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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 6

2016-08-12 06:35:56 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

What's a paper that you've read that you really like?

Most reshares: 10

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2016-08-24 16:08:33 (0 comments; 10 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Technological unemployment...

> NUI Galway Law professor John Danaher, who has conducted research into human enhancement and artificial intelligence, said sex robots could be a good substitute for human prostitutes. [...]

> Mr Danaher said the "completely legal" practice could even even stamp out sexual slavery and trafficking as the robot's would be cheaper than human prostitutes. Sex robots could also reduce the risk of spreading STDs, Danaher said. [...]

> While the idea of robot brothels is still in its early stages, it's believed sex tourism hotspots such as Amsterdam’s red light district and Thailand will take on the sex robots in their droves.

Most plusones: 32

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2016-08-12 06:40:52 (5 comments; 2 reshares; 32 +1s; )Open 

> So we Googled our way to 8,000 screenplays and matched each character’s lines to an actor. From there, we compiled the number of words spoken by male and female characters across roughly 2,000 films, arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever.

Latest 50 posts

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2016-08-27 05:59:43 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Good morning! Time for me to start moving out soon for the day's operation. #TurkuWillBeBlue #Ingress

Good morning! Time for me to start moving out soon for the day's operation. #TurkuWillBeBlue #Ingress___

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2016-08-26 15:51:13 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Various psychological effects that you've probably heard of, which look like they might not be true, or at least as powerful as once thought:

> Take the placebo effect. [...] ...the best studies now suggest that the placebo effect is probably very weak and limited to controlling pain. [...] Or take stereotype threat. [...] Again, doesn’t replicate well in large studies, has a very suspicious funnel plot, and is starting to inspire doubt even among top researchers in the area. [...]

> Or take self-esteem. [...] By believing that you’re a good person and likely to do well, good things will happen to you. Again, very popular in the ’90s, but it hasn’t aged well. Similarly, self-affirmations – where you say things like “I am definitely going to do well in school today” again and again and then it becomes true – but a new study has failed to replicate resultsshowing their e... more »

Various psychological effects that you've probably heard of, which look like they might not be true, or at least as powerful as once thought:

> Take the placebo effect. [...] ...the best studies now suggest that the placebo effect is probably very weak and limited to controlling pain. [...] Or take stereotype threat. [...] Again, doesn’t replicate well in large studies, has a very suspicious funnel plot, and is starting to inspire doubt even among top researchers in the area. [...]

> Or take self-esteem. [...] By believing that you’re a good person and likely to do well, good things will happen to you. Again, very popular in the ’90s, but it hasn’t aged well. Similarly, self-affirmations – where you say things like “I am definitely going to do well in school today” again and again and then it becomes true – but a new study has failed to replicate results showing their effectiveness. [...]

> ...the name preference effect. This is where you’re positively predisposed to things that sound like your name. [...] People believed this for years until finally somebody did a statistical reanalysis and found that it was totally false. [...] ...unconscious social priming. [...] This sort of thing inspired an entire field of psychology showing similar results (like the infamous study showing that an earthquake increased divorce rates by priming thoughts of instability), but it very much failed to replicate and is now the archetypal example of a formerly-accepted finding now believed to be false. [...] ...from just last month: Artificial surveillance cues do not increase generosity: two meta-analyses. You know how if there was a picture of eyes or something, people would be nicer and more law-abiding, because deep down they felt like they were being watched? Yeah, turns out that’s not true. [...]

> Implicit association tests probably don’t work (1, 2, 3, 4). That is, people who have “implicit racial biases” according to the tests are not more racist in everyday life than people who don’t. [...] Certainly not all the studies that have been disproven show creepy unconscious effects – ego depletion is a very mechanistic biological idea, but it’s done no better than priming. [...] ...a first draft included the Asch conformity experiments in that list, but apparently those never said what I thought they did.___

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2016-08-26 15:50:56 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

This whole thing is like from an agent thriller or cyberpunk novel.

"Ahmed Mansoor is an internationally recognized human rights defender, based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and recipient of the Martin Ennals Award (sometimes referred to as a “Nobel Prize for human rights”). On August 10 and 11, 2016, Mansoor received SMS text messages on his iPhone promising “new secrets” about detainees tortured in UAE jails if he clicked on an included link. Instead of clicking, Mansoor sent the messages to Citizen Lab researchers. We recognized the links as belonging to an exploit infrastructure connected to NSO Group, an Israel-based “cyber war” company that sells Pegasus, a government-exclusive “lawful intercept” spyware product. NSO Group is reportedly owned by an American venture capital firm, Francisco Partners Management."

"We are not aware of any previousinstance of an ... more »

This whole thing is like from an agent thriller or cyberpunk novel.

"Ahmed Mansoor is an internationally recognized human rights defender, based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and recipient of the Martin Ennals Award (sometimes referred to as a “Nobel Prize for human rights”). On August 10 and 11, 2016, Mansoor received SMS text messages on his iPhone promising “new secrets” about detainees tortured in UAE jails if he clicked on an included link. Instead of clicking, Mansoor sent the messages to Citizen Lab researchers. We recognized the links as belonging to an exploit infrastructure connected to NSO Group, an Israel-based “cyber war” company that sells Pegasus, a government-exclusive “lawful intercept” spyware product. NSO Group is reportedly owned by an American venture capital firm, Francisco Partners Management."

"We are not aware of any previous instance of an iPhone remote jailbreak used in the wild as part of a targeted attack campaign, making this a rare find."

"One such firm, Zerodium, acquired an exploit chain similar to the Trident for one million dollars in November 2015."

"Remarkably, this case marks the third commercial “lawful intercept” spyware suite employed in attempts to compromise Mansoor."

I can't even begin to grasp how paranoid it makes a person if your own government is willing to spend probably millions of dollars to intercept your phone. And keeps trying and trying if it fails.

The practical extension of it is that if you're on iPhone, you should proceed to upgrade it.___

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2016-08-26 13:10:51 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> When you meet an assassin who has killed six people, you don't expect to encounter a diminutive, nervous young woman carrying a baby.

> "My first job was two years ago in this province nearby. I felt really scared and nervous because it was my first time."

> Maria, not her real name, now carries out contract killings as part of the government-sanctioned war on drugs.

> She is part of a hit team that includes three women, who are valued because they can get close to their victims without arousing the same suspicion a man would.

> Since President Duterte was elected, and urged citizens and police to kill drug dealers who resisted arrest, Maria has killed five more people, shooting them all in the head.

"When you meet an assassin who has killed six people, you don't expect to encounter a diminutive, nervous young woman carrying a baby."

This would make for a cyberpunk RPG setting. And like much of cyberpunkish things, I'd very much prefer them to stay as fiction. But they never ask me.

What's scary about this is that this might well be what happens in the US, too, if Trump gets elected; the president pits poor against each other and does it in such way there are no way out for many of them. And leaves the white collar criminals and corrupted officials roam free.___> When you meet an assassin who has killed six people, you don't expect to encounter a diminutive, nervous young woman carrying a baby.

> "My first job was two years ago in this province nearby. I felt really scared and nervous because it was my first time."

> Maria, not her real name, now carries out contract killings as part of the government-sanctioned war on drugs.

> She is part of a hit team that includes three women, who are valued because they can get close to their victims without arousing the same suspicion a man would.

> Since President Duterte was elected, and urged citizens and police to kill drug dealers who resisted arrest, Maria has killed five more people, shooting them all in the head.

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2016-08-26 13:09:29 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Different game systems interacting with each other is a beautiful thing.

Different game systems interacting with each other is a beautiful thing.___

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2016-08-26 08:24:05 (2 comments; 3 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

> I was about ten. My mom had just finished creating one of her amazing meals, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Delicious. Later, as I was washing the dishes, my mom came up to me. “Sorry dinner was so awful again,” she said.

> I was shocked. “What? No, it was great. I loved it.”

> “Really?” she said, with mock surprise. “You always eat so quietly, never saying anything. You’ve never told me you liked my cooking, so I thought you hated it.”

> “No, you’re the best cook I know.”

> “Then you should tell me that,” she said. “Whenever someone does something nice for you, you should thank that person. If you don’t, then she might think she’s not appreciated and stop doing those nice things.”

> Something clicked right then. From that day forward, I thanked everyone for literally everything. If you did somethingthat even vaguely helped me, I than... more »

> I was about ten. My mom had just finished creating one of her amazing meals, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Delicious. Later, as I was washing the dishes, my mom came up to me. “Sorry dinner was so awful again,” she said.

> I was shocked. “What? No, it was great. I loved it.”

> “Really?” she said, with mock surprise. “You always eat so quietly, never saying anything. You’ve never told me you liked my cooking, so I thought you hated it.”

> “No, you’re the best cook I know.”

> “Then you should tell me that,” she said. “Whenever someone does something nice for you, you should thank that person. If you don’t, then she might think she’s not appreciated and stop doing those nice things.”

> Something clicked right then. From that day forward, I thanked everyone for literally everything. If you did something that even vaguely helped me, I thanked you profusely. It became a habit, something I didn’t even think about, and that’s when the magic started happening.

> People liked me more. They talked to me more, shared with me, were more friendly. In my first year of high school, during the final week I came home and found a giant freezie waiting for me. “Thanks, mom,” I said instinctively.

> “This isn’t from me, she said. “This is from your bus driver.” He had been driving that bus for years, and my siblings and I were the first person to ever thank him as we got dropped off. Those two simple words made a huge difference, so much so that he went out of his way to tell our mom and give us a present.

> That’s the power of appreciation. When you have it, all is right in the world, but when it’s missing life is empty. My mom taught me many things, but taking two seconds to say ‘thank you’ every time, in any situation, was the best.___

2016-08-26 08:05:02 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> ...there is another reason to think that we might be on the cusp of a phase change into a higher growth mode in AI research: it's moving out of academia and into industry. There's more emphasis on getting results and less on looking clever. I've been in both and I can personally attest. Academia is a lot more fun; in industry you get a lot more done that is useful.

> In November 2005, attending a AAAI symposium, I found myself in casual conversation with one of the other artificial intelligence researchers at the reception. One of the hot topics of conversation in AI circles just then was the DARPA Grand Challenge. The previous month, five autonomous vehicles—self-driving cars and trucks—had successfully completed a grueling 131.2-mile course in competition for a $2 million prize offered by DARPA, the defense department's research agency. This was a major advance inthe... more »

> ...there is another reason to think that we might be on the cusp of a phase change into a higher growth mode in AI research: it's moving out of academia and into industry. There's more emphasis on getting results and less on looking clever. I've been in both and I can personally attest. Academia is a lot more fun; in industry you get a lot more done that is useful.

> In November 2005, attending a AAAI symposium, I found myself in casual conversation with one of the other artificial intelligence researchers at the reception. One of the hot topics of conversation in AI circles just then was the DARPA Grand Challenge. The previous month, five autonomous vehicles—self-driving cars and trucks—had successfully completed a grueling 131.2-mile course in competition for a $2 million prize offered by DARPA, the defense department's research agency. This was a major advance in the state of the art, since the previous Challenge, held just a year and a half earlier, had been a complete failure, with the best vehicle only managing to go 7.3 miles.

> I had remarked as much to my AAAI friend, and he demurred. The apparent advance, he insisted, consisted of nothing but new ways of combining existing sensory, control, and navigation techniques. That seems to be a fairly common ivory-tower way of seeing things.

> But that, of course, is exactly what the vast majority of actual technological progress consists of. And the Grand Challenge results show graphically what kind of a difference it can make in the real world. However much a specialist may recognize all the parts and elements of a new machine from earlier efforts, what the world at large notices is whether or not it works. And in the case of self-driving cars, a major watershed was crossed between March 2004 and October, 2005.

> But there was no Clever New Trick that would have excited an academic, nothing even that an active AI researcher recognized as an advance.___

2016-08-25 14:26:09 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

> For a few minutes today the package "fs" was unpublished from the registry in response to a user report that it was spam. It has been restored. This was a human error on my (@seldo's) part; I failed to properly follow our written internal process for checking if an unpublish is safe. My apologies to the users and builds we disrupted.

> More detail: the "fs" package is a non-functional package. It simply logs the word "I am fs" and exits. There is no reason it should be included in any modules. However, something like 1000 packages do mistakenly depend on "fs", probably because they were trying to use a built-in node module called "fs". Given this, we should have deprecated the module instead of unpublishing it, and this is what our existing process says we should do.

> If any of your modules are depending on... more »

> For a few minutes today the package "fs" was unpublished from the registry in response to a user report that it was spam. It has been restored. This was a human error on my (@seldo's) part; I failed to properly follow our written internal process for checking if an unpublish is safe. My apologies to the users and builds we disrupted.

> More detail: the "fs" package is a non-functional package. It simply logs the word "I am fs" and exits. There is no reason it should be included in any modules. However, something like 1000 packages do mistakenly depend on "fs", probably because they were trying to use a built-in node module called "fs". Given this, we should have deprecated the module instead of unpublishing it, and this is what our existing process says we should do.

> If any of your modules are depending on "fs", you can safely remove it from your dependencies, and you should. But if you don't, things will continue to work indefinitely. ___

2016-08-25 09:02:58 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

"Emojicode is an open source, high-level, multi-paradigm, object-oriented programming language consisting of emojis, that allows you to build fast cross-platform applications while having a lot of fun."

Sample program:

🏁 🍇
😀 🔤Hello, world!🔤
🍉

"Emojicode is an open source, high-level, multi-paradigm, object-oriented programming language consisting of emojis, that allows you to build fast cross-platform applications while having a lot of fun."

Sample program:

🏁 🍇
😀 🔤Hello, world!🔤
🍉___

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2016-08-25 08:56:40 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> [Content warning for brief discussion of abuse.] [...]

> You see a lot of anti-social-justice people going “oh, those privileged twits on Tumblr without any REAL problems”, but in my experience that’s usually not the case. Instead, you get– say– a trans girl who grows up with crippling dysphoria. Her childhood is pretty awful: her parents are abusive, she’s regularly bullied in school for being ‘gay’, and her church makes it very clear that transness and homosexuality (much less both) mean you need to be tortured for eternity. Eventually, she finds her way into the queer community, where she hopes that she’ll be able to find a home. But even her closest friends laugh at the idea that it would be possible to find cock attractive. She starts dating a trans guy who hits her, and no one believes her, because he’s a trans man, and that’s something cis men do, and didn’tyou see his great speec... more »

> [Content warning for brief discussion of abuse.] [...]

> You see a lot of anti-social-justice people going “oh, those privileged twits on Tumblr without any REAL problems”, but in my experience that’s usually not the case. Instead, you get– say– a trans girl who grows up with crippling dysphoria. Her childhood is pretty awful: her parents are abusive, she’s regularly bullied in school for being ‘gay’, and her church makes it very clear that transness and homosexuality (much less both) mean you need to be tortured for eternity. Eventually, she finds her way into the queer community, where she hopes that she’ll be able to find a home. But even her closest friends laugh at the idea that it would be possible to find cock attractive. She starts dating a trans guy who hits her, and no one believes her, because he’s a trans man, and that’s something cis men do, and didn’t you see his great speech about ending domestic violence? Her friends convince her not to take hormones because it’ll make her body all gross and anyway not transitioning is more radical, which means that she spends three or four unnecessary years dissociating from gender dysphoria. And then she comes on Tumblr, and she sees a trans guy spewing some goddamn male-privileged bullshit, and…

> …well, what happens is that she is cruel to some suicidal teenage trans boy who might have kind of silly opinions about “cisphobia” but really didn’t do anything wrong.

> A lot of people talk about this like it’s revenge for the wrongs she’s suffered, and I don’t think it usually is. It’s fear. When she reads that trans guy’s post about cisphobia, she thinks, “oh god, it’s here too. I thought I was safe here, but I’m not, not anywhere. I have to protect myself.” Because what happens when you’re in environments where you’re not safe is that you get sensitized to not being safe. You look at things that other people would shrug off and you think “that’s an attack, that person is trying to hurt me”, because in the environments you’re used to they are attacks and people are trying to hurt you.___

2016-08-25 06:27:40 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> In some situations a number of agents each have the ability to undertake an initiative that would have significant effects on the others. Suppose that each of these agents is purely motivated by an altruistic concern for the common good. We show that if each agent acts on her own personal judgment as to whether the initiative should be undertaken, then the initiative will move forward more often than is optimal. We suggest that this phenomenon, which we call the unilateralist’s curse, arises in many contexts, including some that are important for public policy. [...] Consider the following hypothetical scenarios:

> 1. A group of scientists working on the development of an HIV vaccine have accidentally created an airborne transmissible variant of HIV. They must decide whether to publish their discovery, knowing that it might be used to create a devastating biological weapon, but alsot... more »

> In some situations a number of agents each have the ability to undertake an initiative that would have significant effects on the others. Suppose that each of these agents is purely motivated by an altruistic concern for the common good. We show that if each agent acts on her own personal judgment as to whether the initiative should be undertaken, then the initiative will move forward more often than is optimal. We suggest that this phenomenon, which we call the unilateralist’s curse, arises in many contexts, including some that are important for public policy. [...] Consider the following hypothetical scenarios:

> 1. A group of scientists working on the development of an HIV vaccine have accidentally created an airborne transmissible variant of HIV. They must decide whether to publish their discovery, knowing that it might be used to create a devastating biological weapon, but also that it could help those who hope to develop defenses against such weapons. Most members of the group think publication is too risky, but one disagrees. He mentions the discovery at a conference, and soon the details are widely known.

> 2. A sports team is planning a surprise birthday party for its coach. One of the players decides that it would be more fun to tell the coach in advance about the planned event. Although the other players think it would be better to keep it a surprise, the unilateralist lets word slip about the preparations underway.

> 3. Geoengineering techniques have developed to the point that it is possible for any of the world’s twenty most technologically advanced nations to substantially reduce the earth’s average temperature by emitting sulfate aerosols. Each of these nations separately considers whether to release such aerosols. Nineteen decide against, but one nation estimates that the benefits of lowering temperature would exceed the costs. It presses ahead with its sulfate aerosol program and the global average temperature drops by almost 1 degree.

> It is plausible that, in each of these cases, each of a number of agents is in a position to undertake an initiative, X. Each agent decides whether or not to undertake X on the basis of her own independent judgment of the value of X, where the value of X is assumed to be independent of who undertakes X, and is supposed to be determined by the contribution of X to the common good.1 Each agent’s judgment is subject to error—some agents might overestimate the value of X, others might underestimate it. If the true value of X is negative, then the larger the number of agents, the greater the chances that at least one agent will overestimate X sufficiently to make the value of X seem positive. Thus, if agents act unilaterally, the initiative is too likely to be undertaken, and if such scenarios repeat, an excessively large number of initiatives are likely to be undertaken. We shall call this phenomenon the unilateralist’s curse.___

2016-08-24 17:28:45 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Nice article by Julia Wise on how to make groups more welcoming to people of all kinds.

> “Founder effect” in biology is when a few individuals start a population which then has limited genetic diversity; the same thing can happen in a social sense. If a group is founded by a few people in particular social group who then recruit their friends, the movement can (without anyone intending it) end up much narrower than it might be. A group founded by English-speaking upper-middle-class male utilitarians in their 20s might accidentally stay within that demographic if it doesn’t make a conscious effort to include others.

> Schelling’s dynamic model of segregation demonstrates how even a slight preference for one’s own kind can result in massive (unintentional) segregation. A movement stuck in a bubble can miss out on a wealth of viewpoints and skills.

> Lastly,meaning w... more »

Nice article by Julia Wise on how to make groups more welcoming to people of all kinds.

> “Founder effect” in biology is when a few individuals start a population which then has limited genetic diversity; the same thing can happen in a social sense. If a group is founded by a few people in particular social group who then recruit their friends, the movement can (without anyone intending it) end up much narrower than it might be. A group founded by English-speaking upper-middle-class male utilitarians in their 20s might accidentally stay within that demographic if it doesn’t make a conscious effort to include others.

> Schelling’s dynamic model of segregation demonstrates how even a slight preference for one’s own kind can result in massive (unintentional) segregation. A movement stuck in a bubble can miss out on a wealth of viewpoints and skills.

> Lastly, meaning will be read even where no particular meaning was intended. If a certain group is drastically underrepresented (in leadership, in images on a website, or wherever), members of that group may come away with the impression that they are not valued and that this is not the place for them. It takes conscious effort to check that these kinds of distortions aren’t happening.___

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2016-08-24 17:24:28 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Neat concept:

> Leak before failure is a fascinating engineering principle, used in the design of things like nuclear power plants. The idea, loosely stated, is that things should fail in easily recoverable non-critical ways (such as leaks) before they fail in catastrophic ways (such as explosions or meltdowns). This means that various components and subsystems are designed with varying margins of safety, so that they fail at different times, under different conditions, in ways that help you prevent bigger disasters using smaller ones.

> So for example, if pressure in a pipe gets too high, a valve should fail, and alert you to the fact that something is making pressure rise above the normal range, allowing you to figure it out and fix it before it gets so high that a boiler explosion scenario is triggered. Unlike canary-in-the-coalmine systems or fault monitoring/rcovery systems,... more »

Neat concept:

> Leak before failure is a fascinating engineering principle, used in the design of things like nuclear power plants. The idea, loosely stated, is that things should fail in easily recoverable non-critical ways (such as leaks) before they fail in catastrophic ways (such as explosions or meltdowns). This means that various components and subsystems are designed with varying margins of safety, so that they fail at different times, under different conditions, in ways that help you prevent bigger disasters using smaller ones.

> So for example, if pressure in a pipe gets too high, a valve should fail, and alert you to the fact that something is making pressure rise above the normal range, allowing you to figure it out and fix it before it gets so high that a boiler explosion scenario is triggered. Unlike canary-in-the-coalmine systems or fault monitoring/rcovery systems, leak-before-failure systems have failure robustnesses designed organically into operating components, rather than being bolted on in the form of failure management systems.___

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2016-08-24 17:07:25 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> So far, Internet threats have largely been about confidentiality. These can be expensive; one survey estimated that data breaches cost an average of $3.8 million each. They can be embarrassing, as in the theft of celebrity photos from Apple's iCloud in 2014 or the Ashley Madison breach in 2015. They can be damaging, as when the government of North Korea stole tens of thousands of internal documents from Sony or when hackers stole data about 83 million customer accounts from JPMorgan Chase, both in 2014. They can even affect national security, as in the case of the Office of Personnel Management data breach by -- presumptively -- China in 2015.

> On the Internet of Things, integrity and availability threats are much worse than confidentiality threats. It's one thing if your smart door lock can be eavesdropped upon to know who is home. It's another thing entirely if it can be... more »

> So far, Internet threats have largely been about confidentiality. These can be expensive; one survey estimated that data breaches cost an average of $3.8 million each. They can be embarrassing, as in the theft of celebrity photos from Apple's iCloud in 2014 or the Ashley Madison breach in 2015. They can be damaging, as when the government of North Korea stole tens of thousands of internal documents from Sony or when hackers stole data about 83 million customer accounts from JPMorgan Chase, both in 2014. They can even affect national security, as in the case of the Office of Personnel Management data breach by -- presumptively -- China in 2015.

> On the Internet of Things, integrity and availability threats are much worse than confidentiality threats. It's one thing if your smart door lock can be eavesdropped upon to know who is home. It's another thing entirely if it can be hacked to allow a burglar to open the door -- or prevent you from opening your door. A hacker who can deny you control of your car, or take over control, is much more dangerous than one who can eavesdrop on your conversations or track your car's location.

> With the advent of the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems in general, we've given the Internet hands and feet: the ability to directly affect the physical world. What used to be attacks against data and information have become attacks against flesh, steel, and concrete.___

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2016-08-24 16:38:34 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

> And this brings up the question I want to address today: What sort of errors can we expect peer review to catch? [...] To jump to the punch line: the problem with peer review is with the peers.

> In short, if an entire group of peers has a misconception, peer review can simply perpetuate error. We’ve seen this a lot in recent years, for example that paper on ovulation and voting was reviewed by peers who didn’t realize the implausibility of 20-percentage-point vote swings during the campaign, peers who also didn’t know about the garden of forking paths. That paper on beauty and sex ratio was reviewed by peers who didn’t know much about the determinants of sex ratio and didn’t know much about the difficulties of estimating tiny effects from small sample sizes.

> OK, let’s step back for a minute. What is peer review good for? Peer reviewers can catch typos, theycan catch c... more »

> And this brings up the question I want to address today: What sort of errors can we expect peer review to catch? [...] To jump to the punch line: the problem with peer review is with the peers.

> In short, if an entire group of peers has a misconception, peer review can simply perpetuate error. We’ve seen this a lot in recent years, for example that paper on ovulation and voting was reviewed by peers who didn’t realize the implausibility of 20-percentage-point vote swings during the campaign, peers who also didn’t know about the garden of forking paths. That paper on beauty and sex ratio was reviewed by peers who didn’t know much about the determinants of sex ratio and didn’t know much about the difficulties of estimating tiny effects from small sample sizes.

> OK, let’s step back for a minute. What is peer review good for? Peer reviewers can catch typos, they can catch certain logical flaws in an argument, they can notice the absence of references to the relevant literature—that is, the literature that the peers are familiar with. That’s how the peer reviewers for that psychology paper on ovulation and voting didn’t catch the error of claiming that days 6-14 were the most fertile days of the cycle: these reviewers were peers of the people who made the mistake in the first place!

> Peer review has its place. But peer reviewers have blind spots. If you want to really review a paper, you need peer reviewers who can tell you if you’re missing something within the literature—and you need outside reviewers who can rescue you from groupthink. If you’re writing a paper on himmicanes and hurricanes, you want a peer reviewer who can connect you to other literature on psychological biases, and you also want an outside reviewer—someone without a personal and intellectual stake in you being right—who can point out all the flaws in your analysis and can maybe talk you out of trying to publish it. [...]

> This is not to say that a peer-reviewed paper is necessarily bad—I stand by over 99% of my own peer-reviewed publications!—rather, my point is that there are circumstances in which peer review doesn’t give you much.___

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2016-08-24 16:08:33 (0 comments; 10 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Technological unemployment...

> NUI Galway Law professor John Danaher, who has conducted research into human enhancement and artificial intelligence, said sex robots could be a good substitute for human prostitutes. [...]

> Mr Danaher said the "completely legal" practice could even even stamp out sexual slavery and trafficking as the robot's would be cheaper than human prostitutes. Sex robots could also reduce the risk of spreading STDs, Danaher said. [...]

> While the idea of robot brothels is still in its early stages, it's believed sex tourism hotspots such as Amsterdam’s red light district and Thailand will take on the sex robots in their droves.

Technological unemployment...

> NUI Galway Law professor John Danaher, who has conducted research into human enhancement and artificial intelligence, said sex robots could be a good substitute for human prostitutes. [...]

> Mr Danaher said the "completely legal" practice could even even stamp out sexual slavery and trafficking as the robot's would be cheaper than human prostitutes. Sex robots could also reduce the risk of spreading STDs, Danaher said. [...]

> While the idea of robot brothels is still in its early stages, it's believed sex tourism hotspots such as Amsterdam’s red light district and Thailand will take on the sex robots in their droves.___

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2016-08-24 15:58:26 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> The normal way to shift the risk of death is life insurance -- you die, the insurance company gives you money -- but there are other, more esoteric versions, and they are more susceptible to arbitrage. One version involves "medium and long-term bonds and certificates of deposit ('CDs') that contain 'survivor options' or 'death puts.'" Schematically, the idea is that a financial institution issues a bond that pays back $100 when it matures in 2040 or whatever. But if the buyer of the bond dies, he gets his $100 back immediately, instead of having to wait until 2040. He's still dead, though.

> But the bond can be owned jointly by two people, and when one of them dies, the other one gets the $100 back. If you and your friend buy a bond like that for $80, and then your friend dies, you make a quick $20.

> But what are the odds of that?... more »

> The normal way to shift the risk of death is life insurance -- you die, the insurance company gives you money -- but there are other, more esoteric versions, and they are more susceptible to arbitrage. One version involves "medium and long-term bonds and certificates of deposit ('CDs') that contain 'survivor options' or 'death puts.'" Schematically, the idea is that a financial institution issues a bond that pays back $100 when it matures in 2040 or whatever. But if the buyer of the bond dies, he gets his $100 back immediately, instead of having to wait until 2040. He's still dead, though.

> But the bond can be owned jointly by two people, and when one of them dies, the other one gets the $100 back. If you and your friend buy a bond like that for $80, and then your friend dies, you make a quick $20.

> But what are the odds of that? "Pretty low" was presumably the thinking of the companies issuing these bonds. But they didn't reckon with Donald F. "Jay" Lathen Jr. and his hedge fund Eden Arc Capital Management:

> > Using contacts at nursing homes and hospices to identify patients that had a prognosis of less than six months left to live, and conducting due diligence into the patients’ medical condition, Lathen found Participants he could use to execute the Fund’s strategy. In return for agreeing to become a joint owner on an account with Lathen and/or another individual, the Participants were promised a fixed fee—typically, $10,000.

> That is, needless to say, from the Securities and Exchange Commission administrative action against Lathen and Eden Arc. Lathen and a terminally ill patient would buy survivor-option bonds in a joint account, using Eden Arc's money; the patient would die, Lathen would redeem the bonds, and Eden Arc would get the money. You are ... somehow ... not supposed to do this?___

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2016-08-24 15:41:48 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> So while I cringed internally, I did not walk away, or mock these persons then, or later with my friends. I gave them a clear but disgust-free expression of “Oooooo, I wouldn’t do that,” and proceeded to lay out in positive terms how they could improve their stories, and their chances of reaching a broader audience.

