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Reframing Superintelligence | Slate Star Codex
AI may not be as dangerous as many have feared because it might be just a set of special purpose tools.
ScottAlexander  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex  ai 
5 weeks ago by mcherm
The Costs of Reliability - LessWrong 2.0
Why are people more productive doing something for fun than doing the same thing as work? Because reliability has a cost. This is exploitable.
via:SlateStarCodex  productivity  startup  psychology 
10 weeks ago by mcherm
Ethnic Tension And Meaningless Arguments | Slate Star Codex
A lot of argument is just an attempt to associate bad or good things with a concept. This isn't how philosophy says we decide things but it does seem to describe observed behavior.
ScottAlexander  philosophy  via:SlateStarCodex  SlateStarCodex 
june 2019 by mcherm
Book Review: Why Are The Prices So D*mn High? | Slate Star Codex
Book says: prices for education and health care rise because those need educated professionals but don't get more efficient with the advent of tech and stuff. It's not so clear that this is the right answer.
economics  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex 
june 2019 by mcherm
Humans Who Are Not Concentrating Are Not General Intelligences | Otium
"I note," the author says, "that when I don't pay attention I can't tell that excellent AI generated essays are drivel."
ai  via:SlateStarCodex  brain 
february 2019 by mcherm
RIP Culture War Thread | Slate Star Codex
Scott Alexander's post on how he was driven to remove the culture war thread.
censorship  freespeech  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex  SlateStarCodex 
february 2019 by mcherm
Scooter Lessons: Success, but a Stark Double Standard — Strong Towns
Portland is applying strict assessment of the impact of scooters. What if they applied the same standards to cars? Isolated demands for rigor.
philosophy  cars  via:SlateStarCodex 
january 2019 by mcherm
Refactoring: Culture As Branch Of Government | Slate Star Codex
Think as if culture were another branch of the government (along with judicial and executive). In a few cases, this viewpoint is helpful - for instance, when discussing free speech and the effect of cultural silencing.
personal_net  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander 
january 2019 by mcherm
Crowdfunding Backer Patented My Project — Patent Pandas
He invented LED stickers (not very novel), ran a successful Kickstarter, and started a business. Then one of his Kickstarter backers patented it.
law  ip-law  patent  patentabuse  via:SlateStarCodex 
december 2018 by mcherm
Cracking the Code of Facial Recognition | Caltech
Neuron-level understanding of how primate brains recognize faces.
via:SlateStarCodex  brain 
december 2018 by mcherm
The Chamber of Guf | Slate Star Codex
The brain has proto-thoughts (and proto-behaviors) and selects which to promote to conscious thought. Mood affects this (anxiety = more fears). OCD patients can get obsessed with one bad thought (eg: I might be gay, when they aren't). OCD drugs help, so does explaining this. Also, what OCD people focus on depends on culture.
ScottAlexander  brain  psychology  via:SlateStarCodex 
december 2018 by mcherm
Treating The Prodrome: How Schizophrenia Works
Maybe aggressive treatment of early schizophrenia symptoms is important. Scott Alexander describes how schizophrenia might work: it causes random stimuli to be treated as overwhelmingly important. In the long run this changes your underlying beliefs and values.
brain  mental_illness  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander 
december 2018 by mcherm
The Tails Coming Apart As Metaphor For Life | Slate Star Codex
If people are given examples to define a category they may come up with different definitions that all seem to satisfy the examples. But the definitions will give different answers for values outside the training set. Ethics is like this.
via:SlateStarCodex  ethics  philosophy 
december 2018 by mcherm
Tradition is Smarter Than You Are
Culture practices undergo natural selection and can provide solutions no individual genius could plausibly invent. Western civilization assumes all practices have known reasons, but that is not true.
via:SlateStarCodex  sociology  evolution 
december 2018 by mcherm
Exterminate Mosquitoes for the Sake of Humanity - Quillette
The argument why Donald Trump should support using gene editing to exterminate a few species of mosquito that prey on humans.
ethics  DonaldTrump  biology  via:SlateStarCodex 
september 2018 by mcherm
Sentimental Cartography | Slate Star Codex
Scott Alexander's collection of "maps" of abstract, non-geographic things.
maps  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander 
august 2018 by mcherm
Did A Melatonin Patent Inspire Current Dose Confusion? | Slate Star Codex
MIT patented the proper dosage of a drug; the FDA decided to (not) regulate it as a supplement; and that is why all the stores carry an incorrect dose (even now that the patent has expired).
law  ip-law  patent  bureaucracy  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  medicine 
august 2018 by mcherm
Targeting Meritocracy | Slate Star Codex
On the importance of NOT relying overmuch on credentialism in hiring.
