I do have a growing sympathy with the idea that just because you have a case of COVID that necessarily means you need to stay in the leper colony for a while. BUT I’m not sure about where one draws the line on that.
I for one would like to have at least a semi-quantitative answer to how much risk we’re (socially, legally) permitted to expose each other to as part of normal life, instead of an inconsistent, ad hoc set of rules and expectations.
For example, you can drive, but only licensed, and not when drunk: sensible.
By comparison, you have to isolate when you have covid, but not any other respiratory illness, even now that anyone who wants a vaccine (not everywhere, but at least in the US) can get one (and anyone who can’t and is vulnerable is also more vulnerable to lots of other things): becoming less sensible by the day.
Whenever someone asks a poll question about how much people would be willing to pay to something, I wonder how much of the answer is liquidity constrained. People who live paycheck to paycheck (a majority of Americans) who literally wouldn’t be able to pay a week’s income for any new expense might just not engage with the counterfactual in quite the way that it was intended.
“Man whose roommates wear t-shirts in winter, would better calm down with the goddamn heater.”
I agree with the idea behind the advice, but for me it would still be bad advice.
I was the kid who wore shorts in winter in middle school. I just feel warm (which makes me sleepy) at temperatures others find too cold. Then in college I had a roommate from Hawaii, and later married a woman with a circulatory issue, so I’ve always kept on running the heater and wearing t-shirts. (And upgrading the insulation when feasible).
Honestly there are winter days I wish it were socially acceptable outside to wear a hat and gloves but no jackets.
Except for occasions I need to be in business dress or formalwear, I probably wear long sleeves indoors no more than two days a year.
I’ve been married 6 years (together for 9), and my wife is not a rationalist, and wouldn’t be interested. OTOH, she is by far the most intuitively metarational person I’ve ever met, as well as being highly conscientious, context-aware, and excellent at predicting other people’s thoughts and actions. We each use different toolboxes that have turned out to often reach the same conclusions, and otherwise complement one another’s insights well. Early on we had lots of deep discussions about lots of topics, as one does, and just like any relationship, built up our own repertoire of shared metaphors and references and stories that we can use to explain our viewpoints to each other. It does sometimes feel a bit like translating thoughts into a foreign memeplex for me, but that’s basically true for almost any interaction I could have with almost anyone. What I find more challenging is that she is both much more person-oriented (which frankly I need, as I can be quite oblivious to people) and conflict-theoretic than me, which sometimes leads to us talking past each other or thinking the other is trying to escalate an argument. That’s happening less and less, though.
Masks work by reducing the fraction of virus particles from an infected individual that get into the air, or the fraction in the air that get into the wearer. My understanding is that this isn’t a direct multiplier on R0, it’s a multiplier on how long (on average) you need to be around an infected person, or a concentration of aerosolized virus particles, before you’ve accumulated enough exposure to become infected yourself. Unmasked, with no immunity, the relevant exposure times (as measured early in the pandemic) were on the order of 15 minutes. Good masks for both parties would get you into the range of a few hours. Not sure how that changes with the newer and more infectious strains, but I assume the times are shorter. But basically, my take has been that if you’re going to be around someone for more than a few hours (like your coworkers or classmates), then unless you’re wearing N95 masks near-perfectly, it’s unlikely they’re going to accomplish much. Not literally nothing, but much less than they do for brief encounters.
Whatever precautions you choose to take to protect yourself and reduce the risk you have covid with which you could infect your family members, which I’m glad to see the post trying to calculate out, I think people tend to ignore or at least underrate the agency of our elderly relatives in deciding their own risk tolerances. As an example, my great aunt is in her late 80s, she knows she isn’t doing to live forever, and she’s hard of hearing. If (and based on recent experiences at a family wedding, this seems to be the case) she wants to be able to hug all her nieces, nephews, and grandchildren, and if she’d rather have her relatives go maskless so she can read lips and actually talk to people, it’s not clear to me that she’s making a mistake. And if the cost to me for accommodating such a preference is a few hours of expected life (realistically, less than the duration of the holiday gathering itself), then that is well within my personal risk tolerance as well. Obviously individual preferences and tolerances vary.
For an uninitiated reader, “tapping out” at least has the advantage of a pre-existing non-LW use that, even if you don’t know it, makes the phrase easily searchable.
How does that distinguish them from other furniture, though?
Closets do have a few advantages over furniture, but it’s up to you whether this is a worthwhile use of space.
Unlike a wardrobe or armoire, a closet lets you use all the space from floor to ceiling for storage
“Unsightly” storage solutions, like inexpensive stacked bins for out-of-season clothes or extra bedding if you don’t have a convenient linen closet, can be hidden in a bedroom closet; similarly, storage solutions that don’t match the rest of the room’s decor
Sometimes it is helpful to be able to put things “away” in a hurry for a little while, and having a closet to shove things into is an easy stopgap solution for this
Larger doors than typical furniture, if you have to store taller items
Floors are stronger than furniture bottoms, if you need to store anything heavy
Reconfigurability; it’s much cheaper to find new ways to organize things in a closet, then to buy new furniture
I am currently a few weeks from selling my house and moving into an RV full time, about an 8-fold reduction in square footage for me, my wife, and our dog and cat. I’ve been thinking a lot this past year about what space and things I actually use, and why, and how. This is what I’ve got RE: closets.
I know this is tangential but it’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder if I’m missing something fundamental or if I should see it as reason to doubt other aspects of this book...
During a famine, peasant meals consist of stale bread moistened in water and mixed with goosefoot.
During a famine, why would there be stale bread lying around, let alone more of it than during good times?
Why do you assume the immortal population wouldn’t (at least within a few centuries if not right away) obtain sufficient genetic engineering competency to modify existing beings in accordance with whatever changes they thought would benefit them as individuals or a collective? Or nanotech to simply put their bodies in whatever state, form whatever assembly of molecules, they need to match whatever mutations they see the Horde evolving? And in the event that there is no actual Horde because everyone becomes immortal, biological research can still continue to make advances.
I was also going to say something along the lines of what Korz wrote about mental rejuvenation, but I don’t have much to add to what they said.
That’s fair, and I genuinely wasn’t trying to nitpick, it is a very good question. If I try to answer that question as written, I’d say that any time I see a probability estimate with on-the-order-of-hundreds of zeroes, when I know that event actually happened (at least) once in Earth’s past light cone, I’m going to assume there is an error in the model that generated the estimate, whether I know what it is or not. So what I way trying to point to is that if a catalytic cycle of many (much smaller) RNA strands was sufficient for an abiogenesis event, that could lower the probability estimate enough to make such events more likely by enough that there could have been multiple even just on Earth without straining credulity, and the world today would likely look basically the same either way since the more-competitive biochemistry would have long since reach fixation (and/or the lineages could have merged in some analog of later endosymbiosis events).
I’m not aware of an argument that there was only on abiogenesis event on Earth, just the observation that all known surviving lineages come from a universal common ancestor fairly early on. In principle that would be compatible with any number of initial events. It’s just that once a given lineage evolved enough adaptions/improvements, it would spread and take over, and then no new lineage would be able to compete/get started.
Also, your scale for probability seems to be starting from assuming a single long self-replicating genome, but that isn’t strictly necessary to bootstrap the evolution of a basic self-replicating metabolism. There are much shorter RNA strands (<200 base pairs) that have some catalytic activity including synthesizing additional RNA (though not copying themselves, AFAIK). Something like that could locally generate large numbers of shorter RNA strands, many with some form of catalytic activity of their own, collectively comprising some form of catalytic cycle that includes making more of all of them. Such a system would also be better able to cope with low copying fidelity b/c the individual strands that need to be copied correctly are shorter.
As far as going from bare RNA to a bacterium, I admit I don’t know how this happen(ed? happens?). My naive initial thought is some RNA arising in this environment that could produce fatty acids, which could form a lipid layer around a cluster of RNA molecules spontaneously. Repeat and replicate enough times, and add in some endosymbiosis events and you’re not too far off?
Which kind of impossible-to-solve do you think alignment is, and why?
Do you mean that there literally isn’t any one of the countably infinite set of bit strings that could run as a program on any mathematically possible piece of computing hardware that would “count” as both superintelligent and aligned? That… just seems like a mathematically implausible prior. Even if any particular program is aligned with probability zero, there could still be infinitely many aligned superintelligences “out there” in mind design space.
Note: if you’re saying the concept of “aligned” is itself confused to the point of impossibility, well, I’d agree that I’m at least sure my current concept of alignment is that confused if I push it far enough, but it does not seem to be the case that there are no physically possible futures I could care about and consider successful outcomes for humanity, so it should be possible to repair said concept.
Do you mean there is no way to physically instantiate such a device? Like, it would require types of matter that don’t exist, or numbers of atoms so large they’d collapse into a black hole, or so much power that no Kardashev I or II civ could operate it? Again, I find that implausible on the grounds that all the humans combined are made of normal atoms, weigh on the order of a billion tons, and consume on the order of a terrawatt of chemical energy in the form of food, but I’d be interested in any discussions of this question.
Do you mean it’s just highly unlikely that humans will successfully find and implement any of the possible safe designs? Then assuming impossibility would seem to make this even more likely, self-fulfilling-prophecy style, no? Isn’t trying to fix this problem the whole point of alignment research?
Is “The S&P 500” actually a good comparison entity? The companies that make it up vary all the time, on average remaining in it just a few decades, while US treasuries are from the same US government as always. Is there any company whose stock has average “S&P 500 level” returns over the course of a century or more? And presumably if there is, no simple method can consistently predict which one? In that case, can (some of?) the premium come from the need to constantly have money in motion and rebalancing and deciding what to include in indexes at all?
Similarly, if I instead compare the S&P 500 to a portfolio of bonds from all the large countries over the past century and a half, i.e. if I have to include the USSR and the Ottoman Empire and Imperial China in a constantly-updating index of bonds as my comparison point, what does that do to my expected government debt rate of return?
How much, if at all, is this a result of the choice to measure returns in USD, a currency whose supply is controlled by one of the entities involved in the comparison? The US government can actually, literally guarantee that as long as it exists at all, it will have enough dollars to pay its debts. Would it matter if I measured both financial assets in some other metric (although IDK which one, maybe something commodity based?).
Would the premium remain the same in a world where humans were immortal? People and organizations generally don’t just save and invest money, they do it for some purpose, with some time horizon in mind. If I expected to live 1,000 years it would matter a lot less to me if a crash caused me to delay buying a house by an extra decade, if it meant I’d most likely be able to get one a year sooner, or get a more expensive one, on average. The idea of putting a significant fraction of my savings in a low-yield US treasury would seem silly to immortal-me. Note: does this relate to why large endowments of long-lived trusts and organizations get higher returns?
These are my first two thoughts as well (although I think the second is partly a subset of the first—many great inventors had teams of unnamed helpers, or were just the last and luckiest of a long line of forgotten inventors who didn’t quite get there, or both).
My third thought is—maybe it’s just really hard for most people to feel amazement, in a world so filled with wondrous things, when you don’t yourself know how any of it works? Like, an LED is amazing compared to an incandescent lightbulb, but if you aren’t armed with a good understanding of physics and/or chemistry, it’s all just a light bulb. Landing a rocket on a barge is incredible, but if you’re not familiar with the relevant engineering, does it seem that much more incredible than landing even part of the space shuttle on a runway? Joy in the merely real is hard without a Feynman-level understanding of “mere.”
Sometimes I have to remind myself how amazing so many things are that I encounter everyday, let alone the things I see coming in the next handful of years. For me one of the few things that consistently induces wonder is the field of metamaterials. I’ve read enough papers to know at root how they work, but still, I now live in the world where physicists can make things they call “illusion devices” that can block or alter the transmission of light through open air! There are arrangements of pillars, or trees, or rocks, or tunnels that could make a building or ship (or city?) invisible to tsunamis and earthquakes! But to most people in my life, this just gets dismissed as magical thinking along with fusion and lots of other things they assume belong to fiction or the far future (a set which usually includes a large number of things that have already been known, done, or used industrially for decades).
