91 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2024
    1. And, although the sitter’s steady gaze and restrained smile were not regarded as mysterious until the 19th century, viewers today can appreciate her equivocal expression.

      It sounds more like it's a modern myth caused by the ever-widening cultural distance between us and this painting.

  2. Feb 2023
    1. By personhood I mean what it takes in an entity to get another person treat it unironically as a human, and feel treated as a human in turn. In shorthand, personhood is the capacity to see and be seen.

      Just one "other person"? That's a very low bar, that's been crossed by plenty of non-persons throughout history. Most other persons? Is this a democratic vote then? What about a person who knows the basics of LLMs? That person won't be fooled, at least not non-ironically. That person will see the bot as just what it is, a advanced auto-complete system, not as a "person".

    2. We are alarmed because computers are finally acting, not superhuman or superintelligent, but ordinary.

      That's not true. People are alarmed because a system endowed with superhuman abilities (vast memory, for example) is proving to be truly unhinged under the right (wrong?) circumstances. None of these two aspects are ordinary.

    3. I at least, am not at all perturbed by the thought that I’m at least in part just a torrent of statistical inferences in some massively parallel matrix-multiplication machinery. Sounds kinda cool actually.

      There's the (circular argument) rub. Rao already believes personhood entails nothing more than statistical inferences (which we do not actually know, scientifically), so he suspends disbelief. Then he takes this belief as proof of personhood.

    1. Typescript is great compared to plain JS, but they're really deep into diminishing returns area with type system features for a couple of years now.A lot less would be a lot more, because as of now Typescript lures otherwise entirely competent programmers into writing complex 'type system puzzles' which are entirely obscure to everybody except the person who wrote that code, and it takes a lot of discipline and experience to reist the lure and keep things simple.


    1. This highlights one of the types of muddled thinking around LLMs. These tasks are used to test theory of mind because for people, language is a reliable representation of what type of thoughts are going on in the person's mind. In the case of an LLM the language generated doesn't have the same relationship to reality as it does for a person.What is being demonstrated in the article is that given billions of tokens of human-written training data, a statistical model can generate text that satisfies some of our expectations of how a person would respond to this task. Essentially we have enough parameters to capture from existing writing that statistically, the most likely word following "she looked in the bag labelled (X), and saw that it was full of (NOT X). She felt " is "surprised" or "confused" or some other word that is commonly embedded alongside contradictions.What this article is not showing (but either irresponsibly or naively suggests) is that the LLM knows what a bag is, what a person is, what popcorn and chocolate are, and can then put itself in the shoes of someone experiencing this situation, and finally communicate its own theory of what is going on in that person's mind. That is just not in evidence.The discussion is also muddled, saying that if structural properties of language create the ability to solve these tasks, then the tasks are either useless for studying humans, or suggest that humans can solve these tasks without ToM. The alternative explanation is of course that humans are known to be not-great at statistical next-word guesses (see Family Feud for examples), but are also known to use language to accurately describe their internal mental states. So the tasks remain useful and accurate in testing ToM in people because people can't perform statistical regressions over billion-token sets and therefore must generate their thoughts the old fashioned way.


    1. I know it's not in fashion, but I will suggest that renting physical servers is a very good and under-appreciated compromise. As an example, 45€/month gets you a 6-core AMD with 64GB of RAM and NVMe SSDs at Hetzner. That's a lot of computing power!Virtualized offerings perform significantly worse (see my 2019 experiments: https://jan.rychter.com/enblog/cloud-server-cpu-performance-...) and cost more. The difference is that you can "scale on demand", which I found not to be necessary, at least in my case. And if I do need to scale, I can still do that, it's just that getting new servers takes hours instead of seconds. Well, I don't need to scale in seconds.In my case, my entire monthly bill for the full production environment and a duplicate staging/standby environment is constant, simple, predictable, very low compared to what I'd need to pay AWS, and I still have a lot of performance headroom to grow.One thing worth noting is that I treat physical servers just like virtual ones: everything is managed through ansible and I can recreate everything from scratch. In fact, I do use another "devcloud" environment at Digital Ocean, and that one is spun up using terraform, before being passed on to ansible that does the rest of the setup.


    1. Yes my understanding was a that ego death is the goal, and this is done in a controlled setting with a trusted therapist.I have no experience with these dosage levels but what I have heard is that some people don’t experience the full ego death at 3.5 grams but most people do at 5 grams, and I have also heard that there isn’t much additional effect from higher doses. So the thinking is to make sure to get everyone over that edge.However there are other forms of treatment and I’m only talking about what I learned a few years ago, I’ve not studied the latest work and I am not a medical professional at all.I did a quick google search to find more info for you and it seems there’s a lot of new work being done. I didn’t find any convenient link with the answer to your question though.


    1. Wow what an interesting story. It's notable that he's still alive at age 99 despite being exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation in his 20s, and a history cancer in the family.


    1. I really highly recommend Robert Hazen's _Story of Earth_ [1] if you're into this sort of stuff. Highly knowledgeable and entertaining geologist argues that the geosphere and the biosphere should really be viewed as one co-evolving system, over deep time. There are thousands of species of minerals that can only exist because of the action of life, and those minerals in turn enable new forms of life, which enable new species of mineral, and so on in a complex and ever evolving system within which we exist for only a fraction of an instant.[1] https://www.amazon.com/Story-Earth-Billion-Stardust-Living/d...


