Trying to understand the world
(my relationship to twitter: https://t.co/7UrZIBBeKS…)
Feb 26 • 9 tweets • 1 min read
Is there an LLM that is capabilities -competitive with GPT-4 yet?
If there isn’t, does that mean that OpenAI, currently has a technical lead that is lower-bounded at 348 days?
(That’s the time between the GPT-4 release and today.)
How does Gemini beat GPT-4 on benchmarks?
Some quick googling suggest yes, at least for Gemini ultra.
Feb 25 • 11 tweets • 2 min read
This video was great.
Watching it I had a feeling that is very rare for me: an appreciation of something valuable, that I'm not planning to particularly participate in or specialize in.
Like the kind of philosophy and the kind of art that this guy is doing is legitimately cool. I want more of it in the world. I want to watch it and participate in it and consume it. But I’m not that interested in doing this kind of philosophy or making this kind of art myself.
Feb 24 • 7 tweets • 1 min read
In some sense the sociopaths will always rise to the top of a hierarchy (on average) because they're adapted for rising to the top.
Or they're adapted for winning competitive games, and winning material resources for themselves, without care for their externalities.
This suggests to me that the game of society my game should be set up _primarily_ with the sociopath's in mind, because they're the ones that will end up with the power.
Feb 21 • 8 tweets • 2 min read
So, is there going to be a better platform than twitter, filling basically twitter's niche ("a single global room, into which people post short-form content, with a one-way follower graph"), in the next 5-10 years?
It does seem like the thing twitter does is maybe pretty important, or at least valuable.
Feb 21 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
Is there a way to measure my blood adrenaline?
Like, can I go to a doctor's office, and they'll set up a continuous blood draw or something, so that that I can see the adrenaline content of my blood graphed over time?
I would like to experiment with different breathing techniques, etc. and see if they have comparable impacts on adrenaline ratios.
I can do this with blood oxygen pretty easily, but not hormones, as far as I know.
Feb 20 • 13 tweets • 2 min read
Okay, so there's a thing that happened in the 20th centurry, which I'm not sure I understand economically. It seems a little broken window fallacy-ish.
Between 1900 and 1950, there's a big shift where a lot of lower class families move into the middle class. #EconQuestion
Accordingly, they have a lot more disposable income. And that boosts the economy.
This is a big boost for business who are able to absorb that disposable income.
This is the beginning of consumerism as we know it today.
Feb 20 • 9 tweets • 2 min read
The way to learn history is to read a ton of history and to write about it.
The way to learn programming and computer science is to build things that you actually want to use.
The way to learn physics and economics is to read textbooks and do the exercises.
The way to learn math...
Feb 20 • 7 tweets • 1 min read
So it seems pretty bad that China is an authoritarian state. That's bad.
But historically, China is weirdly NOT warlike.
The classical Chinese view of the world is definitely ethnocentric, but it's also, in an important way, cosmopolitan.
They don't want to conquer. China wants to take it's rightful place in the center of the cosmos, with all nations in appropriate awe, and deference.
But not conquest, not extraction.
Feb 19 • 13 tweets • 2 min read
I want to retract the specific claim that "CFAR was not about rationality training" for the time being.
Not because I think it's false, but because I think it's basically infeasible for me to say what I think, briefly, without misleading people.
I’ll publish my longer write up sometime. (The draft is mostly finished.)
Feb 19 • 14 tweets • 2 min read
I worked for CFAR from 2016 to 2020, including designing and running the 2019 CFAR instructor training.
I only really came to really understand Bayes' rule in 2021 (by studying the Arbital guide, and inventing exercises to do).
Before that, I definitely could have given lip-service to the importance of Bayes, but could not have written the formula from memory, much less derived it from simple ideas of conjunctive probability and "zooming in on the worlds that are still consistent with an observation."
Feb 18 • 9 tweets • 2 min read
Andrew Callaghan is one of the few real journalists that I know of.
There's not another news source that I'm aware of that interviews real people of all persuasions and presents their views without filtering to a standard pre-set narrative.
And they'll also do shit like this: crossing the border illegally (as US citizens) with coyotes....and then accidentally getting detained.
And reporting on it.
Feb 15 • 8 tweets • 1 min read
There's a pretty fair reason to be in favor of, to feel some pride about, the Asian world and the Westphalian world.
But both of these have some element of tolerance.
Even if China Historically demands tribute, this was mostly was not that big a deal.
It's mostly symbolic.
Feb 15 • 8 tweets • 1 min read
An important thing to know about the world is that there are a lot of people who are just basically bloodthirsty, who have in them the desire for conquest that drove drove most of history.
But we no longer live in a world where it is politically or socially acceptable to straight up say, "It's glorious and cool to make war and take their stuff".
Those impulse are still there though. So you should expect to see them sublimated.
Feb 12 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
I think I need to imbibe this in my bones.
I, like most nerds, prefer to avoid conflict, both because it seems "mean" and because it's boring.
But I see people in the world that take adversarial action, people with opposed interests, for granted.
Or rather we're both right. I think maybe a lot of those people have a blind spot to positive sum interactions. They're unable to contextualize anything _except_ as a conflict with someone.
Feb 12 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
Man, it's so beautiful. The American thing is beautiful.
With the exception of how we treated black people. That was awful.
But the industriousness, the get-to-it-ness, the ambition, the innovative spirit, the people making better lives for themselves, people coming from all over the world, to make better lives for themselves and their families and actually doing it.
Feb 12 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
Fertility is good.
People being rich and having babies is good.
I want people to have more leisure time.
I don't really care if they have more luxuries.
But I do want them to have leisure time to spend with people that they like, and to read and develop themselves, if they want to do that.
Feb 12 • 16 tweets • 2 min read
Musings: I think if we got housing reform, widespread life extension technologies (or widespread, functional, cryonics), and the elimination of factory farming, I might be open at that point of a major slowdown in the development of fundamental innovations.
(Housing reform is important because the number one way to improve people's lives is to make it so that they don't need to spend as so much of it at jobs that suck, and the key to that is lower cost of living, and the number one thing that would do THAT is abundant housing.)
Feb 11 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
Something that I hadn't realized before is that I think the Keynesian notion of aggregate demand didn't actually make sense before the 1900s. It COULDN'T have described earlier economies.
In the 1920s, and later, profits come largely from the middle class spending it supposable disposable income.
And this was maybe mostly not true in previous centuries.
Feb 11 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
I wonder if you can buy television ads that actually raise people's baseline happiness.
My first idea is television ads where an actor says "We booked this 30 slot ad slot, to encourage you to think about three things that you're grateful for right now. : )"
But I expect people would not actually do the exercise.
Even if they do it once or twice, they ignore it after because it is slightly effortful.
Feb 11 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
The Big Change: American transforms itself 1900-1950 claims that over the 1920s, Church attendance fell.
(I can't find other sources that corroborate, or dispute, from a quick search, so I'm gonna provisionally run with it.)
This is part of a long running secular trend, but I wonder how much this was driven by the automobile.
Feb 10 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
I just spent the 45 minutes writing up a message to someone which was then permanently obliterated by a misplaced copy and paste.
I've installed Copy Clip on my mac to never have this problem again. It stores your clipboard history.
If you want to learn from my painful mistake, instead of waiting to make your own, you might want to install it (or something similar) right now, while this is in your working memory.