principled interactive system designer:

Consider browsing my Lesswrong profile for interesting frontier (fringe) stuff

Topic Contributions


Creating Individual Connections via the Forum

Yeah, reddit ends up getting a really huge quantity of useful information about its users this way.

I wouldn't expect LW/EA to reliably get that info with the tag subscription feature as it currently stands: I'm probably not going to subscribe to most of the tags I'm interested in, because receiving a notification for every single post to a tag isn't generally desirable. The only tags for which that sort of subscription is the right thing are the tags that get too little activity to be useful for matchmaking.

New: use The Nonlinear Library to listen to the top EA Forum posts of all time

I'm glad this exists.


  • Why no links to the post in the episode notes? If I find a post interesting, I'm basically always going to want to be able to click through and read comments or vote on it so I need that.
  • I think there shouldn't be a preamble before reading the title. It kinda destroys the usecase of listening to article titles and skipping to decide whether you want to hear it, it makes that take two or three times as long as it needs to as a result of forcing the listener to sit through the same intro again.
    I'd suggest... just reading the title right away, mentioning the origin, then saying in a different voice, "This audio reading was produced by the Nonlinear Library." If this has to be here, it's important for it to be as short as possible. It'd probably be better if it were at the end instead of the beginning. In the vast majority of listens it really doesn't need to be there at all, given that all of your listeners will either know the origin before they start reading listening, or will listen to enough that they'll have learned already.
The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

This is a really hard problem that people have been working on for decades

What problem are you referring to. Face tracking and remote presence didn't have a hardware platform at all until 2016, and wasn't a desirable product until maybe this year (mostly due to covid), and wont be a strongly desirable product until hardware starts to improve dramatically next year. And due to the perversity of social software economics, it wont be profitable in proportion to its impact, so it'll come late.

There are currently zero non-blurry face tracking headsets with that are light enough to wear throughout a workday, so you should expect to not see anyone using VR for work. But we know that next year there will be at least one of those (apple's headset). It will appear suddenly and without any viable intermediaries. This could be a miracle of apple, but from what I can tell, it's not. Competitors will be capable of similar feats a few years later.

(I expect to see limited initial impact from applevr (limited availability and reluctance from apple to open the gates), the VR office wont come all at once, even though the technical requirements will.)

(You can get headsets with adequate visual acuity (60ppd) right now, but they're heavy, which makes them less convenient to use than 4k screens. They're expensive, and they require a bigger, heavier, and possibly even more expensive computer to drive them (though this was arguably partly a software problem), which also means they wont have the portability benefits that 2025's VR headsets will have, which means they're not going to be practical for much at all, and afaik the software for face tracking isn't available for them, and even if it were, it wouldn't have a sufficiently large user network in professional realms.)

This innovative finance concept might go a long way to solving the world's biggest problems

If an investor has a finger in every pie, then it will mean that they are invested in a company and also that company's competitors...

Blackrock generally are that way, although I don't know whether they actually intervene in governance decisions as often as people sometimes fear. I'd guess there are a lot of industry-specific ETFs that intervene more often than they do though?

... but this doesn't seem that important -- they had an incentive to create cartels, Universal Owner or no.

Yeah I guess I'm not saying UO will make this worse, more that there could be a deeper problem that also afflicts UO.

What it does mean is that they are also invested in the company's consumers

Every industry is aligned with its consumers' interests in some ways and opposed in others. I wasn't denying the presence of aligned incentives... it's not obvious to me which is the stronger force and in what circumstances.

This innovative finance concept might go a long way to solving the world's biggest problems

There's an interesting tension between.

  • having a group of people with their fingers in every pie is good because it makes them care about the whole world.
  • and having a group of people with their fingers in every pie is bad because it will lead to anti-consumer anti-competitive corporate governance interventions.

How does the balance weigh, in your view?

Announcing What The Future Owes Us


I think it's worth discussing the straight answer to this, though: The future gives back simply by creating many of the things that I want to exist, which is a class of service that encompasses most of my values (I think).
This illuminates an interesting and surprising fact: Not all trade requires an exchange of physical objects, or even information. It is, in some cases, possible to evidence that something will occur, without ever entirely confirming it, which we will later find to be a foundational resolution in inter-universal moral trade schemes

Will "impact certificates" value only impact?

Can you imagine a way to get a person to engage well with an impact market (or any market) when they don't understand money/beneficial self-reifying games or whatever?

Who is protecting animals in the long-term future?

I don't see a way for it to go on forever.

  • We should expect the efficiency of farming to improve until no suffering is involved.
    (See the cellular agriculture/cultured meat projects.)
  • We should expect humans to change for the better.

    It would be deliriously conservative to expect as many as 10 thousand years to pass before humans begin to improve their own minds, to live longer while retaining mental clarity and flexibility, to be aware of more, to be more as they wish to be, to reckon deeply with their essential, authentic values, to learn to live in accordance with them.

    Even this deliriously conservative estimate of 10 thousand years would  place the vast majority of future after this transition.

    And after that transition, I would expect to see a very large portion of humanity realize that they have little tolerance for the suffering of other beings.
    Even if the proportion of humanity who weather uplifting and somehow remain indifferent to suffering is high, say, 30%, I'd expect the anti-suffering majority to buy all of their farms from them, few could relish suffering so much that we would not offer more, to halt it. Very little suffering would continue.

    If you think that this will not be the case — that the deep values of the majority of humanity genuinely do not oppose suffering —... Then it is difficult to imagine a solution, or to argue that this even is a problem that a thing like EA can solve.
    At that point, it would be a military issue. Your campaign would no longer be about correcting errors, it would be about enforcing a specific morality upon a population who authentically don't share it. You could try that. I'm not sure I would want to help. I currently think that I would help, but if it turns out that so much of humanity's performance of compassion was feigned, I could no longer be confident that I would end up on that side of the border. I'm not even sure that you could be confident that you would remain on that side of the border.
Will "impact certificates" value only impact?

A contract is also not usually transferable. It doesn't really have an owner.

But the implied analogy about the owner of the impact cert being morally credited for the work, is actually good, and clarifying. If you buy the credit for the act then you get credit for the act. Yes. That's how it's supposed to work. And if the worker wants to retain credit then they should retain a fraction of the impact cert, because selling the entire thing is genuinely supposed to mean that they relinquish all right to be retroactively rewarded to the buyer.

Will "impact certificates" value only impact?

Well I think that would be an extremely uninformative and fairly confusing thing to call it. It's only an agreement insofar as any exchange of anything is an agreement, the class of agreement is uncharacteristically open-ended relative to most contracts, and reducible to a transfer of ownership.
I'm supportive of Ryan's suggestion of "credit" at this point. The difference between "an amount of credit" and "an amount of credits" might resolve the ambiguity it might have had with carbon credits.

Load More