    1. Founder of StudyWand.com here, who received a 15k grant to develop an AI generating flashcard app in 2020 after an earlier prototype.We've found students more consistently study ready-made cards that are at desirable difficulty (they get about 80% correct) and which are segmented by topic (e.g. semantic grouping of flashcards to tackle "one lesson at a time" like Duolingo). Students would prefer to use pre-made flashcards by other students in their class, then AI flashcards, then create and use their own.There is limited evidence by Roediger and Karpicke who are the forefathers of retrieval practise that creating cards is also important. Frank Leeming (2002 study Exam-a-day) also showed that motivation when studying is peaked when you ask just a few questions a day, but every working day.Now one of the vital benefits of retrieval practise with AI over creating your own cards is foresight bias - not mentioned yet in this thread - the fact that particularly in some subjects like Physics, students don't know what they don't know (watch this amazing Veritasium video, it also explains why misconceptions are so handy for learning physics): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVtCO84MDj8 - basically, if you use AI quizzes (or any prepared subject-specific right/wrong system), you learn quickly where your knowledge sits and what to focus on, and reduce your exam stress. If you just sit their making quizzes, firstly you make questions on things you already know, you overestimate how much you can learn, and you consolidate on your existing strengths, and avoid identifying your own knowledge gaps until later on, which is less effective.--To quote from my dissertation experiment on background reading for retrieval practise, the end is about foresight bias a little: Retrieval practice – typically, quizzing - is an exceedingly effective studying mechanism (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006; Roediger & Butler 2011; Bae, Therriault & Redifer, 2017, see Binks 2018 for a review), although underutilized relative to recorded merit, with students vastly preferring to read content (Karpicke & Butler, 2009; Toppino and Cohen, 2009). Notably mature students do engage in practice quizzes more than younger students (Tullis & Maddox, 2020). Undertaking a Quiz (Retrieval practice) can enhance test scores significantly, including web-based quizzes (Daniel & Broida, 2017). Roediger & Karpicke (2006) analysed whether students who solely read content would score differently to students who took a practice quiz, one week after a 5-minute learning session. Students retained information to a higher level in memory after a week with the quiz (56% retained), versus without (42%), despite having read the content less (average 3.4 times) than the control, read-only group (14.2 times). Participants subjectively report preference for regular Quizzing (Leeming, 2002) over final exams, when assessed with the quiz results, with 81% and 83% of participants in two intervention classes recommending Leemings “Exam-a-day” procedure for the next semester, which runs against intuition that students might biases against more exams/quizzes (due to Test Anxiety). Retrieval Practice may increase performance via increasing cognitive load which is generally correlated with score outcomes in (multimedia) learning (Muller et al, 2008). Without adequate alternative stimuli, volume of content could influence results, thus differentiated conditions to control for this possible confound are required when exploring retrieval practice effects (as seen in Renkl 2010 and implemented in Methods). Retrieval practice in middle and high school students can reduce Test Anxiety, when operationalised by “nervousness” (Agarwal et al 2014), though presently no research appears to have analysed the influence of retrieval practice on university students’ Test Anxiety. Quizzing can alleviate foresight bias – overestimation of required studying time – in terms of students appropriately assigning a greater, more realistic study time plan (Soderstrom & Bjork, 2014). Despite the underutilization noted by Karpicke and Butler (2009), quizzing is becoming more common in burgeoning eLearning courses, supported by the research (i.e. Johnson & Johnson, 2006; Leeming, 2002; Glass et al. 2008) demonstrating efficacy in real exam performance.


    1. I've been using ChatGPT pretty consistently during the workday and have found it useful for open ended programming questions, "cleaning up" rough bullet points into a coherent paragraph of text, etc. $20/month useful is questionable though, especially with all the filters. My "in between" solution has been to configure BetterTouchTool (Mac App) with a hotkey for "Transform & Replace Selection with Javascript". This is intended for doing text transforms, but putting an API call instead seems to work fine. I highlight some text, usually just an open ended "prompt" I typed in the IDE, or Notes app, or an email body, hit the hotkey, and ~1s later it adds the answer underneath. This works...surprisingly well. It feels almost native to the OS. And it's cheaper than $20/month, assuming you aren't feeding it massive documents worth of text or expecting paragraphs in response. I've been averaging like 2-10c a day, depending on use.Here is the javascript if anyone wants to do something similar. I don't know JS really, so I'm sure it could be improved. But it seems to work fine. You can add your own hard coded prompt if you want even. async (clipboardContentString) => { try { const response = await fetch("https://api.openai.com/v1/completions", { method: "POST", headers: { "Content-Type": "application/json", "Authorization": "Bearer YOUR API KEY HERE" }, body: JSON.stringify({ model: "text-davinci-003", prompt: `${clipboardContentString}.`, temperature: 0, max_tokens: 256 }) }); const data = await response.json(); const text = data.choices[0].text; return `${clipboardContentString} ${text}`; } catch (error) { return "Error" } }


  3. Jan 2023
    1. The Historical Jesus by Bart Ehrman, on Great Courses. Bart Ehrman has written a number of books on the historical Jesus, and the birth of Christianity, but I found the course to be better than the books.You might not like it if you are a believer in Jesus, although Bart Ehrman tries not to challenge any belief. The flip side is that you might not like it if you are a non-believer, since he spends a certain amount of time trying to massage the message so that not to offend believers. Still, I think you'd enjoy the course more as a non-believer.It's a history course. It shows how historians can extract valuable information given little (and often time contradictory, and sometimes forged) historical data. You can take these lessons then and try to apply them everywhere. It's going to change the way you perceive history.


