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Rejoining Google

A week from Monday I'm starting back at Google. [1] I'm pretty excited about it, both the company and the team I'll be on. more...

Regularly Scheduled

Events that happen on a regular schedule lower the energy it takes to be social. Things like church every Sunday, a dance that's every 1st Saturday, or a dinner with friends on 2nd and 4th Wednesdays. In general, I think people would probably be happier if they had more things like this in their lives. [1] To help with this, I made a site:

The site lets you create an event, and then invite people: more...

Forking Currency

Lets say I start a new currency, the Credit, to compete with the Dollar. The traditional way to do this would be for me to offer to convert between Dollars and Credits, but let's say instead I give credits to existing Dollar owners. You show me a Dollar bill with a serial number I haven't seen before, I give you Credits.

I think this is a helpful analogy for thinking about the recent Bitcoin Cash fork. Anyone can make a Dollar fork, and for people who hold Dollars in their native form, paper, this isn't a problem: you can choose to participate in the fork or not, mostly based on whether the fork ends up being worth something. On the other hand, what if someone owes you a Dollar, perhaps because you loaned it to them, or you deposited it in their bank? In the Dollar case this is very clear: they have no obligation to interact with Credits at all, and if they happen to give you back bills that have already been registered for Credits that's your problem. If they registered all the bills they held and kept the Credits for themself, even that would probably be fine. more...

Yudkowsky and MIRI

In talking to ML researchers, many were unaware that there was any sort of effort to reduce risks from superintelligence. Others had heard of it before, and primarily associated it with Nick Bostrom, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and MIRI. One of them had very strong negative opinions of Eliezer, extending to everything they saw as associated with him, including effective altruism. more...

Hedonic Model

Here's a rough model of happiness. I'm still confused about what happiness is, why it's a thing, and how to compare it between people, but here's where I am now:

We have a sense of how good things could be. We're probably born with some genetically informed priors, but mostly we develop this sense based on experience. When a good thing happens to us our sense of what's possible goes up, as when we observe good things happening to others. If you think of something as inaccessible to you, it doesn't affect your sense of how good things could be. Happiness is having how things are going be closer to how you think things could be going.

Some things this model predicts: more...

Hybrid Bank Account

I've been thinking about a new kind of bank account that would combine the properties of a bank account, investment account, and line of credit in order to be a lot more convenient. The idea is, depending on how much money was in it, it would take on one of these forms:

  • With a negative balance, it's a line of credit.
  • With a low positive balance, it's a bank account.
  • With a high positive balance, the money is invested.
more...
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