While a focus on the exterior may very well contribute to the high rate of mental health problems in the community, I’ve always thought it had more to do with selection effects.
A large portion of the thought in the community revolves around how to think, which is something most people never study (and likely never feel the need to). But those who are thinking badly—that is, those who realize that they have patterns of thought that don’t correlate well with reality—have a reason to seek out a better way of thinking.
There’s also some evidence to suggest that higher intelligence by itself correlates with mental illness:
Other than that, great post and thank you for assembling that list of resources.
This is excellent. Thank you.
I’m not 100% sure what you’re asking, but from Wikipedia:
…current best processes for water electrolysis have an effective electrical efficiency of 70-80%, so that producing 1 kg of hydrogen (which has a specific energy of 143 MJ/kg or about 40 kWh/kg) requires 50–55 kWh of electricity. At an electricity cost of $0.06/kWh, as set out in the Department of Energy hydrogen production targets for 2015, the hydrogen cost is $3/kg. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_economy
Some quick googling indicates a kilogram of hydrogen seller for around $14, give or take.
There is inefficiency in hydrogen storage, but it should keep longer than a lithium ion battery.
I happen to use my phone as my alarm—should I get a different, separate alarm so my phone can charge in another room?
What do you think of the effect of population growth/shrinkage is on this problem? From what I can tell, the population is projected to go up to about 11 billion before it starts declining.
Also, at what point does this become a crisis? How many of the truck drivers will be retired by the time automated trucks become widespread enough to unemploy them? Most seem to be nearing retirement age currently.
A very interesting idea. My thoughts:
1) You mention, as a failure of US democracy, that
“At the national level, we also have the Senate which is not democratic in the first place, and the electoral college, which is winner-take-all in most states and warped in favor of low-population states. (22)”
I would argue that this is a feature, not a bug. The US was, to my knowledge, designed to be a union of individual governments bound together by a federal government. Because each state can have its own distinct laws, people can sort themselves across states to a place with laws they like. This fosters competition between states to have the best laws.
The Senate was never meant to be democratically representing the people; it was meant to be democratically representing the states. If I remember correctly, Senators were elected by the state government originally, not the people.
2) The rest of your points on the failure of US democracy are well-made.
3) How does this democracy serve those too poor to afford the app? Those without internet? Those with mental illnesses that get a vote but are unfit to understand what that vote means?
4) Who runs the app? The federal government? Is the work contacted out to a company? Either option is dangerous.
5) The system you describe is very dependent on user history which must be stored in databases somewhere. In the event of a terrorist attack on those databases (assume the data is lost), how does the democracy continue?
6) At what age does someone get to vote?
7) If a bill was written to redistribute Bill Gates’ money to everyone else (via taxation or any other effective means), what would stop it from getting passed? I’d imagine it would be popular enough.
8) Could a company “campaign” to pass a bill limiting/regulating their competition? If the situation was sufficiently complicated, would anyone notice? In a broader sense, how would this democracy interact with capitalism/socialism?
There are energy storage mechanisms that last longer than batteries. I don’t know the exact economics or mechanics, but excess energy could be used to pump water to a higher elevation to store the potential energy.
When the energy is needed, at night or in the winter, the water would be allowed to flow back down through turbines to reclaim some of that energy.
Excess energy could also be used for hydrolysis; the hydrogen could be stored for later use.
Thanks for the info—I’ll check out some of the chat channels. I had no idea they existed.
As for the idea, I hadn’t thought it through quite that far, but I was picturing something along the lines of your second suggestion. Any publicized and easily accessible way of asking questions that doesn’t force newer members to post their own topics would be helpful.
I remember back when I was just starting out on LessWrong, and being terrified to ask really stupid questions, especially when everyone else here was talking about graduate level computer science and medicine. Having someone to ask privately would’ve sped things up considerably.
This is more of a practical suggestion than a theoretical one, but what if we had an instant message feature? Some kind of chat box like google hangouts, where we could talk in a more immediate sense to people rather than through comment and reply.
