Open Thread

This is our monthly place to discuss relevant topics that have not appeared in recent posts.

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  • Reading Kahneman again some more leads me to wonder again some more:

    Just as some people (and groups) are taller than others, presumably some people (and groups) are more prone to cognitive biases than others. Presumably some are more prone to particular cognitive biases than others.

    Has anybody studied this? How are the studies constructed (would they be constructed)? Any interesting results?

    I’d be especially interested in any such studies looking at confirmation bias.

    • I’ve heard that more intelligent people are less likely to fall for certain biases (sunk cost might be one) but not others. I think men vs women might also be different. Poor people are less likely to make purchasing decisions based on percentage rather than absolute cost differences.

      My question for Robin: when are you going to write a book?

  • Jeffrey Soreff

    Even more diversity in our neurons, this time genomic (editing?):

    The reason this matters is that it affects the tradeoff between
    ems/uploads and other approaches to getting computing equivalents of
    humans. The economic attraction of ems/uploads is that the cost of
    developing a uniform computational emulation of a typical neuron is
    paid once, as is the cost of a scanning technology, and this buys
    getting all of the information in an existing human or humans.
    Diversity in the underlying neural hardware which has to be emulated
    weakens this economic argument.

  • mjgeddes
  • Nick Walker

    Ambition comes in three forms: the desire to dominate, the desire to innovate, or the desire to impress.

    A stock trader and all rent-seekers want to dominate. They want to reallocate resources to themselves. They didn’t cultivate the resource, and they’ll move on when more promising resources appear.

    Steve Jobs was an innovator. He killed several companies (RIM, Adobe, Nokia) but that was never his main goal. He wanted to make things better.

    The modern celebrity, including a lot of pro athletes, want to impress. They’re happy as long as you adore them.

    Where does this framework fall along the farmer/forager dynamic? If I had to guess, I’d say:
    1. innovate = foragers
    2. dominate = farmers
    3. impress = ???

  • Jeffrey Soreff

    religion has essentially no effect on people’s actual sexual behavior. Atheists and believers engage in the same practices, at basically the same rate, starting at essentially the same age. We’re all doing pretty much the same stuff. Believers just feel worse about it. As Ray told me, “Our data shows that people feel very guilty about their sexual behavior when they are religious, but that does not stop them: it just makes them feel bad. Of course, they have to return to their religion to get forgiveness. It’s like the church gives you the disease, then offers you a fake cure.”

    But recovery turns out to be possible:

    According to conventional wisdom — and I will freely admit that I held this conventional wisdom myself — religious guilt about sex continues to torment people long after the religion itself has lost its hold. But according to the “Sex and Secularism” report, that’s rarely the case. Once people let go of religion, people’s positive experiences of sex, and their relative lack of guilt, happen at about the same rate as people who were never religious in the first place.

    Both from
    sex and secularism

  • emthinker

    Should ethics for ems be computed by another em given some bias research (by humans? by ems?) or agreed by global catholic authorities? Would it be possible for an em to be a good Christian and at the same time destroy the Church in the long run? For that matter with processing power wouldn’t it be possible to be a good, optimal diplomatic em within all cultures while destroying their beliefs in the long run?