Projects that need incubating
I could help out anyone taking #1.
I don’t have the bandwidth to do it myself, but a lot of experience analyzing EEG data and could help out with analysis or connect to people who could.
One idea would also be to reach out to the folks at MUSE (https://choosemuse.com) and ask them if they’re willing to help with infrastructure and even finding somebody to do this.
re: 4. My crazy idea for language teaching
I've recently bumped into the idea at one Giacomo Miceli's website:
I've written him to ask about the prospects but never got an answer. His other finished projects suggest he is up the challenge skillwise, I suppose labour is the only thing left to invest. Perhaps if you wrote him as well he would be more inclined to follow through.
I think you may have an incorrect understanding of how time consuming software engineering is. 😁 Your estimates remind me of estimates made by junior engineers who imagine everything will go perfectly on the first try and they will not run into any problems.
Sadly, the reality is that if you want an actual production piece of software (meaning something that is packaged up and can actually be used by real people, not just your dev buddies) it takes orders of magnitude longer than the "happy path" estimate. 😢
A laypersons's question: Is #1 somehow related to neurofeedback?
Based on how much latin and ancient greek I've picked up just from reading acoup.blog every week, and how I enjoy reading sci-fi or fantasy with passages in constructed languages, I feel like the language teaching novel is a great idea. It would require a lot of skill to do well though, not just in both languages but also a literary sensibility.
Another key feature that distinguished 2011 OKCupid from what followed is the thumbnail display of profiles, sorted by match percentage. It enabled you to "browse" instead of being pushed into making a binary decision one random profile at a time.
On language learning (#4) -- There are web plugins that substitute foreign vocabulary words into your webpages as you read, with a slider for how far down the vocabulary list you want to replace. Since most of the page is still in English, you pick up the meaning of the words by context. Since I mostly just want to be able to read foreign languages, and the hardest part of that is vocabulary (you can mostly just ignore word-ending changes) I find this pretty useful.
The main issue with the language learning idea I think is that it’s fundamentally a translation learning style, which is not how polyglots tend to recommend learning languages. Instead you want to think of a language as a tool that you use on the world. Japanese is not just English but with a different vocabulary and grammar style, it’s an entirely different way of conceptually interacting with the world.
I do think this might be useful for learning more vocabulary within the same language; though. Chapter 1 uses basis vocabulary, chapter two starts replacing “good” with “excellent” and so on.
I'd enjoy a 4-like book even if it didn't, in the strict sense, "work" for "teaching language". Actual fluency is more effort than I feel like expending (even watered-down stuff like dicking around on Duolingo takes effort), but it'd be cool to, like...be able to watch anime without subtitles. Lots of experience avenues open up even with just a passing level of interpretation.
Statistical geneticist here. #2 is a terrible idea. Not sure where the 25% of explained variance comes from that you cite (perhaps you're confusing the heritability with the predictive power of PGSs?), but, as far as I am aware, PGSs based on the largest GWAS of EA explain ~15% of the variance in random population samples (see https://www.nature.com/articles/s41588-022-01016-z). Now it's important to note that this is in random population samples because the predictive power and heritability drop considerably within families, which suggests that a significant fraction of what these PGSs capture are population stratification and other confounds. As such, these scores will likely only explain a tiny percentage of variance in embryos. Here's another great paper detailing all the problems that exist with using PGSs for embryo selection (https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMsr2105065) and a Twitter thread listing all the methodological challenges of EA GWAS (https://twitter.com/sashagusevposts/status/1654556191429623808?s=12&t=ZfemY24EmVWazSrX3DHihQ). As you see, EA is a uniquely complicated trait to make genetic predictions for. Another issue with these predictions in general is that they're mostly based on individuals from European populations and should therefore not be used for individuals from non-European populations. And of course, using IQ and EA genetic predictors for embryo selection may promote eugenic ideologies (which I hope I don't need to explain why that may be a bad thing).
I also wanted to point out that my Substack is something an attempt to educate people on the breadth and history of art and aesthetics, as most art /architecture magazines are very uncritical of contemporary aesthetics and art styles. Any change in this area starts with education, as “I like old architecture” or “art used to be more beautiful” is generally too vague to be actionable.
For example, here’s a guide to distinguishing Art Nouveau from Art Deco: https://onthearts.com/p/art-nouveau-vs-art-deco
I have a team that is working on the dating site more or less as Scott described (for everyone, not just rationalists). I have a data science/machine learning background so we will try to take a data-driven approach to solving the social engineering problems. If you're interested in getting involved (especially re: funding) contact me at tmoldwin[at]gmail .
For us young'uns, can someone explain what OKC2011 was on how it differs from today?
I am a data scientist, and I wanted to work on #2. However, the best datasets, e.g. the UK Biobank, are locked for "legitimate researchers" and take particular care NOT to allow this specific thing. If I tell them that I have no degree and I want to use the dataset for correlating genes with IQ, they won't even answer my email.
So what I'm getting at is - if anyone reading this is associated with a research institution and wants to make this happen (apply for access to UK Biobank), I am willing to do the data side of this for free. email@example.com.
FL-Teacher here (German). I remember your "crazy idea for language teaching" and "can’t think of any reason this would work" ;) - See: Foreign language teaching in US-schools (+other countries) is pretty broken (as Bryan Caplan declares so often), and this may explain why you people come up with most of the "crazy new ideas" for FLT (during my Master, I learned about a couple of them, including a group-therapy-approach). Thing is: FLT is not broken. With good course-material, a reasonable schedule and a competent teacher: it actually works mostly fine.
As I am a) kinda qualified - b) underworked - c) an "embarrassing fanboy" d) actually believing this approach might have some use with German for English-speakers (Japanese: ... less so ...)
my g m a i l is m k r o d e
I'm going to try the language learning idea for learning Estonian -- while reading ACX.
I'll process all next ACX posts with ChatGPT, will probably make a browser extension to do it automatically. Here is the prompt:
I'm trying to use a new method to learn Estonian language. I'm going to read a text in English, which shown below. Please replace some of the English words with Estonian words. Just simple ones at first, ones that were obvious from context.
I’ll be starting a new round of ACX Grants sometime soon [...]
and the result:
I’ll be starting a new round of ACX Grants sometime soon. Ma ei saa garanteerida I’ll fund all these projects - some of them are more like vanity projects than truly effective. But ma võin fund some of them, and others might be teostatav without funding. Nii if you’re feeling left out and want a põhjus to devote your life to, here are some lisad.
Replicate aju entrainment learning results.
Osused needed: familiarity with EEG
Eelarve: A few thousand dollars for machines, plus a few hundred hours of your aeg?
Tasu: Inimesed can learn things several times faster?
In 2022, a meeskond at Cambridge found that experimental subjects õppisid faster when stimuli were presented at their brain’s unique alpha rhythm. The teadlased monitored their brain waves to figure out exactly what each subject’s alpha rhythm was (usually a pattern of flashes about a dozen times per second), then presented a flashing pattern that hit the trough of each alpha wave, then asked subjects to solve tough visual recognition problems. They found the alpha entrainment helped them õppida faster:
The result is quite good, it's exactly what I need on my current Estonian level.
My goal is to learn words -- I don't care much about grammar. From my experience with learning English, grammar is relatively easy to grasp after having a large enough vocabulary. Knowing only very basic grammar, you can improve it from reading and listening. Also, Estonian grammar is so weird that it's impossible to transform English into it's resemblance anyway.
Main problem is that I can't control how many words ChatGPT is replacing. If I add more instructions to the prompt like: "Replace at least 1 word in each sentence", "Replace 50% of words", it replaces all words, doing a full translation.
Maybe someone talented in prompt engineering can help?
Isn’t the answer to 8 just lobbying? In practical terms, get a bunch of money and hire a k-street outfit that draws from whatever regulator or political tendencies in congress are on your side.
In gears-level terms, you need to connect your reform to the interests of the people who can make it happen, then increase its salience. For congress, that’s donations and lobby connections to reps who have sway and/or are on the relevant committees. For regulators, that’s industry connections and and getting plum bookers to make it a hobby horse through connections.
The missing moods in your take are image/action distinctions and patronage. In the US, where individual politicians fates aren’t wholly tied to their parties, get lots of credit for grandstanding (sponsoring bills, endorsing things), not much for doing things (passing laws). Make something popular, and everyone will introduce laws to do it but no-one will achieve anything because that’s too far downstream of anything you get credit for with the electorate if you’re not the president.
Patron-client relations are how things actually work; in summary, people align with someone important and do them favours, on the basis that that person (more likely, their other clients) will do things for them. The patron is basically a co-ordinator, much of whose influence comes from their clients.
Lobbyists are patrons for profit; they can donate to campaigns (politicians) and find people jobs (everyone, including civil servants), as well as acting as a favour clearing house in the normal way. They don’t have to promise anyone anything, but you know they’ve got your back because you’re their client (in the patronage sense, not the customer who foots the bill).
I’m really interested in #3, #4, #7, and #8, and willing to contribute to any of them if anyone takes them up, although, as an otherwise unremarkable ‘guy who graduated in polsci from a top uni and is into old architecture as a hobby’, I wouldn’t be outstandingly useful for any of those. I’ll have a look into #8, at least :-)
Very interesting post, btw
4 sounds a lot like https://donquixote.fun/ (which has content in Spanish, Italian, German and French) except that it progresses one sentence at a time. (When I last saw it, it was actually using Don Quixote as the text, but people didn't like the archaic language https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26601643 )
After self-experimenting with various language-learning methods over the years, my current favorite is to do lots of dictation exercises (to force the foreign language through my head) until I know a few thousand words, then start reading comics (consuming at my own pace + pictures to aid with understanding).
For dictation, the simplest option is to take an existing Anki deck with audio files and modify the card templates to have a "type answer" field; slightly more complex is to start with https://commonvoice.mozilla.org/en/datasets sorted by word frequency and construct an Anki deck from that; my most elaborate attempt so far is https://github.com/Yorwba/alphabet-soup but the scheduling algorithm would require significant performance optimization to be useful as a web service, so I've mostly left it to rot for now.