ScottAlexander  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex 
august 2018 by mcherm
SSC Journal Club: Dissolving The Fermi Paradox | Slate Star Codex
Solution to the Fermi paradox: the distribution is so broad that while the expected number of civilizations is quite large, there is still a pretty good chance of there being approximately 0 intelligent civilizations.
via:SlateStarCodex  SlateStarCodex  space 
july 2018 by mcherm
Impossible Colors and How to See Them
Several ways to experience colors that the eye cannot normally experience.
via:SlateStarCodex  color  vision 
july 2018 by mcherm
Different Worlds | Slate Star Codex
People with different personalities and different approaches to the world experience entirely different environments -- for instance some encounter discrimination everywhere while others never encounter it. Why and how?
discrimination  psychology  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  todo 
june 2018 by mcherm
Basic Income, Not Basic Jobs: Against Hijacking Utopia | Slate Star Codex
Scott defends Universal Basic Income, contrasting it with Basic Jobs (don't give out money, instead guarantee a job). He has a HUGELY detailed set of reasons.
SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex  basicincome 
may 2018 by mcherm
Mental Health On A Budget | Slate Star Codex
Some suggestions for people who need mental health care but live in the US and can't afford it.
ScottAlexander  medicine  health  brain  via:SlateStarCodex 
april 2018 by mcherm
The Hour I First Believed | Slate Star Codex
An argument that God exists, along with life after death, based on superintelligences and negotiating with simulations of their negotiating partners.
philosophy  religion  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex 
april 2018 by mcherm
Adult Neurogenesis – A Pointed Review | Slate Star Codex
Rats grow new neurons. Early studies showed (probably) humans do too. Many studies showed neuron growth is necessary for lots of stuff (like learning maps, positive growth mindset, and recovering from physical damage to the brain). But actually humans don't grow new neurons; all that science was wrong.
science  ScientificMethod  brain  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex 
april 2018 by mcherm
About that New Antidepressant Study - Neuroskeptic
New study shows exact same effectiveness of antidepressant drugs ("some effect, but not much") as older study. Newspapers heralded first study as "drugs don't work" and the new one as "drugs work", based apparently on the adjectives used in the abstract.
science  journalism  ScientificMethod  via:SlateStarCodex 
march 2018 by mcherm
Newtonian Ethics | Slate Star Codex
Why do people criticize not helping their neighbors me re than not helping the residents of a distant country? Morality operates on as inverse square law.
ethics  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander 
february 2018 by mcherm
Runaway Train Jumps Tracks in Commerce - latimes
A real-life "trolley problem" with enough time to think about it. They chose the less-populated neighborhood over downtown.
philosophy  ethics  via:SlateStarCodex 
january 2018 by mcherm
A.I. ‘Bias’ Doesn’t Mean What Journalists Say it Means – Jacobite
Many journalists write scare stories about biased AI algorithms when actually the algorithm is race-blind but actual outcomes are not. This may be true, but it also misses some important subtleties.
ai  racism  statistics  via:SlateStarCodex  journalism 
january 2018 by mcherm
Fight Me, Psychologists: Birth Order Effects Exist And Are Very Strong | Slate Star Codex
Birth order seems to have an effect, at least some places, despite research showing it doesn't.
via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  science 
january 2018 by mcherm
Adderall Risks: Much More Than You Wanted To Know | Slate Star Codex
Detailed analysis of the state of medical knowledge about the risks from Adderall and Ritalin, along with the observation that how we prescribe and prosecute them is silly.
brain  medicine  SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex  ritilin  adhd 
december 2017 by mcherm
Against Overgendering Harassment | Slate Star Codex
Men make up 29% of victims of sexual harassment, but our recent news coverage and discussion has completely ignored, even buried that fact, making it more of an anti-man witch-hunt.
ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex  sexism 
december 2017 by mcherm
Contra Robinson On Public Food | Slate Star Codex
Capitalism, government, ALL systems have a failure mode where the forces of competition are more significant than the good intentions. The best solution is to "find a couple of elegant systems that all optimize along different criteria approximately aligned with human happiness, pit them off against each other in a structure of checks and balances, hope they screw up in different places, [...] keep enough individual free choice around that people can exit any system that gets too terrible, and let cultural evolution do the rest."
via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  philosophy  government  libertarian  economics 
november 2017 by mcherm
The Last of the Iron Lungs
There are still a few (3 in the US) polio victims surviving on iron lungs. They are alive only because they have found mechanically inclined friends.
medicine  history  gizmodo  via:SlateStarCodex 
november 2017 by mcherm
Why You Hate Contemporary Architecture | Current Affairs
Buildings in the last century are all horrible, mostly because they stopped decorating them and the professional architects started giving awards for really ugly buildings.
via:SlateStarCodex  buildings  art 
november 2017 by mcherm
Poem mistranslated
A poem, intentionally mistranslated to tell a story about cultures.
poem  translation  via:SlateStarCodex 
november 2017 by mcherm
Moloch's Toolbox (1/2)
Creative dialogue explaining how many of the world's problems stem from a coordination issue where each person's incentive is to keep things as they are although there is a universally better situation if we were to all agree to change at once.
EliezerYudkowsky  via:SlateStarCodex  philosophy  philosophyOfScience 
november 2017 by mcherm
Can Our Democracy Survive Tribalism?
Really GOOD and balanced description of the culture wars as tribalism, a natural (but destructive) human behavior pattern.
culturewar  via:SlateStarCodex 
september 2017 by mcherm
Contra Askell On Moral Offsets | Slate Star Codex
Axiology (study of what is good) =/= morality =/= law. Except in artificially extreme cases, follow later ones when they conflict. Offsets (like carbon credits) are OK for axiology violations but not for moral violations.
philosophy  ethics  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander 
september 2017 by mcherm
Things to Hang on Your Mental Mug Tree |
Among other things this essay includes an interesting rumination on how to make people want to pay taxes.
taxes  philosophy  via:SlateStarCodex 
september 2017 by mcherm
Book Review: Surfing Uncertainty | Slate Star Codex
Incredible! This book review lays out a coherent overall explanation for "how the brain works". Sensory data filters up through layers. Each upper layer predicts what the lower will say. If lower DOES say that, fine. If lower guesses it is wrong, then fine. If lower thinks upper is wrong, it expresses surprise. Each layer works hard to develop a model that minimizes the surprise it gets from below. The model predicts lots of mental quirks and behaviors.
brain  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  todo 
september 2017 by mcherm
Vs Traffic Court | Ordinary Times
Arguing in traffic court about an ambiguously written law.
via:SlateStarCodex  law 
september 2017 by mcherm
the entire edifice of Western civilization can be traced back to a stupid loophole in Roman inheritance law
With some skepticism: "The default human setup for ownership is tribalism. But western civ has individual ownership. Why? Church pushed it because they got income from wealthy widows."
via:SlateStarCodex  history 
september 2017 by mcherm
Democrats ran a candidate who never even appeared in public or to reporters (did he exist?) and won 40% of the vote. Democrats should stop writing off districts as hopeless and then not running real campaigns.
politics  via:SlateStarCodex  voting 
september 2017 by mcherm
My IRB Nightmare | Slate Star Codex
The process of getting approval to do human experiments prevented a simple, trivial, "ask a few questions" study despite enormous efforts.