> Here is an example of the types of thing I try to say in these cases, with the goal not being to score points or put him in his place, but to help guide the writer in the right direction where they will hopefully learn for themselves in time what cannot be forced into their understanding in a single argument (And to be clear, I am not in any way saying there are not other approaches, or that outright anger is in any way not a valid response for others to have):

> *

> “People seem to have a problem with me calling it Warrior Wandathe Spa... more »

> So while I cringed internally, I did not walk away, or mock these persons then, or later with my friends. I gave them a clear but disgust-free expression of “Oooooo, I wouldn’t do that,” and proceeded to lay out in positive terms how they could improve their stories, and their chances of reaching a broader audience.

> Here is an example of the types of thing I try to say in these cases, with the goal not being to score points or put him in his place, but to help guide the writer in the right direction where they will hopefully learn for themselves in time what cannot be forced into their understanding in a single argument (And to be clear, I am not in any way saying there are not other approaches, or that outright anger is in any way not a valid response for others to have):

> *

> “People seem to have a problem with me calling it Warrior Wanda the Space Slut. Do you think that will be a problem? It is meant to be funny, not offensive.”

> “Well, first, I think the fact that you are asking about putting “slut” in the title says you recognize that it’s likely to offend at least half of the planet’s population. I can’t tell you what is right or wrong for you, but just for me, personally, I don’t like to put things out in the world that might possibly create pain, or make someone feel like they are being made fun of or attacked, even by accident. Especially when I have a choice. And that means learning to look at these things from different points of view and understanding how others would react. And when I think what I wrote is going to be hurtful to others, I have found that there is usually an even better way to write it that won’t be hurtful. You seem to have a good gut if it is telling you this might not be a good idea. Trust it.”___

2016-08-22 09:12:53 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

12:04 < EKK> Is "self-correcting distribution" a really used term
12:04 < EKK> apparently not
12:04 < EKK> too descriptive to not be, IMO
12:07 < ksotala> I loke it
12:07 < ksotala> *like
12:07 < ksotala> loke = the point of appreciation that is halfway between like and love?

12:04 < EKK> Is "self-correcting distribution" a really used term
12:04 < EKK> apparently not
12:04 < EKK> too descriptive to not be, IMO
12:07 < ksotala> I loke it
12:07 < ksotala> *like
12:07 < ksotala> loke = the point of appreciation that is halfway between like and love?___

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2016-08-22 06:32:48 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> Worries about information overload are as old as information itself, with each generation reimagining the dangerous impacts of technology on mind and brain. From a historical perspective, what strikes home is not the evolution of these social concerns, but their similarity from one century to the next, to the point where they arrive anew with little having changed except the label. [...]

> ... as literacy became essential and schools were widely introduced, the curmudgeons turned against education for being unnatural and a risk to mental health. An 1883 article in the weekly medical journal the Sanitarian argued that schools "exhaust the children's brains and nervous systems with complex and multiple studies, and ruin their bodies by protracted imprisonment." Meanwhile, excessive study was considered a leading cause of madness by the medical community.

> When... more »

> Worries about information overload are as old as information itself, with each generation reimagining the dangerous impacts of technology on mind and brain. From a historical perspective, what strikes home is not the evolution of these social concerns, but their similarity from one century to the next, to the point where they arrive anew with little having changed except the label. [...]

> ... as literacy became essential and schools were widely introduced, the curmudgeons turned against education for being unnatural and a risk to mental health. An 1883 article in the weekly medical journal the Sanitarian argued that schools "exhaust the children's brains and nervous systems with complex and multiple studies, and ruin their bodies by protracted imprisonment." Meanwhile, excessive study was considered a leading cause of madness by the medical community.

> When radio arrived, we discovered yet another scourge of the young: The wireless was accused of distracting children from reading and diminishing performance in school, both of which were now considered to be appropriate and wholesome. In 1936, the music magazine the Gramophone reported that children had "developed the habit of dividing attention between the humdrum preparation of their school assignments and the compelling excitement of the loudspeaker" and described how the radio programs were disturbing the balance of their excitable minds. ___

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2016-08-22 06:24:47 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> There’s a grey area in dating many people get hung up on — a grey area where feelings are ambiguous or one person has stronger feelings than the other. This grey area causes real, tangible issues. As a man, a huge question is often whether to be persistent and continue pursuing a woman even when she seems lukewarm or hot/cold on your advances. For women, a common question is what to do with men who make their feelings ambiguous. [...]

> The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them

> The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them. [...]

> This may sound a bitidealistic to some.... more »

> There’s a grey area in dating many people get hung up on — a grey area where feelings are ambiguous or one person has stronger feelings than the other. This grey area causes real, tangible issues. As a man, a huge question is often whether to be persistent and continue pursuing a woman even when she seems lukewarm or hot/cold on your advances. For women, a common question is what to do with men who make their feelings ambiguous. [...]

> The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them

> The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them. [...]

> This may sound a bit idealistic to some. But The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” has many tangible benefits on your dating life:

> 1. No longer be strung along by people who aren’t that into you. End all of the headaches. End the wishing and hoping. End the disappoint and anger that inevitably follows. Start practicing self-respect. Become the rejector, not the rejected.
> 2. No longer pursue people you are so-so on for ego purposes. We’ve all been there. We were so-so about somebody, but we went along with it because nothing better was around. And we all have a few we’d like to take back. No more.
> 3. Consent issues are instantly resolved. If someone is playing games with you, playing hard to get, or pressuring you into doing something you’re unsure about, your answer is now easy. Or as I often like to say in regards to dating, “If you have to ask, then that’s your answer.”
> 4. Establish strong personal boundaries and enforce them. Maintaining strong boundaries not only makes one more confident and attractive, but also helps to preserve one’s sanity in the long-run.
> 5. Always know where you stand with the other person. Since you’re now freeing up so much time and energy from people you’re not that into, and people who are not that into you, you now find yourself perpetually in interactions where people’s intentions are clear and enthusiastic. Sweet! ___

2016-08-18 17:13:24 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

>. .. unless they are flustered or caught in an awkward moment, a good fighter is rarely going to get caught with a big ol’ long wound-up straight punch. It’s just too obvious. This is where Making Smaller Circles comes into play. [After a lot of time practicing a straight punch] the body mechanics of the punch have been condensed in my mind to a feeling. I don’t need to hear or see any effect—my body knows when it is operating correctly by an internal sense of harmony. A parallel would be a trained singer who, through years of practice, knows what the notes feel like vibrating inside. Then she is giving a concert in a big venue and the sound system is a nightmare. From onstage, she can’t hear herself at all—a surprisingly common occurrence. The great performer can deliver a virtuoso performance without hearing a thing, because she knows how the notes should feel coming out, even if herprimary mon... more »

>. .. unless they are flustered or caught in an awkward moment, a good fighter is rarely going to get caught with a big ol’ long wound-up straight punch. It’s just too obvious. This is where Making Smaller Circles comes into play. [After a lot of time practicing a straight punch] the body mechanics of the punch have been condensed in my mind to a feeling. I don’t need to hear or see any effect—my body knows when it is operating correctly by an internal sense of harmony. A parallel would be a trained singer who, through years of practice, knows what the notes feel like vibrating inside. Then she is giving a concert in a big venue and the sound system is a nightmare. From onstage, she can’t hear herself at all—a surprisingly common occurrence. The great performer can deliver a virtuoso performance without hearing a thing, because she knows how the notes should feel coming out, even if her primary monitor—her ears—are temporarily unavailable.

> So I know what a properly delivered straight right feels like. Now I begin to slowly, incrementally, condense my movements while maintaining that feeling. Instead of a big wind-up in the hips, I coil a little less, and then I release the punch. While initially I may have thrown my straight from next to my ear, now I gradually inch my hand out, starting the punch from closer and closer to the target—and I don’t lose power! The key is to take small steps, so the body can barely feel the condensing practice. Each little refinement is monitored by the feeling of the punch, which I gained from months or years of training with the large, traditional motion. Slowly but surely, my body mechanics get more and more potent. My waist needs little movement to generate speed. My hand can barely move and still deliver a powerful blow. Eventually I can deliver a straight punch that looks nothing like a straight punch. If you’ve ever watched some of the most explosive hitters in the boxing world, for instance Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali, you’ve seen fights where knockouts look completely unrealistic. Sometimes you have to watch in slow motion, over and over, to see any punch at all. They have condensed large circles into very small ones, and made their skills virtually invisible to the untrained eye.

> The chessic manifestations of this phenomenon are quite interesting. For example, arguably the most fundamental chess principle is central control. At all levels of play, the competitor who dominates the middle of the chessboard will usually have an advantage because from this placement his or her pieces can influence the entire battle. Curiously, if you study the games of some very strong Grandmasters, they seem to completely disregard this principle. The British star Michael Adams might be the clearest case in point. His pieces are often on the flanks and he appears to casually give opponents central dominance—and yet he wins. The secret behind this style of play is a profound internalization of the principles behind central domination. Michael Adams knows how to control the center without appearing to have anything to do with the center. He has made the circles so small, even Grandmasters cannot see them.

-- Waitzkin, Josh. The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence. Free Press. Kindle Edition.___

2016-08-18 17:02:32 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> I practiced the Tai Chi meditative form diligently, many hours a day. At times I repeated segments of the form over and over, honing certain techniques while refining my body mechanics and deepening my sense of relaxation. I focused on small movements, sometimes spending hours moving my hand out a few inches, then releasing it back, energizing outwards, connecting my feet to my fingertips with less and less obstruction. Practicing in this manner, I was able to sharpen my feeling for Tai Chi. When through painstaking refinement of a small movement I had the improved feeling, I could translate it onto other parts of the form, and suddenly everything would start flowing at a higher level. The key was to recognize that the principles making one simple technique tick were the same fundamentals that fueled the whole expansive system of Tai Chi Chuan.

> This method is similar to my early study... more »

> I practiced the Tai Chi meditative form diligently, many hours a day. At times I repeated segments of the form over and over, honing certain techniques while refining my body mechanics and deepening my sense of relaxation. I focused on small movements, sometimes spending hours moving my hand out a few inches, then releasing it back, energizing outwards, connecting my feet to my fingertips with less and less obstruction. Practicing in this manner, I was able to sharpen my feeling for Tai Chi. When through painstaking refinement of a small movement I had the improved feeling, I could translate it onto other parts of the form, and suddenly everything would start flowing at a higher level. The key was to recognize that the principles making one simple technique tick were the same fundamentals that fueled the whole expansive system of Tai Chi Chuan.

> This method is similar to my early study of chess, where I explored endgame positions of reduced complexity—for example king and pawn against king, only three pieces on the board—in order to touch high-level principles such as the power of empty space, zugzwang (where any move of the opponent will destroy his position), tempo, or structural planning. Once I experienced these principles, I could apply them to complex positions because they were in my mental framework. However, if you study complicated chess openings and middlegames right off the bat, it is difficult to think in an abstract axiomatic language because all your energies are preoccupied with not blundering. It would be absurd to try to teach a new figure skater the principle of relaxation on the ice by launching straight into triple axels. She should begin with the fundamentals of gliding along the ice, turning, and skating backwards with deepening relaxation. Then, step by step, more and more complicated maneuvers can be absorbed, while she maintains the sense of ease that was initially experienced within the simplest skill set.

-- Waitzkin, Josh. The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence. Free Press. Kindle Edition.___

2016-08-18 16:45:50 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> Taleb, Kahneman, and I agree there is no evidence that geopolitical or economic forecasters can predict anything ten years out beyond the excruciatingly obvious—“there will be conflicts”—and the odd lucky hits that are inevitable whenever lots of forecasters make lots of forecasts. These limits on predictability are the predictable results of the butterfly dynamics of nonlinear systems. In my EPJ research, the accuracy of expert predictions declined toward chance five years out. And yet, this sort of forecasting is common, even within institutions that should know better. Every four years, Congress requires the Department of Defense to produce a twenty-year forecast of the national security environment. “Enormous effort goes into this Quadrennial Defense Review,” noted Richard Danzig, a former secretary of the navy. [...]

> Wells hinted at a better way in his closing comment.If you have... more »

> Taleb, Kahneman, and I agree there is no evidence that geopolitical or economic forecasters can predict anything ten years out beyond the excruciatingly obvious—“there will be conflicts”—and the odd lucky hits that are inevitable whenever lots of forecasters make lots of forecasts. These limits on predictability are the predictable results of the butterfly dynamics of nonlinear systems. In my EPJ research, the accuracy of expert predictions declined toward chance five years out. And yet, this sort of forecasting is common, even within institutions that should know better. Every four years, Congress requires the Department of Defense to produce a twenty-year forecast of the national security environment. “Enormous effort goes into this Quadrennial Defense Review,” noted Richard Danzig, a former secretary of the navy. [...]

> Wells hinted at a better way in his closing comment. If you have to plan for a future beyond the forecasting horizon, plan for surprise. That means, as Danzig advises, planning for adaptability and resilience. [...]

> In principle, I agree. But a point often overlooked is that preparing for surprises—whether we are shooting for resilience or antifragility—is costly. We have to set priorities, which puts us back in the forecasting business. Consider building codes. In Tokyo, big new buildings have to be constructed with advanced engineering to withstand megaquakes. That’s expensive. Does it make sense to incur that cost? The timing of earthquakes can’t be predicted with precision, but seismologists know where they tend to occur and how big they are likely to be. Tokyo is earthquake central, so expensive engineering standards make sense. But in regions less prone to big quakes, particularly in poorer countries, the same standards make less sense.

> These sorts of probability estimates are at the heart of all long-term planning, but they are rarely as explicit as those in earthquake preparation. For decades, the United States had a policy of maintaining the capacity to fight two wars simultaneously. But why not three? Or four? Why not prepare for an alien invasion while we are at it? The answers hinge on probabilities. The two-war doctrine was based on a judgment that the likelihood of the military having to fight two wars simultaneously was high enough to justify the huge expense—but the same was not true of a three-war, four-war, or alien-invasion future. Judgments like these are unavoidable, and if it sometimes looks like we’ve avoided them in long-term planning that is only because we have swept them under the rug. That’s worrisome. Probability judgments should be explicit so we can consider whether they are as accurate as they can be. And if they are nothing but a guess, because that’s the best we can do, we should say so. Knowing what we don’t know is better than thinking we know what we don’t.

-- Tetlock, Philip; Gardner, Dan. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. Random House. Kindle Edition.___

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2016-08-18 08:48:07 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

I feel skeptical of the science as it's described here, but the general idea is interesting:

>... love is not what we think it is. It is not a long-lasting, continually present emotion that sustains a marriage; it is not the yearning and passion that characterizes young love; and it is not the blood-tie of kinship.

> Rather, it is what [psychologist Barbara Fredrickson] calls a "micro-moment of positivity resonance." She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—any other person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with less likely candidates, like a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocerystor... more »

I feel skeptical of the science as it's described here, but the general idea is interesting:

>... love is not what we think it is. It is not a long-lasting, continually present emotion that sustains a marriage; it is not the yearning and passion that characterizes young love; and it is not the blood-tie of kinship.

> Rather, it is what [psychologist Barbara Fredrickson] calls a "micro-moment of positivity resonance." She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—any other person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with less likely candidates, like a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocery store. [...]

> "Thinking of love purely as romance or commitment that you share with one special person—as it appears most on earth do—surely limits the health and happiness you derive" from love.___

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2016-08-16 14:15:18 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

Ruby Bloom recently posted about the significance of +Eliezer Yudkowsky's Less Wrong Sequences on his thinking. I felt compelled to do the same.

Several people have explicitly told me that I'm one of the most rational people they know. I can also think of at least one case where I was complimented by someone who was politically "my sworn enemy", who said something along the lines of "I do grant that your arguments for your position are good, it's just everyone else on your side...", which I take as some evidence of me being able to maintain at least some semblance of sanity even when talking about politics.

(Seeing what I've written above, I cringe a little, since "I'm so rational" sounds like so much like an over-the-top, arrogant boast. I certainly have plenty of my own biases, as does everyone who is human. Imagining... more »

Ruby Bloom recently posted about the significance of +Eliezer Yudkowsky's Less Wrong Sequences on his thinking. I felt compelled to do the same.

Several people have explicitly told me that I'm one of the most rational people they know. I can also think of at least one case where I was complimented by someone who was politically "my sworn enemy", who said something along the lines of "I do grant that your arguments for your position are good, it's just everyone else on your side...", which I take as some evidence of me being able to maintain at least some semblance of sanity even when talking about politics.

(Seeing what I've written above, I cringe a little, since "I'm so rational" sounds like so much like an over-the-top, arrogant boast. I certainly have plenty of my own biases, as does everyone who is human. Imagining yourself to be perfectly rational is a pretty good way of ensuring that you won't be, so I'd never claim to be exceptional based only on my self-judgment. But this is what several people have explicitly told me, independently of each other, sometimes also vouching part of their own reputation on it by stating this in public.)

However.

Before reading the Sequences, I was very definitely not that. I was what the Sequences would call "a clever arguer" - someone who was good at coming up with arguments for their own favored position, and didn't really feel all that compelled to care about the truth.

The one single biggest impact of the Sequences that I can think of is that before reading them, as well as Eliezer's other writings, I didn't really think that beliefs had to be supported by evidence.

Sure, on some level I acknowledged that you can't just believe anything you can find a clever argument for. But I do also remember thinking something like "yeah, I know that everyone thinks that their position is the correct one just because it's theirs, but at the same time I just know that my position is correct just because it's mine, and everyone else having that certainty for contradictory beliefs doesn't change that, you know?".

This wasn't a reductio ad absurdum, it was my genuine position. I had a clear emotional certainty of being right about something, a certainty which wasn't really supported by any evidence and which didn't need to be. The feeling of certainty was enough by itself; the only thing that mattered was in finding the evidence to (selectively) present to others in order to persuade them. Which it likely wouldn't, since they'd have their own feelings of certainty, similarly blind to most evidence. But they might at least be forced to concede the argument in public.

It was the Sequences that first changed that. It was reading them that made me actually realize, on an emotional level, that correct beliefs actually required evidence. That this wasn't just a game of social convention, but a law of universe as iron-clad as the laws of physics. That if I caught myself arguing for a position where I was making arguments that I knew to be weak, the correct thing to do wasn't to hope that my opponents wouldn't spot the weaknesses, but rather to just abandon those weak arguments myself. And then to question whether I even should believe that position, having realized that my arguments were weak.

I can't say that the Sequences alone were enough to take me all the way to where I am now. But they made me more receptive to other people pointing out when I was biased, or incorrect. More humble, more willing to take differing positions into account. And as people pointed out more problems in my thinking, I gradually learned to correct some of those problems, internalizing the feedback.

Again, I don't want to claim that I'd be entirely rational. That'd just be stupid. But to the extent that I'm more rational than average, it all got started with the Sequences.

Ruby wrote:

> I was thinking through some challenges and I noticed the sheer density of rationality concepts taught in the Sequences which I was using: "motivated cognition", "reversed stupidity is not intelligence", "don't waste energy of thoughts which won't have been useful in universes were you win" (possibly not in the Sequences), "condition on all the evidence you have". These are fundamental concepts, core lessons which shape my thinking constantly. I am a better reasoner, a clearer thinker, and I get closer to the truth because of the Sequences. In my gut, I feel like the version of me who never read the Sequences is epistemically equivalent to a crystal-toting anti-anti-vaxxer (probably not true, but that's how it feels) who I'd struggle to have a conversation with.

