Update: as of 2019 they have a new book out, Game-Theoretic Foundations for Probability and Finance.
They have added a game-theoretic derivation of Ito stochastic calculus, the capital asset pricing model, the equity premium, and portfolio theory.
I liked that it provided a personal perspective into an important window of history. Whether by instinct or design, you also neatly organized it into information-decision-information-decision, which is exactly the kind of analysis we want to be able to do.Separately from my appreciation: it fits the zeitgeist, since the US is in political crisis and modern China is and has been an important factor in world events for years.
Lastly, though I can’t put my finger precisely on why, it feels relevant to the events of Petrov Day this year. Sort of the inverse, if that makes any sense: not world-ending, but personal world-ending; plenty of time to make the decision but a stupendous amount of information to consider; the consequences stretched out over years and decades rather than a few hours.
Do the data speak about the relationship between coups and federal systems? In the US, there is more than one level of fundamental government in play, even though they use similar models. I wonder if this helps to explain our weird longevity.
They are problematic people. You don’t want to be problematic, do you?
Ominous, under the circumstances.
I notice you have the following:
Long-term concern about the problem
A relevant background in several dimensions
Some time on your hands
Sounds to me like an excellent opportunity to firm up your analysis of the risks. With this, you can make a much more informed decision about whether to tackle the problem head on.Also this:
One of the things I learned from doing research in industry is that experimental rigor is actually very hard to do properly, and almost everyone, people who publish papers in academia, as well as industry, cut corners to get things out ASAP so they can flag-plant on ArXiv.
I am far from the expert on the subject, but rigorous and safe toy models in code demonstrating any of the things which we discuss seem like they would be very useful.
Ah, the humiliation of using the wrong ctrl-f inputs! But of course it would be lower level.Well that’s reason enough to cap my investment in the notion; we’ll stick to cheap experiments if the muse descends.
Facts are independent of beliefs, which is sort of their defining characteristic. But beliefs can be in alignment with the facts, or not; the goal is the former.
What rational person doesn’t?
None. But there are no such people in the strong sense, yet. This is the ambition of the project.
The point about proof generation is interesting. A general proof is equivalent to collapsing the scope of predictions covered by the proof; a method of generating strong evidence effectively setting a floor for future predictions.
A simple way to score this might be to keep adding to their prediction score every time a question is found to succumb to the proof. That being said, we could also consider the specific prediction separately from the transmissibility of the prediction method.
This might be worthwhile even with no change in the overall score; it feels obvious that we would like to be able to sort predictions by [people who have used proofs] or [people who generate evidence directly].
Personally I’ve found the biggest problem with spaced repetition for skills and habits is that it’s contextless.
Could you talk a bit more about this? My initial reaction is that I am almost exactly proposing additional value from using Anki to engage the skill sans context (in addition to whatever actual practice is happening with context).I review Gwern’s post pretty much every time I resume the habit; it doesn’t look like it has been evaluated in connection with physical skills.
I suspect the likeliest difference is that the recall curve is going to be different from the practice curve for physical skills, and the curve for mental review of physical skills will probably be different again. These should be trivial to adjust if we knew what they were, but alas, I do not.
Maybe I could pillage the sports performance research? Surely they do something like this.
Is spaced repetition software a good tool for skill development or good practice reinforcement?
I was recently considering using an Anki prompt to do a mental move rather than to test my recall, like tense your muscles as though you were performing a deadlift. I don’t actually have access to a gym right now, so I didn’t get to put it into action immediately. Visualizing the movement as vividly as possible, and tensing muscles like the movement was being performed (even when not doing it) are common tricks reported by famous weightlifters.But I happened across an article from Runner’s World today which described an experiment where all they did was tell a group of runners the obvious things that everyone already knows about preventing injury. The experimental group saw ~13% fewer injuries.
This suggests to me that my earlier idea is probably a good one, even though it isn’t memory per se. The obvious hitch is that what I am after isn’t actually recall—it isn’t as though runners forget that overtraining leads to injury if you were to ask them, and I have never forgotten how to do a deadlift.
Rather the question is how to make it as correct and instinctive as possible.
This feels like a physical analogue of my earlier notion about Ankifying the elements of a problem, so as to integrate it into my perspective and notice relevant information.
Maybe a better way to say this is using an Anki prompt to help respond to a physical prompt, that being the task itself.
A physical action in response to the physical task instinctively already has a name; it is called muscle memory.
The heuristics are pretty good within their scope, which I believe because I watched them work. That being said, the scope was limited—the explicit target of the project was something in mode of “As Seen On TV” and it had to get to a working prototype in two semesters, so the goal for heuristic 4 simultaneously became make sure no one else is doing this thing and people doing something similar is evidence of the market and investor interest. The best ones (in my opinion) were those which chose a different method for tackling a known-but-not-solved problem.That being said, I did still sit through ENTIRELY too many coffee and/or headphone ideas. As a consequence of this experience I have concluded that solve a problem you have is pretty terrible advice when you are university student.