ScottAlexander  science  ScientificMethod  bureaucracy  ethics  via:SlateStarCodex 
august 2017 by mcherm
What Is Depression, Anyway?: The Synapse Hypothesis | Slate Star Codex
An interesting theory about how depression works in the brain. And some healthy skepticism about it.
brain  SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex 
august 2017 by mcherm
The Parable Of The Talents | Slate Star Codex
People have different abilities, and different levels of IQ. How do we square this with ethics and what you should accomplish in life?
ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex  iq 
july 2017 by mcherm
Cricket Team of Authors
"Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, P.G. Wodehouse, G.K. Chesterton, and A. A. Milne all played on the same amateur cricket team." -- Scott Alexander
via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander  writing 
june 2017 by mcherm
Is Pharma Research Worse Than Chance? | Slate Star Codex
Recent medical research has discovered only a few drugs of marginal use for mental health, but a few things abused by drug addicts may turn out to be quite powerful. Maybe we're being too careful and should evaluate some chemicals with more side effects.
brain  chemistry  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex 
june 2017 by mcherm
Bail Out | Slate Star Codex
Scott Alexander looks at why so many people are imprisoned in the US. One block that CAN be addressed is the 1/5 who haven't been convicted yet -- mostly too poor to make bail. Just gifting them bail money seems to work; reforming the bail system would be good too.
prison  law  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex 
june 2017 by mcherm
Postmarketing Surveillance Is Good And Normal | Slate Star Codex
The FDA puts warnings on drugs for ALL KINDS of reasons. There are really obscure reactions, like side effects only in people who don't have a gall bladder, or only those who are Chinese or who eat sauerkraut. The FDA should use cost-benefit analysis when considering what risks to approve.
medicine  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex 
june 2017 by mcherm
The Atomic Bomb Considered As Hungarian High School Science Fair Project | Slate Star Codex
Scott Alexander recounts the theory that the Ashkenazi Jews are genetically more intelligent (or were, before Hitler killed them all).
genetics  brain  ScottAlexander  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex 
may 2017 by mcherm
FDA Opens Genetic Floodgates with 23andMe Decision - MIT Technology Review
Oh, good: 23andme is no longer prohibited from telling people what the research says about what their results mean.
censorship  law  medicine  via:SlateStarCodex 
may 2017 by mcherm
The Hungry Brain | Slate Star Codex
Homeostasis in hunger and weight gain -- some modern theories.
health  science  biology  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex  ScottAlexander 
april 2017 by mcherm
Learning To Love Scientific Consensus | Slate Star Codex
When new paradigms show up, science mostly gets it right within about 10 years, if you measure actual scientific opinion not what people say "scientists believe".
science  ScientificMethod  history  philosophyOfScience  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex 
april 2017 by mcherm
Why Do Test Scores Plateau? | Slate Star Codex
Doctors learn a lot at first, then their scores stop improving much. Why?
teaching  SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex 
april 2017 by mcherm
Tezos: a self-amending cryptographic ledger
An interesting cryptocurrency. They have a proof-of-stake protocol and also a proof-of-stake-based process for making changes to the protocol itself.
bitcoin  via:SlateStarCodex  nomic  PeterSuber 
april 2017 by mcherm
Book Review: Seeing Like A State | Slate Star Codex
Taxes were hard to collect in the middle ages. Central governments making everyone build on rectangular grids and scientific principles helps with that, but may ruin productivity and lives. Peasants know more about their own lives than most experts.
SlateStarCodex  via:SlateStarCodex 
march 2017 by mcherm
How Space Weather Can Influence Elections on Earth - Motherboard
Random bit flips (possibly due to solar or cosmic rays) can actually throw off the numbers in elections with no paper trail.
voting  election  bug  via:SlateStarCodex 
march 2017 by mcherm
Thousands of Belarussians take to the streets to protest 'parasite law' | Reuters
Weird tax policy: charge EXTRA tax to people who don't have jobs. Turns out that tax policy is unpopular.
personal_net  via:SlateStarCodex  taxes 
march 2017 by mcherm
A Modern Myth | Slate Star Codex
Greek gods, an omnipotent AI, all n a story by Scott Alexander.
story  onlinebooks  ScottAlexander  via:SlateStarCodex 
february 2017 by mcherm
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