> And my mind still boggles that the Sequences were written by a single person. A single person is responsible for so much of how I think, the concepts I employ, how I view the world and try to affect it. If this seems scary, realise that I'd much rather have my thinking shaped by one sane person than a dozen mad ones. In fact, it's more scary to think that had Eliezer not written the Sequences, I might be that anti-vaxxer equivalent version of me.

I feel very similarly. I have slightly more difficulty pointing to specific concepts from the Sequences that I employ in my daily thinking, because they've become so deeply integrated to my thought that I'm no longer explicitly aware of them; but I do remember a period in which they were still in the process of being integrated, and when I explicitly noticed myself using them.

Thank you, Eliezer.

(There's a collected and edited version of the Sequences available in ebook form: https://smile.amazon.com/Rationality-AI-Zombies-Eliezer-Yudkowsky-ebook/dp/B00ULP6EW2/ . I would recommend trying to read it one article at a time, one per day: that's how I originally read the Sequences, one article a day as they were being written. That way, they would gradually seep their way into my thoughts over an extended period of time, letting me apply them in various situations. I wouldn't expect just binge-reading the book in one go to have the same impact, even though it would likely still be of some use.)___

2016-08-16 12:29:21 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Scientific endorsement of the noble lie:

"Science Is Not Always “Self-Correcting”: Fact–Value Conflation and the Study of Intelligence", Cofnas 2015:

"Some prominent scientists and philosophers have stated openly that moral and
political considerations should influence whether we accept or promulgate scientific theories.
This widespread view has significantly influenced the development, and public perception, of
intelligence research. Theories related to group differences in intelligence are often rejected
a priori on explicitly moral grounds. Thus the idea, frequently expressed by commentators
on science, that science is “self-correcting”—that hypotheses are simply abandoned when
they are undermined by empirical evidence—may not be correct in all contexts. In this paper,
documentation spanning from the early 1970s to thepresent is co... more »

Scientific endorsement of the noble lie:

"Science Is Not Always “Self-Correcting”: Fact–Value Conflation and the Study of Intelligence", Cofnas 2015:

"Some prominent scientists and philosophers have stated openly that moral and
political considerations should influence whether we accept or promulgate scientific theories.
This widespread view has significantly influenced the development, and public perception, of
intelligence research. Theories related to group differences in intelligence are often rejected
a priori on explicitly moral grounds. Thus the idea, frequently expressed by commentators
on science, that science is “self-correcting”—that hypotheses are simply abandoned when
they are undermined by empirical evidence—may not be correct in all contexts. In this paper,
documentation spanning from the early 1970s to the present is collected, which reveals the
influence of scientists’ moral and political commitments on the study of intelligence. It is
suggested that misrepresenting findings in science to achieve desirable social goals will
ultimately harm both science and society."___

2016-08-16 12:26:14 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Nerds and social skills: it took me an embarassingly long time before I figured out that "what've you been up to" and the like are code for "say some random thing that you think might be interesting", rather than the super-difficult "give me a concise summary of everything that's going on with your life that I don't know about yet".

Nerds and social skills: it took me an embarassingly long time before I figured out that "what've you been up to" and the like are code for "say some random thing that you think might be interesting", rather than the super-difficult "give me a concise summary of everything that's going on with your life that I don't know about yet".___

2016-08-15 13:21:40 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

> ... the more famous an expert was, the less accurate he was. That’s not because editors, producers, and the public go looking for bad forecasters. They go looking for hedgehogs, who just happen to be bad forecasters. Animated by a Big Idea, hedgehogs tell tight, simple, clear stories that grab and hold audiences. As anyone who has done media training knows, the first rule is “keep it simple, stupid.” Better still, hedgehogs are confident. With their one-perspective analysis, hedgehogs can pile up reasons why they are right—“ furthermore,” “moreover”— without considering other perspectives and the pesky doubts and caveats they raise. And so, as EPJ showed, hedgehogs are likelier to say something definitely will or won’t happen. For many audiences, that’s satisfying. People tend to find uncertainty disturbing and “maybe” underscores uncertainty with a bright red crayon. Thesimplicity and confidence... more »

> ... the more famous an expert was, the less accurate he was. That’s not because editors, producers, and the public go looking for bad forecasters. They go looking for hedgehogs, who just happen to be bad forecasters. Animated by a Big Idea, hedgehogs tell tight, simple, clear stories that grab and hold audiences. As anyone who has done media training knows, the first rule is “keep it simple, stupid.” Better still, hedgehogs are confident. With their one-perspective analysis, hedgehogs can pile up reasons why they are right—“ furthermore,” “moreover”— without considering other perspectives and the pesky doubts and caveats they raise. And so, as EPJ showed, hedgehogs are likelier to say something definitely will or won’t happen. For many audiences, that’s satisfying. People tend to find uncertainty disturbing and “maybe” underscores uncertainty with a bright red crayon. The simplicity and confidence of the hedgehog impairs foresight, but it calms nerves— which is good for the careers of hedgehogs.

> Foxes don’t fare so well in the media. They’re less confident, less likely to say something is “certain” or “impossible,” and are likelier to settle on shades of “maybe.” And their stories are complex, full of “howevers” and “on the other hands,” because they look at problems one way, then another, and another. This aggregation of many perspectives is bad TV. But it’s good forecasting. Indeed, it’s essential.

-- Tetlock, Philip; Gardner, Dan. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (Kindle Locations 1094-1102). Random House. Kindle Edition.___

2016-08-15 12:19:07 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

> A good restaurant is very likely to open its doors when it says it will, but it may not, for any number of reasons, from a manager sleeping late, to fire, bankruptcy, pandemic, nuclear war, or a physics experiment accidentally creating a black hole that sucks up the solar system. The same is true of anything else. Even those fifty-year sunrise and sunset forecasts could be off somewhat if, sometime in the next fifty years, a massive space rock bumps Earth off its orbit around the sun. There are no certainties in life— not even death and taxes if we assign a nonzero probability to the invention of technologies that let us upload the contents of our brains into a cloud-computing network and the emergence of a future society so public-spirited and prosperous that the state can be funded with charitable donations.

-- Tetlock, Philip; Gardner, Dan. Superforecasting: The Art and Science ofP... more »

> A good restaurant is very likely to open its doors when it says it will, but it may not, for any number of reasons, from a manager sleeping late, to fire, bankruptcy, pandemic, nuclear war, or a physics experiment accidentally creating a black hole that sucks up the solar system. The same is true of anything else. Even those fifty-year sunrise and sunset forecasts could be off somewhat if, sometime in the next fifty years, a massive space rock bumps Earth off its orbit around the sun. There are no certainties in life— not even death and taxes if we assign a nonzero probability to the invention of technologies that let us upload the contents of our brains into a cloud-computing network and the emergence of a future society so public-spirited and prosperous that the state can be funded with charitable donations.

-- Tetlock, Philip; Gardner, Dan. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (Kindle Locations 215-221). Random House. Kindle Edition.___

2016-08-15 10:59:57 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

An argument for maximally open AI development:

> Consider that many current Internet services are free to consumers and paid for by clients who use the services to persuade consumers to buy products and to support political candidates and positions. Future AI will be able to subtly embed persuasion in its natural language conversations with consumers, and persuade by creating subtle peer pressure. This will ultimately enable it to control society. If the public demands transparency about what AI is used for, then such social manipulation becomes visible and can be resisted. A transparent environment will likely discourage any desire to create manipulative AI. Social manipulation is the AI outcome I fear most because it is such a natural progression from current practice.

> The article "Should AI Be Open?" says, "If someone tries to use AI to exploit others, the... more »

An argument for maximally open AI development:

> Consider that many current Internet services are free to consumers and paid for by clients who use the services to persuade consumers to buy products and to support political candidates and positions. Future AI will be able to subtly embed persuasion in its natural language conversations with consumers, and persuade by creating subtle peer pressure. This will ultimately enable it to control society. If the public demands transparency about what AI is used for, then such social manipulation becomes visible and can be resisted. A transparent environment will likely discourage any desire to create manipulative AI. Social manipulation is the AI outcome I fear most because it is such a natural progression from current practice.

> The article "Should AI Be Open?" says, "If someone tries to use AI to exploit others, the government can pass a complicated regulation against that." But the complexity of AI makes it an ideal candidate for regulatory capture. Transparency about what AI is used for can create an informed and engaged public to prevent regulatory capture and hence resist social control by AI.

> To understand the role of open source in transparency about what AI is used for, consider the scandal of VW emissions control software. Trade secret protection enabled VW to say the software did one thing when in fact it did something different. The outrage of VW owners is a good model for what I want in AI transparency: public outrage at secret, large-scale AI projects. I want a world in which the best AI developers do not want to work on secret projects, and in fact we do see the Google DeepMind team making their amazing work open source!___

2016-08-14 10:34:54 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Anti-meditation for sleep: When I have insomnia, the main problem seems to be that I can't drift off to sleep because there's nothing to drift off to. My mind is just too clear.

Yesterday I had an idea: in learning meditation, I've been honing the skill of noticing when I've drifted off to thought, in order to return my attention to my focus. Could I apply the same skill in reverse? Notice when I'm not drifting in thought, and go back to drifting whenever my mind feels like it's about to clear?

Seemed to work okay - I'm not sure if I actually fell asleep any faster, but at least I never started feeling frustrated, so it was a lot more pleasant. Also noticed that I did substantially less turning from one side to the other.

Anti-meditation for sleep: When I have insomnia, the main problem seems to be that I can't drift off to sleep because there's nothing to drift off to. My mind is just too clear.

Yesterday I had an idea: in learning meditation, I've been honing the skill of noticing when I've drifted off to thought, in order to return my attention to my focus. Could I apply the same skill in reverse? Notice when I'm not drifting in thought, and go back to drifting whenever my mind feels like it's about to clear?

