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want_to_want commented on a post in r/slatestarcodex
MostMiserablyYours 24 points Imagine Bernie calling incels 'heroes'. Men may be the top of society, but they are also the bottom. This makes sense though. Men are incentivized to 'get rich or die tryin'. As a man if you fail in life you die a virgin. If you become Genghis Khan you have 1000 kids. As a woman if you fail you can still have as many kids as you want, they just may not be well provided for. If you bust your ass early in life to become a CEO, maybe when you're 38 you can have 2 kids with all the privileges in the world. With that kind of payoff matrix it only makes sense for men to take risks with their lives. Some become Trump, some end up crack dealers in jail or dead.

want_to_want 8 points

Most women don't give birth too many times, because the window is short and the health risk adds up. If you're a man wanting to have genetic kids and raise them on your own, you can get more kids than the average woman by using single parent surrogacy. It's costly in the US, but affordable abroad, even if you're poor by American standards. You can choose an egg donor who's way out of your league, and don't need to carry or give birth like a woman would.

That said, the men who take that opportunity probably aren't thinking about genetic success. Why on Earth should you consciously play the good soldier for your genes? That's just icky! The only reason to do it is if you want to be a parent. That doesn't apply to frustrated men who want a girlfriend, not a screaming kid to raise alone. So the envy of single moms' genetic success seems weird to me.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/slatestarcodex
want_to_want 3 points

Food and clothes are cheap enough that almost all poor people can afford them. The big money sinks are rent, health care, and work-related costs (including transport and education). So free healthcare for everyone and free housing for the homeless could alleviate most of the misery. These ideas are better studied, much cheaper than UBI, and aren't prone to landlords or hospitals raising prices in response.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/SneerClub
Wegwerfkontobelegt 35 points

I think a big part of why rationalists go mostly unchallenged in their bubble is that people just have better things to do than read 13,000 word rants.

want_to_want 8 points

mostly unchallenged

Duncan quit LW sometime ago, I'm guessing due to criticism.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/slatestarcodex
cimarafa 59 points

So the UK recently passed laws that add significant additional taxation (of around 25p/35¢ per liter) to sugary soda. Unlike Bloomberg's ban in NYC, which was a farce, didn't apply in grocery and convenience stores, and in practice if not in intention affected all soft drinks equally, this is a universal ban and has already had a highly noticeable effect, at least from my perspective:

  • At McDonald's, all Coca-Cola classic advertising has been removed and the default is now Coke Zero. A surcharge applies to all meals if you ask for regular Coke, so that a Big Mac Meal listed for £4.69 rises to £4.84 or something similar. KFC still sells regular Pepsi, but all other drinks (Pepsi Cherry, 7-Up) are only offered in sugar-free versions
  • At grocery and convenience stores, the strategy has been different. Bottle and can sizes have been reduced, so 250ml cans of regular Coke sit next to noticeably, signficantly larger 330ml cans of Diet Coke and Coke Zero priced the same, in the same fridge. Standard-sized 500ml Diet and Zero plastic bottles sit next to equally priced 330ml bottles of regular cola. Monster and Relentless energy drinks see their diet versions stay in 500ml tall cans, while the regular, full-calorie cans are reduced to 440ml, and actually have proportionately less caffeine in them

The effect of this has been that shelf-spacing for regular Coke has declined noticeably in the last few months, I presume due to demand since all the additional cost is directly passed onto the consumer. I have always bought non-diet soft drinks, probably due to my parents' scientifically questionable beliefs about massively increased cancer risks and regular soda being completely fine as long as you brush your teeth and don't get fat, but I've found myself switching pretty decisively since this tax change. It's not even necessarily about price - they don't even sell the regular, non-diet 500ml bottles anymore, so even if I was prepared to pay more for them I couldn't.

I actually think this is a real success for cultural conditioning. Smoking disincentives are complicated by chemical addiction and the fact that (I gather) the substitutes are all pretty far from the actual feeling/taste/effect of a real cigarette. But 'Zero' drinks actually taste pretty close to the original, at least close enough that I'll take them instead of a 1/3 soda volume reduction. This might actually have a big impact.

want_to_want 4 points

That showed up on my facebook a month ago. My reply:

Good step but not enough. Many studies show that replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn't help weight loss. The reason is that sweet stuff makes you hungrier no matter why it's sweet. So I'd prefer a more general tax on sugar and sweeteners.