    1. to dabbling in the then-current neoliberal thought which Foucault encountered while teaching in California in the 1970s. He liked the idea of busting down the welfare state, which he believed had created dependent, docile subjects. He heretically supported both the conservative French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and the Iranian revolution, while denouncing the dirigisme of the French communist and socialist parties. He had more in common with Thatcher and Reagan than Mitterrand.


    1. I'm a fan of liquid democarcy on a conceptual level so this result is surprising to me. Started a side project to test it out in a game environment, basically an online Nomic[1] although I have abandoned it for now. Reading through some of the paper makes me realize I didn't think it through as deep as the authors and I'm probably not smart enough.I understand they used a perceptual test to figure out who the experts are.And 'over delegation' results in losing benefits of delegates who have information that might be useful?This is not clear to me: "...it (over delegation) reduces the variety of independent information sources"In a perceptual task where one is found to be better than the other participants, why wouldn't it be the case that voting for the best participent (the expert) gives you the best result? I think I'm missing something[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomic


  4. Nov 2022
    1. Amiga had "AREXX ports" which meant you could script desktop software together in ways not possible even today, on any OS.It's not enough that there must exist technically, a possibility. The app vendors much themselves go to the trouble of adding such "scriptability" into their apps.Instead everything is very slick, but very siloed and nowadays tied to a cloud offering, which is great, but it's more often than not locked to that vendor


    1. Besides stimulants there are a lot of effective interventions for ADHD. There is good literature behind balance exercises, vigorous cardio exercise, sleep adjustment, ADHD specific therapy, and coaching. Once you're diagnosed, you have access to meds and a directive from your doctor to get therapy. Don't take the common advice and seek Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT doesn't work very well for ADHD, we tend to try to outsmart the process.Mostly the benefit is understanding yourself and allowing a measure of grace for your challenges. It helps you calibrate your goals, and be self aware when making decisions that you may be suffering an executive function deficit, and to seek known good supports for managing impulse control challenges.There was a time when I started taking stimulant meds, but still felt the need to finish off-topic ideas to completion. It took a lot of learning to understand that my instincts need scrutiny, and that I don't have to beat myself up for not being able to do impossible things on a regular basis.I like myself better. I get more of the important stuff done. I can even relax from time to time. I also accept that I will always have some unique struggles and special abilities.


    1. Hello, Unison author here.This is definitely an issue that is real, and is currently a problem, and that we will fix; probably by giving the function author an option to salt the hash of new definitions that have some semantic meaning beyond their implementations (appropriate for most application/business logic). No salt for definitions whose meanings are defined by their implementations (appropriate for most generic "library" functions like `List.map`).We already make this distinction for data types, but not yet for value/function definitions.


    1. The subsequent decline in product quality was caused by advertising displacing genuine user feedback in creating demand for products, among other things (planned obsolescence).You no longer needed to create a great product that people would buy and recommend because it is great. Simply skip the loop and go straight from A to B via advertising (fake buzz).The Galbraith argument that advertising was a necessary technology that benefits consumers is a Big Lie. Advertising benefits large producers, while consumers suffer from losing their voice and declining product quality.


  5. Oct 2022
    1. A bit tangential, but here we go.A place where there's daytime all the time, except every once in a while is quite close to us. It's the Moon.If you live on the near side of the Moon, then you always see the Earth hanging there in the sky in the same spot every day. It does not rise and it does not set, it just stays in place. But it goes through phases. New Earth, Crescent Earth, Half Earth, etc.The Sun does rise and set. A "day" on the moon is half a month long. When the Sun is in the sky, the Earth is at most in "half Earth" phase. When it's nighttime though, the Earth is at least "half Earth".And seen from the Moon, the Earth is big. Very big. Just take the Andromeda in the picture, and make it a disk. That's how big. (Actually about 15% bigger).The Earth is also bright. Much brighter than we see the Moon on a bright night. Earth's albedo is about 3 times higher than Moon's. All in all, at "full Earth", you would receive about 40 times more light that we get here from the Moon when it's full.In other words, when the Sun is not in the sky, you get enough light from the Earth to see around. The closer to "midnight" the more light you get, because the Earth is closer to "full Earth" phase.Of course, when you have a solar eclipse, you stop seeing light from either the Sun or the Earth. Here on Earth, solar eclipses are quite short. The moment of full eclipse is fleeting, generally it's 3 minutes or less. On the Moon, because the Earth is so much bigger in the sky, the eclipse is long. Of course, we knew that from here: when it's a solar eclipse on the Moon, it's a lunar eclipse on Earth, and that takes hours.It's not completely dark on the Moon when there's a solar eclipse.It's not completely dark here either. Because of the Sun's corona. The apparent diameter of the sun is virtually identical with the diameter of the Moon as seen from the Earth, but the Sun's corona extends a bit further, so we get to see it during total eclipse.But on the Moon, the Earth is so large that the Sun and the corona are fully obscured during total solar eclipse. What you will see instead is the Earth atmosphere. Very thin, impossibly thin, you will not be able to perceive its thikness. It will just look like a one-dimensional line. A part of it will be very, very bright. And very red. It will be a very bright, very large and very red circle in the sky.You will also see the inner planets, Mercury and Venus. Normally you can't see them on the Moon, but during a full solar eclipse they'll be quite close to that bright circle, and they'll be very bright themselves.And what a glory the Milky Way will be at that time. And if you are lucky, you'll see that very oblong shape that's the Andromeda. Somewhat faint, but still, much brighter than any of us here on Earth would perceive it.


