Eliezer, we must revist the subject of exactly what it is that I am banned from talking about at some stage. I am pleased that you at least read my now-deleted comment (now archived here)- since you were its number one intended recipient. I was sorry to learn that you do not feel that my comment added to the discussion. However, if you delete comments which are critical of your views, it dramatically reduces the incentive foor people to make them in the first place. If that is indeed the theme, it makes me more inclined to let you peacefully continue in what seems to me to be your dream on some of these topics.

It seems to me that demotivating critics from giving you feedback by deleting their comments is potentially not healthy for you - in a forum associated with promoting critical thinking. It is also not great for me. I would like to be able to have an intelligent discussion with you on some of these topics. However, it seems to me that you have some work to do on yourself before that will become possible. If you will not listen to me, please consult with Daniel Dennet's recentish material on cultural evolution - and for the role of mind in evolutionary history, perhaps see Omohundro's recent lecture ("Co-opetition in Economics, Biology, and AI") - which deals briefly with that topic. Best wishes,

Expand full comment

The 2008 Singularity Summit videos are now up:


Expand full comment

Regarding my recent deleted comment. Fortunately, I saved the verbatim text of this comment - and have posted it here.

I have seen other comments referring to me get deleted on this blog - but this is the first comment of mine which I have seen which has not been preserved. However, I received no email notification of the action - so it seems quite possible that other comments of mine may also have been modified without my knowledge.

I notice that the topic happened to be one on which I disagree with the views of the individual who was responsible for deleting the comment. This seems rather unfortunate - since it publicly creates the impression of stifling dissenting views. Over and above the whole issue of banning people from even discussing certain areas where there is disagreement, I mean.

However, for the moment, I think that the best thing to do is to treat this incident as an isolated, accidental lapse - and move on.

Expand full comment

TED: 'Bill Joy: What I'm worried about, what I'm excited about'

- http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LN2shXeJNz8

Expand full comment

Here's a sequel to my 2002 essay - on the subject of dynamical systems maximising entropy production: http://originoflife.net/gods_utility_function/

Expand full comment

One of the top links for a google search on "evolutionary psychology":


The Evolutionary Psychology Center at UC Santa Barbara. Check the link-- it surprisingly parallels multiple threads of discussion here at overcomingbias blog, but the posts seem to be actual articles that have passed peer review or are being submitted for it. In terms of topic and quality, if not viewership, I think overcomingbias blog has a serious competitor here.

Expand full comment

I just had a thought today about the whole "if only science were secret, it would be easier to train people to do actual science instead of just how to use already known science" thing.

At least for the moment, for this particular time in history, there're still places with limited amounts of education, books, no net access to speak of, etc. ie, archetypal "third world" communities and so on.

Rather than trying to make science secret, maybe open something sorta kinda like a "Bayescraft Dojo" style school _in one of those places_

Don't hide the scientific knowledge as such. You don't have to. Simply that those places give one a better chance to actually teach/introduce the material in a way that can actually train them to "make sense out of scientific chaos" all on their own.

If such training is harder to set up here, (Though I suspect that once we figure out how to do it right there, we may be able to port the teaching techniques, with minor tweaks, to societies where much scientific knowledge is already accessable. Not certain, but maybe.)

Anyways, just a thought.

Expand full comment

IOW, the TypeKey login system is a farce.

Expand full comment

Am I alone in finding the current system to be inefficient and require much more time to use than a better system?

If by "to use" you mean "to make a comment", please note that it is easier and less glitchy to make a comment if you ignore where it says, "If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In". Eliezer has pointed this out before, but I think a referesher is in order.

Expand full comment

Re: the "atrociously bad" human brain.

Some neurons can go at over 1 KHz. So the 200 Hz ones are probably slower for a good reason - perhaps to do with cost or heat dissipation.

Of course, the human brain still sucks. It will be dwarfed by AIs - due to the power of intelligent design.

Expand full comment

Doug S: to win big does not IMHO require provably optimal anything, but rather requires only to choose into existence (Eliezer's phrase) a process that does the job a lot better than the process currently in place.

