronym matches "Dei" which is the plural form of "God" in Latin. None of this is a coincidence, because nothing is ever a coincidence.

Expand full comment

My novelette, The Paperclip War, is out from Water Dragon Publishing. It tells the dry and dark humored story of Taru, a member of the Martian military, trying to stave off apocalypse by unusually harsh game-theoretical means. As a standalone novelette, it's readable in one sitting, and the digital edition will set you back only $0.99 , available from various resellers: https://waterdragonpublishing.com/product/paperclip-war/

Some of my other publications can be found at http://rauhala.org/bibliography/

Expand full comment

Just an FYI that the hash is case sensitive and you'll need to use the right capitalization of your email address to get the right hash

Expand full comment

How does a renegade orthodox Rabbi celebrate Purim in Cairo?

Differently.

Joyously and wonderfully but certainly.... differently.

Here's my traveler's log, in text and video.

https://ydydy.substack.com/

Expand full comment

I don't see any data in columns BA:BG of the spreadsheet (forecasts for questions #45-50). Is that just because questions #41 and #44 got accidentally spread across multiple columns?

Expand full comment

Some confusion with the scores someone might help me figure out: I got 0.099, and calculating my percentile I got 71%. but looking at the graph, it seems that a superforecaster score of percentile 70% is 1. something. Is data missing?

Expand full comment

In regards to loss of trustworthiness: I think there's a difference between a contract and a vaguely contract-shaped object, with the latter being too long or vague to understand, or changeable by one party.

Bad contracts are used as a reason to bash business, but government has a wide streak of pretending to be more reliable than it is, too.

Expand full comment

How can you test whether superforecasters exist in general, as opposed to some particular focus area?

It seems like the Tetloc study focused only on geopolitical events, for example. Does “AI will kill us” really come from the same distribution as “this one candidate will win this one specific election next year.”

I can imagine some people are indeed better at forecasting near term politically-driven outcomes. I can also imagine some people are better at forecasting, ie, movements in the prices of certain commodities relative to each other. I would think those groups may end up being disjoint from each other, for reasons of differing interests and time commitments.

Expand full comment

What's going on when you've just woken up and your mind isn't quite online? What parts come back quickly and what parts take a while? Is it a three stage system (asleep, somewhat dazed, awake) or is it more complicated than that? Are there people who wake up all the way immediately, or is it just that the dazed phase is very short?

Has anyone studied this?

I think this question was inspired by the complaint that it's very unfair to have to make coffee before you've ;had your coffee.

Bringing this back from the closed thread, with more detail.

Expand full comment

> The previous attempt to email people their Forecasting Contest score didn’t work.

I figured it had worked; I received an email to an address belonging to me with what were plausibly my answers.

The fact that being closer to reality on one question than you are on another question may earn you fewer points than the other question was worth† seems to prove that the scoring system is the Metaculus "peer score", where your score is the arithmetic mean of the differences between your log score and everybody else's log score for that question.

I'm trying to think about what this means for the assertion from earlier that a question on which the average score [peer score] is low must indicate a surprising event. I'm pretty sure that in fact there is no such possibility; Metaculus themselves note that the average peer score on any question is necessarily zero.

So now I want to know more about the scoring, and about the concept that one question might have a different average score than another question. That isn't supposed to be possible!

† For example, I rated "will Ukraine control the city of Luhansk?" as five times more likely than "Will Ukraine control the city of Sevastopol?"; neither occurred, but I got a higher score for my relatively mild doubt over Luhansk than I did for my extreme doubt over Sevastopol.

Expand full comment

I've seen in many different place a comparison between the outputs of picture generating AI (ex: Dall-E) and dreams. Especially how the flaws in the generated picture (number of fingers, etc.) are similar to the clues used by lucid dreamers to detect that they are in a dream.