    1. Language is a communication method evolved by intelligent beings, not a (primary) constituent of intelligence. From neurology it's pretty clear that the basic architecture of human minds is functional interconnected neural networks and not symbolic processing. My belief is that world-modeling and prediction is the vast majority of what intelligence is, which is quite close to what the LLMs are doing. World models can be in many representations (symbolic, logic gates, neural networks) but what matters is how accurate they are with respect to reality, and how well the model state is mapped from sensory input and back into real-world outputs. Symbolic human language relies on each person's internal world model and is learned by interacting with other humans who share a common language and similar enough world models, not the other way around (learning the world model as an aspect of the language itself). Children learn which language inputs and outputs are beneficial and enjoyable to them using their native intelligence and can strengthen their world model with questions and answers that inform their model without having to directly experience what they are asking about.People who don't believe the LLMs have a world model are wrong because they are mistaking a physically weak world model for no world model. GPT-3 doesn't understand physics well enough to embed models of the referents of language into a unified model that has accurate gravity and motion dynamics, so it maintains a much more dreamlike model where objects exist in scenes and have relationships to each other but those relationships are governed by literary relationships instead of physical ones and so contradictions and superpositions and causality violations are allowed in the model. As multimodal transformers like Gato get trained on more combined language and sensory input their world models will become much more physically and causally accurate which will be reflected in their accuracy on NLP tasks.


    1. Ranking the voting systems: STAR Voting > Approval Voting > Ranked Choice Voting > Plurality ("pick only one") voting.Ranked Choice Voting is marginally better than plurality voting, but it has problems. The chief defect with Ranked Choice Voting is its non-monotonicity, whereby increasing your support for your genuine favorite can actually hurt their odds of winning. This may be what happened in Alaska [1].STAR Voting is a slight modification to Score Voting, where you simply score each candidate and are not forced to rank them. You are given the discretion to give multiple candidates the same score if you so choose. STAR is highly expressive and simple to count: just sum the scores.Approval Voting is appealing because of its simplicity. Both ballots and how they are counted would require only superficial changes versus plurality, such as changing the prompt from "Vote for only one" to "Vote for as many as you like." Approval has a good balance of utility and simplicity.If we are going to invest time and effort into achieving voting reform, it would be a shame to spend that effort on RCV rather than superior alternatives.[1] https://electionscience.org/commentary-analysis/rcv-fools-pa...

      ...but read on, I only highlighted the root comment because it sparked an interesting debate.

    1. What’s more amazing is that the NRO has multiple more capable telescopes in orbit as we speak and we’re celebrating that NASA doesn’t have to spend money to keep that old piece of hardware useful for a few more years. Which isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but it just feels odd that priorities are shifted so much towards black projects.


