Topic Contributions


Linkpost for "Organizations vs. Getting Stuff Done" and discussion of Zvi's post about SFF and the S-process (or; Doing Actual Thing)

Another class of pressures require me to recapitulate the great covid lesson of social reality vs. physical reality (I forget which rationalist citation goes here, I'm building off of a discussion at NYC Solstice):

The citation you're looking for is https://putanumonit.com/2021/04/03/monastery-and-throne/ particularly the section titled "Coordinating Social Reality"

Climate Change: Prevention vs Preperation

One challenge will be the uncertainty in models.  It's (comparatively) easy to say "this will reshuffle climate so that our system which assumes current climate zones will be in trouble" and much harder to say which areas will flood and which will burn.

There may be work with doing refining those models.

There may also be things we can do to increase flexibility and resiliency without knowing exactly what's coming.

But it'll be tricky.

Crazy ideas sometimes do work

How did you get your employer to approve "half time for half pay"?

Looking for more 'PlayPumps' like examples

I remember a program specifically for young women (possibly in Bangladesh, possibly linked from slatestarcodex) that specifically listed "ambition" as one of the things it wanted to foster.  But participants went in wanting to be doctors and left wanting to be administrative assistants.  They did not show improvement on any measured axis.  Can't seem to find the link

Looking for more 'PlayPumps' like examples

DARE belongs in the same paragraph as Scared Straight, FWIW

To Build a Better Ballot: an interactive guide to alternative voting systems

[Repost from my FB]

I'd like to introduce a setup that's a little different from these arbitrary axes and feels truer to life...

To avoid object-level politics, I'll use Scott's (or was it Nick's?) example:
* Party A wants to increase taxes and social services 5%, and to require everyone to electrocute themselves 8 hours a day.
* Party B wants to decrease taxes and social services 5%, and to require everyone to electrocute themselves 8 hours a day.
* Party C wants to leave taxes and social services as they are, and stop the electrocutions.

"Everyone" knows that Party C isn't serious.  They get no media coverage, except as a punchline.  Only people with no popularity to lose will come out openly as Party C'ers.  And rather then break the dam, they make Party C association a mark of stigma.

Under FPTP, we need roughly a third of the people to *believe party C has a chance*, with no way to build momentum.  Naturally, the electrocutions continue.

Under IRV (and I think any ordered ranking), we need roughly a third of people to pay attention.  Then they can easily vote C>A>B or C>B>A and end the electrocutions.  And if it's less than a third, it still shows a nice clear signal that Not Electrocuting Ourselves is an idea to be taken seriously.

Under Approval, people won't want to vote "C" because that gives up the chance to effect the taxes/services tradeoff which is the only thing they expect to be up for grabs.  So they vote "A,C" or "B,C".  And feel bad about it, because they don't actually *approve* of A or B.  Which means they're voting against themselves.  Now we need half of people to pay attention, and with a much weaker take-this-seriously signal.  After all, "A,C" could just be intented as a hardcore vote against B (some people take the A-B rivalry very seriously).

Is Earth Running Out of Resources?

This misses senses in which resources can run out.

Simplestly, there's locked-in-use.  Consider Rhenium.  It's about 1ppb in Earth's crust and about 1000 tonnes of it have been refined in all of history.   How much can be produced without implausibly destructive mining techniques is hard to estimate.   It's essentially indestructable and uncreateable.  It's used in jet engines and other high-temperature high-pressure applications.  The number of jet engines in service at any time is bounded by available Rhenium.  After that limit, new engines can only be made by melting down old ones.  If you try to stick a trillion people on Earth, the jet/person ratio may get awfully low.

A more subtle locked-when-in-use resource is surface area.  Especially temperate land surface.  It can either be providing humans with psychologically-needed sky access or be covered in solar panels.  (Or be used for agriculture or left as wilderness for other species, but in the extreme case those will be abandoned as inefficient.)

Another failure mode is that we may fail to solve the technological problems in using resources so efficiently.  I mentioned above that agriculture was an inefficient way of converting sunlight and CHON into consumable food.  But if we replace it with photovoltic cells and chemical plants, we risk missing a vital micronutrient and suffering widespread health issues.

A subtler version of this is failing to solve the social problems.  Imagine living in Alberta Canada in a world where electricity comes from a solar plant thousands of miles to the south and water from a desalinization plant thousands of miles to the west.   And if either breaks down even briefly you and your neighbors all die.  Likewise if anything goes wrong in the transmission systems anywhere along the route.  Can we run infrastructure that reliably?   Can we prevent terrorism in such a situation?  Can we cope with the problems caused by the solutions to the preceding problems?

How can I do the most good with my 3D printer?

For the PPE, check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/opensourcecovid19medicalsupplies

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