Personally I eat sweet stuff only at parties, same as alcohol. It's a good compromise.

stucchio 18 points

At least one branch of the intellectual alt-right has proposed the mannerbund - essentially male fraternity, if I understand it correctly - as a possible solution to various modern issues of masculinity.

My understanding is that various mannerbund like organizations today - military groups, college fraternities - often do assist their weaker members in improving their sexual fitness. Various male self help resources (Jordan Peterson, /r/seduction, /r/redpill, Roosh the pickup artist, etc) also seem to be more or less exactly what these folks need.

What I find extremely toxic is that the same folks shaming the incels are also the first people to shame the folks trying to help them improve.

want_to_want 13 points

Self-help is part of the problem.

There are several levels to the problem. On the surface it feels like lack of sex. Deeper down, you realize that buying empty sex won't cut it, and it's really about lack of social acceptance. Then you realize that you'll never be popular until you allow yourself to be, and the root cause is really your self-hate. But even that is not the bottom! Your self-hate has good reasons: have you maxed out the obvious methods of improvement (diet, gym, voice training...) for a year straight? If not, why do you read self-help? What part of the puzzle are you missing?

Some people say modern life lacks an initiation, a test of masculinity. But the test is right in front of us. The first step is accepting that there's no easy way, because masculinity is the capacity to do things the hard way. If modern life feels like treacle, that's part of the test.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/SneerClub
want_to_want 6 points

Many ideas promoted by CFAR folks - Dragon Army, Focusing, Circling etc - get lots of criticism on LW. If they become majority accepted, I'll leave.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/Parahumans
Wildbow 80 points

On the layout of the Abyss - yes, it's all interconnected. Blake (and Green Eyes) starts out in the Outskirts, very close to the Drains. Had he taken another path, he might have made his way to the box store, or into the edge of a city/urban Abyss area. Or he could have gone further into the woods and ended up in a place similar to where Midge went.

Who you are, how you go, and where you are when you go determine where you end up. You're not going to go to a place where you'll immediately think "Oh, I'm in the Abyss"- it'll be similar to where you were when you dropped in. If you pass through from a wartorn area where people are lost, desperate, and trying to survive, you're going to find yourself waking up in a place where the city is all ruins, everything's burned, and 'bandits' are prowling around - and it steadily becomes apparent the bandits aren't limited to very scarred/mutated humans. Or you could end up in a series of buildings that are perpetually on fire.

By this metric, Blake goes from an area of wilderness of the sort you find on the periphery of a big city, trash strewn with hints of civilization or outlying buildings, to the outskirts. Except, you know, horrible.

When Hillsglade House fell to the Abyss, it connected to some similar regions, tapping Others more fitting for the Library than the School (Schoolmarm), Manor (Diary Girl), etc. Normally areas of the Abyss don't form so blatantly, but more as places are forgotten or lost.

Some places will be lost or abandoned (say, a small town struck by natural disaster and neglected by neighboring states or countries) but won't become Abyss so much as they trend that way over time, with more and more monsters and horribleness appearing over time, as Others find their way in (where there's a great deal of easy prey and easy living, until competition gets fiercer) and the Abyss gets more of a hold. Places can be pulled out of this 'sinking' state, but it's hard.

You can die and get ground down in the abyss, that route is available, but it's hard. If you fall from the tenements you're liable to land in another area with all limbs broken, but still be alive, as things come after you. If you get eaten alive, you might get partially torn apart, partially digested, and shat out with some semblance of life. There's also a whole tract of things in the Abyss that collect living things, whether it's to dress them up like a doll and add to a collection or keep in cages, to snip pieces of for later snacks. They do this because the life and emotion of living things is serves them like a campfire might for you or me. So, you know, you can die and probably will get ground away (or transmuted into something nonsapient) eventually if you're not very tenacious, but actually getting there is hard and it's fraught with peril of the 'now I'm in a cage for the next decade' kind.

want_to_want 5 points

Blake (and Green Eyes) starts out in the Outskirts, very close to the Drains.

