Somehow for me lots of images in this post don’t load and can’t be reloaded in-page, but do load if I load the individual images in a new tab. How is it even possible that the web works like this?_? (If it matters, I’m on Firefox.)
Sounds like a great idea, and like something you might want to ask Scott to publicize on the next ACX Open Thread.
This question seems susceptible to base rate problems.The linked document in the quote is by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It covers fatal occupational injuries, and according to the graph on page 2, the most common category of fatal injuries, by far, is Transportation incidents, which presumably include car and truck accidents.And page 3 of the report (with a corresponding table on page 9) compares fatal injuries by select occupations, and has fatality rates for “Structural iron and steel workers” at the same rate as “Driver/sales workers and truck drivers”, and below e.g. Roofers (2x the fatality rate), Aircraft pilots and flight engineers (2.4x the rate), and especially fishing and hunting workers (5.5x the rate).Unfortunately the report didn’t provide fatality rates for e.g. desk jobs, and I don’t have the energy to look those up. Suffice it to say that once you’ve reached the point where your physically demanding job has a fatality rate on par with fatality rates in car-based professions, it may still be possible to improve, but it probably won’t be easy.
Welcome from a fellow German here! IIRC I also stumbled on Less Wrong via HPMoR, though back then the story wasn’t even finished yet.
I must say, I’m impressed with the quality of your English writing at that age!
If you’re ambitious and driven to choose a career to make the world a better place, check out the resources at 80,000 Hours from the Less-Wrong-adjacent Effective Altruism community. They’ve done lots of research and thinking into various career paths and their expected impacts, requirements, etc. They’re not perfect, in that they e.g. expect a lot from their readers, and below a certain level of ambition and conscientiousness much of their advice might not be particularly applicable. But now might be a good time to check whether their resources could be useful to you.
If you think you could benefit from chatting with someone to get a rough overview of the landscapes of Less Wrong or effective altruism, I’m available to chat. I’m mostly a longtime lurker in the community, but I do have enough familiarity with it that I can at least point towards further resources on most topics.
Question on LW norms: When do you strongly upvote your own comments? Never? Always? If you’re very confident in the comment? If you think the comment is particularly valuable? If the comment was time-consuming to write?
I’m not sure whether your sequence will touch on this, but the things that make me hopeful in this space are not techniques and strategies for individuals (which might require training, or willpower, or shared values), but rather suggestions for novel institutions and mechanisms for coordination.
For instance, when you take a public goods problem (like pollution or something), expecting tons of people to agree or negotiate on how to resolve the problem seems utterly intractable, whereas if you could have started with a market design which internalizes such negative externalities, the problem might mostly resolve itself.
Since successful longstanding institutions (like nations) necessarily have a strong bias towards self-preservation, however, I don’t really see how most novel mechanisms could possibly be implemented (e.g. charter cities are a great idea, but pretty much all nations are deeply skeptical of them due to highly valuing their sovereignty).
One avenue that seems like it could have a bit more hope is in the cryptocurrency sphere, if only because it’s still quite new, plus it’s also inherently weird enough that people might not immediately balk at bizarre-sounding concepts like quadratic voting.
For instance, Vitalik Buterin’s blog contains many proposed novel coordination mechanisms:
Summary of the essay “Alternatives to selling at below-market-clearing prices for achieving fairness (or community sentiment, or fun)”: Why do people sell concert tickets below market-clearing prices? This has big negative consequences like incentivizing scalpers, but also some advantages like following some intuitive principles of fairness (e.g. not locking poor people out of the market), as well as more cynical reasons like “products selling out and having long lines creates a perception of popularity and prestige”; etc. So the post suggests a market design that allows selling at mostly market-clearing prices while still preserving e.g. fairness, and concludes with: “In all of these cases, the core of the solution is simple: if you want to be reliably fair to people, then your mechanism should have some input that explicitly measures people. Proof of personhood protocols do this (and if desired can be combined with zero knowledge proofs to ensure privacy). Ergo, we should take the efficiency benefits of market and auction-based pricing, and the egalitarian benefits of proof of personhood mechanics, and combine them together.”
The essay Moving beyond coin voting governance points out in an aside that cryptocurrencies invest ridiculous sums in network security (proof of work), e.g. here’s a chart of spending on proof of work vs. research & development. The difference is that network security was considered as a public good during design of the cryptocurrency protocols, while e.g. research wasn’t. So the former gets huge amounts of funding; the latter doesn’t. (Though the essay also points out that rewarding R&D explicitly would compromise their independence etc.)
Other mechanisms include quadratic voting, which was IIRC also used here on Less Wrong for the 2018 Review; as well as the related concept of quadratic funding.
To which extent these benefits will actually materialize is of course still an open question, but conceptually, this sounds like the right approach: align incentives, internalize externalities, consider public goods from the start, etc. Try to improve systems, rather than people.