From my amateur viewpoint, #8 (A good primer on political change) sounds like it'd be right up the alley of either our own AshLael (https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/pbgeqo/comment/hadqka9/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3), or r/NeoLiberal's FireDistinguishers (https://www.reddit.com/r/neoliberal/comments/p4ctc6/congress_509_how_to_lobby_with_an_internet/).
Even if you don't get them, I'll just copy down their advice here, it's invaluable:
2 years ago
Context: I have worked as an advisor to 3 different (Australian) Senators.
I would say if you want to maximise political impact-for-effort, the best method is probably:
Form a lobby group. You can literally do this with a handful of friends. Give yourselves some sort of name that sounds like you might represent someone, appoint people office holders, adopt a constitution. The group doesn't need to do anything, it exists purely for you to be its representative.
Call up politician's offices and ask for appointments to express your concerns about some bill that's coming up. Some will meet with you, some will have their advisors meet with you, some will ignore you. But you'll get a much higher strike rate than you expect.
Take the meetings, sit down with legislators or advisors, tell them what you like or don't like about the proposed law and how you would like to see it changed. Literally no one will ask how many people you actually represent or why they should listen to you.
Most importantly, *rinse and repeat*. Find any opportunity you can to call around and ask for new meetings. You will build relationships over time, and legislators will learn and begin to internalise your concerns.
Why this works:
Politicians and political advisors spend a large percentage of their time having meetings with concerned interest groups. You're not asking them to take time out of their normal schedule to talk with you, you're slotting into their normal operations. It's not at all hard to get a meeting. I've seen professional lobbyists who make careers from "getting access" for corporate clients. It's pure grift, the client could have just called and asked for the meeting directly.
Politicians use the number of times people come and meet with them over an issue as a rough proxy for how important that issue is. Just by repeatedly badgering them on X issue, you can create an impression that people really care about X.
Politicians get most of their claims and talking points from interest groups (which is a part of why they so often say things that are so misleading). They do very little research of their own. There is no better way to put the salient facts in front of them, or for those facts to become a part of the public debate..."
"CONGRESS 509: HOW TO LOBBY WITH AN INTERNET CONNECTION AND A $3 POSTCARD
REDUCED WORKLOAD > MONEY
When I first got my job as an LC I worked for a minimum of 40 hours a week. I don't mean I was at work for 40 hours a week. I was at work maybe 50 hours a week, of which I spent 40 hours working, 2.5 hours eating, and 7.5 hours goofing off. If there was a national crisis those numbers could double. The volume of things that need to happen on the Hill is unparalleled. So if someone comes up to me and says "Hey I can take care of that," and it turns out they legitimately can, then it's a wrap. I said it in the last post, having someone else write something that my LA was fine with circulating is *the closest thing to a bribe I've ever gotten.*
FOLLOWING UP MEANS MORE THAN REACHING OUT
Everybody says "follow up after your meeting" but the amount of people who take that to mean "write a thank you and never talk to them again" is astounding.
Yes, write a thank you note. Like I said we're all very busy, we took time for you, we like when you acknowledge that. Pro tip, send in thank you mail, a thoughtful letter might be something that the staffer holds on to, reminding them that you mean business. *The best thank you mail is a postcard...*"
Lots of good stuff like that from those two, they're the best answers I've seen to a similar question that got asked on the subreddit a while ago: https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/12j3hqd/comment/jfx2edr/
7 months ago
Sorry if this is a naive question but is there any sort of FAQ or anything on ways for rationalists to impact government? If I got like 20 people to email this to my congressperson would anyone read it? Have people in congress pretty much already heard all of these arguments before and don't care?"
BONUS EDIT: It might also be worth studying Dominic Cummings... whatever you think of his (lack of) morality, there's no doubt he was effective (albeit at referendums rather than legislative politics). At the very least he seems to be one of the most open about how exactly he did what he did: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/dominic-cummings-how-the-brexit-referendum-was-won (Dominic Cummings: how the Brexit referendum was won) -- an abridged summary for Effective Altruists, written up in the wake of the Carrick Flynn debacle, is available at https://trevorklee.substack.com/p/how-to-win-an-election-in-10-easy?sd=fs (How to win an election in 10 easy steps: an effective altruist's guide)
“A good primer on political change”
I was a bit surprised to see this. I would rather see a good primer on social change, including the sorts of changes that can start small and grow exponentially, like a startup or a fad or a disease; the sort of changes that ignore politics, ooze around it; the sort of changes that by comparison make ineffective solutions look as ineffective as they are.
I suppose a charitable reading might include in a good primer on politics methods for finding and repealing bad solutions, or creating reforms that allow people to modify bad solutions by learning from experience.
A dating site that doesn't suck is a good idea. One that is old OKC is a bad idea, because old OKC wasn't good and no one but a couple weird rats liked it.
All the bring back OKC crowd have failed at answering a simple question: if it was so good, why did Tinder eat their lunch? As soon as tinder existed OKC fell off a cliff, so why would you think women would come back? You need a good explanation for why they wouldn't hate it this time just as much.
(BTW, all the normie-ish women i know hate dating docs. Not the current population of people who have them, the idea and structure. Like you show them one and they freak out and say things like "why would anyone write anything like this??? This is so unappealing to do or read!" Before you bring back long text profiles maybe figure out why women hate that? I don't understand it either but I'm not telling everyone OKC is the best solution.)
Re #4, as a native Portuguese speaker with experience teaching English as a foreign language (and Science) I think I have the skills for this. Still I wouldn't do it for free as quite honestly, interesting as it seems, it doesn't seem better than either traditional methods employed by a good teacher or Duolingo used by a motivated learner.
I'm the cofounder of Tract (https://buildwithtract.com/), a startup trying to make it easier to reason about planning risk. One of the things I'd like to prototype, and which might dovetail rather nicely with §7, is a modern approach to visual preferences survey: a 'Tinder for buildings', somewhere local communities can vote on and discuss various architectural styles. We can use generative AI methods to slot new facades into existing streetscapes, analyse the data, and see if we can find meaningful clusters that pin down quantitively what a 'local vernacular' actually consists of.
Regarding the OkCupid clone: my sense is that it should not try to make any money – I'm normally definitely not opposed to people getting rich from their product, but I don't see it working out in this case. My first point is that maintaining an OkCupid-like site should have very moderate running costs. As I understand it, it's mostly a text-based website that doesn't need to have a lot of throughput. I think running costs could be covered by donations like Wikipedia does (in fact Wikipedia asks for way too much money; they're trying to set up an endowment fund).
Another problem with a for-profit OkCupid clone is that the company behind it will be very tempted to endlessly tinker with it in order to increase profits. This seems very unnecessary for such a site. I think once the software is written, it only occasionally needs to be slightly modified to keep up with new web technologies. There is a risk here that the site will look outdated after a while (similar to how Wikipedia looks maybe outdated), but I think that would be fine? You'd maybe need a few part time programmers for this, but most of the modifications should come from open source contributors. (As you're not making money off this software, there is no reason not to make it open source.)
The main question then is, who would be willing to fund the creation of the software if there are no profits to be made? And I think this can only be solved by a funder with public goods in mind (as might be happening here).
If someone was serious about funding this, I would maybe recommend structuring it as a competition with two (or three) rounds: multiple teams start to write software, then when everyone has a prototype, judges determine who goes to the next round and gets funding for developing it further; at the end, one team's software wins and the team gets paid to extend until it has reached feature-completeness.
Am currently developing a dating app. Similar to Tinder, but you CANNOT chat, just schedule a date and meet.
Pretty much the opposite of what Scott suggests. I feel like rationality/autism types always focus on the matchmaking algorithm whereas I think that that's all bullshit, except for the aspect described in "Sadly Porn" where people like having a "big other" saying that you are "compatible"
I've definitely had language learning books similar to #4 advertised to me in my Facebook feed. They're illustrated children's books, IIRC, and they start by swapping in a handful of foreign words and you can work out what they are from the pictures, and then they gradually increase the density. I can't remember the name now, but I'll come back and update if I see them again.
Also worth mentioning the Lingua Latina series, which does something roughly similar for Latin, except it doesn't bother with any English. It starts with a map labelled in Latin and very simple sentences that explain in Latin the relationship between the places on the map, like "Roma in Italia est. Italia in Europa est." and builds up the vocabulary and complexity from there.
The problem with #8 is that there are orders of magnitude more "good ideas" for new laws than there is legislative capacity. In the current system, most of those good ideas don't even get the attention of someone in Congress. But if someone figured out the "cheat code" and publicized it, congresspeople would be overwhelmed, and they'd develop new filters for getting their attention.
Scott's idea sounds kind of like Search Engine Optimization - there's thousands of websites competing for the first few Google results, and as soon as someone figures out a way to game the system, Google changes the algorithm and that game no longer works. It's an arms race between you, all your competitors, and Google.
Someone else pointed out that the current system is lobbying is already designed to address this issue. And the general public is always complaining about lobbyists - making them more effective would just make the public even more mad, and nudge us even more toward vetocracy.
3. One person did not accomplish this. This was part of a concerted campaign by MSF, Stop TB, and a few other organizations to let the patents expire. I'm actually kind of annoying that John Greene gets credit. Not because he doesn't deserve any credit but because MSF and other such organizations deserve much more. Anyway, eventually J+J allowed to procure generic versions of the drug in certain countries. It did not ultimately surrender the patent.
If you really want to do this the play would be to go ask MSF or other organizations what drugs they spend the most money on and then go to places like J+J and get them to agree to supply such drugs at cost to such organizations. And then possibly set up a production pipeline depending on whether they supply it themselves or simply give you the right to produce it. A good mission but not a simple one or really something that can be done without the confluence of influence, social connections, medical knowledge, and non-profit connections.
Still, a worthy effort.
4. How is this superior to the already existing technique of sentence matching where you have two pages with one to one sentences and explanations for why they're different?
Anyway, I've already got an AI (well, a wrapper) that will chat with you in a foreign language and correct your mistakes when you reply to it. So do numerous language learning services. It speaks like an LLM because that's what it is. But it's still good for developing vocabulary and being corrected when you make mistakes. I haven't tried having it produce mixed sentences but I could take a look at it. But I'm dubious what value it provides above and beyond pre-existing language learning chatbots.
5. It's not hard to record sub-second differences. It'd be hard to sync them in real time. But you can just store test results locally and then upload them at the end. It's not that hard to make a site that helps you generate IATs either. It'd just be some CRUD infrastructure. But what would it be used for? My fear for this one is that it gets developed and it basically becomes a novelty project.
7. The sequence here is very wrong. First off, pick a medium. You have to start with one as your niche. If you're not a trained architect or a GC it's not going to be buildings. But that's fine. Furniture, as you suggest, works. Begin designing for it and either find a production team or start doing it on your own in a workshop. Then begin offering it for sale. Assuming you want to seize the commanding heights of culture make something truly special, adopt a luxury style, and charge high prices.
This will mean you won't get very many sales just from putting a store online. But you can get around this by getting into galleries and shows of various kinds which means a large amount of working the social scene around design hubs like LA or NYC (or Milan/Paris/London/Tokyo...) This will both give you the prestige to get some of those high end clients and will allow you to get a certain amount of super rich or famous clients who will spend large amounts of money on custom work. Their patronage and money in turn makes it easier to get into those fashion shows, which will also make you more famous and desirable, in a virtuous cycle. Eventually you will attract imitators by which the style will be propagated to the masses. And eventually you sell out to one of the luxury conglomerates.
If you want an organization then you just need to find designers, architects, etc with the appropriate styles and provide them studio space, commissions, etc.
8. You know, I'm increasingly convinced this is just some kind of weird local knowledge. I feel like my government is pretty responsive but this is because I know who to reach out to or where to show up for public hearings or whatever. Anyone else could do this if they had that same knowledge but most people... just don't bother, I guess? It's weird. Government is really important. And local governments especially. And it's not really that hard to access.
I think the issue is that people want to outsource the work but also hate principal-agent problems. But mostly complain instead of doing anything about. Basically, if you have such access the incentive is to monetize it or serve as a specialized intermediary instead of putting it out to the general public. Both for venal reasons and because, to be honest, most people you teach don't bother to follow through. Also, most of it isn't learned from a book but from a series of experiences.
Anyway, to answer:
> Presumably the first step is convincing a member of Congress or the administrative state. How do you do this?
Step one is getting into a room with them. Step two is just normal persuasion. Step two is the harder part. Step 3 is even harder: getting them to prioritize it.
> you should get articles in newspapers, sign petitions, and hold some protests.
Eh, maybe? What you really need to convince them of is one of two things: either that it's correct (either in a moral or technical sense) or that it will win them votes. Ideally both. Keep in mind they have their own ideas of what wins/loses votes and what's right/wrong. Protests or whatever are just an honest signal of #2.
> Is there a way to avoid this? Is this your Congressman’s problem, or your problem?
It's your job to make it a battle leadership chooses to fight and to smooth it as much as possible for them. This gets into the process of whipping. Your job as an interest group is to convince leadership and then make the whipping process as easy as possible. The easier it is the less whipping that needs to be done and so the more likely leadership is to do it.
> If you want to convince the administrative state to make/repeal some regulation, do you write a letter to the appropriate official? How do you know who that is? Do they care about letters? Do they care how many protests you’ve organized?
The administrative state is regulation bound. You can convince them but only through strict procedures. Comment periods, briefs, etc. Politicians get to take initiative but bureaucrats generally don't. They act according to the rules or follow orders. They specifically do not want you convincing individual bureaucrats and to instead deal with the institution. They don't care how many protests you've organized but their bosses might.
Anyway, serious question: if EA is really so full with money and talent and wants to do some good why doesn't it just get someone appointed ambassador to some poor African country? It's not like there's a lot of competition or that anyone would object to the ambassador running around trying to get charity done. A lot of them are supposed to be conduits for aid there anyway. And it's a good chance to grow connections among elites and know who's trustworthy etc.
Re: 8 - the answer is highly variable depending on the precise situation.
For example, during the Turnbull and Morrison governments, there was a lot of policy inertia. The government didn't have a lot of vision or purpose and was consumed with its own internal squabbles. Stuff percolated up through the public service but it wasn't really anything far-reaching or ambitious. The best avenue to change was to get a politician on side to fight for your issue and really make a stink about it.
But with the Albanese government I have been surprised to discover that getting a politician on side to yell about your issue - while obviously still really nice to have of course - is not so necessary. They have initiated a lot of substantial legislative changes and a bunch of big reviews and most of these processes are open to public comment. So you can get a surprising amount of progress by engaging with these processes. You send in a 5 page submission saying "hey your exposure draft is great but there are these 4 problems with it and we think they could be alleviated in this way and also we think it would be great to also address this related issue that your current bill doesn't look at". And sometimes you convince them.
So these are very different situations in the same country and political system. And perhaps as the Albanese government ages more policy inertia will set in. The situation may be different again in other countries. But in all cases a level of specific knowledge is needed about the system, issue, and political pressures that certain actors face.
For someone in Scott's particular situation, one tactic I would recommend is identifying the specific person you need to get the change made, and writing public posts and going on podcasts saying "it would be excellent and a testament to their wisdom if person X did Y". It's important to highlight Person X by name because Person X almost certainly uses a media monitoring service that alerts them about anything that gets said about them in the media, and prominent blogs and podcasts are very much a part of that. These people are often shockingly vain and notice when they get specific attention - Person X is among the top 0.01% of people interested in Person-X-related content. So by using their name in public you get a shortcut to put your argument in front of their eyes.
#8 This guy seems like one of the best people to write the book:
Passing the 27th amendment
He spent $6000 over 10 years (1982-1992 iirc). The one-person lobbyist.
It seems he hasn't written a book yet because he has to work a bunch of jobs to get by.
His LinkedIn profile:
Looks like he's most likely still in Texas working for the legislature.
Re: language learning, that seems to already exist as a company: https://prismatext.com/
>His particular big victory was convincing some pharma companies not to enforce patents for their anti-tuberculosis drugs in developing countries. How did one person accomplish this?
Importantly, he did not accomplish this by himself. He's been mildly obsessed with tuberculosis for the past few years and has been writing a non-fiction book on it. He has a lot of contacts with and advice from groups like Doctors without Borders, so he had a behind the scenes campaign of experts helping alongside the public campaign of all his followers.
If you want to do something like this again, I recommend just trying to contact him directly through an email and ask how you can help with similar efforts. I understand you have a lot of pretty influential contacts yourself and maybe you and John could help network the EA community with the anti-tubercolosis community more tightly or something.
The best contact would probably be firstname.lastname@example.org for his press/publicity email or maybe just tweeting at him.
As a dutch speaker idea number 4 seems ideal to start of with dutch. Since it is already really close to the English language. I might contact some dutch and english teacher here in the Netherlands.
“If you want to convince the administrative state to make/repeal some regulation, do you write a letter to the appropriate official? How do you know who that is? Do they care about letters? Do they care how many protests you’ve organized?” Not stupid questions. At all. Better use of time would be to figure out a better mechanism for getting the will of the people enacted. There is currently zero incentive for elected officials to take account of what people actually want. Much less the administrative state. Or make noise, because that’s all you can do at the moment. Although I’m anti socialist because it’s another centralized power scheme, perhaps it’s time to look at little s soviet type groups. The great grass roots revolution that happened in Russia was utterly crushed, but before that happened local groups got together to govern locally. Maybe it didn’t really work, idk, but what we need is less about how to navigate the current landscape and more creative thinking about how to do it differently. Along with all the possible pitfalls. I’m not talking about a new ideology, but a hard as nails look at how to distribute power. Right now your vote is just a blank check. It’s a very weak signal that’s routinely ignored. Not only does it have little to do with direct democracy, but it isn’t representative democracy either. If your government doesn’t have to care about what you want, neither writing letters nor screaming at the top of your lungs will do a damn thing. How do we make the administrative state accountable? Is it even possible or is something new necessary?
I wish someone would repeat the Implicit Association Test, but with the order switched (black/good first). I believe the test is actually measuring how long it takes to retrain your brain to quickly categorize two unrelated images.
You should talk to Samuel Hughes (I'm sure you know him from Twitter: https://twitter.com/scp_hughes) about #7, in part because he is also quite au fait with some of the distributed answers to #8, and is already working on this question. He was the researcher for the UK's Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, which was sort of like a consensus-based committee attempt to make progress on this question.
Though I have to say that I think 'classical architecture' and 'traditional architecture' are probably the wrong framing. What we want is popular architecture (which they are a type of, but not the only type of): https://worksinprogress.co/issue/making-architecture-easy
Hopefully you saw our previous work on this question too (https://worksinprogress.co/issue/against-the-survival-of-the-prettiest and https://worksinprogress.co/issue/in-praise-of-pastiche)
"3. Things like John Green’s anti-tuberculosis campaign"
I would like for you to consider carefully what this does to R&D incentives - if this would be a medium to long term negative for the cause of innovation and development of solutions for developing country problems.
#2: Many papers already release the statistical data needed to reconstruct the scores. See for example the supplementary information in https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3935975/
And plink is software you can use to calculate scores based on genotype.
That being said, this is still pretty tricky to get right, and I think there is substantial room for improvement in terms of open-source polygenic scoring.
I'm an EEG expert and re #1: To get a clear answer to this question you would need a large sample size, probably larger than the initial experiment (~N= 80), especially if performed with consumer grade EEG systems that have lower signal to noise ratio. Also, presenting stimuli at the ms precision required by this experiment, at a participant specific alpha frequency is not trivial. One possibility to ensure the success of this replication would be to team up with the #EEGManyLabs project, a group of researchers teaming up to replicate high profile EEG experiments.
The book: "the avion my uncle flew" does the language idea. It starts in english and finishes in french.