What I initially had in mind was doing a babble exercise, and then later come back to prune that same babble exercise, which is what I meant by symmetric.
I agree that doing pruning is a different question. I did an entrepreneurship capstone at university, and for our projects they used a method similar to babble and prune. We got into teams, and had to generate 124 ideas, which predictably involved a lot of nonsense filler. For the prune side of the exercise, we applied a series of filters to narrow it down. These were:
Is it technically feasible? Can it be done at all?
Is it possible for the team to execute?
Are any other companies doing it?
What is the size of the potential market?
Then, of the ideas that had a reasonable market size and could be executed by the team, an option was chosen.
This leads me to think that a good prune prompt would consist of some reasonable filters with which to prune the earlier babble.
That being said the counter-babble idea is also good. I strongly recommend attempting it at least as an experiment.
I find myself wondering about incentives and transaction costs, here.Is the historical record good enough to describe the people who were producing these inventions, and the environments they were working in? Do we have enough information to apply modern models to them, like cognitive load, or culture of innovation, etc?By way of example, we’ve discussed several times Xerox PARC and Bell Laboratories as unusually fecund sources of innovation; but both of these were after 1920 and their chief role in the story here is launching the computing industry, which was responsible for the growth since 1970.I have no real idea what the big sources of innovation were in 1870. There was the War of the Currents between Westinghouse and Edison, which points to companies investing in relatively ad-hoc engineering labs; but there was also a lot of acquisition of small companies in a way analogous to startup acquisition today. Whence these companies’ inventions?This was also the Reconstruction Era, so Civil War innovations might have been able to distribute. Although my inexpert impression of that war was not so much that it was a source of new discoveries in the way of WWII, but rather than it was a boom in adoption of recent inventions, and that largely on the marine and military front.
I also have the impression that patents were much weaker at the time, and the cost of doing business was lower: patents were easier to get, cheaper to keep, easier to prosecute, and there was nothing like today’s patent trolls. There were a bunch of developments on that front during this period too, including international recognition of patents, switching from requiring scale models to requiring diagrams, etc.
Tangentially related is the overall question of liability and regulation, which on the aggregate I expect to have the effect of squeezing out growth of the [large harm + larger gain] type. At least legendarily, there were lots of cases where a small town or village would be destroyed or relocated in the name of a mine, or a port, or a dam. These options are all off the table now.Following on that, this was also the period during which Westward Expansion was completed, which meant the introduction of huge quantities of land for distribution to migrants, as well as the above mechanism being applied to Native American tribes. We added...14? 15? states to the country during this period. We had only won the territory west of the Rocky Mountains <25 years prior, more than doubling the territorial expanse of the country. One complete generation working more-than-double the total natural resources seems like the kind of thing which would drive a huge growth boom. These options are also off the table in the future.
Looks like the Internal Family Systems and multi-agent mind people are about to get a boost in accuracy!
This one has the most “do X with the enemy” posts so far, which I really like. I need to branch out of my “slash ‘em, smash ‘em, skin ’em alive!” reflex when people say evil forces.
I like two things about this list aside from the ideas: one, the assumptions at the top (I think I will steal this for next time); two, the sub-lists, because it made for easier reading of the ideas even if it messed up the numbering.
Also I got a solid chuckle out of #19 and #20.
Yep; those are a series of bets, where I substituted another group’s resources for mine. I couldn’t conceive of any way to make it impossible for them to succeed owing to the constraint that I need to deliver the pen to Einstein. The best I can do with information is make sure neither I nor the evil forces know where it is, but this prevents me from getting the pen back. Anything that exploits an information imbalance fails in the face of basic things like “evil already has you under surveillance—now they know too.”The underspecification of the question is to give us degrees of freedom to play with, but the thing is that freedom is symmetric: who knows how many sinister soups into which the forces of evil have dipped their dastardly digits?
#7 is simultaneously right up my alley, and also opens up an entire area I barely explored except by accident. You mine that vein pretty good. Well done!
Aw, man! I didn’t think of anything even adjacent to doing a value-handshake with the bad guys.
1. If there are evil forces, their are good forces; bargain with them for security.
2. Get rejected by good forces because of those paper’s role in the development of nuclear weapons; sneak it into their compound so they don’t know they are protecting it for me.
3. Prison smuggling.
4. Purchase lots of decoy pens, and put them around the world in medium security locations. Put two of them in conspicuously-higher security locations. They will never believe the second highly secure location is not the real pen.
5. The future is fixed. Do nothing unusual, because I know Einstein will get the pen anyway.
6. Infiltrate the evil forces’ security and/or archives establishment. Allow the pen to be obtained by them, and then entrusted to my care for the next 50 years. Plus, evil benefits package!