Have you played Rain World? It's a game set in a world covered with dirt and filled with skittering creatures trying to eat each other. The first region is called Outskirts and is connected to Drainage System.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/slatestarcodex
want_to_want 6 points

I think echo chambers hook people by asserting in a confident tone that some problem is important, which is easier than convincing them that something false is true. We tend to be more trusting about judgments of importance than about judgments of fact, because in the ancestral environment you couldn't be sure that others were telling the truth, but you could be damn sure that any hotly discussed topic was pretty important. So it's a good idea to ask yourself "what if I'm wrong about what's important?"

want_to_want commented on a post in r/slatestarcodex
want_to_want 51 points

“Roko’s Basilisk” hinges on the theory that a malevolent AI would want to eliminate any risk to its existence

Not necessarily malevolent. Roko's original argument was about a benevolent AI. If your donation today can increase the chance of such AI by 0.01%, that gives huge value to humanity, more than enough to outweigh the harm of threatening you (especially if the threat works and nobody gets punished).

I've been asked several times to talk with people who got deeply distressed by the basilisk, because I have a knack for talking them out of it. My favorite counterargument is that the basilisk is self-defeating: its very existence has spurred MIRI to think about decision theories that don't do such nasty things.

zergling_Lester 3 points

its very existence has spurred MIRI to think about decision theories that don't do such nasty things.

Why do you call that "nasty things" and want to avoid it?

You're right that the main strength of the original argument is that it's about a Friendly AI, and in particular that means that seriously supporting making a FAI that's specifically prevented from Basilisking means admitting that you're OK with 150,000 extra people dying because someone couldn't be bothered to donate $N required for MIRI to finish the FAI one day sooner. Which is hard to reconcile with stated moral beliefs of the people who are supposedly going to build that FAI.

That, by the way, also takes care of /u/sodiummuffin's counter argument, you're not wagering against one of the immeasurable number of possible AIs with contradictory demands, you're wagering against any FAI that will be built based on something that sufficiently resembles your own moral convictions (except for the part where you don't want it to be nasty to you personally, of course).

I don't know, the only reasonable argument against the Basilisk in my opinion is that there's simply not enough causal power in that acausal connection. If we consider a bunch of possible worlds, it's hard to see why the worlds were the AI was built to say "I'm going to torture you as promised" would have it constructed sooner than the worlds where the AI was built to say "just kidding lol". Unless at some point the potential creators embrace the idea of a Basilisk and publicly promise to build one in a way that counts as a sufficiently strong precommitment.

want_to_want 1 point

Most would-be FAI builders aren't donating all their money, or robbing others to get money to donate, or killing potential UFAI builders, etc. So it makes sense if they also refuse to build a basilisk.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/ChapoTrapHouse
zippedi 10 points

Nah it’s these kooky professors

Honestly I've had quite a few conservative professors - moreso than I was initially led to believe entering University.

I still became a socialist. You're right, it's about being educated and realizing that being shackled by student loans that are perpetuated by capitalism is a bunch of fucking bullshit.

want_to_want 2 points

Was your loan federal or private?

want_to_want commented on a post in r/slatestarcodex
anatoly 3 points

Recently finished reading The March North, heroic fantasy by Canadian author Graydon Saunders, which I tried because it was rec'ed in SSC comments. Self-published, yet amazingly good stuff, best fantasy I've read in years. Set in a world where there's lots of magical talent and extremely powerful sorcerers, demons etc., in a nation that found a way to enforce peace within its borders and defend them with magical means, but is barely able to hold on. Very beautiful, masterly, evocative prose. The author seems to be disdainful to a unique degree of clues and infodumps; you have to read this book carefully to slowly piece together a semi-coherent understanding of what the hell is going on - but somehow it doesn't irritate, it fascinates.

