I am kind of suprised you didn’t reference causal inference here to just gesture at the task in which we “figure out which variables are directly relevant—i.e. which variables mediate the influence of everything else”. Are you pointing to a different sort of idea/do you not feel causal inference is adequate for describing this task?
Also, scenario 1 and 2 seem fairly close to the “linear” and “non-linear” models of innovation Jason Crawford described in his talk “The Non-Linear Model of Innovation.” To be honest, I prefered his description of the models. Though he didn’t cover how miraculous it is that somehow the model can work. That, to a good approximation, the universe is simple and local.
The strategy of conflict is condensed instrumental rationality. Much of the content is covered elsewhere, but I don’t know of a superior qualatative presentation.
Talking about qualatative presentations, thinking physics is a set of hundreds of physics problems, designed to show how important conservation laws and infinitesimals are. The problems are all solvable with some careful thought, and cover quite a deal of ground. I wish more books were written in this way.
Hymn to breaking strain or Hope Eyrie.
Here’s a visualisation that goes along with Euclid’s elements
This was one of many from an article on “The Empirical MetaMathematics of Euclid and Beyond”. It is a long essay on the overarching structure of Euclid’s elements and verifies some claims made about Euclid’s Elements e.g. the proofs were ordered in nearly the most parsimonious way possible. It also finds the most difficult theorems in each book, the greatest possible reductions in proof length, and hints that the network of theorem dependancy has a local 2-d structure. Highly recommend the article.
Definetely not a subject, but I’d say that the visualisation of Wolfram’s theory of everything is excellent. Of course there are problems with his theory of everything, like the fact that he hasn’t actually proved his claims that it generates GR field equations or replicates QM. Or shown that his theory evades the critical objection Scott Aaronson raised. but as a visualisation:
It is aesthetically pleasing
Compactly contains the basic ideas of his T.o.E.
Ties the basic concepts together to see how they could generate a theory of physics
So I’d still recommend it.
I am glad you put the quotation marks around “morality as taxes” since what my mind jumped to upon verbalising the title was what you described in the last part of your post: something you’d be glad to evade where possible. In retrospect, its clear that the quotation marks were meant to point to another approach and not the one your thought experiment is meant to represent. Still, I think “Wholehearted choices vs morality as taxes” would be a little clearer as a title.
Go short on Uber?
My personal reasons:
I assumed the question was about the first few decades after “first contact”.
A large chunk of my probability mass is on first contact being unintentional, and something neither side can do much about. Or perhaps one “side” is unaware of it. Like if we receive some message directed to no one in particular, or recording the remnants of some extreme cosmic event that seems mighty unatural.
It feels like we’re near certain to have created an AGI by then. I am unsure enough about the long term time scales of AGI improvement, and their limits, that I can assign some credence to the AGI we make possessing relatively advanced technology. And so, it may be in a good bargainning position. If we make plenty of AI, maybe they’ll be less powerful individually, but they should still be quite potent in the face of a superior adversary.
You should alter questions to make it clear “we” is meant to be humans or whatever we makes that succeeds us.
Also, perhaps a queston on whether “first contact” will be us detecting them without their being aware of it.
Minor quibble which I hope isn’t breaking a norm: BetFair did seem to pay out last week, or at least some of the bets on who would win the presidency were settled on 07/11/20.
Do you expect we’ll be n the midst of a third wave before the vaccine begins to be doled out? Or just beginning to enter one? Thanks for the post.
Use a fire lighter
Use a matchstick
Use a magnifying glass on the candle wick
Use a very large magnifying glass on the candle itself, igniting the wax
Chuck the candle into a very hot oven
Use a laser to ignite it, perhaps getting one from a CD scanner and overloading it
Run a stupendously large electric current through the candle wax or the wick.
Go into a volcano
Launch the candle into the sun in one of 50 ways
Build a simple bomb, perhaps a flour bomb, and use it to “ignite” the candle momentarily.
Grab some wood sticks, dry them out for a couple months, turn one into tinder by scraping and use the other two to ignite it through friction.
Strip the candle of the wax, unravel the rope, wrap the strands around the candle, and now you can much more easily ignite the candle using any of the prior methods.
Pay someone else to do ignite the candle.
Bully someone else into igniting the candle.