  6. Jul 2022
    1. I installed a roof rack on my car recently, it's always full of bugs. The car itself is almost bug free.It's possible that modern aerodynamic cars are better at avoiding bugs than old cars, although I don't know if this explains the whole difference. reply parent bregma () 2 minutes ago on I think it does. I don't remember the bugs being nearly so bad back in the 1960s and 1970s as they are now where I live, but I never have to clean off the windshield of my car. When I was a youth we would fight for the privilege of squeegeeing the windshield at every gas fill-up. Now, it's hard to go out without drawing a cloud and even the dog wants to stay inside in the summer.I suspect automobile aerodynamics play a bigger role in the windscreen index reduction than ecological destruction does.
  7. Jun 2022
    1. I think you're coming from an anthroprocentric perspective and behaviorialist paradigm, where natural processes are understood in the lens of humans and human actions ("The focus is on the efficient production of useful goods in ways that require minimal maintenance by letting other creatures do all the work for you"), and the reason someone does something is because it benefits themselves or other humans ("without that core benefit nobody could do it even if they wanted to and have a viable farm").The ethical principle of "Fair Share" isn't just about the yields the land owner has, but also the yields other inhabitants of an ecology have. For people who are motivated by stewardship, for example, humans obtaining benefits is not elevated into its own thing. As an example, some of the Native tribes would say something along the lines that when you plant, one is for the plants, one is for the animals, one is for the birds, one is for us. It is certainly not about maximizing production efficiencies for the benefit of humans alone.That motivation and attitude shapes the way someone views and experiences their life, and their place, and in turn shapes how we go about caring for land, caring for people, and fair share.I know I'm cheating here a bit. I'm using the work of Carol Sanford to identify world view and paradigm, and that way of thinking through these things are not spelled out in the original works of Mollison and Holmgren. Sanford's work on regenerative paradigms and living systems world view goes a long way towards sorting out the different ways people approach things in the permaculture community, and is generalizable more broadly than food systems.Regeneration is a characteristic exclusive to living systems. It's not something that can be approached from a world view that everything is a machine, or the paradigm that one can control behavior through incentives and disincentives. Only living systems can regenerate. It's the broader paradigm from which "your food (and other resources) produce themselves" comes from. Living systems are capable of growing and adapting on their own; they are nested -- so that is you and I, within larger living systems of family, community, organization, ecology. It is because of regeneration that "food and other resources produce themselves".My point in all of this is that there is a diversity of motivations and views, and the view that "without that core benefit nobody could do it even if they wanted to and have a viable farm" is not as universal as it sounds like. "The core reason to do permaculture is that your food (and other resources) produce themselves" might be your core reason, but it is not true it is the reason that everyone in the permaculture community applies permaculture.
    1. I'd love something similar to automatically crawl and index every site I visit. I'm forever losing stuff. I know I saw it but I can't remember where. reply parent chillpenguin () 1 hour ago on I use BrowserParrot for this. Works really well.https://www.browserparrot.com/ reply parent thinkmassive () 2 hours ago on ArchiveBox documents how to automatically archive links from your browser history:https://github.com/ArchiveBox/ArchiveBox/wiki/Usage#Import-l... reply parent mttjj () 5 hours ago on This is Mac only and I have no affiliation other than I like this developer but your request reminded me that he just launched this app: https://andadinosaur.com/launch-history-book reply parent akrymski () 1 hour ago on I use Google for this. It's really annoyingly good at finding previously visited pages. reply parent asselinpaul () 3 hours ago on https://heyday.xyz comes to mind reply parent fudged71 () 2 hours ago on Vortimo
    1. Google still uses it for the base ranking. But, the results are then run through a variety of add-on ML pipelines, like Vince (authority/brand power), Panda (inbound link quality), Penguin (content quality), and many others that target other attributes (page layout, ad placement, etc). Then there's also more granular weightings for things like "power within a niche", where a new page might do well for plumbing (because of other existing pages on the site), but wouldn't automatically have any authority for medical topics.
  8. May 2022
    1. I had this beautiful bespoke suit which had just been hanging in the closet, due to me gaining some weight. After slimming down I wanted to wear it again, only to find a couple of large and very noticeable moth holes on one of the lapels.Welp, money down the drain I thought. Local dry-cleaner tipped me about "invisible mending", so I did some research. Ended up shipping it to the UK, and paid around £120 for getting the jacket repaired - with excellent results. Some might say that's a steep price, but the alternative was binning a £4000 garment.
    1. On the whole, the popularizing of "logical fallacies" has been a net negative for debate. instead of recognizing a strawman and saying "youre not accurately representing my position, heres clear evidence why", the conversation devolves into a juvenille meta-argument that adds no value.
  9. Aug 2021
    1. The moment you start talking about techniques you've already objectified the person across you to something to be finessed over, and as such less than a full person.So many of our recent social-media extremized public debates escalate to the point of denying or diminishing the other side's personhood. They are an "obstacle" to overcome for some greater purpose, and thus we "must" manipulate, coerce or the very least impress conclusions down their throats.The meta-context is that today we are all more psychologically fragile and the breadth of data points we have to reconcile gets wider (in no small part thanks to engagement metrics optimizations). We all turn into fanatics of some sort or other, fueled by this anxiety, including that of self-doubt. At no point we are incentivized to participate in the process of rationality together, we're only incentivized to willfully assert our own conclusions.I see most of the "resistance" as an acting out as a protest for having been left out of this process, including having been honored in anxieties. Notice I have said nothing about the truth value of conclusions, nor am trying to draw a false equivalency of "all-sides-ism", because the sense of participation, or lack thereof, is orthogonal to the truth of content, but hurts just as much when neglected.We've forgot how to be a fellowship of people who share similar fates and see each other as such, we've turned into mere proposition debating machines.
  10. May 2021
    1. Before introducing the KPIs, a majority of polish science was basically people milking the system and doing barely any (valueable) research. It was seen as an easy, safe and ok paying job where the only major hassle is having to teach the students. You often needed connections to get in. It was partially like that because of the communist legacy, where playing ball with the communist party was the most important merit for promotion, which, over the course of 45 years (the span of communism in Poland), filled the academia management ranks with conformist mediocrities.Now, after a series of major reforms, there's a ton of KPIs, and people are now doing plenty of makework research to collect the required points, but still little valueable work gets done. Also, people interested in doing genuine science who would be doing it under the old system are now discouraged from joining academia, because in the system they're expected to game the points system and not to do real work.What is the lesson from this is? Creating institutionalized science is hard? It requires a long tradition and scientific cultural standards and can't be just wished into place by bureaucrats? Also, perhaps it's good to be doing the science for some purpose, which in the US case are often DoD grants, where the military expects some practical application. This application may be extremely distant, vague and uncertain (they fund pure math research!), but still, they're the client and they expect results. Whereas the (unstated) goal of science in Poland seems to be just to increase the prestige of Polish science and its Universities by getting papers into prestigious journals, whereas the actual science being done doesn't matter at all - basically state-level navel gazing.