Very warmly recommend to try it (and give it a chapter or two to suck you in).

want_to_want 2 points

Just read it on your recommendation, didn't like it much. The first few chapters were really fun to parse, but then it became military fiction where a fantasy democracy uses superior science & weaponry to crush a fantasy evil empire. The characters were flat and I never felt scared for them. And the last third of the book was an extended infodump about why fantasy democracy is awesome.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/SneerClub
_vec_ 34 points

Well, sure, but I don't think that's the part of the argument that anyone objects to. The main issue is with the unsupported assumption that individual reason necessarily gets you closer to truth.

Sometimes "everybody knows" something that just isn't true and a sufficiently curious individual can see through to how the world actually works. Sometimes the collective experience of thousands of lives can slowly come to insights which are difficult or impossible to fully see or understand from a single perspective. Reflexive nonconformity, as a general strategy, gives you some insight but it also throws away the strongest safety check against succumbing to your own biases. I, for one, am not convinced that's as wise a tradeoff as the linked comment implies.

want_to_want 3 points

Sometimes the collective experience of thousands of lives can slowly come to insights which are difficult or impossible to fully see or understand from a single perspective.

That's the usual argument for traditionalism...

want_to_want commented on a post in r/slatestarcodex
want_to_want 3 points

Living in the condition of having no internal dialogue, no flow of thoughts, no flow of images, just Smack, into the present is quite an abrupt thing. For the first couple of weeks I thought I’d gone completely mad. Oh my god I’ve totally broken myself. I’m fucked. And I discovered that I could still go to work, and I could still socialize with people and I could cook and get through all the basic things of life. Nobody outside of me seemed to notice any particular change in my behavior

See this post by Kaj Sotala, the section "On why enlightenment may not be very visible in one’s behavior".

want_to_want commented on a post in r/changemyview
darwin2500 -1 points

We have examples of other countries around the world with extremely low gun ownership because of gun control policies. We don't have examples of highly successful anti-drug policies.

The existence of this conflicting evidence between the two types of policies should make us expect them to behave differently.

want_to_want 1 point

We don't have examples of highly successful anti-drug policies.

China in the 1950s, Sweden pre-EU?

want_to_want commented on a post in r/SneerClub
McCaineNL 28 points

Given the overwhelming evidence for the heritability of general intelligence, as gathered by 2 or 3 in no way motivated authors, and given that obviously heritability equals genetics equals immutable biotruths, and given that general intelligence is clearly higher among white people than all other absolutely real and exact races in the way we classified them back in 1901, and given that we want society to be a meritocracy and not some molly-coddled SJW playground of niceness (although we are also in favor of niceness and civilization), I propose:

  • a tax on IQ, proportional to the likely lifetime advantage generated by higher IQ levels, since clearly a genetic predisposition is an unearned advantage from a meritocratic viewpoint just as much as huge inheritances are.
want_to_want 3 points

Huh? The meritocratic view only says that power should go to talent, it doesn't care whether talent is earned...

want_to_want commented on a post in r/ChapoTrapHouse
rethyu 67 points

Not just reddit. Having worked in the helping poor people field, I can assure that it's a common attitude. Maybe 40-50% of the workers end up with it. Some of them just started out as awful people. Most didn't though. The system itself creates an adverserial relationship between helper and helpee that often leads to these toxic attitudes.

That's not to excuse the individuals who behave this way. When they get to that point, they need to recognize it and get different jobs so someone who hasn't been ground down yet can take over.

want_to_want 9 points

The system itself creates an adversarial relationship between helper and helpee

Very true.

I teach a programming and math class to kids. Their parents make them go and they often misbehave. But I have the luxury of coming up with my own curriculum, teaching materials etc, so on lucky days I can actually get them interested and it feels glorious. But if I were part of the school system and had to teach from a textbook? After a few months I'd hate the job, hate the system, and eventually hate the kids. Another example is tech support, where workers have zero freedom of action, so they pass on their resentment to clients. Any system where helpers are unfree and disempowered will end up harming the helpees.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/ChapoTrapHouse
cykosys 9 points

Yeah, Stranger in a Strange Land, where the protagonist is explicitly poly, implicitly bi, kills cops and establishes Fully Psychic Luxury Gay Space Communism. Has another where the protagonist transitions and is generally OK with it. Heinlein definitely mellowed out after Starship troopers.

want_to_want 8 points

He wrote Starship Troopers in a break from working on Stranger in a Strange Land. One hell of a context switch.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/programming
jwdunne 4 points

Reminds me of a course I was watching on clean architecture. Took this sort of thing to the extreme using OO and my god.

