Actually, I like Decoupling vs. Contextualising more too, especially as they become single words.
I clicked +1, but in way of feedback I would suggest trying to be more precise with your definitions. “The absence of binding constraints on behavior” sounds just like a synonym for freedom. If that was the concept that this article identified, it would be kind of pointless, but you’ve actually identified a new and useful concept.
This has a few advantages:
Firstly, it makes the article easier to understand. Someone people learn better by example, others better by explicit definition.
Secondly, it helps you make sure that what you have identified is indeed a single concept and not a few closely related ideas rolled into one.
Third, it allows you clarify the concept in your own head and pick more central examples to illustrate it.
Fourth, it helps set social norms by encouraging other people to carefully define their terms.
I would make an alternative definition as follows:
Firstly, we start off by assuming some kind of resource (ie. time, energy, money, social capital)
Now we can define Slack as keeping some of a resource spare so that you can spend it when opportunities come up (ie. to do things ethically/properly/just for fun/for personal growth, ect).
This is a more specific concept than freedom, it is related to the freedom provided by having spare resources.
There is also a typical paradigm of how people end up in situations without enough slack. Basically, they underestimate the future opportunity cost of either spending or committing to spend a particular resource now. For example, they spend a lot money at a casino, without realising that there is a chance that they may lose their job, in which case their excess money would suddenly become much more useful. Or they commit to too many projects because they want to be agreeable in the present, without realising how a lack of time for recuperation will wear them out when the work ends up more tiring than they expect. More broadly, it is deciding what you can spend or commit now, whilst ignoring the unknowns that might pop up in the future.
I’m really happy that you are writing a book on this topic. I mean, the Sequences and the other discussion on Less Wrong has given us a lot of tools with which to form our own opinion, but then we need to figure out how to balance this against the opinions of experts with more domain-specific knowledge. There’s a sense in which all the other knowledge isn’t of any use unless we know when to actually use it.
“Now, on the modest view, this was the unfairest test imaginable. Out of all the times that I’ve ever suggested that a government’s policy is suboptimal, the rare time a government tries my preferred alternative will select the most mainstream, highest-conventional-prestige policies I happen to advocate, and those are the very policy proposals that modesty is least likely to disapprove of.”
This is a pretty big deal, so I wanted to emphasise it. Let’s suppose you come up with 50 policies you think the government should implement. 10 get implemented and 8 work out well. Pretty good right? But what if 30 of your policies would have been utterly stupid and this is obvious to any of the experts? This effect could completely destroy your attempts at callibration.
Slack: Slack is one of the concepts that seems to have gained the most traction. Unfortunately, I don’t think we have a clear definition yet. Zvi defined Slack as the absence of binding constraints on behaviour. I suggested that this would make it merely a synonym for freedom and that his article seems to describe, “freedom provided by having spare resources”, but Zvi wasn’t happy with it and I don’t know if he’s settled on a precise definition yet.
I suspect that this idea is so popular because it gives people a word to describe the disadvantages of running a system near maximum capacity. Zvi explains how slack reduces stress, allows you to pursuing opportunities that arise, allows you to avoid bad trade-offs and allows long-term thinking. In another key article, Raemon explains how it can lead to fragile design decisions and making poor decisions that go unnoticed.
I’ve attended a CFAR workshop. I agree with you that Double Crux has all of these theoretical flaws, but it actually seems to work reasonably well in practise, even if these flaws make it kind of confusing. In practise you just kind of stumble through. I strongly agree that if the technique was rewritten so that it didn’t have these flaws, it would be much easier to learn as the stumbling bit isn’t the most confidence inspiring (this is when the in person assistance becomes important).One of the key elements that haven’t seen mentioned here is this separation between trying to persuade the other person and trying to find out where your point of view differs. When you are trying to convince the other person it is much easier to miss, for example, when there’s a difference in a core assumption. Double Crux lets you understand the broad structure of their beliefs so that you can at least figure out the right kinds of things to say later to persuade them that won’t be immediately dismissed.
I feel like the inside view and all-things-considered view needs to be its own post. The idea of maintaining two separate probabilities for different situations is pretty important, but many people won’t get this insight as this post is rather long. (Admittedly it’s slightly more complex in practise because the inside view might depend on judgements about other things which in turn have their own inside view and all-things-considered view).
I suspect there’s a practise effect here as well. Figuring out how to be assertive without being domineering or bossy is hard. People who have grown up being assertive will have had the opportunity to learn, but those who try to become assertive because they know its important for the workplace won’t have developed the judgement yet.
Instead of purely focusing on whether people will use these powers well, perhaps we should also talk about ways to nudge them towards responsibility?
What if authors had to give reasons for the first 10 or 20 comments that they deleted? This would avoid creating a long term burden, but it would also nudge them towards thinking carefully about which comments they would or would not delete at the start
Perhaps reign of terror moderation should require more karma than norm enforcing? This would encourage people to lean towards norm enforcing and to only switch to reign of terror if norm enforcing wasn’t working for them
I already posted this as a reply to a comment further up, but perhaps authors should only be able to collapse comments at first and then later be given delete powers. Again, it would nudge them towards the former, rather than the later
For the 2nd and 3rd idea to work, the delay system couldn’t be based purely on karma as many authors already have enough karma to gain these powers instantly. There should ideally be to some delay in gaining access to the higher level features even in this case
I don’t suppose you could clarify what the unresolved issues in decision theory are. What are the biggest issues that haven’t been solved for UDT or FDT? What is a co-ordination problem that hasn’t been solved? And what still isn’t known about counterfactuals?
I don’t suppose I could persuade you to write up a post with what you consider to be some of the most important insights from network theory? I’ve started to think myself that some of our models that we tend to use within the rationality community are overly simplistic.
I’m a huge fan of the Archipelago model, but I’m unsure how well our current structure is suited to it. On Reddit, you only have to learn one set of moderation norms per sub. On Less Wrong, learning one set of moderation norms per author seems like a much higher burden.
In fact, the Archipelago model itself, is one set of norms per group. If you don’t like the norms of a particular group, you just don’t go there. This is harder when there isn’t a clear separation and everyone’s posts are all mixed together.
I’d love to see more conversations being written up, especially as someone who is outside of the Bay Area and so who is probably missing out on many ideas that are in wide circulation there. I wonder if there are any Less Wrongers with journalism training who would take up this role.
Baudrillard’s language seems quite religious, so I almost feel that a religious example might relate directly to his claims better. I haven’t really read Baudrillard, but here’s how I’d explain my current understanding:
Stage 1: People pray faithfully in public because they believe in God and follow a religion. Those who witness this prayer experience a window into the transcendent.
Stage 2: People realise that they can gain social status by praying in public, so they pretend to believe. Many people are aware of this, so witnessing an apparently sincere prayer ceases to be the same experience as you don’t know whether it is genuine or not. It still represent the transcendent to some degree, but the experience of witnessing it just isn’t the same.
Stage 3: Enough people have started praying insincerely that almost everyone starts jumping on the bandwagon. Publicly prayer has ceased to be an indicator of religiosity or faith any more, but some particularly naive people still haven’t realised the pretence. People still gain status from this for speaking sufficiently elegantly. People can’t be too obviously fake though or they’ll be punished either by the few still naive enough to buy into it or by those who want to keep up the pretence.
Stage 4: Praying is now seen purely as a social move which operates according to certain rules. It’s no longer necessary in and of itself to convince people that you are real, but part of the game may include punishments for making certain moves. For example, if you swear during your prayer, that might be punished for being inappropriate, even though no-one cares about religion any more, because that’s seen as cheating or breaking the rules of the game. However, you can be obviously fake in ways that don’t violate these rules, as the spirit of the rules has been forgotten. Maybe people pray for vain things like becoming wealthy. Or they go to church one day, then post pictures of them getting smashed the next day on Facebook, which all their church friends see, but none of them care. The naive are too few to matter and if they say anything, people will make fun of them.
I’ll admit that I’ve added something of my own interpretation here, especially in terms of how strongly you have to pretend to be real at the various stage
I’ve been surprised by how much good content has been posted on the site. Admittedly a lot of this was from Conner’s 30 day project, but even when this stops it seems like we are getting much more quality content than before.
I mainly use the all posts view as I want to see all the posts that got a good number of upvotes regardless of whether it is front-page or on a blog.
The site is still buggy enough on my Android phone that I only use the web version of this site.
That said, I haven’t been seeing nearly as many issues on the site in a desktop browser any more. This stability is definitely appreciated.
I really appreciate personal blogs being differentiated from other posts. Before it was very confusing to tell which was which.
I can report that the reputation system was good at motivating me to get up to 125 reputation, but now I’m just gliding my way towards the next threshold. Once I get close, it’ll probably motivate me again. Longer term, we might want to copy StackExchange and attach some other privileges to reputation to encourage people to contribute to the website. But more than this, I suspect making a person have to earn their right to have a significant voice in what content is good or bad is a great way of getting people to buy into the community more in a manner that is seperate from the short term motivation effects.
I’m finding it really convenient having top blogs imported into the site. I want to know if certain popular blogs have written something that is resonating with people, but I’m not interested enough to want to read everything they right. This solves this problem very well.
I still find creating Meta posts confusing because of the Post to Front-page checkbox which is showing.
The top feature that I am waiting on is the ability to tag posts. One reason is that I think that it is important to have some discussion about the Less Wrong community and there isn’t a good way to do this until we get the community tag. I feel that there is a lot to be discussed now that we actually have an online community again.