As an addendum, and as a way of helping newer members, maybe we could have some kind of Big/Little program? Nothing fancy, just a list of people who have volunteered to be ‘Bigs,’ who are willing to jump in and discuss things with newer members.
A ‘little’ could ask their big questions as they make their way through the literature, and both Bigs and Littles would gain a chance to practice rationality skills pertaining to discussion (controlling one’s emotions, being willing to change one’s mind, etc.) in real time. I think this would help reinforce these habits.
The LessWrong study hall on Complice is nice, but it’s a place to get work done, not to chat or debate or teach.
Additionally, humor—especially self-effacing humor—allows one to critique ideas or people held in high esteem without being offensive or inciting anger. It’s hard to be mad when you’re laughing.
Thought: Humor lowers one’s natural barriers to accepting new ideas.
In the context of ideas as memes that undergo Darwinian processes of mutation and natural selection, perhaps humor can be thought of as an immunodeficiency virus? A way to lower an idea’s natural defenses against competing ideas, which is why we see Christians willing to listen to Atheist comics, and vice versa. Humor lowers Christianity’s natural defenses against Atheism (group consolidation, faith, etc.) and allows new ideas to attack the weakened “body.”
Insanely dangerous, yes, but then again so is all potentially world-changing technology (think AI and nanobots).
In other words I agree with you, but I think that the response to “new technology with potentially horrific consequences or otherwise high risk/reward ratio” should be, “estimate level of caution necessary to reduce risk to manageable levels, double the level of caution, and proceed very, very slowly.”
Because it seems to me, bad at biology as I am, that the ability to synthesize arbitrary proteins, which this technology does/is a stepping stone to, could be incredibly powerful and life-saving.
My understanding of #3 is that it comes from a place of insecurity. Someone secure in their own intelligence, or at least of their own self-worth, will either ignore the unknown word/phrase/idea, ask about it, or look it up.
So from the inside, #3 feels something like: “Look, I know you’re smart, but you don’t have to rub it in, okay? I mean, just ‘cause I don’t know what ‘selective pressures in tribal mechanics’ are doesn’t make me stupid.”
My guess is that it feels as though the other person is using a higher level vocabulary on purpose, rather than incidentally; kind of the like the opposite of the fundamental attribution error. Instead of generalizing situation-specific behavior to personality (i.e. “Oh, he’s not trying to make me feel stupid, that’s just how he talks”), people assume that personality-specific behavior is situational (i.e. “he’s talking like that just to confuse me”).
Also, I think a lot of the reaction you’re going to get out of someone when using a word or idea they don’t know is going to depend upon your nonverbal signals. Are you saying it like you assume that they know it? I’ve had professors who talk about really complex subjects I didn’t fully understand as though they were obvious, and that tended to make me feel dumb. I doubt they were doing it on purpose—to them it was obvious—but by paying a little bit more attention to the inferential distance between the two of us, they could have moderated their tones and body language a bit to convey something a little less disdainful, even if the disdain itself was accidental.
Lastly, when it comes to communication I tend to favor the direct approach. If at any point I think the other person doesn’t understand what I’m saying, I try to back up and explain it better. Sometimes I just flat-out ask if they understood, and if not, try to explain it, all while emphasizing that it isn’t a word/phrase/idea that I (or anyone) would expect them to know.
True or not, the above strategy has been effective for me in reducing confrontation when the scenario you’re describing happens.
I was trying to be sincere with 4), although I admit that without tone of voice and body language, that’s hard to communicate sometimes. And even if LW hasn’t done as good a job as we could have with this topic, from what I’ve seen we’ve done far better than just about anyone not in the rationalist community at trying to remain rational.
Glad you agree with 1); when I first heard that argument (I didn’t come up with it), I had a massive moment of “that seems realy obvious, now that someone said it.”
With regards to 2), you’re right that we do have information on Trump; I spoke without precision. What I mean is this: beliefs are informed by evidence, and we have little evidence, given the nature of the American election, of what a candidate will behave like when they aren’t campaigning. I believe there’s a history of president-elects moderating their stances once they take office, although I have no direct evidence to support myself there.
