Lately it seems that at least 50% of the Slate Star Codex open threads are filled by Trump/Clinton discussions, so I’m willing to bet that the debate will be covered there as well.

# Alejandro1

I guess one is Eugine/Azathoth/VoiceOfRa

I had suddenly the same suspicion about VoR today, in a spontaneous way; has there been previous discussion of this conjecture that I missed?

It is true that normally, taking people at their word is charitable. But if someone says that a concept is meaningless (when discussing it in a theoretical fashion), and then proceeds to use informally in ordinary conversation (as I conjectured that most people do with race and intelligence) then we cannot take them literally at their word. I think that something like my interpretation is the most charitable in this case.

When people say things like “intelligence doesn’t exist” or “race doesn’t exist”, charitably, they don’t mean that the folk concepts of “intelligence” or “race” are utterly meaningless. I’d bet they still use the words, or synonyms for it, in informal contexts, analogously to how we use informally “strength”. (E.g. “He’s very smart”; “They are an interrracial couple”; “She’s stronger than she looks”). What they object to is to treating them as a scientifically precise concepts that denote intrinsic, context-independent characteristics. I agree with gjm that your parody arguments against “strength” seem at least superficially plausible if read in the same way than the opponents of “race” and “intelligence” intend theirs.

I think that the trial and error model is implausible; in which “time” are these trials and iterations occurring? The global determination of the whole universe seems much simpler.

I don’t think it necessarily conflicts with free will, when free will is understood in a compatibilist way (which is how EY and most LWers understand it). If we agree that one can have free will in a completely deterministic universe with ordinary past-to-future causal chains, then why can’t one have it in a universe where some of the chains run future-to-past?

He actually said it beforehand in LW as well. Link.

In all details, certainly not; Dumbledore’s CEV might well include reuniting with his family, which won’t be a part of others’ CEV.

In broad things like ethics and politics, it is

*hoped*that different people’s CEVs aren’t too far apart (thanks to human values originating in our distant evolutionary history, which is shared by all present-day humans) but there is no proof, and many would dispute it. At least that is my understanding.

“I ask my first question,” Harry said. “What really happened on the night of October 31st, 1981?”

*Why was that night different from all other nights*… “I would like the entire story, please.”

I’ve had an experience a couple of times that feels like being stuck in a loop of circular preferences.

It goes like this. Say I have set myself the goal of doing some work before lunch. Noon arrives, and I haven’t done any work—let’s say I’m reading blogs instead. I start feeling hungry. I have an impulse to close the blogs and go get some lunch. Then I think I don’t want to “concede defeat” and I better do at least some work before lunch, to feel better about myself. I open briefly my work, and then… close it and reopen the blogs. The cycle restarts. So Lunch > Blogs, Work > Lunch, and Blogs > Work.

(It usually ends with me doing some trivial amount of work—writing a few lines for a paper, sending an email, etc—and then going for lunch with an only half-guilty conscience.)

Has anybody else experienced circular-like preferences, whether procrastination-related like these or in a different context?

I understood it to be implied that the message was actually set in advance to mislead Harry into believing time travel was involved.

I’d be curious where the factor of 2 comes from in the Newtonian approximation.

I can take a stab at explaining this. Both the Poisson equation and the Einstein equation have the general form

2nd order differential operator acting on some quantity F = Constant * Matter source

In the Newtonian case, F is the gravitational potential. In the Einstein case, it is the spacetime metric. This is a quantity with a simple, natural, purely “mathematical” definition that you cannot play with and change redifining constants; it measures the distance between events on a four-dimensional curved spacetime. “Matter source” in the Poisson equation stands for mass density, and in the Einstein equation it stands for a more complicated entitity that reduces to exactly mass density in the limit when Newtonian physics holds. So the ratio of the constants in each equation is determined by the ratio of how “spacetime metric” and “gravitational potential” are related in the Newtonian limit of GR.

In Newtonian physics, the gravitational potential is that whose first derivatives give the acceleration of a test particle:

gradient of potential = acceleration of particles

This is considered a phyiscs law combining both Newton’s law of gravity and Newton’s second law of motion. In GR, the spacetime metric also has the (purely mathematical) property that (in the limit where velocities are much smaller than the speed of light, and departures from flat space are small) its gradient is proportional, with a factor 2, to the acceleration of geodesic (minimum length) trajectories in spacetime:

gradient of metric = 2 acceleration of geodesics

So if we make the physical assumption that test particles in a gravitational field follow geodesics, then we can recover Newtonian gravity from GR. (The whole reason why this is possible is the equivalence principle, the observation that all forms of matter respond to gravity in the same way.) Since small perturbations to a flat metric have to be identified with

*twice*the Newtonian potential, this is where the extra 2 in the Einstein equation comes from.

The formula is calculating the gravitational flux on the surface of a 3-dimensional sphere, and 3-dimensional spheres have a surface area 4π times their radii.

Saying that this is what the formula intrinsically does, amounts to saying that field lines are more fundamental/”real” than action-at-distance forces on point particles. But in the context of purely Newtonian gravity, both formulations are in fact completely equivalent. (And if you appeal to relativity to justify considering fields more fundamental, then why not better go for simplifying Einstein’s equation and including 8π in G?)

The current definition of the gravitational constant maximizes the simplicity of Newton’s law F = Gmm’/r^2. Adding a 4π to its definition would maximize the simplicity of the Poisson equation that Metus wrote. Adding instead 8π, on the other hand, would maximize the simplicity of Einstein’s field equations. No matter what you do, some equation will look a bit more complicated.

Here the question is raised again to Gates in a Reddit AMA. He answers:

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.

Edit: Ninja’d by Kawoomba.

My understanding of the use of “mindkilled” is that people who can be so described are incapable of discussing the relevant issue dispassionately, acquiring an us-vs-them tribal mentality and seeing arguments just as soldiers for their side. I really don’t think that this applies to the topic of abortion on LW, which can be discussed dispassionately (much more so than in other places, at least). This is quite compatible with the possibility that the LW consensus is biased and wrong, which is what you are suggesting.

Abortion is a strongly mindkilling topic for society in general, but it is not one for Less Wrong. According to Yvain’s survey data on a 5-point scale the responses on abortion average 4.38 + 1.032, which indicates a rather strong consensus accepting it. As a contrast, the results for Social Justice are 3.15 + 1.385. This matches my intuitive sense that discussions of social justice on LW are much more mindkilling than discussions of abortion.

I answered “not at all”, even though I was for some years very shy, anxious and fearful about asking girls out, because I never felt anything like the specific fears both Scotts wrote about, of being labelled a creep, sexist, gross, objectifier, etc. It was just “ordinary” shyness and social awkwardness, not related at all to the tangled issues about feminism and gender relations that the current discussion centers on. I interepreted the question as being interested specifically in the intersection of shyness with these issues, otherwise I might have answered “sort of”.

The question is analogous to the Grim Reaper Paradox, described by Chalmers here: