That’s where randomized controlled trials come in. Rigor! Scholarship! Risks to one’s health! That’s the scientific method!
That’s where the virtue of experimentation comes in. Let us know what you find! :D
(Purely incidentally, I love what you’re doing on We’ve Got Worm. Didn’t know you ran in these circles, though I might have guessed.)
If you can convince people that the standards of the new journal are actually beter than the existing ones that further helps with making the decision to publish in the journal seem virtuous.
I concur with the implication, but that’s a very big “if”. It’s possible that many scientists know that e.g. the CONSORT standards are good, but how many do you think would be able to differentiate between two sets of standards, and determine which one is “better”? In addition, I’m not sure that “virtue” really is much of a factor when deciding in which journal to publish one’s research, otherwise we wouldn’t see people following the incentive gradients they are.
Finally I don’t see how taking money for publishing instead of taking money from a grant seems more like selling out.
One is status quo, the other is novel. Sometimes that’s all it takes. I can easily imagine a conversation like the following:
“Hey Kit, in which journal did you publish your recent research paper?”
“Oh, I published it in The Journal of High Standards.”
“Huh, I’ve never heard of them. Why didn’t you submit it to The Prestigious Yet Unvirtuous Journal?”
“Well, The Journal of High Standards paid me a few thousand dollars.”
“Really? That sounds suspicious. You sure it isn’t a scam?”
The idea of money coming from the government to fund scientific research is already well-established (since it’s what we do), it naturally appeals to our democratic ideals, and everyone understands the incentive structure involved. The idea of money coming as a reward from a publisher is novel (and therefore weird), and the incentive structure is murkier (and therefore suspicious).
This all said, I’m speaking solely from my intuition regarding how people would react to this situation, and my intuition seems to differ substantially from yours. I’m not trying to convince you that you’re wrong and I’m right; rather, I’m trying to signal that there is a wide possibility space here, and I’m not sure why you’ve picked “offering money will lead to greater prestige” out of it when other possibilities seem to be just as likely, if not more so.
You could try to bite bullets and believe the inconvenient facts.
You could try to find the facts and change your politics to fit.
You mention that you “feel committed to the last”. If you had used the word “beliefs” instead of “politics,” I would endorse and agree with your commitment. Given that you used the word “politics,” though, I’m inclined to believe that the better path is somewhere between the two positions quoted above.
I agree that “[for] almost any political position, there is at least one inconvenient fact.” (Or, at least, I think I agree; I think that you are using the terms “political position” and “inconvenient” in the way that is intuitive to me.) But political positions are only sufficiently powerful enough to enact change when multiple people believe in them, or believe in something close enough that they can work together. There are inconvenient facts that I’m aware of which cast doubt on some of my political positions, but the doubts are small enough that I believe it better to hold onto the imperfect position than to abandon it. Politics is not a game of finding optimum solutions; it is a game of coalition-building, of incremental change, of pushing for policies that are better than what existed before. (I would imagine that this fact is part of the source of the frustration many aspiring rationalists feel toward politics. I know that I feel this frustration.)
So let’s set aside politics for the moment, because you seem to use the term roughly interchangeably with “belief”, e.g. “whatever you wish to believe, there is, somewhere, a fact that will cast doubt on it.”
But my beliefs are probabilistic in nature. Seemingly contradictory facts are not enemies—to the contrary, they are expected. If I believe that a die is weighted such that the number six will show up 25% of the time, I will bet on each roll coming up on six. 75% of the time, the facts will appear to be against me—and yet, if I bet at the right odds, I’ll still expect to win in the long run. It is my intuition that this stance lies closer to “[trying] to bite the bullets and believe the inconvenient facts” than “[trying] to find the facts and [changing] my [beliefs] to fit.”
Of course, I should still update the probability based on each roll I see, so maybe that counts as “[changing] my [beliefs]”? I’m not sure. Maybe my point is just that I’m not clear on what difference you’re making between those two options. Really, your first option, “[taking] a stance of strong epistemic and moral modesty, and never [taking] a position with confidence,” could also describe the situations I touched on above.
Adding to the Markdown parsing comment: if we’re going to type in Markdown anyway instead of having a proper WYSIWYG editor (make no mistake; I prefer the former!) (Although I see that highlighting text causes a WYSIWYG panel to open up, which I think is excellent), I think it makes sense to separate the raw input from the formatting. I would prefer a system such as Reddit or Stack Exchange have, where the text-box shows the raw Markdown, and the resultant formatted text is displayed elsewhere for review. Combining the two into one area makes fine editing more difficult.
I’m inclined to believe that this would also go some way toward fixing Jiro’s underscore issue, since “[struggling] with a malicious parser” is somewhat easier when you have easy access to the parser’s input and output. It might not help as much as I think, though, and it would indeed be easier not to have to struggle. (Jiro, as a workaround I would recommend surrounding the offending text with backticks, e.g. `expand_less`.
Even if the money alone isn’t enough to warrant the scientist to publish in a no-name journal, the journal would soon stop being a no-name journal because scientists would expect that their colleges want to publish in the journal to get the money. That expectation makes the journal more prestigious. The expectations that other people expect the journal to get more prestigious in-turn will increase it’s prestige.
I’m inclined to dispute this point. Setting quite aside the difficulty of setting up such a project, supposing that the money came ex nihilo and we magically caught the ear of prestigious scientists… it is my intuition that our journal would nevertheless fail to gain prestige. I believe that scientists who published with us would be seen as having been “bought”, and I expect that this scorn would overpower any demonstrable merit the research or our journal as a whole possessed. “I want to publish in this journal to get the prize money” is a different motivation than “I want to publish in this journal because it has prestige,” and I don’t think that gap is as easily crossed as you seem to think.
The Navbar is transparent on the About page on Android—when I scroll down, the content and the navbar text overlap each other. Not sure if that’s intentional, but it seems a bit awkward to me.
Actually, much of my experience on Android has been buggy—is mobile performance not a high development priority right now?
… huh. I wonder if Neal Stephenson is a LW reader. See his (most recent?) book, REAMDE, for an implementation of this idea.
I’m not sure that the difference between 4D states and 3D states is meaningful, with respect to eudaimoniac valuations. Doesn’t this overlook the fact that human memories are encoded physically, and are therefore part of the 3D state being looked at? I don’t see any meaningful difference between a valuation over a 4D state, and a valuation over a 3D state including memories of the past.
In other words, I can think of no 3D state whose eudaimoniac valuation is worse than that of the 4D state having it as its endpoint.
(In fact, I can think of quite a few which may in fact be better, for pathological choices of 4D state, e.g. ones extending all the way back to the Dark Ages or before.)
P.S. Is there a standardized spelling for the term which I have chosen to spell as “eudaimoniac”? A quick Google search suggested this one as the best candidate.
Oh dear; how embarrassing. Let me try my argument again from the top, then.
… Just to check: we’re talking about Microsoft Office’s Clippy, right?
Ha! No. I guess I’m using a stricter definition of a “mind” than is used in that post: one that is able to model itself. I recognize the utility of such a generalized definition of intelligence, but I’m talking about a subclass of said intelligences.
Which sounds like that fuzzily-defined “conscience” thing. So suppose I say that this “Stone tablet” is not a literal tablet, but is rather a set of rules that sufficiently advanced lifeforms will tend to accord to? Is this fundamentally different than the opposite side of the argument?
I’m not sure that was ever a question. :3
… which doesn’t solve the problem, but at least that AI won’t be giving anyone… five dollars? Your point is valid, but it doesn’t expand on anything.
