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    I really wanted to like this. But unfortunately, it appears to be written in Elvish. Why does Gil-Galad need to know algebraic topology?

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      From that post:

      Some Righties talk about the idea of a post-political world — the idea that a system with less citizen input, on the continuum from Singapore to monarchy or neocameralism — would be more stable. But in a world without elections, there would still be shifts in power. It’s just that the mechanisms by which power shifts wouldn’t have occasional moments of relative transparency.

      So, reflecting on that, I agree with his premises – that mechanisms by which power shifts happen would have less transparency. But I disagree with his conclusion. It’s not clear to me that autocratic states are inherently less stable than democracies. Yes, autocratic states crumble (as we saw in the Arab Spring revolutions). But democracies crumble and collapse as well. Russia was fairly democratic in the ’90s before collapsing into Putinist autocracy. Thailand had a fairly robust democracy before it was locked down by a military junta. Turkey and Pakistan have flipped between military rule and democratic governance multiple times.

      And on the flip side, dictatorial China, despite all its internal problems, actually appears to be a more responsive state to its citizens than democratic India. While Delhi still has the worst air pollution in the world, the Communist Party has quietly cleaned up Beijing, in response to citizen unrest.

      I think, up until a certain point, competence matters more than representation. As it turns out, people don’t really care by what mechanism the government listens to their needs, as long as it implements policies that improve their daily lives. The hypothesis is that once an economy has fully industrialized, it’s impossible for government to be appropriately responsive to all the diverse interests of the country without democratizing. But the continued existence of autocratic China makes me doubt that theory more and more with each passing day.

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        So, the most relevant bit is this and I think it’s key that the average LWer comes to understand it:

        “The first thing I noticed was that every once in a while the classifier would spit something out as ‘I don’t know what category this is’ and you’d look at it and it would be what we’re calling this fringe stuff. That quite surprised me. How can this classifier that was tuned to figure out category be seemingly detecting quality? “[Outliers] also show up in the stop word distribution, even if the stop words are just catching the style and not the content! They’re writing in a style which is deviating, in a way. […] “What it’s saying is that people who go through a certain training and who read these articles and who write these articles learn to write in a very specific language. This language, this mode of writing and the frequency with which they use terms and in conjunctions and all of the rest is very characteristic to people who have a certain training. The people from outside that community are just not emulating that. They don’t come from the same training and so this thing shows up in ways you wouldn’t necessarily guess. They’re combining two willy-nilly subjects from different fields and so that gets spit out.”

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          “During the winter of 1901, the brothers began to question the aerodynamic data on which they were basing their designs. They decided to start over and develop their own data base with which they would design their aircraft. They built a wind tunnel and began to test their own models. They developed an ingenious balance system to compare the performance of different models. They tested over two hundred different wings and airfoil sections in different combinations to improve the performance of their gliders The data they obtained more correctly described the flight characteristics which they observed with their gliders. By early 1902 the Wrights had developed the most accurate and complete set of aerodynamic data in the world. “

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            Oh, is that why high-level life players tend to keep diaries?

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              “Bronze players know neither themselves nor their enemies. They are therefore incapable of winning except against someone equally ill-informed, that is, other bronzies. The biggest issue bronzies have is that they just don’t know how to play. It’s not specific things that they need to learn. They don’t need to learn timings or build orders. They don’t need to know how to shift queue commands or how to hotkey armies. They just need to, in the broadest possible of terms, know what to do. They need a goal, a direction, a game plan, some idea, however vague, of where they want the game to progress and what results they want their actions to produce. They feel like they’re just going along for the ride, that the things happening in the game are totally beyond their control.” What I perceive to be bronze players’ largest problem is that they act without introspection. Or any sort of thinking at all, really. They appear to be simply doing things just for the sake of doing them. One of the most aggravating things when trying to teach someone is asking them the question, “why did you do that?” and having them respond, “I don’t know.” If decisions are made without reasons behind them, improvement will never happen; it cannot happen. So not only do they not know why they are doing what they are doing, they are also not considering why it’s not working. What they gain from their mistakes is not the question “How could I have foreseen that the enemies would be there?” but instead the statement “Oh, I guess the enemies were there.” There is no consideration beyond acknowledging that the event happened. It is perceived as mere happenstance, some sort of random occurrence from which no meaning could be derived. There is no self-reflection, and so no attempt to fix the error. It seems to me, from my noobish standpoint, that the biggest skill to be gained is having an idea of what you can do, what your enemies can do, and with that information deciding what is the correct course of action to take.”

              Emphasis mine.

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                  Well, it’s kind of hard to explain Dennou Coil in a few lines I think. Trying to compress it down to a sentence: Dennou Coil is an anime that presents a plausible subculture that could develop with unobtrusive Alternate Reality glasses. And it’s very much presenting the concept, worldview and all from a childs perspective. I think this is actually a sort of hidden genius because in modern media it’s very fashionable to focus on the dangers and the deviants, you know what if someone uses Google Glass to record you at the beach. And while that kind of issue gets touched on in Dennou Coil, it’s an adult sort of concern that’s relegated to the background.

