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wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Unlearning descriptive statistics

Apparently the source of mode is Latin modus. I can't determine how the English statistics term originated, but it is the same in French. Interestingly, it is the feminine noun that means fashion (restaurant à la mode) while the masculine noun is used in statistics, music, or to mean "way" or "method" (mode de vie, mode d'emploi).

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: War and Peace

I figure we should at least have material for the quotes thread for the next six months. Monte Cristo worked really well for me in digital form last year. I could take my lightweight Kindle on the metro, read in a browser during lunch hour, and get through another chapter in bed using my phone. The automatic bookmarking (and notes and highlights) works very well across devices for Amazon purchases. My paperback copy was just too bulky to lug around, and it turned out to be an unlabeled abridgment anyway.

Hope you enjoy it!

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: War and Peace

I appreciated the notes provided in the Pevear and Volokhonsky version of The Brothers Karamazov, which provided a lot of insight missing from my barebones Garnett paperback. P&V have attracted some criticism for succeeding more on hype than quality. For a casual reader like me, I am not sure it makes much difference.

Is yours a library copy? I wouldn't recommend reading a 1390-page book on mobile, but Project Gutenberg does offer a "read this book online" link.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: War and Peace

The Kindle app gives 33 hours and 28 minutes as the typical time to read. I am not a fast reader, and easily distracted, so this is a long-term project. Last year I got into a groove of reading long fiction in e-book form and nonfiction in solid books that I leave at home.

I love the feeling of having a double life, in which I am constantly preoccupied with the troubles and dramas of another, secret world.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Unlearning descriptive statistics

    For colors, months, countries, brand names and any other kind of data that is not quantitative and has no order to it, there is no median, and instead the most common values (including the mode) and least common values are a good way to indicate what's typical and what's not.

This is the first time I ever realized that mode is a French word.

The hard part is deciding what "prepare" means. Any money and time devoted to the asteroid threat is denied to pathogens, including malaria.

If the only criteria for spending resources on a problem are 1) it could cause humans to go extinct and 2) we cannot prove that it is impossible, then the list will grow endlessly, with no guarantee that we have thought of everything:

· supervolcano

· grey goo

· nearby supernova/hypernova

· anoxic event

· particle accelerator mishap

· hostile alien invasion

· wrath of a supreme being

It's not easy, but I think we must do some kind of cost-benefit analysis before dedicating significant resources to improbable doomsday scenarios.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Bet lost

Sorry to hear about your motoring mishap.

Hopefully from that start things will improve under the current administration, however long it lasts.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 18, 2017

Yeah, as veen pointed out I didn't have to watch very long to find out that another bet went bust. I left it on though, and NBC News cut back and forth to downtown protesters. One guy with an "antiestablishment slant" took questions as an ad hoc spokesperson for the vandals and gawkers and hardly flinched as flashbang grenades and tear gas bombs went off just behind him. Periscope has been entertaining as well.

Norman Borlaug got a long mention before the victory luncheon, and the new president did not close his eyes during the prayer. A Starbucks on I Street got its windows smashed, possibly the one I patronized on Thursday morning. I asked the manager why all the furniture was missing; he said they were expecting record crowds and they wanted to maximize flow; he said nothing about projectiles.

It's fairly certain that malaria will continue to kill people. It is very likely that your contributions to AMF will reduce this bad outcome, buying some time until a better solution is found. (Previous improvements in our response to polio and smallpox give reasonable hope for such progress.)

Meanwhile, if the risk of AI catastrophe is 1%, then it is 99% certain that resources dedicated to averting that problem will be wasted (disregarding side benefits of the research, which could occur with malaria research as well).

There is also some concern that a project like OpenAI could increase risk of a disaster.

Asteroid impact could render all these problems trivial; it's hard to prioritize giant problems that have tiny probabilities.

I agree that a lot of the essay is not very rigorous, but I think it makes some salient points:

· It is not clear what "hyperintelligence" means, and not obvious that it's possible for anything to be exceedingly more intelligent than people.

· We are not good at "baking in" robust reliability to complex systems; we make gradual improvements through trial and error. Such improvements are easily defeated, often unintentionally.

· The cats and emus demonstrate that superior intelligence does not guarantee the ability to dominate inferiors.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: 22nd Annual Quotations Strand

I am inclined to say that I agree completely, especially with your idea that "people say nonsensical things about stuff they have no idea about." Confident speculation is completely typical, and might not be a big deal were it not for peoples' inclination to trust authority figures. I have gotten into the habit of fact-checking all the time, simply because it is a good way to learn.

We know lil is a fan of science. Though I bristle at the apparently absolute claim that "Everything we hear is ... not a fact," we are not privileged to handle true and false facts, we deal only with evidence and beliefs. We do so in our flawed ways, and all make mistakes. So maybe it's fair to say that most everything we hear from others is an expression of belief, and not cold, hard facts.

I try to remind myself of this by using language like "in my view" and "it seems" whenever I make factual statements, and also citing my evidence and making clear, verifiable claims, as in the "What are your predictions?" discussion. It's easy for mk to say the legislature is full of "spineless pond scum" but it is not so easy to test this claim.

Thanks for expanding on your thoughts!

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