There was a CreateUserCommand with a CreateUserCommandModel and a test. The entire app was written this way.

After that, I've concluded that first class functions and primitives, with a decent type system, are far better if you're finding all behaviour has its own tiny object with no actual behaviour.

And I think events deserve a disclaimer. It's very easy to get into a tangled web where spooky action at a distance is endemic. If you're going event driven, you should be mindful about what should and shouldn't fire events. Because, honestly, you CAN fire event for everything and anything - some people do in the name of 'extensibility' and that's how they learn the hard way.

The issue is that you are eliminating the caller-callee relationship. Sometimes that's exactly what you need (UIs, server/client responses). An entire app built that way is a nightmare to comprehend and, by that right, hard to maintain.

A good antidote seems to be keeping to a controlled, one way flow, whilst extracting logic ("smart" code) into pure functions.

want_to_want 2 points

Here's the thing though. If you have static caller-callee relationships, the code becomes easier to read, no question. When you replace it with some whiz framework to wire a call graph at runtime out of duct tape, you lose that ability. But you gain another: the system becomes toolable at runtime. For example, you can write your own custom scheduler for these execution graphs, or a graphical inspector showing you how the graph executed, what the inputs and outputs were, etc.

Could we have the best of both worlds, a system whose wiring was easy to trace both at compile time and at runtime? I'm not sure. Certainly the complexity of producer graphs leaves me wishing for something simpler. It would be nice if we could do the same things using only the base language. But the problem seems hard to understand in full.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/slatestarcodex
partwalk 4 points

David Foster Wallace's Commencement Address at Kenyon College is my gold standard for this. There is an abridged version on YouTube.

want_to_want 29 points

As a counterpoint, see my favorite HN comment ever, by Cushman. It explains what's wrong with DFW's way of thinking (which led to his suicide) and describes an alternative that actually works. I'll quote the comment in full, because it's such an amazing piece of writing:

I hate to defend the douchebag, but I'm afraid there is a germ of truth there.

DFW is perfect towards the end, when he talks about acceptance and awareness— the thesis ("This is water") is spot on. But the way he approaches it, as a question of choosing what to think, is fundamentally, tragically wrong.

The Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy folks call that focusing on cognition rather than experience. It's the classic fallacy of beginning meditators, who believe the secret lies in choosing what to think, or in fact choosing not to think at all. It makes rational sense as a way to approach suffering; "Thinking this way is causing me to suffer. I must change my thinking so that the suffering stops."

In fact, the fundamental tenet of mindfulness is that this is impossible. Not even the most enlightened guru on this planet can not think of an elephant. You cannot choose what to think, cannot choose what to feel, cannot choose not to suffer.

Actually, that is not completely true. You can, through training over a period of time, teach yourself to feel nothing at all. We have a special word to describe these people: depressed.

The "trick" to both Buddhist mindfulness and MBCT, and the cure for depression if such a thing exists, lies in accepting that we are as powerless over our thoughts and emotions as we are over our circumstances. My mind, the "master" DFW talks about, is part of the water. If I am angry that an SUV cut me off, I must experience anger. If I'm disgusted by the fat woman in front of me in the supermarket, I must experience disgust. When I am joyful, I must experience joy, and when I suffer, I must experience suffering. There is no other option but death or madness— the quiet madness that pervades most peoples' lives as they suffer day in and day out in their frantic quest to avoid suffering.

Experience. Awareness. Acceptance. Never thought— you can't be mindful by thinking about mindfulness, it's an oxymoron. You have to just feel it.

There's something indescribably heartbreaking in hearing him come so close to finding the cure, to miss it only by a hair, knowing what happens next.