When it comes to Islam, I should begin by saying that I’m sure the vast majority of Muslims simply want to live a decent life, just like the rest of us. However, theirs is the only religion active today that currently endorses holy war.
Then observe that MAD only applies to people unwilling to sacrifice their children for their cause, and further observe that Islam, as an idea, a meme, a religion, has successfully been able to make people do exactly that.
An American wouldn’t launch a nuke if it would kill their children, and Russian wouldn’t either. But a jihadist? From what I understand (which is admittedly not much on this topic), a jihadist just might. At least, the jihadist has a much higher probability of choosing a nuclear war over a nationalist.
I agree that the West overreacts in terms of Terrorism, in the sense that any given person is more likely to die in a car accident than be killed by a terrorist, but I was referring to existential threats, a common topic on LW and one that Yudkowsky himself seems concerned with regarding this election. Car crashes don’t threaten the existence of humanity; nuclear war does.
And because I can’t see how either candidate would effect the likelihood of unfriendly AI, a meteor, a plague, or any of the other existential risks, nuclear war becomes the deciding vote in the “who’s less likely to get us all killed” competition.
Admittedly, the risk of catastrophic climate change might be higher under Trump, but I’ve no evidence for that save the very standard left vs. right paradigm, which doesn’t seem to apply all that well to Trump anyway.
Thank you for your response.
Unless I am much mistaken, the reason that no one has yet used Nuclear Weapons is Mutually Assured Destruction, the idea that there can be no victor in a nuclear war. MAD holds so long as the people in control of nuclear weapons have something to lose if everything gets destroyed, and Trump has grandchildren.
Grandchildren who would burn in nuclear fire if he ever started a nuclear war.
So I am in no way sympathetic to any argument that he’s stupid enough to start one. He has far too much to lose.
I believe that the sets of skills necessary to be a good president, and to be elected president, are two entirely separate things. They may be correlated, but I doubt they’re correlated that highly; a popularity contest selects for popularity, after all.
So far, we have information on Trump’s skill set as a businessman: immoral and unethical perhaps, but ultimately very successful.
And we have information on Trump’s skill set as a Presidential Candidate: bombastic, brash, witty, politically incorrect and able to motivate large numbers of people to vote for him.
We have no information on what Trump will be like as President; that’s the gamble. We can guess, but trends don’t always continue, and I suspect, based on more recent data, that Trump has an inkling that now is not the time to do anything drastic.
Aside from the usual LW topics concerning existential risk (i.e. AI, Climate Change, etc.), my biggest concern is Islam. Mutually Assured Destruction only works when those with the Nuclear Weapons have nothing to lose, and if someone with such weapons genuinely believes that they and their family will go to heaven for using them, then MAD no longer applies.
From what meager evidence I can gather, I believe that Trump lowers the chance of such a war breaking out compared to Clinton. We’ve had a chance to see what Clinton’s foreign policy looks like, and so far as I can tell, it isn’t lowering the risk of nuclear war. It’s heightening it.
Assuming other existential risks would be equal under either administration (which is a very questionable assumption, granted, and I would be happy to discuss it), that makes Trump look at the very least no worse than Clinton when it comes to existential risk.
I’d also like to note that I’ve been told plenty of people thought that Ronald Reagan would start a nuclear war with Russia, and he did nothing of the sort. Granted, I wasn’t around then, so it’s second person information, but there you go.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am sick of having to expend copious amount of mental energy trying to remain as rational as I can throughout this election cycle. I’ve been glad to see in this thread that we LW’s do, in fact, put our money where our mouths are when it comes to trying to navigate, circumvent, or otherwise evade the Mindkiller.
If you disagree with anything I have to say, please respond - if my thinking is wrong, I want your help to make it better, to make it closer to correct.
Welcome to lesswrong, and thanks for the advice. I’ll take a look at what you suggested.
Thanks, I’ll take a look.