Jeff Kaufman  ::  Blog Posts  ::  RSS Feed  ::  Contact

Bus Predictions: Open Source

The wsgi code for the dynamic parts of this website isn't fully open source because it has some exceptions for things like people who've told me they don't want their comments pulled in from external services. When I wrote my lightweight bus map it was all mixed in with the rest of this code. I've separated it out and open sourced it: github.com/jeffkaufman/nextbus.

(Prompted by meeting a Nextbus employee at a contra dance and wanting to show them how it worked.)

full post...

Random House Thoughts

Julia and I bought a house two months ago, and we've been working on getting it ready to move into. It's needed quite a bit of work, which we've been trying to do ourselves as we can. Part of what has made it hard is finding the time: I've been away many weekends with the Free Raisins and the rest of the time one of us is working while the other is watching Lily. Most days there's Lily's two naps to work on the house, one for Julia and one for me, and that's about it. As we get ready to move in, though, I wanted to think back over what we've done so far and what we still need to do. more...

Instantiating Arguments

When discussing ideas, people often ask questions others have already thought a lot about. This can be frustrating, especially if they're new to the topic and you're not, because you know there's been a lot of work on related ideas that they would find useful. How to respond?

You could suggest they go google their question, but this tends not to work out well. While you know the search query that would bring up links answering their question, and you know how to tell from the text snippets which links are probably written by sensible people, they don't have your context and background knowledge. They're likely to have trouble turning up anything relevant, and even if they do they probably won't find the arguments you were hoping they'd find. [1] more...

One-Way Dead-End Street

A one-way dead-end street is supposed to be a joke, but there's one just east of Davis square. If you drive down Grove st, which is one way, you find yourself in the position of the car below:

Just ahead there's a gate:

more...

Futarchy and Unfriendly AI

We have a reasonably clear sense of what "good" is, but it's not perfect. Suffering is bad, pleasure is good, more people living enjoyable lives is good, yes, but tradeoffs are hard. How much worse is it to go blind than to lose your leg? [1] How do we compare the death of someone at eighty to the death of someone at twelve? If you wanted to build some automated system that would go from data about the world to a number representing how well it's doing, where you would prefer any world that scored higher to any world scoring lower, that would be very difficult.

Say, however, that you've built a metric that you think matches your values well and you put some powerful optimizer to work maximizing that metric. This optimizer might do many things you think are great, but it might be that the easiest ways to maximize the metric are the ones that pull it apart from your values. Perhaps after it's in place it turns out your metric included many things that only strongly correlated with what you cared about, where the correlation breaks down under maximization.

What confuses me is that the people who warn about this scenario with respect to AI are often the same people in favor of futarchy. more...

Miswired Lights

When we moved into our new house we noticed that one of the light switches would sometimes shock you, and sometimes wouldn't turn on at all. When we got someone to look at it they discovered it was badly miswired.

There are two switches that each let you toggle a light on and off, one switch at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom. This should look like this:

more...

More Posts


Jeff Kaufman  ::  Blog Posts  ::  RSS Feed  ::  Contact  ::  G+ Profile