Re: 7, I'm a landscape architect in the Washington DC area and would be happy to consult with anyone pursuing this quest. I have familiarity with design review (and the approvals process) at the municipal and county level, building code, the public response part of the design process, value engineering, etc., and can help get someone started navigating all that. These things vary by municipality, state, and market, but I can help you figure out where to start. Most of my relevant experience is in multifamily housing (apartments/condos/townhomes) and commercial (stores, restaurants, shopping centers, strip malls). I also have experience in single family homes and parks but I think those are less of a focal area for this hypothetical foundation.
You'd really want to get an architect and building contractor on board ASAP, and probably also a land use attorney, since I'm a landscape and land planning professional and not an architecture expert. But I might be able to help you get started.
Email me at why0hat at Gmail dot com if you want to talk!
There actually is already an organization that promotes classical architecture in government buildings, at least, the National Civic Art Society: https://www.civicart.org.
I doubt I have the connections or expertise to head up any kind of broader promotion of traditional architecture, but I’d be more than happy to assist with such an initiative, which seems a very worthy and achievable one.
Re: Dating. Maybe charge a fee for men and make it free for women. I know this only works for hetero-dating.
#8. A good primer on political change -- written from the inside
I've been writing my own case study on the journey from being an informed citizen w/ ideas to an involved citizen who has taken an idea into a bill that's been signed into law.
I try approach the Legislature, and writing about it, with "beginner's mind," because I like learning. I started an email newsletter/blog when I began my first campaign for state office last year. It's a behind-the-scenes journal to keep constituents informed.
I've received remarkable feedback from a diverse slice of voters who tell me that they feel far more informed about how things work, and they find it very readable. Example posts are below.
I do this newsletter as an unpaid part of my job to inform Vermonters, but I'd love to turn it into a book that provides answers to your questions.
We gavel in January 3rd and run through May. I have several policy areas where I'm trying to make some change. As a first-term state legislator, I don't have a lot of influence. I'm not a 6-term veteran who chairs a powerful committee. I'm a farmer, writer, and sustainability professional.
This makes things more interesting to me because if the policies that I care about get anywhere in 2024, it'll be more based on merit than seniority. I'm sure there are useful lessons in the memoirs of retired power brokers. But I'll give you a timely and accessible chronicle on what is working and what isn't working today on the question, "What’s the strategy for turning a good idea into law?"
That's what I can offer this project. I already have a lot into it, and I have an approach, but I'd love to work with a team and to be challenged on my assumptions. I feel strongly that everything gets better with collaboration.
If you have any inkling that you feel like-minded and want to contribute useful constraints/questions, writing or other media, editing, etc. -- let's talk!
I'm not waiting for financial backing to move forward with this project, but I am looking for a financial model and source of investment to bring this content to a wider audience. I'd be grateful for any support, or pointers on finding grants.
Thanks for reading this comment. Have an awesome rest of your day!
what's better, delegate model or trustee model of representation? https://tristanroberts.org/news/trust-through-agreement-and-trust-through-disagreement
how to deal with toxicity on social media while forming a local caucus? https://tristanroberts.org/news/how-should-i-respond-to-fpf
finding hope in what's working locally https://tristanroberts.org/blog/do-you-have-hope-for-our-kids
how does a legislator decide what's a constitutional gun law, when experts disagree? https://tristanroberts.org/news/a-law-without-the-governors-signature
how bicameralism's inefficiencies are a feature, not a bug: https://tristanroberts.org/news/no-to-excuses-yes-to-second-chances
Better yet, get updates like these in real-time: https://pages.tristanroberts.org/signup :-)
#8 - A few dozen hours of your time? This idea sounds more like a Ph.D. thesis topic. It would take more than a few dozen hours to research existing literature to determine whether something already exists.
#7 is literally my "if I were a billionaire" fantasy. My skills are: ability to make academic arguments for why modernist architecture is bad (I've published a few). I don't have any practical skills, but would happily sign on as in-house polemicist.
I'm interested in #4
Re: #5: probably the initial prototype should be «dumb» in terms of content, e.g. you just upload lists of words and bunches of images for each category, then entering which mixes of categories you want to show. Also, as the topic is already marred as culture-war content, maybe downloadable archive to open locally in the browser or unpack as a static part of your website is safer…
No matter how you do it, if it is done on the user's computer, you probably cannot disentangle the delays introduced by the technical stack, and reaction time. Hopefully local delays will be relatively stable… but that probably makes only differences of times measurable, not ratios.
Re #8: I briefly dated someone who is very involved in political activism scenes, and according to her the model that is super popular right now is called the "momentum model": https://www.momentumcommunity.org/momentum-model, original book here http://thisisanuprising.org/. Although this might be more on the "social change" (i.e., get society to shift on controversial issues) rather than targeted political change for ideas that are already mostly accepted.
I could shed some light on #8.
I came from tech and now work in climate politics at the state level, running a think tank. I've spent the last couple of years piecing together how a bill actually becomes a law.
- It’s about power, not persuasion.
- Beyond electoral campaigns, there's a parallel (and poorly documented) world of issue campaigns. Getting someone elected is necessary to pass a law, but often not sufficient. If said law is controversial, you then need to push them.
- Within these campaigns, there’s a playbook for building and exercising power, with two tracks: money and people. Legislation is written by advocates and trade groups, rarely by legislative staff. This is especially true at the state level.
- Legislators care about who is asking for something, not what they’re asking for.
- Theres a sharp line between c3 and c4 activities.
- There’s an inside game (lobbying) and an outside game (protests). Effective campaigns often combine both.
- Speakers decide which bills move, not individual legislators. They often become the chokepoints, and therefore the targets, of issue campaigns.
- Strategy often hinges on whether the bill is public and controversial, or not.
- That said, the best lens to think about strategy is whether an activity generates favorable legacy media coverage.
- In terms of tactics, petitions go in the trash, phone calls only matter to the extent they’re attributed to known organization with the power to reach constituents. Protests matter if they get coverage at key times in the legislative and electoral cycle.
- Evidence matters, but not for persuasion. (See point #1)
- For regulations, it is necessary but not sufficient to submit comments. Bureaucrats ultimately answer to elected executives. (See point #1)
- Contrary to popular belief, politics is not irrational. Politicians, especially the effective ones, largely act in accordance with the incentives shaped by their position within the political system. The trick to getting policy passed is understanding this logic. And the common theme is usually: raise the political costs of not passing your policy, and raise the rewards of doing so.
Happy to flesh out and connect these (somewhat simplified) maxims.
RE #1: I have only skimmed the study, but it looks to me like they only looked at the comparative advantage that flickering has on learning depending on whether it is synchronized with alpha oscilations or not. So synchronized flicker gives you an advantage over unsynchronized flicker. But, if you really want to boost learning in normal people (Scott, I guess this is what you are aiming at?), shouldnt your comparison group be learning of normal stimuli (i.e., ones that are not flickering at all)? I seriously doubt that the synchronized flicker gives you an advantage over no-flicker. But maybe they have done that and I just overlooked it. And if not, I would look for that in the new project (and would recomend a normal EEG, not a consumer one, this will be super hard, as has already been mentioned).
7 is a really good idea. It doesn't even have to be classical architecture being advocated for; just something that isn't an eyesore. Call it ABUA: the Anti-Butt#@$% Ugly Architecture Foundation. I will serve in a low-effort role on the board of trustees.
John Green + The Stop TB Partnership’s campaign against Johnson & Johnson is very similar to how EA animal groups like The Humane League (disclaimer: I used to work there) have run their corporate campaigns, although they’ve been successful without celebrity support for the most part - instead relying on grassroots support and funding.
I think corporate campaigns should work in basically any industry where (1) corporate reputation matters; and (2) corporate decision-making diverges from popular opinion. I’m a little nervous about doing this against pharma companies making drugs for neglected diseases since it could disincentivize them from making new drugs for that class of diseases (where the financial upside is already pretty low to begin with), but I am excited about some other opportunities.
Specifically, I’ve been working on a brand/web platform that I’m hoping to use for corporate campaigns in support of AI safety (mostly asking for smaller incremental concessions from AI labs - like stricter pre-deployment evaluations or greater investment in safety research). It’s still very young and pretty… homemade, and we haven’t begun our first campaign quite yet (waiting to build up more support), but If you’d like to check it out, it’s www.themidasproject.com
> For example, maybe we should start by getting someone to produce the sort of Art Nouveau furniture everyone wistfully lists on their Pinterest before grudgingly accepting reality and buying IKEA.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but my understanding is that you can buy this kind of thing, it's just absurdly expensive since it's bespoke (i.e., everyone has unique interests and you need to have custom furniture made). I know Goldman bankers, etc., who throw $40k at custom furniture and can basically have whatever they want built but rich people don't actually want weird bespoke things, they want things that show high status.
tl;dr revealed preferences suggests to me that few people actually want this. I would love to see evidence otherwise on REVEALED preferences.
for 4. My crazy idea for language teaching.
How do we get in contact with the person doing this project? Are they just reading the comments?
Anyway, I am fluent in German and English I would be happy to do this kind of translation for a book and maybe eventually a short story. Just contact me if interested.
Re: #4 There's good evidence (for education research values of "good evidence") that extensive reading is an effective way to learn another language so this is not crazy from the outset. I also see a lot of overlap with projects like Destinos or French in Action (someone needs to remake these for the algorithm web!) and you might be able to draw on some of the theory behind them to help.
I do question whether this would be a useful method for most people who want to be able to listen and speak another language. It seems like it would be a good half of a language learning program, but only half.
#8. This book exists. It's called Organizing for Social Change and is put out by a lefty organizer training group called MidWest Academy. Of course, the tactics can also be used by conservatives and libertarians. It's very practical!
"As far as I know, proponents of classical architecture don’t have an aegis organization the same way charter city proponents have CCI or pro-progress types have Roots of Progress."
Actually, they do: The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art: https://www.classicist.org/
The academic center of the traditional architecture movement is the University of Notre Dame: https://architecture.nd.edu/
"Some of it is cost, some of it is regulation, and some of it is elite opinion."