The process currently in place depends very heavily on the human brain, and the people who seem to know the most about the human brain and AI tend to believe that AI can do a lot better than the human brain.

AI researcher Hans Moravec for example in 1997 called the "engineering" of the human brain "atrociously bad" citing for example the use of computing elements operating at 200 Hz.

Expand full comment

Haven't actually looked at stickk yet but I like the concept. I'd like a site where you forfeit time for remedial training rather than money to charity -that way you benefit rationally from the loss, while still being motivated for the gain. If you fail to do the remedial training you lose prestige in an compound interest sort of way, that can only be paid off with increasing amounts of remedial training or a prestige bankruptcy declaration that remains out your record for at least a couple years. Okay, back to work.

Expand full comment

Nothing on whether lower bounds on the amount of computation it takes to solve a given problem limits the potential for a runaway intelligence explosion? It may turn out that "provably optimum self-improvement" is something horrible like O(n!) or worse.

Expand full comment

>Hal>davidc, one variant on Ulysses pacts is at StickK, where you can agree to forfeit money if you don't >follow through on your plans. Robin mentioned StickK a while back.|Yeah stickK is a clever idea. I wonder if there are other variants of Ulysses pacts? I think StickK does not quite qualify as it does not assume some alteration in cognition that causes the contract to be used.

Expand full comment

A couple of people asked about the relationship between quantum randomness and the macroscopic world.

Eliezer wrote a long essay here, http://www.sl4.org/wiki/KnowabilityOfFAI, about (among other things) the difference between unpredictability of intelligent decisions, and randomness. Decisions we or someone else make may be unpredictable beforehand, but that doesn't mean they are random. It may well be that even for a close and difficult decision where it felt like we could have gone either way, that in the vast majority of the MWI branches, we would have decided the same way.

At the same time, it is clear that there would be at least some branches where we would have decided differently. The brain ultimately depends on chemical processes like diffusion that have a random component, and this randomness will be influenced by quantum effects as molecules interact. So there would be some quantum fluctuations that could cause neurons to behave differently, and ultimately lead to different brain activities. This means that at the philosophical level, we do face the fact that every decision we make goes "both ways" in different branches. Our decision making is then a matter of what fraction of the branches go which way, and our mental efforts can be thought of as maximizing the fraction of good outcomes.

It would be interesting to try to figure out the degree to which quantum effects influence other macroscopic sources of randomness. Clearly, due to the butterfly effect, storms will be highly influenced by quantum randomness. If we reset the world to 5 years ago and put every molecule on the same track, New Orleans would not have been destroyed in almost all cases. How about a coin flip? If it comes up heads, what fraction of the branches would have seen tails? My guess is that the major variable will be the strength with which the coin is thrown by the thumb and arm. At the molecular level this will have two influences: the actin and myosin fibers in the muscles, activated by neurotransmitter packets; and the friction between the thumbnail and the forefinger which determines the exact point at which the coin is released. The muscle activity will have considerable quantum variation in individual fiber steps, but there would be a huge number of fibers involved, so I'd guess that will average out and be pretty stable. The friction on the other hand would probably be nonlinear and chaotic, an avalanche effect where a small change in stickiness leads to a big change in overall motion. I can't come up with a firm answer on this basis, but my guess would be that there is a substantial but not overwhelming quantum effect, so that we would see close to a 50-50 split among the branches. I wonder if anyone has attempted a more quantitative analysis.

Expand full comment

Eliezer, thanks for the feedback. The system I've used that I like the most is the scoop-based system on kuro5hin.org. It allows each user to choose flat or threaded, among other options. There is also a dynamic threaded option, that uses Javascript to allow you to expand or collapse an entire thread of comments (entirely, or from the current position to the bottom of the tree). It also tells you how many new comments since you last visited, and indicates visually within a thread which ones are new since you last came. Scoop is pretty old though, so there may be much better options out there now.

Anyway, it sounds like you need a sysadmin to take care of this sort of thing. You and Robin both have more productive uses of your time than maintaining blog software. I'm sure there are some readers who have extensive experience with blogging software and could & would help if you put the wish out there. I'd be willing to help too (but I don't know much about blogging software other than what annoys me -)).

Expand full comment