                  What results is this sort of interesting mesh between superstition and science fiction that treads a very fine line between possibility and outright fabrication. The aesthetic theme of Dennou Coil is basically the Missingno glitch in the original pokemon games, dangerous behavior of a complicated technology that the agents experiencing it simply aren’t in a real position to understand. So instead they understand it through the traditional ways of human understanding, stories and rumors and myths. In that sense, it’s a deeper meditation on HCI than say just thinking about the raw mechanics of how something should work to be ergonomic. Perhaps it’s best summed up as being Human(s) with Computers Interaction rather than a focus on the individual ‘user’.

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                    Excerpt from Jason Scott’s excellent BBS: The Documentary that outlines the recruitment process old phreaker bulletin boards would use. Along with a lot about their culture and why people would get together and make these things. I found it tied very well into my research with FortForecast, since it is an example of a bunch of people over a computer network accomplishing productive tasks. (Though interestingly enough, a lot of these interviews feature multiple friends together, implying a sort of hybrid dynamic like we have with WL where some people know each other offline but others don’t.)

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                      exploring HCI concepts

                      Dennou Coil

                      Tell us more about it does this!

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                        Those early memories of being selfish, that I had – they had never been properly integrated with later memories of doing unselfish things. I had desperately tried to do all kinds of stuff to prove to myself that I wasn’t an entirely worthless person, but no matter how many positive examples I accumulated, it didn’t entirely solve the problem. As long as the negative memories were split off into their own unit, my attention might always swing to them, even if I had a lot of positive memories on the other side.

                        So I took those negative memories and integrated them together with the positive ones.

                        One thing I wonder about this is if it’s something that’s variant across people who are Episodic or Diachronic. Because if you don’t have the default notion that things current-you does are intrinsically an update on things past-you did, then I could see how you might get disjoint sets of feelings about yourself like this.

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                          My natural response here is to compare this to my job, and to the description rsaarelm linked of a food plant. We don’t have the rapid-fire series of deadlines that the dabbawalas do – our shift has one deadline per day; other shifts have a few more, but that doesn’t make much of a difference – but unlike the food plant, we do have extensive cross-training: everyone is expected to learn all the basic job functions. There’s specialization in practice, but if the system goes down for three hours and everyone needs to be thrown at making up for lost time so we don’t miss the deadline, everyone can be thrown at that with no problem.

                          And I mean everyone. The highest-level manager in the entire building has come out to do the same stuff we make barely over minimum wage for, because the deadline necessitated the addition of a few more labor-hours.

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                            So the first time I read this post, what struck me was that I think what would be really interesting is genuine works of computer science fiction. For example, there is a dearth of Science Fiction exploring HCI concepts. Probably the most interesting I can think of off the top of my head is Dennou Coil, which is in fact excellent.

                            We need more science fiction stories that seriously take into account different ways of using computers, where that isn’t incidental to the main plot.

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                              The lord of men has two difficulties to face: If he appoints only worthy men to office, ministers will on the pretence of worthiness attempt to deceive their ruler; if he makes arbitrary promotions of officials, the state affairs will always be menaced. Similarly, if the lord of men loves worthiness, ministers will gloss over their defects in order to meet the ruler’s need. In consequence, no minister will show his true heart. If no minister shows his true heart, the lord of men will find no way to tell the worthy from the unworthy.

                              For instance, because the King of Yue liked brave men, the people made light of death; because King Ling of Chu liked slender waists, the country became full of starvelings; because Duke Huan of Qi was by nature jealous and fond of women, Shu Diao castrated himself in order to administer the harem; because Duke Huan liked different tastes, Yiya steamed the head of his son and served Duke Huan with the rare taste; because Zikuai of Yan liked worthies, Zizhi pretended that he would not accept the state.

                              Therefore, if the ruler reveals his hate, ministers will conceal their motives; if the ruler reveals his likes, ministers will pretend to talent; and if the ruler reveals his wants, ministers will have the opportunity to disguise their feelings and attitudes.

                              That was the reason why Zizhi, by pretending to worthiness, usurped the ruler’s throne; and why Shu Diao and Yiya, by complying with their ruler’s wants, molested their ruler. Thus Zikuai died in consequence of a civil war and Duke Huan was left unburied until worms from his corpse crawled outdoors. What was the cause of these incidents? It was nothing but the calamity of the rulers’ revelation of true hearts to ministers. Every minister in his heart of hearts does not necessarily love the ruler. If he does, it is for the sake of his own great advantage.

                              In these days, if the lord of men neither covers his feelings nor conceals his motives, and if he lets ministers have a chance to molest their master, the ministers will have no difficulty in following the examples of Zizhi and Tianchang. Hence the saying: “If the ruler’s likes and hate be concealed, the ministers’ true hearts will be revealed. If the ministers reveal their true hearts, the ruler never will be deluded.”

