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Stuff I found interesting in November
1) An oldie but a goodie: guess the correlation.
2) I really, really enjoyed this 80k episode on probability. One thing that stood out (and I’ll probably garble this) was the implication that the expected value of almost decision is infinite once you let infinities into the equation, because there’s always some non-zero probability of an event that produces infinite (or negative infinite) value. What if there is a God and will send you to hell if you eat celery? Very unlikely, but probably not literally a zero percent chance of being true.
3) Thread on interesting Wiki pages (click through):
4) A classic paper - you can create an accurate election forecast using a non-representative sample. These guys polled a bunch of Xbox live players to generate election forecasts (using MRP) in 2012 that were in line with ordinary opinion polls!
5) The second season of The White Lotus has just started. First season is fantastic, and I very much enjoyed the first few episodes of the second season.
6) Another show I enjoyed was Make Me Prime Minister on Channel 4, which has been almost unanimously panned (with the exception of a Guardian review which gave it five stars partially because it was so awful - ‘absolute, exquisite agony’). My contrarian opinion is that this show was very fun and the people on it were generally likeable.
7) A Marginal Revolution commenter suggested that the ideal presidential platform would be Morgan Freeman supported by Phil Tetlock, which made me chuckle. Points for originality, I suppose!
9)has set up a Substack, . I expect it will be very good. As has , and I expect that will be very good too!
11) There’s obviously quite a lot on the FTX Crisis worth reading: see this analysis of the situation by Milky Eggs (although it seems way too speculative about a lot of stuff), the Twitter account ‘Autism Capital’, and the absolutely insane Kelsey Piper interview. I thought about giving some of my thoughts in a blog post, but think things are better left unsaid until a bit of time passes and I can write something valuable. Zvi’s analysis is also useful.
What I will say is that I think SBF was/is a genuine EA and the comments in the Piper interview about the ‘ethics being a front’ do not refer to his utilitarianism, and also that this interview is not a ‘good thing for EA’ as some seem to think. Someone so associated with EA coming across as a sociopath is bad, although ofc the interview barely makes any difference given the whole situation. The ‘ethics being a front’ comment could either refer to deontological constraints on utilitarianism or on the ‘ethics in crypto’ stuff, I’m unsure which.
12) And briefly, who gains and who loses in status from the fall of FTX? Tyler’s opinion is here, and another interesting take from Peter Hartree here:
13)on the causal connection (or lack thereof) between cannabis use and schizophrenia, although note that the quality of the data means that we shouldn’t really update from this.
Random note inserted into the middle of this email/post: I want to meet up with more random people! If you’re based in London or the UK, consider emailing me or DMing me on Twitter and maybe we can go for coffee, a drink, or to some kind of event. If you aren’t based in London but might want to meet, also feel free to email and tell me where in the world you are - if I’m ever in your area of the world I’ll get in touch.
This offer is open to everyone and anyone. I’ve met a few people who either follow me on Twitter or read this blog and every time has been fun! Generally the quality of comments/engagement I get on this blog is very high, so thanks to all who comment and interact.
14) On the Daughter Effect:
In the first two models, having a daughter increases the probability of hiring a woman to the board by around 17 percentage points, significant at the 10% level. This is a 22% increase compared to CEOs without a daughter. Adding firm financials increases the point estimate to 0.219 (28% increase over CEOs without daughters), significant at the 5% level. However, controlling for the gender ratio of the old board members decreases the signifi- cance of the daughter effect – when there is a greater share of female directors from the incum- bent board, the new CEO is less likely to add new women to the board.
15) Weirdly, I hadn’t come across Marc Andreessen’s guide to start-ups before, but it’s fun reading.
16)writes on why he is not an EA.
17) I’ve been reading a bit of Larry Temkin’s book on EA. To be honest, I liked the introduction on a dinner party with Parfit and Angus Deaton the best, but much of the book is worthwhile.
18) Notes on the death of Babylon [FT - paywalled].
One thing to note is that I’ve seen a few people saying that because Diplomacy is a zero-sum game, having discussions with other players and making trades necessarily involved making them worse off or deceiving them in some way. This seems untrue - for instance, suppose we have three players: the AI, human 1 and human 2. It could simply be the case that the AI offers a trade to human 1 that increases the chance of victory for both the AI and human 1 at the expense of human 2.
20) The father of the Colorado shooter’s response to finding out his son was the perpetrator is unbelievable and depressing:
21) Discovered this blog ‘Digressions & Impressions’ that I’m sure many of you are aware of already but I’m just bookmarking it here for myself, others may also find interesting.
23) Here is a never-ending conversation between Slavoj Zizek and Werner Herzog, created by AI.
24) A tip for friends:
25) Friend of the blogwrites in defence of Effective Altruism.
26) On the other hand,suggests that we should return to Classic Effective Altruism.
27) Start a blog!
28) An old New Yorker profile of Peter Thiel, plus a recent lecture of his:
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