Neither cost nor regulation is an important contributor to the problem. Elite opinion, especially in architecture schools, is by far the most important factor.
A) exterior ornament is a less important driver of building cost than structural and mechanical building systems. Those latter items scale more or less linearly with building size. So the main determinants of a building's cost are its location (since construction labor costs vary by region), its function (which drive the structural and mechanical code requirements) and its floor area. The use of limestone cornices rather than glass curtain walls is much less important than these factors.
B) Modernist detailing is deceptively expensive, so the apparent simplicity doesn't actually save money. And I'm talking about normal modernist buildings here, and not even touching the crazy Frank Gehry-tier "starchitect" buildings like MIT's Stata Center, which tend to be fiendishly difficult to build, expensive, and prone to defects.
The building industry is highly regulated, but the most of the regulation deals with building use and size (zoning) and structure, fire protection, electrical safety, etc. (life safety). These regulations have considerable influence on what can be built and how much it costs, but they have virtually no impact on the decision to go with Midcentury Modern rather than Georgian Classical.
Actually, in the specific jurisdictions where regulation directly addresses aesthetics, the influence usually *favors* traditional design. These are jurisdictions where there are historic commissions or architectural review boards. They often require that new buildings or renovations fit in with the existing pre-WWII urban fabric. This does produce more traditional architecture (or, at least, prevents the destruction of old traditional architecture) in these specific neighborhoods.
The preferences of the faculty of most architecture schools, and therefore of most graduates of these schools, are what proliferate modernist architecture. Visit the websites of these schools, look at their galleries of student work and their academic design publications, and you will have your answer.
The “Black=bad, white=good” aspect of the IAT has always bugged me, because of the obvious confounder of the sun. Humans have a natural affinity for sunlight and fear of the dark, which is even baked into our language (eg “these are dark times” but “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel”) in a way that clearly has nothing to do with skin color.
John Green's tuberculosis thing is a perfect example of where rationalists' rabid antipathy to socialism just doesn't make sense to me. OK, you got one company to reduce the price for one drug. How does that solve any structural problem? As long as pharma companies are for-profit entities, their share price will come before the good of public health, and the problem will be replicated over and over again. If the pharmaceutical industry was publicly owned, drugs could be developed and released without patents. Either publicly owned entities could handle the manufacturing or privately own companies could do it, and with the drugs public domain, they would compete on price and drive down the cost to very little. That seems like an awfully effective form of altruism. And yet I never see anything like that in rationalist spaces. It makes very little sense from an intellectual standpoint; it does, however, make sense from a social-cultural standpoint.
There is an architecture org similar to what you described (though their range may be slightly narrower): https://www.classicist.org
As for the language thing, https://prismatext.com/ has been advertising at me a lot lately. I'd wondered if they got the idea from you or independently re-invented it. Haven't tried them, but am considering it.
As for the dating site, I've been thinking a useful feature would be that users who are overburdened by incoming requests can establish "quests" to message them. Anything from "solve this captcha" to "slay a dragon in this embedded video game" to "write a python one-line that ...". All need to be machine-checkable, though maybe gpt allows that to be pretty sophisticated.
It establishes a sense of epicness, filters down messages to the overwhelmed, and lets people who do message signal that their message is worth reading (and maybe something about their competence). And it lets users control their experience based on their status within the dating market without hardcoding anything gender.
People you've messaged or interest-checked are immune from the requirement, and you can specify a match percentage that is as well.
Why so enthusiastic about the EEG study? The supposed effect is implausible.
RE #2: Is any of the data being referenced publicly available, or is this request primarily directed at people sitting on large sets of genomic data?
This is something I'd be interested in exploring, but I currently work in edTech and would have no idea where to source the data.
Re #4, I like the idea of the language features being explained *before* you learn the new vocabulary. I don't speak Japanese, but I imagine you could also explain this way the informal and formal version of words ("my dad" vs "Your Mr. Father"), or the counting words (five cats = "cat of five animals", but five elephants = "elephant of five heads"). Also, idioms. That's basically like reading a translation made by someone whose knowledge of English is mostly limited to the vocabulary.
But I suspect that it would require a quite long text, if you want to introduce word by word based on context alone.
How would you do the grammatical genderᵐ for languagesᵐ that have it? I think a possible solutionⁿ could be to use superscriptᵐ to indicate the genderᵐ of each nounⁿ (e.g. "n" for neutral, "m" for masculine, "f" for feminine). To perceive the informationᶠ always, but not in a mannerᵐ that ruins readingⁿ. (I tried to annotate this paragraphᵐ according to Slovak.)
Maybe a part of this could be done automatically. Have a human translate the text from the original to "broken English", but then have a computer randomly replace some English words with original ones, and if you move the mouse cursor above the word (in case you cannot figure it out from context, or you want to check that you got it right) it would show the English word. Like when you have spoilers in text. And gradually increase the frequency of untranslated words. That way, when you run out of text, you could read the same chapters second time, with different words untranslated.
I'm currently working with a small team on the dating site. Alyssa had an excellent tweet, I'm in contact with her, and she recently retweeted my bid to get more team-members on board. (https://twitter.com/freeshreeda/status/1719118204297966003)
I also think I understand the problem pretty well as it was the research topic of my choice for a recent fellowship with Ethereum Foundation (summerofprotocols.com). Happy to chat through the problem and/or share my research with people in private.
We're looking for more frontend and design support. Also donations to help us cover infra costs. We're keenly aware that the tech is not going to be the big thing — it's the network of daters that joins. We think we can do a better job of marketing such a product than things like twitterdatingapp.com (which we think is good as an MVP and product but bad at branding).
DM me on Twitter (@freeshreeda) or email me (shreedashreeda at gmail dot com) if interested!
I'd potentially be interested in implementing #2 (PGS scores). I have previously applied educational attainment PGS scores to 1k genomes data, though I'm not a geneticist (I'm a data scientist/software engineer). My sense is that getting this up and running for 23andme data would be pretty easy, but I'm somewhat less clear about the data currently available from embryo testing companies (so I would need to look into that).
Perhaps including other PGS aside from edu attainment, e.g. for autism, could be useful as well. Also, I notice someone else raised concerns about within-group pop strat (fine-grained ancestry) confounding in the existing PGS scores, but I think that's a somewhat over-rated concern given the PCA controls that are generally included (a more likely concern would be bias from genetic nuture).
On the topic of dating apps, three notes:
1) It might be interesting to explore a pricing model like "Free, except if you continue dating for a year, you pay $250; if you get married, you pay $1000." While obviously hard to enforce, I think this aligns the incentives for the app and for the users towards creating good matches that last. $1000 is a lot to pay up front, but a small amount to pay if I've found the love of my life.
2) I am a person who is allergic to dogs and cats and can never date someone who lives with one or the other. This is currently an impossible ask in the current dating market, let alone on dating apps where you can't filter by those. I would honestly pay for petfree dating.
3) I would suggest launching in a specific market first. I believe Hinge did this? That way you need fewer total users for the app to be functional for those users..
I'd be interested in #2, but I'm not in a good position to do this on my own (because I'm a CS/economics/data science student with no genomics experience whatsoever). However, I think my programming and statistics experience may be useful on the project. Anyone else want to collaborate with me on this?
Great list - I would love to help take on #2! Previously done some self-directed work on a generic PGS upload & analysis website project, hence moderately familiar with some of the components that go into this, though I would definitely want support / advice from seasoned academic bioinformaticians in the wider GWAS world. I'd actually kept thinking recently about how one would get more direct IQ - genotype data (as opposed to EA) at scale for a better "selector", so to me it's funny timing that you mentioned it!
Dating explicit sites are awful. The best site to facilitate dating that I've seen is a French site called onvasortir.com. It's not actually for dating but more like an open meetup.com. I toyed with the idea of making an ovs like site for North America but I can't stand web development.
I think I have pretty good insight on why all new buildings look like smooth blobs. I'm a design student, have spent 100's of hours studying form development. When I look at the AI generated frank gehry my first reaction is "wow, that's a pretty cool building". It seems like spending 100's of hours studying form development and such perhaps makes you think that really sophisticated blobs are the way to go. This is a problem because most people have not spent the time training their brains to recognize really sophisticated blobs and prefer classic architecture.
Over the past 100 years or so architects have gone from rich dudes who were unusually good at drawing and had basically the same taste as everyone else to design students who have spent 1000 hours trying to draw increasingly sophisticated blobs to score a chance at getting into a top architecture firm, and no longer have the same aesthetic taste as everyone else. Architects also gradually changed from being service people to being artists, who think they know more then their clients and impose their preferred artistic vision on whatever projects they work on.
Even if architects now have increasingly differing aesthetic tastes from everyone else, why gravitate towards sophisticated blobs? it could be that it's a basic quirk of human psychology that you prefer more basic shapes if you think about it for an unusual amount of time. Alternatively, this could be basically a trapped prior issue. Architects are all taught by architects, once 51% of architecture teachers prefer sophisticated blobs, you get a death spiral.
As to how you could get to 51% of architects preferring modern styles, it's probably a combination of economic incentives and projects shifting from client led to architect led. Classic architecture requires 100's of skilled crafts people for the elaborate bricklaying, engraving, etc. Architects are trained in form development not bricklaying, so the buildings they design are going to gravitate towards being dominated by one or two pleasing forms, not the 1000's of small details that compose classic cathedrals.
Here is a company carving statues with robots.
Relevant to 7.
Edit: Second company
On #4, I'm a bit of a language head myself, and I don't think it's more efficient than the standard way of learning a language. Honestly, syntax rules and untranslatable language particles are the easiest things to learn - you can do it in, like, a week. The hard things to penetrate in a language are overall sentence architecture relating to sense (this is where variance in the ability of pro translators comes into play) and vocabulary (this is mostly practice). The former stands above simple syntax because, especially in a narrative work (or conversation), you need a general context for how the language orders and responds to information in the abstract. Also, your example uses the same sentence over and over, where the find and replace is clear, but in a long (and especially a culturally important work, which tend to be complex) you might stutter just as much as you would learning grammar and starter vocab and just reading the full thing in the language. The real problem I think with popular language learning is that it's tailored to people who A. aren't particularly serious and B. want results straight away. The tendency of focusing on ways tourists communicate wastes a lot of time.