What’s the basis for your assumption that this proposal would be more politically palatable than open borders? That seems nigh-inconceivable to me. ACX has written a few posts on charter cities, including on their role in the U.S., and I did not get the idea that they would be remotely politically feasible there.
One perspective on this, from a comment on the SSC reddit:
But this makes me think two things:(1) Prior to covid, I was underrating how risky it is to get sick, because I was not accounting for the risk of chronic illness. I needed to update that prior, and take more general precautions against getting sick, period.(2) Because chronic illness is not a unique or even (apparently) particularly special risk of COVID, fear of chronic COVID specifically should not change my risk calculus or precautions overall.So I am simultaneously being more careful than I was before the pandemic, and less careful than my friends who still think “long COVID” poses a unique and novel threat that requires extra-special risk avoidance.
But this makes me think two things:
(1) Prior to covid, I was underrating how risky it is to get sick, because I was not accounting for the risk of chronic illness. I needed to update that prior, and take more general precautions against getting sick, period.
(2) Because chronic illness is not a unique or even (apparently) particularly special risk of COVID, fear of chronic COVID specifically should not change my risk calculus or precautions overall.
So I am simultaneously being more careful than I was before the pandemic, and less careful than my friends who still think “long COVID” poses a unique and novel threat that requires extra-special risk avoidance.
I don’t have the expertise or training to evaluate detailed medical claims myself. I wasn’t even able to find sources for the blood-brain-barrier thing (neither claims nor rebuttals), except for this thread on askreddit which I was too exhausted to peruse. In any case, at this point the discussion is not about medicine but about epistemology.
I have not yet been convinced that the vaccine causes brain damage. I think that at the very least, that argument requires sources for both a link between mRNA vaccines and an inflamed brain, and for the claim that this is an exceptional occurence / that this is something worse than what happens in e.g. an average fever.
I guess my prior is that bodies are pretty robust, and that most contrarian claims are wrong. Identifying correct contrarians is hard.
My god-of-the-gaps comment was directed at what I perceived as a complex hypothesis which looked like it was (over?)fitted to the available evidence. In such a situation, one can’t falsify the hypothesis without new evidence, even though one figures there should be plenty evidence regarding most conceivable side effects by now.
I do agree about the issues with doctors, though. I have had several suboptimal encounters with the medical system, which have left me rather unimpressed with medical care (diagnosis in particular). I have an essay draft on this topic, but it’s going to be a long while until I get to it.
Epistemically, this kind of argument reminds me of god-of-the-gaps or shrinking parameter spaces in string theory. That doesn’t make the argument wrong, but it means that I don’t really see a fruitful way to engage with it.
I suppose that if one’s prior is that this kind of risk is negligible, the argument will sound unconvincing, whereas if it sounds plausible a priori, then lack of such studies seems concerning? Let’s leave it at that. Though I could be convinced otherwise if I learned that this concern was taken seriously by a significant fraction of doctors or other public health professionals.
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If you had infinite time and resources, you’d ideally test for all conceivable outcome variables when designing clinical trials for anything. Of course there’s always a chance that something was missed in the trials, but it certainly matters what that chance is. Do we have reason to believe it to be non-negligible, now that more than enough people have been vaccinated for even the tiniest of risks to manifest themselves?
In any case, if someone is specifically worried about the novel mRNA vaccines, they can take one of the classically produced vaccines instead.
There’s no good reason to use a new and risky process like the mRNA process.… there’s no reason to take that risk with a speed up approval process.
There’s no good reason to use a new and risky process like the mRNA process.
… there’s no reason to take that risk with a speed up approval process.
… What about the higher efficacy of the mRNA vaccines?
(I also tried to look up a timeline of manufacturing volume by vaccine type, but unfortunately couldn’t find anything useful. I had had the impression that the mRNA vaccines had been quicker to manufacture.)
An omniscient being could make a full cost-benefit analysis on this kind of stuff, but we have to reason under uncertainty, and things certainly don’t look so clear-cut to me.
Suggestion: Pre-register how you imagine a truly safe approval process for a vaccine would look like. Take notes on a piece of paper: How many clinical trials would you expect? How long should they take? If a vaccine successfully passes all trials, how much time should official institutions like the FDA take to review the evidence before they made a decision on whether to authorize use of the vaccine?
Finally, does the process you’ve imagined account for the opportunity cost of delay during an emergency?
Only afterwards, look up how the vaccines were actually approved. For instance, this study (section “Results”) provides an overview of how various vaccines were authorized in the USA, EU, and Canada.
Then compare the actual approval process with what you imagined it should look like. How do they compare?
The first part is just a jab at politics. IIRC the second part comments on some kinds of new proposed cryptocurrency regulations. When politicians regulate new technology, they compare it to old technology, and sometimes these comparisons make no sense and put an undue regulatory burden on the new technology. From what I understand, the proposed regulations could treat cryptocurrency miners as brokers, in which case miners would presumably fall under the purview of some kinds of financial regulation.