    1. the mood music of the hard right from the past two centuries: the people in thrall to deceitful elites, awaiting deliverance by those who know and tell the truth

      an idea equally exploited by Hitler and Trump

    1. Error bars would be nice. They're MIA in large swathes of COVID related research. I've read a lot of COVID papers in the past year and this paper is typical of the field. Things you should expect to see when reading epidemiology literature:1. Statistical uncertainty is normally ignored. They can and will tell politicians to adopt major policy changes on the back of a single dataset with 20 people in it. In the rare cases when they bother to include error bars at all they are usually so wide as to be useless. In many other fields researchers debate P-hacking and what threshold of certainty should count as a significant finding. Many people observe that the standard of P=0.05 in e.g. psychology is too high because it means 1 in 20 studies will result significant-but-untrue findings by chance alone. Compared to those debates epidemiology is in the stone age: any claim that can be read into any data is considered significant.2. Rampant confusion between models and reality. The top rated comment on this thread observes that the paper doesn't seem to test its model predictions against reality yet makes factual claims about the world. No surprises there; public health papers do that all the time. No-one except out-of-field skeptics actually judge epidemiological models by their predictive power. Epidemiologists admit this problem exists, but public health has become so corrupt that they argue being able to correctly predict things is not a fair way to judge a public health model[1]. Obviously they insist governments should still implement whatever policies the models say are required. It's hard to get more unscientific than culturally rejecting the idea that science is about predicting the natural world, but multiple published papers in this field have argued exactly that. A common trick is "validating" a model against other models [2].3. Inability to do maths. Setting up a model with reasonable assumptions is one thing but do they actually solve the equations correctly? The Ferguson model from Imperial College, which we're widely assured is one of the world's top teams of epidemiologists, was written in C and filled with race conditions/out of bounds reads that caused their model to totally change its predictions due to timing differences in thread scheduling, different CPUs/compilers etc. These differences were large, e.g. a difference of 80,000 deaths predicted by May for the UK [3]. Nobody in the academic hierarchy saw any problem with this and worse, some researchers argued that such errors didn't matter because they just ran it a bunch of times and averaged the results. This is confusing the act of predicting the behaviour of the world with the act of measuring it, see point (2).4. Major logic errors. Assuming correlation implies causation is totally normal. Other fields use sophisticated approaches to try and control for confounding variables, epidemiology doesn't. Circular logic is a lot more common than normal, for some reason.None of these problems stop papers being published by supposedly reputable institutions in supposedly reputable journals. After reading or scan-reading about 50 epidemiology papers, including some older papers from 10 years ago, I concluded that not a single thing from this field can be trusted. The problems aren't specific to COVID, they're cultural and have been around a long time. Life is too short to examine literally every paper making every claim but if you take a sample and nearly all of them contain basic errors or what is clearly actual fraud, then it seems fair to conclude the field has no real standards.[1] "few models in healthcare could ever be validated for predictive use. This, however, does not disqualify such models from being used as aids to decision making ... Philips et al state that since a decision-analytic model is an aid to decision making at a particular point in time, there is no empirical test of predictive validity. From a similar premise, Sculpher et al argue that prediction is not an appropriate test of validity for such model" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3001435/[2] https://github.com/ptti/ptti/blob/master/README.md[3] https://github.com/mrc-ide/covid-sim/issues/116 https://github.com/mrc-ide/covid-sim/issues/30 https://github.com/mrc-ide/covid-sim/commit/581ca0d8a12cddbd... https://github.com/mrc-ide/covid-sim/commit/3d4e9a4ee633764c... reply parent oldgradstudent () 2 days ago on It gets worse.You should look at the the observational studies measuring vaccine effectiveness in Israel coming from Balicer and his group.They report the effect of the vaccine on number of positive cases without even mentioning that the vaccinated individuals are not routinely tested by ministry of health policy, or that the main reason people get tested is to shorten the isolation period after contact with covid-19 cases, which vaccinated individuals are exempt from.


  11. Oct 2020
    1. The plague arrived in Naples in the spring of 1656 — along with a transport of soldiers from Sardinia.

      Interesting how those regions the harbours were like the airports of today. See below for how it got to Rome via ships also.

  12. Aug 2020
    1. They are generative processes which are defined by sets of instructions that produce or generate designs.


    2. "structure-preserving transformations,"

      i.e., refactorings

  13. Apr 2020
    1. Some insightful thoughts, but also a good bit of empty rethoric and totalist/black-and-white thinking. If he'd reign that in, much less of his larger sweeping claims would find footing. War-against-war, control is bad acceptance good, etc.

      No dicussion of the parallel and quite striking phenomenon of infodemics. I find his "generous" tolerance of conspiracy theories dangerous and intellectually dishonest.

    2. “Novel coronavirus pandemic” means “a new coronation for all.”

      Umm, ok. Slightly cheesy, but ok :)

    3. Fear

      fear is also normal and healthy to some degree

    4. There is an alternative to the germ theory of disease that holds germs to be part of a larger process

      careful here... there's an alternative to the theory of evolution too...

      as if modern science doesn't recognize predispositions. as if there's only one cause. as if this is about "blame".

    5. the danger is that we lose ourselves in an endless succession of short terms, fighting one infectious disease after another

      not really?!?

    6. war inevitably breeds more war

      This is basically "war on war". Absolutist black-or-white thinking ultimately undermines itself...

    7. War-on-germs thinking brings results akin to those of the War on Terror, War on Crime, War on Weeds, and the endless wars we fight politically and interpersonally.

      True. To some degree.

    8. air pollution increases risk of dying by 6%

      Yeah and thanks to the self-isolation measures, we have less of that - haleluyah!

    9. After thousands of years, millions of years, of touch, contact, and togetherness, is the pinnacle of human progress to be that we cease such activities because they are too risky?

      Yeah, nope.

    10. Partially relaxed, but at the ready

      Which is a good thing. Partly because they've gone through recent epidemics, societies like South Korea could weather this event with much less disruption in the long run.

    11. Similar to 9/11, Covid-19 trumps all objections.

      Does it though?

    12. No more dance classes, no more karate classes, no more conferences, no more churches

      I find this kind of rethoric empty.

    13. shall we choose to live in a society without hugs, handshakes, and high-fives, forever more

      I don't think anyone is suggesting this. We've been through pandemics before and we've always returned to normal. Why would this time be different?

    14. just as the state of emergency declared after 9/11 is still in effect today

      But is it really? In any substantial way? Or is it just remnants of those measures? But yes, how much protective measures should we keep around is a question we'll have to answer, once more information will be available.

    15. It is not hard to imagine that new viruses will emerge during that time

      What? It's hard for me to imagine that. Two viruses in quick succession? And catching on at a time we're actually with our defences up? That really would make me suspicious.

    16. Remember, death is no ending. Death is going home.

      Some would say there's a good amount of death denial in this view also.

    17. is not much in today’s medical vocabulary

      But it is growing in awareness. Death counseling and the like.

    18. (if they could) intubate someone to prolong their life. “Of course not,” she said.

      Umm, surely this needs some nuancing?!

    19. Or I might ask, Would I decree the end of human hugging and handshakes, if it would save my own life

      What? Of course not. How is this relevant? We already correctly established before that the line cuts differently for different people, what more does this line of argument add to that?

    20. Different people will have different opinions on that, according to their underlying values.

      True. That's why we should make these decisions collectively. And the best way we have to do that, as imperfect as they are, is via democratically elected goverments, and maybe referendums.

    21. the inhuman utilitarian thinking that turns people into statistics and sacrifices some of them for something else


    22. I say that both to those who embrace the dominant narrative, as well as to those who hew to dissenting ones. What information might we be blocking out, in order to maintain the integrity of our viewpoints? Let’s be humble in our beliefs: it is a matter of life and death.

      This all seems very peaceable and humble. I wonder if this would have been the advice also bunch of centuries ago when the Black Death was making the rounds and the rumours likewise, in Strassbourg and other cities inciting hate against the bankers and Jews, held responsible for that inexplicable plague. "Let's be humble: we don't know whether it was the Jews or not, let's keep an open mind, etc."...


    23. as opposed to small-scale traditional cultures

      Is that really true? Or is it only that modern societies have much more power of control compared to earlier ones. In other words, isn't it really a logical outcome of a trend that was already there? That initially was useful but lately has become too powerful and destabilizing?

    24. Unlike so many of our other fears, Covid-19 offers a plan.

      We could come up with plans for these problems too, if we'd perceive them as equally (or more) threatening - which, indeed, longer term they very well we might be. This line of reasoning is undermining the argument given in the beginning, that now we've discovered our capacity to act, we might want to rally it towards other problems, like the ones listed in this paragraph.

    25. The answer is revealing. Simply, in the face of world hunger, addiction, autoimmunity, suicide, or ecological collapse, we as a society do not know what to do.

      What? The question has already been answered above: societies have acted because of the very real threat of their medical systems being overwhelmed. None of the other problems present such an urgent threat so they aren't given the same precedence.

  14. Mar 2020
    1. The difference for me is that there is this deep, underlying sense of well-being and freedom, a lack of self-consciousness.

      And yet, the article remarked how he was fidgety and a bit uncomfortable in the beginning of the interview.

    2. In fact, I couldn’t care less about how I feel.


    3. That’s part of being enlightened, I think: you’re open to the suffering around you.

      oh, common...

  15. Feb 2020
    1. The farther you get from that iPhone glow, the clearer it becomes: Our civilization has entered into decadence.

      This assumes no big positives coming from this new relation of man with technology. Big assumption.

    2. What if the meltdown at the Iowa caucuses, an antique system undone by pseudo-innovation and incompetence, was much more emblematic of our age than any great catastrophe or breakthrough?

      For fellow programmers and the technically inclined, here's an article on how software technology has been regressing, in some very real and disappointing ways - over the last decade(s): https://tonsky.me/blog/disenchantment/

    1. Psychopaths respond normally to direct threats, such as an image of the gaping jaw of a shark or a striking snake, but not to social threats, such as people in pain or distress.

      This seems to slightly contradict the above statement that psychopaths feel less fear overall, and "this insensitivity extends to social threats, such as angry faces."

    1. not the children we are

      Here again, that insincere "we"...

    2. You can't commit terrible atrocities, especially against Native Americans, and expect them to go away. The earth remembers.

      What, like Mongolia didn't experience it's fair share of human-caused horror?! How is it even possible to miss this, when genocide is one of the main things the historic Mongolians are associated with in the mind of the Westerner at least? The mind boggles.

    3. This is quite a tragedy because there are still many teenagers who go to college to find wisdom and in exchange for their sincerity are given nothing but complications and evasions and all kinds of pretentious ignorance.

      The arrogance!

    4. Scholars and others might like to object, but there's no point in arguing.

      Yes, sir.