Wait until someone finishes smoking the cigar with the transformed candle from 12.
Get into a ferocious gunfight with a flour bomb backpack with the candle in the middle of the backpack.
Pay someone else to come up with ideas for how to ignite the candle.
Go to my car, open up the engine, stick the candle in one of the cylinders (perhaps by cutting it apart and re-assembling it withing using some tweezers) and turn on the ignition.
Coat the candle in sodium and throw it in water.
Unravel the wick, recombine into two, thinner wicks, and rub them against each other rapidly enough to ignite them.
Change the meaning of the phrase “light a candle” by tying it to a pertinent aspect of politics in my local bubble and then do whatever is entailed by the new meaning.
Notice that all candles emit light because they have non zero temperature. Hence genetically modify all future humans s.t. they can detect the radiation it gives off.
Drive myself into an Everett branch in which the candle spontanesouly ignites.
Use the prior idea to accomplish any of the former 23 methods.
Grab a gun and shoot the candle wick.
Use a magnifying glass to ignite flour witht the candle nearby.
Use a magnifying glass to ignite some oil, throw water on that with the candle nearby.
Alter the candle piece by piece in such a way that it is deemed to be the same candle after each replacement, replacing it each step of the way with wax with a lower ignition point and then ignite than.
Do the above with a candle that is already lit within a high oxygen atmosphere.
Pump in more oxygen into the atmosphere and use that to enhance any prior method so I can e.g. use a small magnifying glass to easily ignite the candle.
Wait until there’s a nearby fire/explosion/more favourable conditions for lighting a candle and do so then.
Use a magnifying glass/laser/whatever to ignite my clothing and transfer the flame that way.
Repeat the same but with any nearby flammable object. As an example, igniting my hair in the case that I happen to be locked naked in a room with a candle and a magnifying glass. Then light the candle that way.
Find a landmine in an active warzone and step on it with the candle.
Notice that the challenge does not specify a particular candle and choose to light one that is already on fire, and reject the Copenhagen interpretation of responsibility.
Again, note that I am causally influencing every event in my future light cone, which practically guarantees that I will in some way cause a candle to be lit.
Note that the candle need not be lit within our universe: there are universes which evolve exactly like our own up to this point but happen to have a rule specifying that the thing which is isomorphic to me manages to light a candle after reading this post. Recognise that there can be no consistent notion of selfhood beyond a similaiarity between structures and employ this perspective to say that I must always light a candle.
Write a book in which I light a candle.
Run a simulation in which a virtual candle is lit.
Put out a contract which specifies that the first EM to light a virtual candle can have all my savings.
Sell the candle to someone who’s participating in a “light a candle for X” festival.
Make a festival where people are encouraged to light candles, perhaps in a former Hindu community to take advantage of Diwali.
Release flourine upon the candle and watch in glee as it devours everything around it.
Slowly wear away a candle over time until it is practically just a strand of rope and then ignite that.
Change the pressure of the surrounding air to make it easier to use any of the prior methods.
Go to a paticularly storm prone area, find the highest lightning rod that I can and tape the candle to it with duck tape.
Train fire flies so that they are attracted to candles.
Break a candle up and re-arrange it into near atomically small components which resembles candles and proceed to ignite them by baking them in the oven.
Embed the candle with LED lights.
Get one of those flourescent fungi, sterilise the candle, make some system of tunnels going through it and place some sawdust in their and proceed to grow a flourescent fungi within the candle.
Magnetise the candle in a strong enough field and rotate it rapidly to cause it to throw off radiation.
Use molecular nanotechnology to dissasemble the wax, remove electrons from each molecule, recombine it then move it around to create a current and thus an EM field.
Collapse spacetime into a point so that all light co-incides with the former consituents of the candle.
Note that the things which became the candle once emitted vast amounts of light before atoms were formed, then move backwords through time at such a rapid pace that it seems as if the candle instantaenously turns into a cloud of protons, neutrons and electons emitting horrendous amounts of light.
Deplete the supply of candles throughout the world, raising their relative demand and then proceed to sell my candle.
Destroy civilisation and then sell my candle once lighting no longer works.Getting kind of bored now and I think an hour has passed.