If this article is to be believed, the legislators tried to fix that problem. The article’s last section implies that this attempt failed, however:
Updated to addThe $1tr infrastructure bill has passed its Senate vote by 60-33, but the new terminology for cryptocurrency miners and researchers didn’t make it into the final legislation.As so often happens in the Senate these days the bi-partisan amendment was blocked. Unanimous consent for the amendment was required and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) objected, effectively killing the changes that had taken weeks of careful negotiating.It’s now up to the House of Representatives to come up with its own version of the language in its bill, so it’s not over yet.
The $1tr infrastructure bill has passed its Senate vote by 60-33, but the new terminology for cryptocurrency miners and researchers didn’t make it into the final legislation.
As so often happens in the Senate these days the bi-partisan amendment was blocked. Unanimous consent for the amendment was required and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) objected, effectively killing the changes that had taken weeks of careful negotiating.
It’s now up to the House of Representatives to come up with its own version of the language in its bill, so it’s not over yet.
Addendum: There’s lots of discussion of this post on the SSC subreddit, including several claims that Googling has gotten worse.
e.g.: “The thing that’s rather shocking to me is how bad Google has gotten at understanding a highly-specific and detailed search.”
I used to think the same way, and I still google things a lot, but at some point I had the vivid impression that the “Google Oracle” had been compromised or seriously deteriorated in quality.
If I want to find a particular product on Amazon, or a particular game on Steam, Google will pretty much always find it. But if there’s no straightforward way to make money off of answering my question (or at least that’s my impression), then Google will usually try to answer a similar-sounding question instead, one somebody could make money off of.
Some consequences: Idiosyncratic questions get banal answers to similar-sounding but uninteresting questions. Any questions about product comparisons are answered by pages upon pages of auto-generated product comparisons (which are usually crap) full of affiliate links to Amazon, irrespective of which product features I asked about and whether they’re even mentioned in the “answers”. Any medical questions (like “Is X unhealthy?”) are routed towards useless websites like WebMD. Lifestyle questions are answered by pages upon pages of essentially the same article written by different writers, all providing the same answer based on Institutional Common Sense or the same source material; often there’s no diversity of opinion in sight. And so on.
I’m curious why we experience search engines so differently—maybe we ask different questions, or we have different expectations or something, but my personal impression is that Google used to be the Oracle you mentioned, but that it lost its powers to Goodharting years ago.
I agree in principle that We Can Do Better, but would caution that these kinds of discussions should either explicitly ban (pseudo) island nations like Australia, South Korea, Taiwan etc., or argue how their (sometimes temporary) superior performance isn’t entirely dependent on lucky geography which can’t be replicated by most nations.
Are there any non-island-ish nations that have had similarly successful early Covid policy?
For another essay from the community about the fish oil story, ACX wrote a post on it in 2021. Though it’s been a while since I read this chapter from Inadequate Equilibria, and so I don’t remember how Eliezer’s treatment of the story differs from Scott’s.
From reading further through the Hedgehog Markets link:
It’s a competition, i.e. only one of the services they eventually intend to offer.
The tokens have value because there are prizes: “But of course, since it’s a competition, there are prizes to be won — users can trade their way onto the ROI Leaderboard for a share of the competition prize pool.”
Prizes are financed via the interest gained by lending away the UDSC for the duration of the competition (just as if Hedgehog were acting as a classical bank, I suppose): “Thanks to DeFi composability, Hedgehog can direct the USDC staked by users towards a Solana lending protocol for the duration of the competition. All of the yield generated from these deposits goes back to users in the form of competition prize pools.”
The linked post ends with a full page of disclaimers.
With regards to locking up USDC: I’ve only just started reading up on Ethereum (e.g. this post), but from my very rudimentary understanding, I suppose the point here is that USDC is a stablecoin pegged to the price of 1 USD, so locking up USDC does not expose you to the same volatility as would happen if you locked up the equivalent amount of ETH instead.
Thanks for writing this! I got lots of food for thought.
With regards to r/calledit, I looked through the top 30+ posts, but I wasn’t as impressed.
The Betty in 2021 thing is obviously great in multiple ways, and unfortunately so was this Onion satire.
But most of the Mark My Words statements seem like obvious cases of survivorship bias, i.e. if enough people make enough predictions, eventually some will turn out true. And I’m averse to even giving those credit, since they lack both confidence intervals and the context of these redditors’ other predictions.
The Ruth Bader Ginsburg prediction looks very specific, but old people have a non-negligible chance to die each year, and the followup was inevitable in an increasingly partisan congress.
The 2nd-most upvoted post on the subreddit is this, supposedly predicting the Among Us game craze of 2020, but it’s actually a photoshopped fake of this post.