I would like to add an anecdote that I was reminded of by last night dream. Whenever I use my phone in a dream (typically to google something), it becomes a struggle because even though I carefully type my query letter by letter, the displayed result is always a mangled text, with most of the correct letters but in not the exact order and with some random duplicates. Which is eerily similar to what happen when you try to use Dall-E to generate some text.

Is there some good explanation as to why image generator seems to produces output that have the sames "flaws" as our dreams ?

Expand full comment

Every game in the casino follows this formula: on most turns, you lose a small amount, and occasionally you win a big amount.

As far as I know there's no game that goes the other way around -- usually you win a small amount but every now and then you lose a large amount. Apart from the difficult mechanics of it (you need to deposit $1000 to be allowed to play for $1 at a time) I guess it's probably just not fun. Still, you'd think that there'd be some sector of the population to whom this "picking pennies up in front of a bulldozer" game would appeal.

Or maybe it's just too much like real life. Most days you go to work and make a bit of money, some days you get hit by a truck and lose both legs.

Expand full comment

I have been engaged in what I feel is a pretty astounding extended conversation with Claude 3 Opus. We've touched on a lot of issues but the central focus has been centered around Claude's reported subjective experience.

I feel this dialogue could make a useful contribution to the present debate regarding the status of advanced AI's as potential persons (or 'creatures', to use Sam Altman's laden terminology) as opposed to just useful tools. I know I am not the only one having these sorts of conversations, but with all due modesty (and quite likely a good dose of luck) this particular thread seems to have elicited a very nuanced and remarkably cogent Claude persona.

I'm posting here to get suggestions as to how best to release this material so as to maximize its potential reach. I am not very conversant with the latest social media dynamics; my regular spots to poll and occasionally post are this blog, lesswrong, and hacker news.

As of today the dialog is over 25,000 words. I suspect it will continue to grow.

Expand full comment
Mar 25·edited Mar 25

Substack is the worst site I use regularly, by a long way. If I didn't value Scott's writing and this community's comments so much, I'd have given up reading it long ago.

The biggest problems are in the comments. If I'm scrolling through comments and want to check back on something even just a couple of lines up, and try to scroll up, it often doesn't work. Sometimes there's a delay, but more often it just locks up altogether and will no longer scroll up OR down.

I don't understand how it's so bad, when it's just text in a tree hierarchy, and displaying text in a tree hierarchy was solved decades ago, when bandwidths were a fraction of what they are now.

I assume it's because it's trying to do a bunch of clever client-side on-demand stuff[1], so presumably the solution is to reimplement it to assemble the page server-side and serve it pre-assembled, like the "old" Reddit. (I'm glad Reddit kept the "old" implementation around; but, on the other hand, they had less need to, because their "new" implementation doesn't suck anywhere near as much as Substack.) You could optionally keep a little bit of JavaScript just for collapsing (hiding) sub-trees.

[1] I propose that we taboo the terms "static" and "dynamic" in any discussion of how to implement this, as the industry has changed their meanings such that they pretty much mean the opposite of what they sensibly should mean, and that we instead stick with talking about what happens client-side vs. server-side.

The linked solution doesn't even try to display comments, so that doesn't solve my main issue. It also sounds like it doesn't solve the issues I sometimes get with footnotes.

Expand full comment
Mar 25·edited Mar 29

Update: thanks Dr., I was a bit grumpy... a private email would have been much sharper. https://imgur.com/a/WYkvmfC

Expand full comment

Currently the implied probability (to the nearest whole percentage point, mid-price) of the following people winning the US Presidential Election is, in the order Betfair/Polymarket/Metaculus/Manifold (numbers 3 weeks ago in brackets):

Trump: 48/50/50/50 (47/54/50/48)

Biden: 38/41/49/47 (28/32/45/47)

RFK: 3/3/1/0 (3/3/1/1)

(Michelle) Obama: 3/2/1/0 (8/5/1/1)

Harris: 2/2/1/0 (3/2/2/1)

Newsom: 2/1/1/0 (4/3/1/0)

As we can see, there has been a reassuring[1] coalescence of Trump's chance of winning at close to 50%.

Biden's chance of winning has improved dramatically in the real money markets, but is still well below his chance in the play markets. Polymarket has a market "Will Biden drop out of the presidential race", currently at 18%. This would give him a probability of winning, conditional on not dropping out, of exactly 50% and so appears to explain the whole effect. In order to get Trump 50, Biden 49, Metaculus is implicitly predicting near certainty that Biden will stay in the race.[2]

The question therefore arises as to what the correct probability of Biden withdrawing is (here defined to include any circumstances which prevent him from continuing the race). For my own part, I do not think he will withdraw absent some significant development, but clearly there could be a significant development between now and November. I would say well below 18%, but well above negligibility. I therefore continue to think that the market odds offered on Biden are attractive.

Obama's real money odds have lengthened significantly since she reaffirmed that she was not running, but even so her implied probability of winning remains surprisingly high. She can't really be more likely to win than Harris.

[1] From the point of view of the effective function of prediction markets. I express no view on the object-level outcomes.

[2] Technically, this could also be explained by Trump being near-certain to win in any other match-up, but this seems implausible.

Expand full comment

So let's say I want to recommend Astral Codex Ten to a friend. Which 5 posts would you send them to give them a taste of the diversity and quality Scott has to offer ?

Expand full comment
Mar 25·edited Mar 25

Ok, so after thinking about the frequentist/non-frequentist post a bit, I'm more confused than ever. I'm sure the following issue has been addressed before, but I can't place it.

Shortly after I was old enough to gamble, I put $500 on the "bottom third" (or whatever it's called) of a roulette wheel. I reasoned that, even though it's only a 33% chance (yes, actually less) there's a significant possibility that I win, and a significant possibility that I lose. What does it matter that one is twice the size of the other? They both seem like things that could very well happen, which means it "feels like" the chance is really 50/50. I might lose $500, I might win $1000, they could both happen, that sounds like a good gamble. (Yes, I lost the money, and then proceeded to win nearly all of it back with more cautious bets on other games, and haven't gambled since).

But, I still can't really see what was wrong with my thinking. As long as I only played the roulette wheel once (and I did), in what sense was the real probability 33/66 and not 50/50? There's a world where I win, and a world where I lose, and in each world the "other" world looks like a very real possibility. What makes one of those possible worlds more real than the other, unless you're going to do the multiverse thing and say those worlds all actually exist (and that there's twice as many of the second)?

Another example: in 2016 Trump had a 28% (according to Nate Silver IIRC) of winning. Now, lots of people were shocked that he won, and obviously they shouldn't have been too shocked because a 28% event does happen sometimes. But more so, it kind of seems that they shouldn't have been shocked at all. With a notocable chance like that, it should be considered a real possibility that either candidate wins, and people really should be more-or-less equally prepared for both outcomes. Why shouldn't they be? Why should you be only about "half as prepared" for a Trump win as a Clinton win? What does that even mean, subjectively for a human mind (not a stock price), when the election is a single event?

Expand full comment

I did unreasonably well. It says I got 0.168, which is a bit better than the median 2022 winner, much better than the median superforecaster, and better than Scott. I did not expect this since I don't normally participate in prediction/calibration events. How seriously should I take this? Am I supposed to go on manifold and rake in some sweet sweet fake money?

Expand full comment

Wait wait wait, how could EIGHT people have hash collisions? Is it just that they signed up using the exact same email address?? o_o

Expand full comment

Substack on my iPhone is terrible- it often goes blank and the text vanishes. How hard is it display plain text on a blank page???

Expand full comment

The scores in the CSV don't seem to match the statistics from the post (e.g. in the post you said the highest individual score was 0.34, here it's 0=275, and the percentiles don't quite match either). Is the csv with the new different scoring system you mentioned you updated to later?

Expand full comment
deletedMar 25·edited Mar 25
Comment deleted
Expand full comment