Seemed to work okay - I'm not sure if I actually fell asleep any faster, but at least I never started feeling frustrated, so it was a lot more pleasant. Also noticed that I did substantially less turning from one side to the other.___

2016-08-14 08:59:42 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

The feeling when your Spotify mobile app says that there are other devices available to be used as speakers, and you're pretty sure that all of your other devices are turned off, and you wonder whether tapping that would cause music to be played in your neighbor's apartment or something.

(I didn't try it.)

The feeling when your Spotify mobile app says that there are other devices available to be used as speakers, and you're pretty sure that all of your other devices are turned off, and you wonder whether tapping that would cause music to be played in your neighbor's apartment or something.

(I didn't try it.)___

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2016-08-14 05:43:20 (0 comments; 6 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

> In early July, Betsy Davis emailed her closest friends and relatives to invite them to a two-day party, telling them: 'These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness.'

> And just one rule: No crying in front of her.

> The 41-year-old artist with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, held the gathering to say goodbye before becoming one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state's new doctor-assisted suicide law for the terminally ill. [...]

> Davis spent months planning her exit, feeling empowered after spending the last three years losing control of her body bit by bit.

> The painter and performance artist could no longer stand, brush her teeth or scratch an itch.

> In early July, Betsy Davis emailed her closest friends and relatives to invite them to a two-day party, telling them: 'These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness.'

> And just one rule: No crying in front of her.

> The 41-year-old artist with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, held the gathering to say goodbye before becoming one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state's new doctor-assisted suicide law for the terminally ill. [...]

> Davis spent months planning her exit, feeling empowered after spending the last three years losing control of her body bit by bit.

> The painter and performance artist could no longer stand, brush her teeth or scratch an itch.___

2016-08-13 17:57:16 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

> One idea I taught was the importance of regaining presence and clarity of mind after making a serious error. This is a hard lesson for all competitors and performers. The first mistake rarely proves disastrous, but the downward spiral of the second, third, and fourth error creates a devastating chain reaction. Any sports fan has seen professional football, basketball, and baseball games won and lost because of a shift in psychological advantage. People speak about momentum as if it were an entity of its own, an unpredictable player on the field, and from my own competitive experience, I can vouch for it seeming that way. The key is to bring that player onto your team by riding the psychological wave when it is behind you, and snapping back into a fresh presence when your clarity of mind begins to be swept away.

> With young chess players, the downward spiral dominates competitive lives.... more »

> One idea I taught was the importance of regaining presence and clarity of mind after making a serious error. This is a hard lesson for all competitors and performers. The first mistake rarely proves disastrous, but the downward spiral of the second, third, and fourth error creates a devastating chain reaction. Any sports fan has seen professional football, basketball, and baseball games won and lost because of a shift in psychological advantage. People speak about momentum as if it were an entity of its own, an unpredictable player on the field, and from my own competitive experience, I can vouch for it seeming that way. The key is to bring that player onto your team by riding the psychological wave when it is behind you, and snapping back into a fresh presence when your clarity of mind begins to be swept away.

> With young chess players, the downward spiral dominates competitive lives. In game after game, beginners fall to pieces after making the first mistake. With older, more accomplished players the mistakes are subtler, but the pattern of error begetting error remains true and deadly.

> Imagine yourself in the following situation: You are a highly skilled chess Master in the middle of a critical tournament game and you have a much better position. For the last three hours you have been pressuring your opponent, increasing the tension, pushing him closer to the edge, and searching for the decisive moment when your advantage will be converted into a win. Then you make a subtle error that allows your opponent to equalize the position. There is nothing wrong with equality, but you have developed a powerful emotional attachment to being in control of the game. Your heart starts to pound because of the disconcerting chasm between what was and what is. [...]

> As a competitor I’ve come to understand that the distance between winning and losing is minute, and, moreover, that there are ways to steal wins from the maw of defeat. All great performers have learned this lesson. Top-rate actors often miss a line but improvise their way back on track. The audience rarely notices because of the perfect ease with which the performer glides from troubled waters into the tranquility of the script. Even more impressively, the truly great ones can make the moment work for them, heightening performance with improvisations that shine with immediacy and life. Musicians, actors, athletes, philosophers, scientists, writers understand that brilliant creations are often born of small errors. Problems set in if the performer has a brittle dependence on the safety of absolute perfection or duplication. Then an error triggers fear, detachment, uncertainty, or confusion that muddies the decision-making process.

-- Waitzkin, Josh. The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence. Free Press. Kindle Edition. ___

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2016-08-13 16:43:41 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

The EvolvingAI Lab just had another NIPS paper accepted! Congrats Anh! Our paper is on generating synthetic images that light up neurons in deep neural networks to better understand them (something I call "AI Neuroscience").

Would you be able to tell which are real and which are fake without the labels?

Nguyen A, Dosovitskiy A, Yosinski J, Brox T, Clune J (2016) Synthesizing the preferred inputs for neurons in neural networks via deep generator networks. arXiv:1605.09304 pdf: http://www.evolvingai.org/files/nguyen2016synthesizing.pdf

See you in Barcelona!

The EvolvingAI Lab just had another NIPS paper accepted! Congrats Anh! Our paper is on generating synthetic images that light up neurons in deep neural networks to better understand them (something I call "AI Neuroscience").

Would you be able to tell which are real and which are fake without the labels?

Nguyen A, Dosovitskiy A, Yosinski J, Brox T, Clune J (2016) Synthesizing the preferred inputs for neurons in neural networks via deep generator networks. arXiv:1605.09304 pdf: http://www.evolvingai.org/files/nguyen2016synthesizing.pdf

See you in Barcelona!___

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2016-08-13 16:43:23 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

The timing can't be made more sensitive because then it would be more sensitive than the lane lengths are:

> In a 50 meter Olympic pool, at the current men’s world record 50m pace, a thousandth-of-a-second constitutes 2.39 millimeters of travel. FINA pool dimension regulations allow a tolerance of 3 centimeters in each lane, more than ten times that amount. Could you time swimmers to a thousandth-of-a-second? Sure, but you couldn’t guarantee the winning swimmer didn’t have a thousandth-of-a-second-shorter course to swim. (Attempting to construct a concrete pool to any tighter a tolerance is nearly impossible; the effective length of a pool can change depending on the ambient temperature, the water temperature, and even whether or not there are people in the pool itself.)

The timing can't be made more sensitive because then it would be more sensitive than the lane lengths are:

> In a 50 meter Olympic pool, at the current men’s world record 50m pace, a thousandth-of-a-second constitutes 2.39 millimeters of travel. FINA pool dimension regulations allow a tolerance of 3 centimeters in each lane, more than ten times that amount. Could you time swimmers to a thousandth-of-a-second? Sure, but you couldn’t guarantee the winning swimmer didn’t have a thousandth-of-a-second-shorter course to swim. (Attempting to construct a concrete pool to any tighter a tolerance is nearly impossible; the effective length of a pool can change depending on the ambient temperature, the water temperature, and even whether or not there are people in the pool itself.)___

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2016-08-13 16:42:36 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

"Thermostats can now get infected with ransomware, because 2016".

"Thermostats can now get infected with ransomware, because 2016".___

2016-08-13 16:41:45 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

Learning to love and live with earworms:

> Soon enough, this problem became rampant in my chess life. If I heard a particularly catchy tune at home or on the way to a tournament, I would sometimes be haunted by it for days. This might sound trivial, but for me it was disastrous— there I’d be, eleven years old, facing down a wily old chess master, and the theme song from Ghostbusters would be hammering away in my brain. The more I tried to block out the distraction, the louder it would get in my head. As a young boy I felt alone with this problem, but in recent years while lecturing on performance psychology, I have found that many high-stress performers have similar symptoms.

> Over time, as I became more and more fixated on irritating mental music, I started being bothered by noises I had never even noticed before. In a silent playing hall, the sound of a distant ambulanceor ... more »

Learning to love and live with earworms:

> Soon enough, this problem became rampant in my chess life. If I heard a particularly catchy tune at home or on the way to a tournament, I would sometimes be haunted by it for days. This might sound trivial, but for me it was disastrous— there I’d be, eleven years old, facing down a wily old chess master, and the theme song from Ghostbusters would be hammering away in my brain. The more I tried to block out the distraction, the louder it would get in my head. As a young boy I felt alone with this problem, but in recent years while lecturing on performance psychology, I have found that many high-stress performers have similar symptoms.

> Over time, as I became more and more fixated on irritating mental music, I started being bothered by noises I had never even noticed before. In a silent playing hall, the sound of a distant ambulance or whispering spectators can be an uproar. A ticking chess clock can be a telltale heart, pounding like thunder in your mind. I was having terrible and hilarious noise problems, and then one day I had a breakthrough. I was playing a tournament in Philadelphia with a Phil Collins song rattling away in my brain when I realized that I could think to the beat of the song. My chess calculations began to move to the rhythm of the music, and I played an inspired game. After this moment, I took the bull by the horns and began training to have a more resilient concentration. I realized that in top-rank competition I couldn’t count on the world being silent, so my only option was to become at peace with the noise.

> The victims of my training method were my parents and sister. A few times a week, while studying chess in my bedroom, I blasted music. Sometimes it was music I liked, sometimes music I didn’t like. For a period of many months I blared booming Gyuto monk chants, which drove my sister, Katya, to utter distraction. My family’s little apartment was besieged by my bizarre training concept, and it’s amazing they put up with me. My idea was to become at peace with distraction, whatever it was. During this period of time, in my early teens, I frequented chess shops near my home and played speed chess in clouds of smoke, which I have always hated. Of course I also played in Washington Square Park, where consistent kibitzing and a steady stream of chess banter is part of the game. There was no blocking out the noise or smoke, and my only option was to integrate my environment into my creative process. So if Bon Jovi was playing, I might be prone to play a bit more aggressively than when I had on quiet classical music. The Gyuto monk chants pounded me into fascinating chessic discoveries. Voices in the park inspired me as they had when I was a young boy. The smoke I learned to live with.