[Full disclosure: My mother is a psychiatrist who dabbles in MBCT. It cured her depression, and mine.]

darwin2500 2 points

Potentially. Maybe just better social/dating apps that actually measure and match people in a meaningful, empirically verified way. Maybe sufficiently advanced VR that makes interacting with online friends as emotioanlly fulfilling as interacting with people in person.

want_to_want 2 points

I like the Maneki Neko solution, where AIs manipulate people into liking each other and being happy.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/programming
tactics 10 points

There's also my take on the matter: monads are a bad abstraction for programmers. (And more generally, category theory is a tool for mathematicians and logicians, but not for programmers).

Monads are a technical tool for studying special kinds of relationships between categories. But programmers aren't concerned with categories. An onerous Haskeller might object, "well, they should be!" But they aren't. And they shouldn't be.

The primary reason Haskellers care about monads is to model side effects. Everything else is just there for theoretical chit-chat.

And to be fair, monads do a pretty good job at modeling this information. The problem is really that monads are much more general, and this is one very narrow use-case. As much as Haskellers might argue, the "non-determinism" from a list or parser monad isn't a side-effect, nor is the control flow of the option or continuation monads.

There are other ways of modeling effects. Type-effect systems have been around for just as long, and they do their job much more precisely. The reason monads "won out" is, as far as I can tell, because type effect systems are heavy. They require a lot of design choices to be made in the type system. On the other hand, monads (the way Haskell handles them) only require System F and a notion of higher-kinded typeclass.

Mappable and chainable are terrible names (but I suppose good scaffolding analogies). But monad is a terrible name too. A monad, as functional programmers understand the notion, is far removed from the categorical definition. Monads are not an algebra (and it annoys me that monoids and monads even get mentioned in the same conversation). Monads are not interfaces.

As far as I can tell (and it's rather obscure to find out the history of this shit...), monads were originally defined to allow algebraists to define a category of all algebraic structures of a certain signature. Functor-algebras ("F-algebras") give you something very close, where you get the "shape" of the algebras correct, but they are not powerful enough to impose relationships (like saying there must be an element 1 and 1a = a = a1 for all a). The monad itself is actually the data necessary to define both the signature of the algebra for the theory you want.

(Please, if someone knows more universal algebra/category theory than me, correct me if I'm wrong on any of the above).

I think it's very important to call things by the right name, and I completely agree with the "existing literature" argument. But the way monads are used in functional programming is a pretty bastardized version of the original idea.

At least, I wish this perspective became more popular. From a programmer's perspective, rather than any bullshit about side effects, monads are really a certain way to manipulate layers of a structure. In particular, a monad allows you to flatten multiple layers into a single layer (ie, turning a List (List a) into just a List a) and also to add a single layer for free (turning a into List a). It's still fairly far removed from how we use monads in practice, but it is amenable to some intuitive examples (like List above, or Maybe, or even IO where you think of IO (IO a) as an executable that returns an executable that returns an a).

Anyway, my standard rant is over.

want_to_want 2 points

For me the snag comes earlier. Sure, if you want the typechecker to know all side effects of your functions, then using monads is one possible point in the design space. But why do you want the typechecker to track that information? What's the benefit? Returning a Double from a function that claims to return Integer is usually a bug, but adding a print statement to a previously pure function (or incrementing a counter, or waiting for a keypress) is usually intended, not a bug. Why do you want the typechecker to prevent that?

Java's checked exceptions are a good lesson. Many programmers hated them, because when your stack gets deeper, you must declare more and more exceptions on each method - or wrap them in one type, negating the benefit. If monads or effect systems become widely used in business programming, they will run into the same problem. Tracking effects is busywork that doesn't pay off.

want_to_want commented on a post in r/Parahumans
want_to_want 3 points

Books like Worm are an interesting middle ground. They are mostly about "protagonist overcomes obstacle", like your usual superhero/fantasy/scifi stuff, but they also talk seriously about what makes people tick, which is the province of literary fiction. So they feel deeper and more mature than a typical genre book (which is just flashy external conflict), while at the same time being more fun to read than litfic books (which are always damn depressing and hate any kind of happy resolution).

Such books are hard to find. LOTR is of course the classic example. Maybe some historical fiction would fit the bill? For example, you can check out Captain Blood, it's a fun adventure book for kids juxtaposed with a very adult look at society.

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