I think the problem might lie in the almost laughable disparity between the price and the possible risk. A human mind is not capable of instinctively providing a reason why it would be worth killing 3^^^^3 people—or even, I think, a million people—as punishment for not getting $5. A mind who would value $5 as much or more than the lives of 3^^^^3 people is utterly alien to us, and so we leap to the much more likely assumption that the guy is crazy.
Is this a bias? I’d call it a heuristic. It calls to my mind the discussion in Neal Stephenson’s Anathem about pink nerve-gas-farting dragons. (Mandatory warning: fictional example.) The crux of it is, our minds only bother to anticipate situations that we can conceive of as logical. Therefore, the manifest illogicality of the mugging (why is 3^^^^3 lives worth $5; if you’re a Matrix Lord why can’t you just generate $5 or better yet, modify my mind so that I’m inclined to give you $5, etc.) causes us to anti-anticipate its truth. Otherwise, what’s to stop you from imagining, as stated by Tom_McCabe2 (and mitchell_porter2, &c.), that typing the string “QWERTYUIOP” leads to, for example, 3^^^^3 deaths? If you imagine it, and conceive of it as a logically possible outcome,
then regardless of its improbability, by your argument (as I see it), a “mind that worked strictly by Solomonoff induction” should cease to type that string of letters ever again. By induction, such a mind could cause itself to cease to take any action, which would lead to… well, if the AI had access to itself, likely self-deletion.
That’s my top-of-the-head theory. It doesn’t really answer the question at hand, but maybe I’m on the right track...?
“If morality exists independently of human nature, then isn’t it a remarkable coincidence that, say, love is good?”
“If morality exists independently of human nature, then isn’t it a remarkable coincidence that, say, love is good?”
I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate for a moment here. Anyone, please feel free to answer, but do not interpret the below arguments as correlating with my set of beliefs.
“A remarkable coincidence? Of course not! If we’re supposing that this ‘stone tablet’ has some influence on the universe—and if it exists, it must exert influence, otherwise we wouldn’t have any evidence wherewith to be arguing over whether or not it exists—then it had influence on our ‘creation’, whether (in order to cover all bases) we got here purely through evolution, or via some external manipulation as well. I should think it would be yet stranger if we had human natures that did not accord with such a ‘stone tablet’.”
Yes, I’ve read through Yudkowsky’s post on metaethics, I’m sorry if I made the point of this post insufficiently clear, please see the… cousin… to this comment.
Reckon it’s atop some mystical unassailable mountain on a windswept planet. That, or it doesn’t exist. :P I’m well aware of the arguments against stone tablet morality. I had thought I’d made it clear above that this was an epiphany about my flawed mind-state, not about Actual Morality. Judging by the downvotes, I did not make this sufficiently clear.
Wow. I’ve been guilty of this for a while, and not realized it. That “is this action morally wrong” question really struck me.
Myself, I believe that there is an objective morality outside humanity, one that is, as Eliezer would deride the idea, “written on a stone tablet somewhere”. This may be an unpopular hypothesis, but accepting it is not a prerequisite for my point. When asked about why certain actions were immoral, I, too, have reached for the “because it harms someone” explanation… an explanation which I just now see as the sin of Avoiding Your Belief’s Real Weak Points.
What I really believe, upon much reflection, is that there are two overlapping, yet distinct, classes of “wrong” actions: one we might term “sins”, and the other we might term “social transgressions”. Social Transgressions is that class of acts which are punishable by society, usually those that are harmful. Sins is that class of acts which goes against this Immutable Moral Law. Examples are given below, being (in the spirit of full disclosure) the first examples I thought of, and neither the more pure examples, nor the most defensible, non-controversial examples.
Spitting on the floor of an office building is a social transgression, but not a sin.
Homosexuality is a sin, but not a social transgression (insofar as it is accepted by society, which is more and more very day).
Murder is both a sin and a social transgression.
I do not know if this is a defensible position, but I now recognize it as a clearer form of what I believe than what I had previously claimed to believe.