                              – Han Feizi, Ch. Vii, “The Two Handles”, tr. W. K. Liao (with, of course, the Wade-Giles converted to Pinyin)

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                                Thinking more on this, it seems like this is the takeaway:

                                Goodhart’s Law is not so easy to outsmart. There are no silver bullets. As usual, there are only a whole lot of lead bullets, and those bullets look like this:

                                1. Be really clear on what you are actually trying to maximize.

                                2. Find a good and non-obvious measure of that thing.

                                3. Keep that measure secret.

                                4. Even as you use that measure, never forget what actual thing you’re after.

                                5. Keep looking for new, non-obvious measures of that thing.

                                6. Abandon the old measure and switch to a new and different one as soon as you detect even a hint of gaming.

                                7. Repeat steps 2–5 indefinitely, forever.

                                This is hard. It is not a one-stop solution. You can’t ever stop working on this. It requires continuous effort, possibly even continuously increasing effort (as new measures are probably going to be harder and harder to find).

                                But I don’t know that there is any alternative.

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                                  This is essentially the objection I was going to post, so I entirely agree with it.

                                  Relevant to this is this discussion on LessWrong (1.0) about eigenkarma and Google’s PageRank algorithm. Some key quotes:

                                  Ilya Shpitser:

                                  This won’t work, for the same reason PageRank did not work, you can game it by collusion. Communities are excellent at collusion.

                                  Oliver Habryka:

                                  “This won’t work, for the same reason PageRank did not work”

                                  I am very confused by this. Google’s search vastly outperformed its competitors with PageRank and is still using a heavily tweaked version of PageRank to this day, delivering by far the best search on the market. It seems to me that PageRank should widely be considered to be the most successful reputation algorithm that has ever been invented, having demonstrated extraordinary real-world success. In what way does it make sense to say “PageRank did not work”?

                                  Ilya Shpitser:

                                  Google is using a much more complicated algorithm that is constantly tweaked, and is a trade secret – precisely because as soon as it became profitable to do so, the ecosystem proceeded to game the hell out of PageRank.

                                  Google hasn’t been using PageRank-as-in-the-paper for ages. The real secret sauce behind Google is not eigenvalues, it’s the fact that it’s effectively anti-inductive, because the algorithm isn’t open and there is an army of humans looking for attempts to game it, and modifying it as soon as such an attempt is found.

                                  Wei Dai:

                                  Given that, it seems equally valid to say “this will work, for the same reason that PageRank worked”, i.e., we can also tweak the reputation algorithm as people try to attack it. We don’t have as much resources as Google, but then we also don’t face as many attackers (with as strong incentives) as Google does.

                                  Ilya Shpitser:

                                  It’s not PageRank that worked, it’s anti-induction that worked. PageRank did not work, as soon as it faced resistance.

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                                    To put this in more rationalist terminology, one of the ways around Goodhart’s law is that you find a measure… but keep it secret. Then, so long as no one else figures out the measure, you can target it without the measure being corrupted by people gaming the system.

                                    The problem is that the measure will inevitably become corrupted because people aren’t that dumb. I have an anecdote from a friend who worked at Subway. Subway implemented its own version of the lime equation - except instead of counting limes, they’d count bread. So you couldn’t get a free sandwich, because that’d make the bread count come up short at the end of the day. But, you could order a 6-inch veggie, and end up with a footlong deluxe and the tracking system would miss that.

                                    Another example is college admissions. Good colleges don’t publicize their “lime equations” determining how they determine who gets a spot and who doesn’t. But people reverse engineered the process anyway, simply by using other statistics about the student body that were published by the campuses. So, at this point, it doesn’t really do any good for colleges to keep their equations secret - all that does is disadvantage the people they’re trying to help the most.

                                    If a metric is high-stakes enough, it will be targeted, whether its secret or not, because no matter how secret the metric is, targeting it will have effects on the real world, and those effects, given time, will be observed and reverse-engineered.

                                    EDIT: The e-mail volume metric he mentions is exactly the sort of thing that’s easy for employees to game and corrupt. Given time, people will figure out that the people who send a lot of e-mails are the ones the boss favors. Then everyone will send lots of e-mails all the time, regardless of whether they’re getting any work done or not, and the advantage of the metric will disappear.

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                                      One good example of this thing is the moderation heuristics I use for banning people on the #lesswrong IRC channel. I could put them in the guidelines, but I don’t because they consistently identify trolls long before anyone else calls it. I pretty much always call troll first, and I’m pretty much always right.

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                                        the data needed isn’t available because simply not enough time has passed for these things to be seen in the physical world

                                        This is perhaps true, but Nagle doesn’t really do a good job of laying out any hypotheses as to how online activity can translate into offline activism and ideology. Even when she talks about the left, she doesn’t really talk about how online activity directly translated into offline protest. She takes it as a given that the direction of influence runs one way: from online memes to offline ideology. I think it’s more nuanced than that, and that there is influence going in both directions.

                                        As the book stands, Nagle has laid out the sources of many of the online alt-right memes and how they interact and left it up to us to work out how those memes turn into offline action. I’m certainly not ungrateful for that. I think what she’s done has importance. But it’s not the whole story.

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                                          Those are both good anecdotes and I’ve updated my review with a link to your post, indicating that rallies and other campaign events provide a plausible mechanism for transmission of alt-right ideas and ideology into the mainstream political discourse.

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