I know at least one person whose doctor agreed they might want to avoid getting vaccinated for health reasons, but refused to put it in writing, even knowing they were going to lose their job if they didn’t either get vaccinated or get an exemption from a mandate.
I’m not sure this is actually evidence. Or at least, it’s only very weak evidence
Obviously, witnessing someone leave the simulation this way would be strong evidence, but anyone who themselves conducts the test wouldn’t be around to report the result if it worked.
Alternatively, you have no way of knowing what fraction of the people you encounter are NPCs, for whom the phrase wouldn’t do anything.
Plus, for you to experience a faultless simulation, where you can’t detect you’re in one, you would need to not become aware of other participants leaving the simulation. Plausibly, the easiest way to do that is to immediately insert a simulated replacement to fill in for anyone who leaves. (Although, if simulated NPC people are themselves conscious/sentient/sapient, a benevolent Matrix lord might respect their requests anyway—and create a real body elsewhere in addition to continuing their simulation here. (Other variant situations, like trying to use the code phrase to escape torture, might require a deeper change to the world to remove a person in a way no one notices).
For myself, I suspect my being in a simulation at all, if it’s voluntary, would only happen if 1) conditions outside are worse than here, and/or 2) my death or sufficiently bad torture here would result in automatically leaving (restored to a recent save point of my mind-state when I would consider it in good condition). Relying on being able to pick up a code phrase and trust I’ll be able to say it at the right time would be truly terrible UI design if it were the only way out.
A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
For one thing, why would I believe any manufacturer that made this claim?
It’s one thing for very old companies that already are known for longevity and also provide very long warranties, like, say, Le Crueset or Cutco. That’s a believable signal built over generations.
But for anyone else, claiming to have increased durability is cheap talk unless it’s accompanied by a long-duration and thorough warranty, and a reputation for not making the use of existing warranties unpleasantly difficult and frustrating, and some way of assuring me that that state of affairs will continue. (As a personal example: I have a GE gas stove bought in 2014, and whatever the situation was before, GE sold their appliance division to Haier in 2016, and customer warranty service got dramatically worse, as attested by several of the 11 customer service agents and 3 technicians I talked to in 2018 to get a replacement for a busted igniter (which is extremely easy to diagnose and fairly quick to replace, I knew what was wrong before the first call and the first customer service rep assured me the first tech would have the part with him when he arrived, but alas).) In any case, a credible signal of durability isn’t just a design/engineering/QA expense, it’s a deeper corporate infrastructure and organizational expense, and one that is really hard to believe in a world where companies constantly buy and sell divisions of each other, and change executives and strategies, and deal with constant external shocks of various sorts.
Actually, there is one way I can think of top-of-mind that might convince me a company really had engineered for longevity: if the product automatically came with a fully prepaid long-term replacement cost coverage insurance policy from a highly regarded, long-lived third party insurance company. Maybe one that states clearly that if the product breaks (other than usual act-of-god etc. exceptions), and can’t be fixed within, say, three attempts over a one month period, the policy pays out, no other exceptions. And it needs to be transferrable—what’s the use of a long-lived stove if the next owner of my house can’t benefit from the policy? For an actually durable product, this would be cheap to implement, otherwise not so much.
I have the same problem with clothing, but worse. Sam Vimes was wrong, or would be in the modern world. My clothes last about the same number of wash cycles, and have about the same chance of coming clean when I spill things on them, whether I buy a brand of shirt that has a $10 MSRP or a $100 MSRP. And with manufacturing so much cheaper than labor these days, repair of an expensive item, like resoling a shoe, can easily be several times more expensive than an entirely new but cheaper shoe. Especially if I am patient and wait a few weeks or months to buy it on sale when it predictably goes on sale. Actually, I buy most of my t-shirts these days at Michaels (the craft store): comfortable, no logos or tags, wide range of color options, cost less than $4, similar lifespan to every other shirt I have bought in the last decade.