-- Waitzkin, Josh. The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence (pp. 55-57). Free Press. Kindle Edition.___

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2016-08-12 06:40:52 (5 comments; 2 reshares; 32 +1s; )Open 

> So we Googled our way to 8,000 screenplays and matched each character’s lines to an actor. From there, we compiled the number of words spoken by male and female characters across roughly 2,000 films, arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever.

> So we Googled our way to 8,000 screenplays and matched each character’s lines to an actor. From there, we compiled the number of words spoken by male and female characters across roughly 2,000 films, arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever.___

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2016-08-12 06:39:10 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

By Sarah Perry, http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/03/04/gardens-need-walls-on-boundaries-ritual-and-beauty/ .

By Sarah Perry, http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/03/04/gardens-need-walls-on-boundaries-ritual-and-beauty/ .___

2016-08-12 06:35:56 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

What's a paper that you've read that you really like?

What's a paper that you've read that you really like?___

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2016-08-12 06:33:54 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

> In a much-discussed article at Slate, social psychologist Michael Inzlicht told a reporter, “Meta-analyses are fucked” (Engber, 2016). What does it mean, in science, for something to be fucked? Fucked needs to mean more than that something is complicated or must be undertaken with thought and care, as that would be trivially true of everything in science. In this class we will go a step further and say that something is fucked if it presents hard conceptual challenges to which implementable, real-world solutions for working scientists are either not available or routinely ignored in practice.

> The format of this seminar is as follows: Each week we will read and discuss 1-2 papers that raise the question of whether something is fucked. Our focus will be on things that may be fucked in research methods, scientific practice, and philosophy of science. The potential fuckedness ofspe... more »

> In a much-discussed article at Slate, social psychologist Michael Inzlicht told a reporter, “Meta-analyses are fucked” (Engber, 2016). What does it mean, in science, for something to be fucked? Fucked needs to mean more than that something is complicated or must be undertaken with thought and care, as that would be trivially true of everything in science. In this class we will go a step further and say that something is fucked if it presents hard conceptual challenges to which implementable, real-world solutions for working scientists are either not available or routinely ignored in practice.

> The format of this seminar is as follows: Each week we will read and discuss 1-2 papers that raise the question of whether something is fucked. Our focus will be on things that may be fucked in research methods, scientific practice, and philosophy of science. The potential fuckedness of specific theories, research topics, etc. will not be the focus of this class per se, but rather will be used to illustrate these important topics. To that end, each week a different student will be assigned to find a paper that illustrates the fuckedness (or lack thereof) of that week’s topic, and give a 15-minute presentation about whether it is indeed fucked.___

2016-08-12 06:33:20 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

cuddleball percentage, n. The fraction of waking hours that a given person would prefer to spend hugging, cuddling with, or otherwise in very close physical proximity to someone that they like.

My cuddleball percentage is probably at least 30%, maybe more.

cuddleball percentage, n. The fraction of waking hours that a given person would prefer to spend hugging, cuddling with, or otherwise in very close physical proximity to someone that they like.

My cuddleball percentage is probably at least 30%, maybe more.___

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2016-08-12 06:32:40 (0 comments; 7 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

> What I learned as a hired consultant to autodidact physicists [...]

> I haven’t learned any new physics in these conversations, but I have learned a great deal about science communication. My clients almost exclusively get their information from the popular science media. Often, they get something utterly wrong in the process. Once I hear their reading of an article about, say, space-time foam or black hole firewalls, I can see where their misunderstanding stems from. But they come up with interpretations that never would have crossed my mind when writing an article.

> A typical problem is that, in the absence of equations, they project literal meanings onto words such as ‘grains’ of space-time or particles ‘popping’ in and out of existence. Science writers should be more careful to point out when we are using metaphors. My clients read way too much into pictures,measuring... more »

> What I learned as a hired consultant to autodidact physicists [...]

> I haven’t learned any new physics in these conversations, but I have learned a great deal about science communication. My clients almost exclusively get their information from the popular science media. Often, they get something utterly wrong in the process. Once I hear their reading of an article about, say, space-time foam or black hole firewalls, I can see where their misunderstanding stems from. But they come up with interpretations that never would have crossed my mind when writing an article.

> A typical problem is that, in the absence of equations, they project literal meanings onto words such as ‘grains’ of space-time or particles ‘popping’ in and out of existence. Science writers should be more careful to point out when we are using metaphors. My clients read way too much into pictures, measuring every angle, scrutinising every colour, counting every dash. Illustrators should be more careful to point out what is relevant information and what is artistic freedom. But the most important lesson I’ve learned is that journalists are so successful at making physics seem not so complicated that many readers come away with the impression that they can easily do it themselves. How can we blame them for not knowing what it takes if we never tell them?

(via +Risto Saarelma )___

2016-08-10 09:39:56 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

Yesterday evening, I didn't want to go to bed before I'd watched one more episode of a series of videos where a guy programs a computer game. Which consist pretty much just of him talking aloud as he's typing code, running it, and testing if it works as intended. It's highly enjoyable whenever I spot a potential problem in his code before he runs into it; also fun to see what kinds of architectural choices he's making.

Today, I find myself reading for pleasure the rules for a board game which I don't own, simulating the gameplay in my head from what I've read and mentally trying out how the different mechanics fit together.

#NoNotAGeekWhyDoYouAsk

Yesterday evening, I didn't want to go to bed before I'd watched one more episode of a series of videos where a guy programs a computer game. Which consist pretty much just of him talking aloud as he's typing code, running it, and testing if it works as intended. It's highly enjoyable whenever I spot a potential problem in his code before he runs into it; also fun to see what kinds of architectural choices he's making.

Today, I find myself reading for pleasure the rules for a board game which I don't own, simulating the gameplay in my head from what I've read and mentally trying out how the different mechanics fit together.

#NoNotAGeekWhyDoYouAsk___

2016-08-09 12:01:47 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 10 +1s; )Open 

Back when I was a teenager, there was a period when I was curious about neopaganism. One of the books I read at the time was called "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner".

Much later, I read an entirely unrelated book about polyamory, which had the title "Polyamory" and a subtitle which I never remember.

So whenever I tried to remember the name of the poly book, my mind would autofill the missing subtitle, so it would become "Polyamory: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner".

I have no idea what the contents of that book would have been - instructions on developing tulpas, perhaps?

Back when I was a teenager, there was a period when I was curious about neopaganism. One of the books I read at the time was called "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner".

Much later, I read an entirely unrelated book about polyamory, which had the title "Polyamory" and a subtitle which I never remember.

So whenever I tried to remember the name of the poly book, my mind would autofill the missing subtitle, so it would become "Polyamory: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner".

I have no idea what the contents of that book would have been - instructions on developing tulpas, perhaps?___

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2016-08-09 12:00:53 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Interesting piece on pixel art, remarkable also for the author's candid, not-blaming-anyone self-awareness. Basically, he's saying that while pixel art is a valid art style like any other, and not just something for "retro" or "low-tech" games, modern audiences tend to see it as a limitation or weakness. Even pixel art that actually has better artistic quality than a more modern-looking style suffers from a "pixel tax", causing it to be rated as lower in quality than the more modern style.

But then, he notes, a game artist's job is to make art that is "polished, inviting, and clear to the audience, not to also educate the audience that pixel art is a deliberate style". If people feel that pixel art in a game automatically means that the game is "retro", even though its game mechanics are in no way retro, then this... more »

Interesting piece on pixel art, remarkable also for the author's candid, not-blaming-anyone self-awareness. Basically, he's saying that while pixel art is a valid art style like any other, and not just something for "retro" or "low-tech" games, modern audiences tend to see it as a limitation or weakness. Even pixel art that actually has better artistic quality than a more modern-looking style suffers from a "pixel tax", causing it to be rated as lower in quality than the more modern style.

But then, he notes, a game artist's job is to make art that is "polished, inviting, and clear to the audience, not to also educate the audience that pixel art is a deliberate style". If people feel that pixel art in a game automatically means that the game is "retro", even though its game mechanics are in no way retro, then this is setting up a conflict of expectations - and it is the artist's fault for not speaking in a language that their audience would understand.

(via +Risto Saarelma)___

2016-08-08 09:13:36 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

If you're buying something online that lets you input a promo code, don't forget to Google "<site> promo code" first. I got 3 free months out of a 12-month Headspace subscription by remembering to do that.

If you're buying something online that lets you input a promo code, don't forget to Google "<site> promo code" first. I got 3 free months out of a 12-month Headspace subscription by remembering to do that.___

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2016-08-08 09:12:50 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

> Releasing genetically modified mosquitoes appears to have helped reduce cases of dengue in a town in Brazil. The news comes as the US is considering whether to approve the use of the same mosquitoes.

> The trial involved Aedes mosquitoes that had been modified to kill off wild mosquitoes of the same species, and was carried out in the town of Piracicaba. Just by eliminating the standing water where the mosquitoes that carry dengue and other diseases like Zika breed, Piracicaba was able to halve the number of dengue cases during the 2015-16 dengue season, compared with last year.

> But in the areas where the GM mosquitoes were released too, cases of dengue fell by more than 90 per cent.

> This result is significant because regulators have been demanding evidence that this control method not only reduces wild mosquito numbers – as previous trials have shown –but... more »

> Releasing genetically modified mosquitoes appears to have helped reduce cases of dengue in a town in Brazil. The news comes as the US is considering whether to approve the use of the same mosquitoes.

> The trial involved Aedes mosquitoes that had been modified to kill off wild mosquitoes of the same species, and was carried out in the town of Piracicaba. Just by eliminating the standing water where the mosquitoes that carry dengue and other diseases like Zika breed, Piracicaba was able to halve the number of dengue cases during the 2015-16 dengue season, compared with last year.

> But in the areas where the GM mosquitoes were released too, cases of dengue fell by more than 90 per cent.

> This result is significant because regulators have been demanding evidence that this control method not only reduces wild mosquito numbers – as previous trials have shown – but also brings down disease incidence.___

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