nothing is mere

Category Archives: cognitive biases

Library of Scott Alexandria

I’ve said before that my favorite blog — and the one that’s shifted my views in the most varied and consequential ways — is Scott Alexander’s Slate Star Codex. Scott has written a lot of good stuff, and it can be hard to know where to begin; so I’ve listed below what I think are …

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What techniques would you love to suddenly acquire?

I’ve been going to Val’s rationality dojo for CFAR workshop alumni, and I found a kind-of-similar-to-this exercise useful: List a bunch of mental motions — situational responses, habits, personality traits — you wish you could possess or access at will. Visualize small things you imagine would be different about you if you were making more …

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Is ‘consciousness’ simple? Is it ancient?

  Assigning less than 5% probability to ‘cows are moral patients’ strikes me as really overconfident. Ditto, assigning greater than 95% probability. (A moral patient is something that can be harmed or benefited in morally important ways, though it may not be accountable for its actions in the way a moral agent is.) I’m curious …

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Politics is hard mode

Eliezer  Yudkowsky has written a delightful series of posts (originally on the economics blog Overcoming Bias) about why partisan debates are so frequently hostile and unproductive. Particularly incisive is A Fable of Science and Politics. One of the broader points Eliezer makes is that, while political issues are important, political discussion isn’t the best place to train one’s …

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The AI knows, but doesn’t care

This is the first half of a LessWrong post. For background material, see A Non-Technical Introduction to AI Risk and Truly Part of You. I summon a superintelligence, calling out: ‘I wish for my values to be fulfilled!’ The results fall short of pleasant. Gnashing my teeth in a heap of ashes, I wail: Is …

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A non-technical introduction to AI risk

In the summer of 2008, experts attending the Global Catastrophic Risk Conference assigned a 5% probability to the human species’ going extinct due to “superintelligent AI” by the year 2100. New organizations, like the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, are springing up to face the challenge of …

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When dialogues become duels

Why did the recent blow-up between Sam Harris and Glenn Greenwald happen? Why was my subsequent discussion with Murtaza Hussain so unproductive? More, why are squanderous squabbles like this so common? Even among intelligent, educated people with similar moral sensibilities? To a first approximation, the answer is simple: Hussain wrote a sloppy, under-researched hit piece. …

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Is “Islamophobia” real?

This is a shorter version of an April 8 Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog post. My previous post on the Sam Harris / Glenn Greenwald clusterfuffle was mostly procedural. I restricted myself to assessing the authenticity of Murtaza Hussain’s citations, barely touching on the deeper issues of substance he and Greenwald raised. But now that we’re on the topic, this …

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What can we reasonably concede to unreason?

This post first appeared on the Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog. In October, SAIU members headed up to Indianapolis for the Center for Inquiry‘s “Defending Science: Challenges and Strategies” workshop. Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef, co-hosts of the podcast Rationally Speaking, spoke about natural deficits in reasoning, while Jason Rodriguez and John Shook focused on deliberate attempts to …

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