The post about Sweden’s unusual situation you linked to has updated. The author claims that the reduced death rate is mostly due to younger people getting near all of the covid cases, which is supported by recent data (the figure shows total number of changes between July and 03 Nov). Why that is the case is another issue.
Edit: As always, thanks for the post.
What about Thorium? A back of the envelope calculation suggests thorium reactors could supply us with energy 100-500 years. I got this from a few sources. First used the figure of the 170 GW days produced per metric tonne of fuel (Fort St Vrain HTR) and the availability of fuel (500-2500 ktonnes according to Wikipedia) to estimate 10-50 years out of Thorium reactors if we keep using 15TW of energy. And that’s not even accounting for breeding reactors, which can produce their own fuel. So if we do go with the theoretical maximum, then we should multiply this figure by 50. I’m basing that estimate of the (probably peak) fuel efficiency of Thorium from what Carlo Rubia of Cern said (see Wikipedia article above). That is, 1 tonne can provide 200 times more power than 1 tonne of Uranium. Since Uranium produces ~45 GW days per metric tonne of fuel, we get the estimae of 50 times. Then we get the figure of 500-2500 15TW years.
Supposing that we really need four or five times the amount of energy we actually use, leaves us with an upper bound of ten times the naive estimate. So I’d estimate thorium could provide 100-500 75TW years.
Thanks for the reply. Feelings of helplessness sounds about right, and I think you may be right about giving your self the feeling that you are being supported. Only, people with severe chronic pain often suffer from anxiety and depression as well. It seems like it would be a hard battle getting their brains to recognise those aforementioned feelings.
How does this apply for physically painful trauma? I understand that the broader process should work, but I’m curious if you could guess what frame would be the most helpful for such trauma.
Somewhat urgent: can anyone recommend a good therapist or psychiatrist for anxiety/depression in the UK? Virtual sessions are probably required. Private is fine. Also, they shouldn’t be someone biased towards rationalist types. The person I’m thinking of has nearly no knowledge of these ideas.
Other recommendations that seem relevant welcome.
I still disagree. You can use Fermat’s last theorem rigorously without understanding why it works. Same for the four colour theorem. And which mathematics understand why we can classify finite simple groups the way we do? I’d bet fewer than a percent do. Little wonder, if the proof’s 3 volumes long! My point is that there are many theorems a mathematician will use without rigorously knowing why it works. Oh sure, you can tell them a rough story outlining the ideas. But could the prove it themselves? Probably not, without a deep understanding of the area. Yet even without that understanding, they can use these theorems in formal proofs. They can get a machine to check over it.
Now, I admit that’s unsatisfying. I agree that if they don’t, then they don’t have a rigorous understanding of the theorem. Eventually, problems will arise which they cannot resolve without understanding that which they accepted as magic. But is that really so fatal a flaw for teaching students the hyperreals? One only needs a modest amount of logic, perhaps enough for a course or two, to understand why the transfer principle works. Which seems a pretty good investment, given how much model theory sheds light on what we take for grounded.
Now I suppose if you find infinitary mathematics ugly, then is all besides the point. And unfortunately, there’s not much I can say against that beyond the usual arguements and personal aesthetics.
Note that I didn’t say it’s not an aesthetic preference. I just don’t think likely to be false --> ugly, though I agree learnings its likely to be false-->uglier than before.
No, to understand why the transfer principle works requires a fair amount of knowledge of mathematical logic. It doesn’t follow that you can’t perform rigorous proofs once you’ve accepted it. Or am I missing something here?
Because of the shift in culture in mathematics, wherein the old proofs were considered unrigorous. Analysis ala Weirstrauss put the old statements on firmer footing, everyone migrated there, and infinitesimals were left to langiush until a transfer principle was proven to give them a rigorous founding. But by that time, standard analysis had born such great fruits that it was deeply intertwined with modern mathematics. And of course, there’s been a trend against the infinitary and against the incomputable in the past century.
So there’s both institutional inertia due to historical developments, as well as some philosophical objections which really boil down to whether you’re fine with infinitary mathematics. I make no arguements concerning the latter, I just note that one can reject infinitary mathematics without believing they’re ugly. Now if you’re saying not all infinitary mathematics is ugly, just the hypereals, that’s a different claim. I can get why one might think they’re uglier than e.g. the complex numbers, but I don’t get why they’d be ugly, period. May I ask why you think so?