    5. I was sitting one afternoon on the lawn of my college, alongside King's College Chapel. There were other people around and suddenly she was just there: an incredibly glorious divine, feminine being. Nobody else could see her but she introduced herself to me, told me who she was. And what moved me more than anything was when she showed me that all the extraordinary human intelligence emanating from Cambridge University over the centuries was simply a blossoming, an expression, of her own divine intelligence.

      Nobody else could see her - so it was a dream, or something similar: a psychedelic trip, a psychotic episode... no??

    6. And the older we become, the harder it gets to look back and accept that perhaps we tricked ourselves for most of our life into avoiding what's most real.

      I wonder if this applies to the speaker too? Nah... probably not.

    7. So many spiritual seekers end up spending their whole lives carefully skirting around the depths of themselves.

      Unlike PK here, evidently.

    8. The purifiers will come.

      Ok, again. Cower before the great purifiers!

    9. It's murder.

      Nah, I doubt it. There are plenty of people who are a-ok with not having "a purpose" and there's nothing wrong with them.

    10. strange-sounding possibility not just that a part of us is in contact with life, but that there's a part of us that is life.

      What's strange-sounding about that?? We are part of the biosphere - being born, living and dying like all other living things. This really is a platitude, but that doesn't mean that it cannot be a legitimate source of wonder. But that's true of most platitudes. It's just that he's only gesturing towards that deeper meaning, not actually bringing it to light. It's a bit like a stoner going: "duuudee... i just realized: 'life is live'!... that's profound.... duuuudee..."

    11. The reality is that aside from the rhetoric we are probably even more confused now

      Yes indeed. We don't really know. The Reality is that Probably.

    12. It's simply fiddling with the mystery of life without any understanding or real awareness of what's involved. To suppose we now know what life is: this is like an art thief fantasizing about being on the level of the greatest painters.

      Agreed. But it's also true we are expanding our understanding of life in the process. Still, I tend to believe the phenomenon of life is infinite in it's expression and complexity, and since the models and descriptions we build are finite, the latter are always going to be insignificant in rapport with what's left out, but if that's so, it's also always going to be the case.

    13. people with spiritual tendencies will be tempted by all sorts of self-important stories

      Look who's talking!

    14. Mongols were intimately involved and implicated in Western civilization from the beginning.

      And what, the Dacians weren't? - Ask any dacoman from Romania and you'll get an earful. Similar to other cultures - whether Albanian ancestors, Slavs, Celts... Isn't it, and hasn't it always been one global cultural economy in the end?

    15. I'm talking about the same sort of intelligence that will have birds migrating amazing distances, for tens of thousands of miles. This is natural intelligence. This is the intelligence of life on earth. And this is also the intelligence of life on earth that will bring a civilization like our own into existence.

      I particularly like and resonate with this part. Human civilization is part of the larger cycles of nature. Of course, it appears that it's lost it's way in our day, and this is also PK's view, but I'm not entirely convinced of even that. That's why I don't like his labeling our culture as "corrupt" for example. Maybe it is, but I feel it's a bit arrogant to make that evaluation.

    16. How did you discover that?

      What? Surely this is an old and in our day and age, somewhat obvious idea. Noica was talking about Goethe as the intitiator of organicism.

    17. this ties in to the reduced view we have in the West of what's true and real.

      Yeah, ever since that Freud guy started to question all of our motives. And that Einstein dude pulled the rug from under our s(t)olid Newtonian time-space. And it didn't stop there, this assault on our good old-fashioned values. No, siree!...

    18. I went through many experiences, taking tremendous risks to touch the unknown because I wanted at all costs to come directly into contact with life. On the other hand it became painfully obvious to me just how far out of their way all the people I knew or met would go, regardless of age, just for the sake of avoiding what's real in life. 

      Doesn't this sound a tad conceited??

    19. My parents would give me some answer, but it never made sense.

      What, stuff like "the earth only seems to be still & solid, but in fact it races around the sun and is continuously morphing"?

    20. I know in my deepest gut, as well as having found the external evidence for it.

      I personally don't know this in my deepest gut. I would like to see some of that evidence.

    21. if there's no reality underlying all our apparently different realities, how can there be any communication? How can there be anything at all?

      Good questions. What I don't like is that he seems to imply nobody has really considered them before.

    22. This is the modern idea.

      I would say it's a postmodern idea. And just because one is aware of this idea floating around in the noosphere, doesn't mean one has processed it's implications. How familiar is PK with postmodern philosophy. Did he ever take it seriously enough to try to understand it? I suspect not.

    23. we think we're smart if we make a mockery of them

      This I perceive as simply disingenuous. He says "we", but he doesn't mean himself truly, does he? I, for one, object to being included in the subject of this sentence.

    24. It's very easy just to play around with facts on the day-to-day level and imagine they represent some real knowledge without pausing to pay attention to the broader context of our experience. What happens to us when we go to sleep? Where do we go? What is our consciousness? And if we're going to reduce consciousness to brain phenomena, what are we doing? Is making consciousness into just another fact, one more object for us to study and track down with our consciousness, really getting us anywhere?

      True, but it's also true that those who put all their conceptual eggs in the scientific worldview basket have some well-defended answers to these questions. See the philosopher Daniel Dennett, for example. Not that I agree with him, but these are difficult philosophical questions, not easily settled. There's a whole field of consciousness studies that probably has interesting things to say about these questions.