I've looked into doing this myself. I think the project as currently formulated is valuable, but unlikely to accelerate research.
Here are my current unorganized thoughts:
1. The raw data for making EA polygenic predictors is locked behind various institutional barriers (i.e. you need to be a tenured professor to even ask for UK biobank access), so open-source people are limited to using summary stats of the latest EA GWAS's. But even the summary stats aren't being released in full for the latest EA GWAS's, case in point being EA4, which releases only the top 10,000 SNP betas as far as I remember in their PGS model, which is also likely where you got the (incorrect?) 25% variance explained from (EA4 paper says, "explains 12–16% of EA variance."). 3-5 points of IQ gain seems like an optimistic calculation for open-source because of this, and the fact that there's frequently problems with implantation/viability).
2. I think using said GWAS summary stats for your own PGS is already implemented at pgscatalog.org. There seems to be a workflow for scoring your own genotype data using the available GWAS's in the catalog. EA is available here, but due to reasons stated above, the avilable PGS weights aren't very good. Of course, this is far from layman-usable, so making an interface would be helpful I think (in particular, I think a slider adjusting how much you value various traits would be useful).
3. An even more high-value project might be to collect high-quality genotype-IQ data independently (1 million data points is an estimate of what's needed), or find contacts in existing biobanks amenable to sharing their data/listening to suggestions of what phenotypes to measure (asking directly for IQ would be difficult, but even adding a few mildly g-loaded items could provide a large increase in signal as opposed to just EA).
After saying all that, if anyone is planning on working on #2, I'd be willing to provide any help I can, although I'm not a specialist in this area. Contact me at email@example.com (not my personal email - i'd prefer to remain at least somewhat anonymous - so it might take a bit for me to read anything).
What genome upload services do people know of (esp open source or open source adjacent)? I of course am aware of promethease.com for cheap reports, but I can only assume there are some interesting platforms that analyze specialty information from a genome.
Question is adjacent to #2
#4 - I have a vague memory of reading a language-learning book like this, many years ago. But I can't remember the non-English language involved. (Also, people seem to hate having 汉字 in the middle of English sentences ... but if there is enough self-selection maybe it will work.)
#8 - as I see it, there are basically three approaches for political change in America these days. For one approach, you need a seven-figure lobbying budget. For the second approach, you need a copy of Saul Alinsky's book "Rules for Radicals". And the third approach requires a lot of lawyers.
> “Educational attainment” (EA) ... and IQ correlate well enough that it’s rarely worth examining them separately.
Is that really true, especially in the context of finding polygenic predictors? This seem dubious to me. In particular, EA seems like it would be more subject to environmental effects than IQ. There is enough noise in finding massively polygenic predictors that it seems like you really wouldn't want to inject more noise by using such a proxy. There is an increased risk of losing or mistaking signal.
Related to #7 (classical architecture), there are regulatory and cost reasons for building ugly concrete blocks. In a nutshell, it's easy to prove that your building won't fall down if it uses "standard" modern materials and designs. There's off-the-shelf software for that kind of thing.
Anyone interested in this, I'd recommend looking up the work of John Ochsendorf. He's an MIT researcher who develops methods and algorithms for making masonry buildings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfAYSra5JbA
Our civilization used to have the implicit knowledge of how to make very strong and durable shapes based on simple physical laws (e.g. catenary arches and vaults). The trend of modern architecture goes in the opposite direction, leaving the heavy lifting up to incredibly strong materials arranged in simple to industrialize but not particularly optimal shapes.
Just to pitch my idea for a dating app that I would probably never build (I do need a summer job if someone wants to spend 8K getting me to spend my summer on it), but in case people are interested in discussing such designs:
I generally am dubious of dating apps, and tend to think that dating happens more via social networking than the artificial environment. I also think that people are more likely to accept something recommended by a friend, and their standards for friends are lower than their friends' standards for themselves.
So my pitch is: do larger bios (hinge style), but you can't like people yourself, you can only recommend profiles to friends. So basically you and a friend go through and send eachother people; you can directly accept a recommendation (which then puts you in the person you liked friends' queues). You could perhaps also opt to chat with someone before referring them to a friend (showing them the friend you were thinking about referring them to) for pre-screening.
I think that the idea would have a pretty good chance of failing instantly, but I think that it gets you closer to the way that real-world dating often works
On dating apps: the mechanism design should include a way to VIP-track people who read profiles carefully, write thoughtful messages, behave well on dates, and treat their relationships responsibly (i.e. don’t ghost). Those are the folks users want to meet and hear from, and they’re rendered illegible/non-credible when legacy apps dilute them into an ocean of “peers” who fail the criteria above. I wonder if the “good user” status could be crowdsourced by collecting multiple-choice feedback on messages and scheduled/completed dates. A successful design here would offer some hope to the highest-character AMABs in particular, who are presently devalued, dismissed, and abused by their prospects with an almost universal consistency, despite stepping up in every way at once and offering them what the platform is supposed to deliver.
I thought Steve Hsu's company offered something very close to 2 for IVF couples.. But, why the damn obsession with EA? Why not try to predict lifetime happiness/satisfaction. It's likely to be less heavily selected for and make a much bigger difference in life quality!
I think it's a mistake to conflate old architecture with what people want - beauty. The false dichotomy between beautiful classical architecture and ugly modern architecture is false because Modernism is not the only possible way to move forward in architecture.
Academic Modernist art wants to go beyond beauty, question beauty, and so on, but is this the only thing new art could do? If you listen to amateur music and see amateur art, there are tons of beautiful new things. Just avoid the academy and ignore 20th century philosophy (ew).
Look at Chinese Instagram and make a building like that.
As far as architecture is concerned, this Facebook group is about reviving human based architecture and reviving classical design styles https://m.facebook.com/groups/Klassisknyproduktion/?ref=share&mibextid=S66gvF
Here's my idea for a dating site. Tinder ranks people based on "desirability," but doesn't show users the data, it's only for internal matchmaking. What people could see their own (but not other peoples') desirability score? This would help mitigate one of the main problem's with modern dating: the tendency to one's own attractiveness.
You'd sign up for the website and, before being allowed to send messages, would be required to answer twenty "which of these two profiles is more desirable?" questions. If a person continues to use the site, they'd have to continue to rank two or three profiles every week or so.
This would suffer from the problem of people using the site "just for the fun of" ranking people without actually intending to date. You could mitigate this by making people pay a nominal fee to use the site, requiring identity verification, and deemphasizing the ratings of people who do not send or respond to messages. You could also limit the number of total rankings people make, so the ratings don't wind up being dominated by a few people who spent years on the site.
I was actually trying to replicate the results for polygenic scores on IQ, because I had a pet theory that polygenic scores weren't being calculated well, and naturally the first step to checking that would be replicating what already exists. I couldn't find a public dataset anywhere though. I switched to looking for one for polygenic scores and any variable of interest, but it seems like everything available is gated and requires academic credentials. If anyone has those credentials and would be willing to share some datasets, or knows where I can find some public ones, I would be interested in trying this.
On 8: I have worked for ~13 years in various levels of federal politics and been involved with both congressional and executive changes. When I worked as a congressional staffer my office was ranked the most effective legislative office by a (sort of not that rigorous, but not entirely fake) project by political scientists at UVA and Vanderbilt. I’ve also worked in the think tank world. Would be interested in collaborating on this primer if anyone else wants to work on it together.
Re: #4, "The Avion My Uncle Flew" by Cyrus Fisher is exactly this. It's a good story anyway, and my son learned a lot of French; the final three pages are French-only. The drawback is that he could only read French by the end, not pronounce it, but it's a really good way to learn the basics without any mental block of "oh, it's a foreign language, it'll be hard and boring."
Just to add the encouragement that #4 is a really good idea, it works, and I don't know why it isn't standard practice, especially for languages that share an alphabet!
#4 seems like a variant on graded readers, except instead of mangling Language A until it sort of matches Language B, it's just a book/story (or series of books and stories more often) that starts at incredibly basic Language B and just progressively increases the complexity.
It's useful, but not some silver bullet for language acquisition: I think fundamentally it just takes a lot more time than reading a single chapter to advance your understanding of a language to a new level.
Like, I'm reading Harry Potter in Japanese and it's about the right level for me: challenging but doable, and I'm most of the way through the first book and it's... still challenging but doable. The idea that I could read the first chapter and then the second chapter could 'turn up the difficulty', just doesn't seem realistic: I'd read some number of chapters, then hit a wall.
Maybe an advantage of this solution is that the stories could be more interesting: a problem with graded readers is that the low-level grammar (and the usual audience of children) means that the content is just not very interesting at low levels, so maybe being able to use Deathnote as your reading material and not "The Ant and the Grasshopper" is an advantage.
... but I think the disadvantages is that the content has to be custom produced for each pair of languages, and the limits of "making language A look like language B" in a way that's still remotely understandable, and ultimately it may not be teaching you the actual target language as much as it's teaching you how to read the A-structured-like-B hybrid language.
I can't head #7, but would love to help anyone else interested/start a server for discussion and planning/etc
If anyone is thinking of tackling #3, I'd be interested in chatting. I founded a startup that is doing a small amount of antibiotic development outside our main focus. More antibiotics are an unalloyed good, and I think the patent extension mechanisms are generally bad, but probably there are some very important choices to be made in how this campaign is structured and what it targets.
A point about language teaching:
In order to better my Chinese, I tried reading "The Legend of the Condor Heroes". My English version was very close to the original in the sense that it seemed to have been translated sentence by sentence with no attempt to rearrange the structure. Sadly, the result was merely that it came out as very stiff and unwieldy prose. So stiff, that I finally stopped reading it a bit into the second volume.
However, the structure of written chinese is also very different from English. I wonder if I could make something like #4 work translating between Danish and English. Many Danish words and phrases just sound like archaic anglo-saxon so maybe...
Ed West might be up for getting involved with the architecture one. It would be a very nice fit with his Canon Club that he's just started. https://substack.com/@edwest
How much of the implicit bias is due to training? You start off asking people to keep in mind four things: white and black, good and bad, then assign them to keys like A and L so that makes six things.
People then make it through a round of "white is good is A" and "black is bad is L".
Then you switch it around. So how much of the "if you pause that means BIAS" conclusion is because of bias, and how much is "black is L no wait now black is A"? I'm one of the fumble-fingers who would be "which one again is white this round?"
I am going to ask the obvious question about did they get the same pauses for all second rounds, or *only* for 'black'? Because if people can be just as fast for "white is L" then yeah, it's bias, but if they're pausing over "is white A or L now? which one is good word or bad word?" then I think it's because of training in the first round that "white is A, black is L".
Have they done any IAT tests with "black is good is A" and "white is bad is L" in the first round for comparison?
Potato only diet community trial
"If you know why one of these ideas is actually really stupid and won’t work / shouldn’t be tried, please comment about that too."
Finally. My time has come. I can be contrarian, except only in the realm of this blog, because actually, my language acquisition opinions are extremely mainstream and common within language acquisition research and methodology.
Number 4 is really stupid and shouldn't be tried, but it might work. One might ask, if it might work, why not try it? Because we've pretty much figured out optimal language learning, the same way we've figured out optimal weight loss. Language learning is hard the way weight loss is hard, but that you may find some weird method to lose weight better than a fad diet, or learn a language better than the waste of time general language classes are, that's not the bar that should be set.
The optimal path to learning a language is just extended exposure, but more specifically, extended exposure just at the edge of understanding. Rearranging the word order isn't at the edge of anything, and I say that as somebody who really likes literal translations like that for trying to understand idioms and euphemisms. Gradually rearranging the word order is something very close to a waste of time. It might be detrimental, because what you want to avoid is mental translating, and what rearranging the word order would do is make you expect mental translating to carry you to the end. Plus early reading is generally a bad idea because it tends to make it difficult to pronounce things properly. That is, your mental idea of what things sound like forms the basis of your reading, so when your mental idea of how to pronounce things is wrong, your reading will just reinforce that and it will be harder to unlearn later. Reading early is only for certain practical applications, for example, if you have no concern for speaking and are trying to land a translating job.
Anyway, to use Death Note as an example, you would get further just watching Death Note without any subtitles, and reading an extremely basic grammar guide. By extremely basic, I mean a guide that is no more than five pages that simply explains basic word order, the regular conjugations, and some common particles. You'd need this only because you're watching Death Note and presumably you don't know anything about Japanese at the beginning.
A better idea might be to watch something like Peppa Pig in Japanese with no subtitles, again after reading an extremely basic grammar guide. Just keep watching, and then graduate to, I don't know, Chibi Maruko-chan, and then some mainstream slice of life like Karakai Jouzu no Tagaki-san. It really doesn't matter, so long as you can barely understand what's happening, and you're interested enough to pay attention. In some cases this means some people might want to avoid these basic suggestions I've just given, because it's more important you pay attention than you understand. Some people find children's content or slice of life to be extremely boring even in the context of learning a language they want to learn.
While doing this it's also arguably a good idea to use some spaced repetition software. Essentially, flash cards with software behind it to optimise remembering. Anki is popular and free. Ideally you'd just go through the most common 1000 words, and after than any new cards should be made by you based on what you don't understand when watching or listening to native content.
None of this is secret. There are already some language schools that use pure exposure, usually by just teaching in the target language and not allowing the use of native language within the classroom. Online, this sort of method is well known too. Millions unintentionally teach themselves English all the time because English media is ubiquitous and they want to engage with it. Even for Japanese, AJATT has been around for decades, and more modern offshoots like Refold are pretty popular.
Language classes like you see in high-school or college aren't there because we don't know a better way. I don't exactly know why they're there, but only in the sense that I don't know why school is there in general. Even teachers of these language classes know that essentially nobody is going to learn the language from their classes.
Finally, there's psychology research about this, but I think psychology isn't real so I don't bother to remember it off the top of my head. I'm sure it could be found though, the Refold guys talk about it.
Re #7: if you dislike modern architecture, consider critiquing it conceptually.
For instance, Patrick Schumacher, principal of Zaha Hadid Architects (leading makers of the monstrous postmodern blobs), is also an intellectual and an author.
His book, The Autopoesis of Architecture, explains not just his philosophy but why architecture got so insular, why architects design for other architects, not the public.
I contend that, of all the professions, architecture as practiced today is most informed by and engaged in theoretical discourse. Given your position, Scott, as a public intellectual, you could perhaps make a bigger difference with words than by commissioning buildings.
Of course, you risk being contaminated by the architectural discourse; I wouldn’t be surprised if you find a lot to like about Schumacher’s theory of design once you understand it.
When it comes to the question of political change - there's the basic "how a bill becomes law" question, but any proper account would be how to lobby efficiently and ethically. (And importantly, as long as what you want is inexpensive and without much opposition, then it's usually relatively easy, at least in the UK, to shape legislation)
(8) is something I'd like to work on, with a little help from you setting up some interviews.
As far as I can tell, a lot of (8) is already written but it's scattered between many different sources, and between many different specialties. Different people handle appealing to voters, mass activism, lobbying and intra-elite activism, mass litigation strategies, and so on (this is far from exhaustive).
The real hole here is that there's no good, trustworthy, reliable, and *current* book to tie together the trustworthy sources, go over the basics of how political change can be accomplished and how the process works, and offer a sober but actionable set of strategies and courses of action.
I'd like to discuss details with you over Twitter DMs (I'm @surcomplicated) or email (DM me and I'll trade emails with you if you want) but what you could really do for me is set me up with a few interview subjects to make sure I get the details of their sides of things right. Different people handle issue polling than handle litigation than handle intra-elite activism and lobbying than handle protesting in the streets and so on. The job here is fundamentally to take expert knowledge in these (in practice) separate specialties and weave it together into a general primer on how you change things, and while there's plenty of written expert material on these specialties interviews can paper over any holes that remain.
> but maybe you could fix it by having separate “excited to date this person” and “willing to try dating this person if they were excited about dating me” levels of box-tick.
This type of design hack (when done *in extreme moderation*, to avoid feature/complexity creep) is still underrated, so I'm singling it out here.
It's why I'm highly glad LW added a separate "agree/disagree" button on comments, and later added a (Hidden-by-default! Collapsible/expandable!) palette of like 40 other reacts.
As for the .7 'Poll after poll shows that Americans prefer classical art and architecture, here used as a catchall term for styles that old-fashioned, ornate, symmetrical, elegant, etc - eg neo-classical, Gothic revival, Art Nouveau, Art Deco', I think it is because you have few original examples. As a European, in the Old Continent I find the exact opposite trend: there is a real generalised fetish for American modernist architecture and Swedish minimalism (in the latter case, I think it is because it is intrinsic to satisfying the impulse to create that IKEA gives people by having their lousy furniture assembled). I have to say that the trend has always bothered me, being a devotee of 13th to 17th century aesthetics and having a 13-year background in art, as well as being a professional painter. I would really be interested in participating - albeit from the other side of the ocean -, perhaps designing decorations and paintings, if they were required. If anyone else is interested, I would be available
Killing 5 and 6 with one stone, why not just make an implicit bias dating site? Swiping on various facial, body, or profile descriptions/tags in a never ending implicit bias test. Discover universal and niche biases and pair users based on that. Or maybe implicit bias as captcha?
BTW, does anyone have a good reference article or link (not a whole book) on the correlation between IQ scores and other intelligence assessment tests and educational achievement? I've been looking into it, and it's proving harder to find a scholarly source than it should be.
I think I will be applying for a grant for #4. I am very fluent in both Spanish and English and I have a lot of free time over the next 18 months.
The language learning idea sounds really interesting. I don't think GPT would be good at it but I can imagine some techniques which might not be completely awful at producing the desired output. (I'm an NLP researcher doing a mediocre job at learning a language right now).
I have some advice for anyone interested in tackling #2:
On https://pan.ukbb.broadinstitute.org/ there's a phenotype catalog, among which is fluid intelligence. There's like ~6800 SNPs significantly associated with it in the database. I believe you can actually download this set of SNPs!
The file is almost 2GB, so you need to put it into a database like SQLite and run commands to figure out stuff about it. Also, I bellieve the data all comes from a meta-analysis of fluid intellligence, which didn't use clumping alogirhtms to reduce false positives.
What I mean by this is that variants physically close on the genome will often be quite strongly correlated with one another, meaning one may mistakenly think that a particular variant is causing an observed difference in phenotype values when the real effect is cause by a neighboring variant.
It's possible one could obtain a data set of which variants are correlated with each other and use that to reduce the number of false positives.
You would then only need a relatively small validation set; perhaps 1000 genotypes + phenotypes, to validate the predictor.
We might be able to source this from the SSC community itself: get a bunch of people to take a standard IQ test or something and see what percentage of variance we could explain with the constructed predictor.
I am hesitant to take on this project myself because I have other projects I am already working on, but if anyone with a decent background in statistics or computational biology or just programming is interested in taking this on, feel free to reach out to me. I can put you in contact with some others who are interested in working on this. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In regards to the post, I also have one general comment:
> EA and IQ correlate well enough that it’s rarely worth examining them separately.
I take your general point that EA is a better-than-nothing proxy for intelligence if you have no other phenotype, but I don't belive to be true in general. If it were, we would expect both traits to be equally hertiable, which they are not (intelligence is substantially more hertiable than educational attainment). We would also expect both to show the same degree of "genetic nurture" effects, which is a way of saying that the genes of the parents have a large influence on the educational attainment of the child. But that's not what we see: there is significantly more genetic nurture involved in educational attainment than intelligence.