7. Throw the pen into the pile which is being sorted into boxes for sale, such that even I do not know where it winds up. Then buy all the pens of that type for sale in the shops between Einstein’s home and the patent office in 1905.
8. Get into the office supplies business, and secure the contract for supplying the patent office with pens and stationary. Even evil forces must cower in the face of bureaucracy. Engineer a retroactive sale by providing Einstein the pen, and bill him for losing it later.
9. Let evil obtain the pen, and then provide Einstein a better pen, yielding even more miraculous papers.
10. Lean on whatever mechanism granted me knowledge of the future to allow me to consistently foil the evil force’s plans.
11. Bargain with other evil forces to protect the pen, based on the argument it is necessary for the development of nuclear weapons.
12. Whine to whoever gave me the pen until they lower the requirements and I can get an A.
13. Tie the pen into a lambskin condom, and throw it on a lesser-used beach. No one examines used condoms too closely.
14. Safety deposit box. Dare they challenge the bank?
15. Hide inside a reliquary, and donate to the Vatican. Dare they challenge the Church?
16. Use the pen as collateral for a loan. If Evil obtains the pen, default on the loan on purpose, and have the repo man fetch it back.
17. Tell everyone the purpose of the pen and the situation with the evil forces. Almost no one will believe me, but it will be good enough to start a low-grade tourist attraction, allowing me to use the public eye to deter the evil forces.
18. More people will believe me than I thought. Use the credulous followers to form a militant order dedicated to the protection of the pen.
19. Put the pen in a steel container, then grow a tree around the container. For fast growing varieties, after the first few years the container will be concealed. When 1905 arrives, chop down the tree.
20. Bury the pen deeply. Much more shallowly, build a latrine on top of it. Dare they challenge the potty?
21. Skip the latrine. If I tell no one else it will be powerful difficult to find anyway.
22. Seal the pen in wax, then in a water-tight container. Bury it in diving distance off the coast.
23. Hide it in the concrete of a building being constructed, that I know will still have foundations in 1905.
24. Put the pen inside a different pen case, thus disguising it as a different kind of pen.
25. Put the pen in the mail, and ship it to a distant location. Travel to that location simultaneously, then ship it back. Repeat for 50 years. Dare they challenge the post office?
26. Put the pen inside a slightly larger pen body, thus disguising it as a different specific pen.
27. Sneak into a museum and put the pen in with some famous “Pen Used to Sign the Treaty of X” exhibit, and let the museum do the heavy lifting.
28. Create an elaborate series of treasure maps depicting the location of the pen. The maps are false, the pen is in my sock drawer.
29. Under the floorboards of my fabulous 19th century home.
30. If evil draws too close, get a 19th century home in Prague, and use the vampires to dissuade the evil forces.
31. Get to America and persuade Tesla to build an electric security system for the pen.
32. Join the military, spend the next 50 years surrounded by devoted comrades-in-arms. Carry pen in boot. Try not to accidentally win the Franco-Prussian War for France.
33. Persuade Otto von Bismarck of the importance of this pen to securing the place of the German Empire in history, and peace in future Europe.
34. Identify which part of the world is least vulnerable to the forces of evil. Immigrate there.
35. Accidentally choose the Congo Free State, realize this is evil forces headquarters. Flee north to become a hermit in the desert.
36. Become a rancher or pastoralist, and hide the pen inside several generations of livestock.
37. Become a dirigible pilot, and store the pen on an airship that spends most of its time in the sky.
38. Melt the components of the pen down into several different, small items. In 1904, commence reconstruction of these items into the original pen.
39. Pen of Theseus: replace the parts systematically over time, but never use the pen. Keep the old parts, and then build the old pen again. In this way there will be more then one genuine pen.
40. Hide the pen on the body of someone who is to be buried. Preferably not friend or family; grave robbing kith and kin is not cool.
41. Go on offense, and systematically murder every member of said evil forces.
42. In case of supernatural evil forces, learn sorcery and systematically bind or banish the evil forces.
43. Join up with whoever the evil forces arch-nemesis is. Presumably good.
44. Join up with whoever the evil forces chief rivals are. Presumably evil, and better at offense as a result.
45. #18, but dedicate the militant order to exterminating the evil forces.
46. #4 and #28 at the same time, but some maps lead to decoy pens and some lead nowhere, and some decoy pens have no map. Evil gives up in frustration.
47. Go into the pen business, and manufacture the decoys myself. Have just one prominently displayed as “Pen #1”, wail and gnash my teeth when it is stolen. The real one is still in the sock drawer.
48. Give or sell the pen to a series of other geniuses, like Kelvin, Cournot, and Gibbs. Retrieve the pen in 1905, it having absorbed their powers and put thermodynamics on a MUCH better footing early on.
49. The dead hand: put the pen in a series of explosive devices, upgrading as improvements become available (black powder → dynamite → munitions). I win, or everyone loses. Avoid house fires.
50. Join navy, spend next 50 years on a ship.