Epistemic Laws of Motion

Standard Disclaimer #14074: I speak to those who know how to listen. Sligtly interesting ideas are best transferred under the guise of practicality, boredom, and clear-headedness. But what about very interesting ideas? These might well be best told under the guise of chaos, demonic possession, and madness.

1st Epistemic Law of Motion

Every person persists in their state of doing nothing or executing always the same strategy S, unless they are compelled to change that state by external epistemic pressure P.

Assuming constant non-zero psychological resistance, the first law can be written as:


Philosophical Parenthood

Note: In this post, I lay out a strong philosophical argument for rational and intelligent people to have children. Even if you are not interested in the topic itself, you might find some of the (tentative) mental models presented here useful.


Why would anyone ever use philosophical arguments to settle questions about parenthood? Well, to answer that, we'll need a good philosophical argument for acting on philosophical arguments.


Real Languages Are Second Order

Note: this is a carrier class conceptual identification. What I'll write might superficially sound like postmodernist blathering. I assure you it is not, though I realize that there is no way to tell the difference... unless you already understand what I'm trying to say in this post. There is nothing I can do but try to say it anyway.

A musician wants you to appreciate their melodies. But their real pride is the emotions they are putting into the music.

A designer of a bridge wants you to appreciate how pretty it is and how well it works. But their real pride is in the skill and sense of aesthetics that they poured into the project.


The AI Alignment Problem Has Already Been Solved(?) Once

Hat tip: Owen posted about trying to one-man the AI control problem in 1 hour. What the heck, why not? In the worst case, it's a good exercise. But I might actually have come across something useful.


I will try to sell you on an idea that might prima facie appear to be quirky and maybe not that interesting. However, if you keep staring at it, you might find that it reaches into the structure of the world quite deeply. Then the idea will seem obvious, and gain potential to take your thoughts in new exciting directions.


Make Your Observations Pay Rent


Elon Musk said during the panel at the Asilomar conference ("Beneficial AI 2017 Conference"):

[...] Everyone is already superhuman. And a cyborg. The limitation is one of bandwidth. We're bandwidth constrained, particularly on output. Our input is much better, but our output is extremely slow. If you want to be generous, you could say maybe it's a few hundred bits per second, or a kilobyte, something like that, output. The way we output is, we have our little meat-sticks, that we move very slowly and push buttons, or tap a little screen.


Effects of carbon dioxide on health and cognition


  • Really high concentrations of CO2 (30,000 - 40,000 ppm) produce obvious and terribly bad physiological effects.

  • CO2 levels even in poorly ventilated buildings rarely exceed 3,000 - 5,000 ppm.

  • The evidence about those levels of CO2 directly affecting cognition remains inconclusive.

  • However, CO2 levels are roughly indicative of overall air quality, which seems to affect both health and perceived comfort.


Prediction Calibration - Doing It Right


To improve your skill at predicting the future, you work on two things - accuracy and calibration. There are well established and mathematically pretty ways to score accuracy. However, scoring calibration tends to be a mixture of eyeballing histograms and calculating fractions of failed predictions for arbitrary fixed ranges of confidence. This is not ideal.
First, let's talk about the current ("traditional") method, and what is wrong with it.