You can see further evidence that these phenotypes are not the same in studies like this one from Malanchini et al., who isolate specific genes that contribute to educational attainment: "We found that genetic effects associated with cognitive skills accounted for between 21% and 36% of the total variance in academic achievement"
Researchers have used educational attainment as a more politically acceptable proxy for intelligence in the past, but GWAS are now reaching scales at which these two traits diverge.
Regarding the language-tutorial book; if it was web based you could just mouse-over a word and have it be explained using a tooltip which drew from a central database of definitions or explanations. That would be much more convenient and immersive.
Has anyone found a way to leverage lidocaine insensitivity in people with ADHD into a workable diagnostic test for ADHD? Could we make such a test objective by measuring galvanic skin response before and after administration?
Re. #6, as a long-time software developer I suspect the software part is actually the easiest, and the relevant pieces (website, authentication, reliable long-term storage, backups, redundancy, statistical algorithms for various measures of correlation between data sets, and so on) have already been solved in different areas many times over. The tricky parts are the "business rules".
Take privacy: a dating site needs a lot more strict and user-friendly control over who gets to see what about you than something like Facebook. If everybody can see everything about everybody else, I suspect only people who are extremely extrovert will want to use it, severely limiting the user base. Conversely, if you shield everybody maximally from everybody else, it's going to be really difficult to learn enough to make the leap into real life, selecting only for people willing to spend a lot of time fighting the platform to be able to do what they actually came for. People have different thresholds for what they're comfortable sharing with different groups, and you very quickly get into multi-dimensional matrices of permissions.
Or payments: who pays what, when, and how? If you make everything free the place is going to be all bots, all the time, so that's out. But as soon as you charge for any specific thing, it completely changes the incentive structure. Do you charge a simple monthly fee? Then people are incentivised to try to contact as many potential others as possible. If you instead charge per contact, the incentive flips completely to contacting very few people. This may sound like a good thing, since people will be more careful with whom they contact, but the network effects could be devastating: you might get an extremely sharp L-curve of a small handful of people with profiles tailored for mass appeal getting inundated with requests, while more casual users very rarely get any. A large fraction of people looking to be contacted would get very little attention, and would probably leave soon.
Of course, this is just barely scratching the surface. Even if you could ask 10,000 users (or 100 developers) of 2011's OkCupid why it was great I suspect you'd probably get a pretty useless dataset, because incentives are so complex and sensitive to details.
Re #8 (A good primer on political change) a good place to start might be a recently published book
"The SAGE handbook of electoral behaviour", by K Arzheimer, et al; SAGE (2017), all 1100 pages of it!
It is available on Amazon, price $370 (ouch!), and a table of contents can be found at:
I'm ashamed to say I downloaded a huge PDF of it from a Russian ebook website. But hopefully, publicizing it here will partly atone for my sins!
On the topic of online dating sites (#6), I wonder if there could be any mileage in one with a sort of "peek-a-boo" portrait system, whereby a profile viewer initially sees the viewee's portrait either blurred or mostly blocked, and the viewer has to click on choices from a pre-configured list of what they consider to be their own good points, to progressively reveal a sharper or more complete portrait if their chosen good points match the preferences of the viewee.
I suggest the viewee's preferences would not be shown either, because after all in real life when meeting a stranger for the first time one doesn't know these to start with. The viewee could choose a style of portrait concealment as part of their profile, e.g. foliage, clouds, blur, array of small squares that would (if all went well for the viewer) gradually show more of the portrait.
The viewer's choices for a given viewee would have to be irrevocable, because otherwise they could obviously experiment and likely eventually come up with a favourable but insincere selection. Also, a bad choice (relative to the viewee's preferences) would be retrograde in that it would re-blur or cover more of the portrait!
In other words, rather than skimming through profile pics one after another, left, left, right, left, etc, making instant snap judgements based pretty much solely on appearance, they have to work a bit harder to see a sharp and fairly complete image of the person of potential interest, and this can be attained only if their preferences match or are complementary.
Such a system would obviously be uncongenial to impatient users with the attention span of a goldfish. But that in itself might be an advantage, in discouraging casual superficial users. Also, having to work somewhat to be "rewarded" with a clear profile image might have some beneficial psychological effect, such as maybe more incentive to message the person of interest.
But the flip side is that this effort, in fixing the viewee's portrait more firmly in the mind, could also give obsessives and potential stalkers extra commitment and determination to contact them.
As #4 mostly with word ordering begins, would it be fun, it in German to do. So can you effortlessly German word ordering learn. But I ask myself, if word ordering really the challengingest feature of a language is?
I recall from looking into commercialization of various psychological tools everything tends to be copyrighted in every way imaginable. That causes, for example, commercially available HR tools to be even worse than they have to be.
Usually it's done via owning exact questions and scoring mechanism, since you can't (?) own an experiment design. It tends to be a big deal because it's the specific test that gets validated and using anything else can't claim any power coming from those validation.
It is very hard for me to guess which parts of IAT are owned by Harvard or Project Implicit. Surely they own specific words/images used in their experiment, exact instructions and implementation of the scoring algorithm. But do they own name IAT? What else is there to even own?
The IAT itself is quite easily doable and, as Kosinski taught us, people will share any psychological results you give them, but the legal uncertainty is kind of scary.
Something like #4 already exists (language teaching via books that gradually substitute in more words from the target language).
I used to get Facebook ads for it. The books were directed at children, which does limit how far they could take someone. The example given was for learning Spanish. Unfortunately I don't remember the name of the company.
For number 8 go to Ayn Rand and the Ayn Rand Institute.
Architecture hobbyist here! I believe the dichotomy between styles such as classical, art deco, and art nouveau versus modernist, minimalist, and brutalist doesn’t quite capture the essence of good or bad architecture. I think I understand why people feel aversion to the brutalist/minimal/modern architecture. I may have crossed some weird aesthetic exposure and our aesthetic sensitivities won’t ever align. But I wonder if actually going and and seeing some sites in-person may change how one may attempt to define the essence of good/bad architecture. So here is my list:
I highly recommend visiting Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation in Marseille, France. It’s one of my favorite buildings. It’s a site that includes colorful internal streets, shops, double-height living rooms, and a striking concrete roof garden with kids playground, a theater stage, and a swimming pool.
Other modern and brutalist buildings I loved. (I believe that photographs seldom do justice to architecture. Instead of Google searching, save them on Google Map for an in-person visit)
* Convent La Tourette by Le Corbusier in Lyon, France (tour)
* CopenHill by BIG in Copenhagen, Denmark (go skiing in winter)
* The Barbican Centre in London, UK (go to exhibit/theater)
* Casa de Musica by OMA in Porto, Portugal (go to a concert or take the tour)
* Arcosanti by Paolo Soleri, 1h North of Phoenix, AZ (stay there, details on their site)
* Lobe Block, Berlin, Germany (go for a yoga or get food at the the canteen)
* Casa Gillardi by Louis Barragan, Mexico City (tour)
Is there any way to buy insurance that would indemnify me in the event that my prenup doesn't accomplish what it says on the tin? Or more generally, is there anyone insuring people against damages that occur due to bad governments failing to enforce contracts?
Re: #7, the beautifying architecture proposal, I'm a visual artist with a focus on architecture and specifically architectural detailing (though not an actual architect, to be clear) who has thought quite a bit on what a modern design style for the ornamentation of a modern classical architecture would look like. Happy to share examples/create demos of what it would look like, or just talk with people who are looking beautifying architecture this way.
#7 made me recall the origins of Art Deco, which was oddly a specific push by a guild, the Société des Artistes Décorateurs who very intentionally promoted decorative arts, it was not a totally organic and natural emerging preference for ornamentation.
+1 to number 8. Political change is accompanied by a bunch of idiosyncratic features like the single issue rule. so once you get a lobbyist to support your boutique cause of, say, increasing funding for law libraries, your next step is to simply propose a bill for funding law libraries.
Haha, no, that would never get traction.
Your next move is to sit and wait for a bill on a vaguely related topic, such as on educational funding, the legal profession, or maybe inner city youth programs or something you can just squint and draw a connection to. Then you push like crazy to get your bit added to the larger bill and hope you tied your trailer to a star.
These are not stupid questions at all, the system is full of absurd corners like this and I too want this collected in a book somewhere.
This is notably complicated by the various forms of political change in the country, to include lawmaking and executive orders, but also the quiet dominance of administrative rulemaking. A proper treatment would balance the impact of all of these.
I don't think your questions are stupid at all, I think you have a great instinct for the non-obvious corners in lots of areas, including here. My dream version of this book would include a series of interviews, one with a professional lobbyist, one with a congressional staffer, one with an administrative law judge or maybe someone who has run a notice and comment process for an executive agency, one with a lawyer who has had to interpret EOs maybe in the intel community or adjacent, a longtime DC journalist, then some coverage or state and local lawmaking and where they fit in. My book's corpulent title would be something like "The civics they never taught you: The unwieldy billion and one paths to making new laws in America (and why none of them really work but maybe that's mostly ok)."
I would love to quit my job and go on an interview tour but I have a family to support and lack any reputation that would land me any of these interviews. How do you hire somebody to write a book to spec?
#4, the language learning idea, is bad. Sometimes you’ll have too few foreign words and you’ll waste time not learning much. Sometimes you’ll have too many foreign words and you’ll have trouble figuring out what they actually mean.
The real deal is the Listening-Reading method. You listen to an audiobook in the foreign language and you follow the written version of the same text in your native language. 100% of what you hear is foreign and 100% is comprehensible. It also teaches you the hardest skill, listening comprehension.
Also what’s underrated is just memorizing a lot of words, and spaced repetition is the best way of doing that.
I just installed a strobe light app and flashed it at different frequencies at nutrition labels and tried to read them. Super easy at 12hz and very hard with 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,13,14, or 15!!!
Pretty sure number 8 is a moving target - by default, people who are already in power don't want political change to be easy, since that could be a threat to their position, so whenever an effective, generalizable strategy starts to be become widely known, they set up specialized countermeasures.