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


recent posts on blogs I follow


Nose / throat treatments for respiratory infections

A shallow dive on stuff that might keep you from getting sick, or shorten your infection. The post Nose / throat treatments for respiratory infections appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise March 8, 2023

What does Bing Chat tell us about AI risk?

Early signs of catastrophic risk? Yes and no.

via Cold Takes February 28, 2023

Why Neighborhoods Should Have Speed Bumps

I have several reasons I think why neighborhoods should have speed bumps. First, speed bumps are very useful to stop cars from hitting people in the streets. Second, when construction workers installed speed bumps on the street in front of our house it was very useful to me because my parents decided to let me cross that street, and now I can go to the park and my friends house and a bunch of other places without my parents having to walk me there. There is a downside to speed bumps, which is that whe…

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts February 27, 2023

How major governments can help with the most important century

Governments could be crucial in the long run, but it's probably best to proceed with caution.

via Cold Takes February 24, 2023

What AI companies can do today to help with the most important century

Major AI companies can increase or reduce global catastrophic risks.

via Cold Takes February 20, 2023

Don’t Over-Update On Others’ Failures

Scenario: You’re working hard on an important seeming problem. Maybe you have an idea to cure a specific form of cancer using mRNA. You’ve been working on the idea for a year or two, and seem to be making slow progress; it is not yet clear whether you will succeed.

via Home February 15, 2023

Jobs that can help with the most important century

People are far better at their jobs than at anything else. Here are the best ways to help the most important century go well.

via Cold Takes February 10, 2023

Leaving Wave, joining Anthropic

love for Wave • why leave • where to • why there • what’s next

via February 1, 2023

How did we decide to have a kid?

...and then some more kids? The post How did we decide to have a kid? appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise January 28, 2023

Spreading messages to help with the most important century

For people who want to help improve our prospects for navigating transformative AI, and have an audience.

via Cold Takes January 25, 2023

Crying in museums

Exhibits that made me want a better world The post Crying in museums appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise January 6, 2023

My Rainbow Kit

For Christmas I got a really fun kit about rainbows. It had a rainbow catcher, a really cool necklace, a streamer thingy, and it also had a really really cool pinwheel, and it also had a bracelet and a pinata. Unfortunately the pinata didn't work out that well. I didn't make the bracelet yet. The pinata just didn't fall apart when we hit it. We had to take it apart with our hands to get it open. It even had a really really fun part. Actually, it wasn't really that fun. It did m…

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts January 5, 2023


I think that once a kid is in third grade they should be able to get a phone. I think that while sometimes parents might want kids not to have them at certain ages, phones can be quite useful at times. Tablets don't have GPS, they don't have WiFi when you're out of the house, but a phone does have all that stuff. Have you ever tried putting a tablet in your pocket? I don't think so! They definitely don't fit. But a phone will: they're tiny and portable, which is quite us…

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts January 5, 2023

Why and how to write things on the Internet

because you’ll have more awesome friendships • be consistent • suggested post ideas • setup advice • getting initial readers

via December 29, 2022

Breastfeeding: might be nice, might be surprisingly terrible

The wide range of experiences The post Breastfeeding: might be nice, might be surprisingly terrible appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise December 28, 2022

Three reasons to cooperate

In this post I’ll discuss three reasons to cooperate in a truly one-shot prisoner’s dilemma: Kindness makes common sense, but correlation and reciprocity are often lumped together under “weird acausal stuff.” I think they are worth distinguishing because they work quite differently. I’ll talk about details of correlation and reciprocity, and then argue that most … More Three reasons to cooperate

via The sideways view December 24, 2022

Staring into the abyss as a core life skill

thinking about scary things • examples from Wave • examples from elsewhere • finding a buddy • getting the timing right • a list of abyss questions

via December 22, 2022

Why I Decided To Buy A House

There’s wide critique on the effective altruism forums of a decision made by Centre for Effective Altruism to purchase a $20M estate in Oxford, Wytham Abbey.

via Home December 6, 2022

Be less scared of overconfidence

deferring to markets • deferring to experts • deferring to low-information heuristics • why they fail • blindness to outliers • what to do instead

via November 30, 2022

My Vegan Thanksgiving

Things that are an essential part of my annual Thanksgiving experience: smell of delights roasting in the oven all day absurd amounts of food on-point mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, etc chaos of family members constantly bumping into each other cooking in the kitchen a few minutes of peace when everyone is actually at the table together, to make a small toast right before we dig in ample wine

via Home November 28, 2022

Corncob Dolls

I went to a farm and at the farm I got to see a corncrib and the corn that had fell out of the corncrib that no one wanted I got to use my fingers to take off the corn kernels and once the cobs were empty I put them in a bag and then once I got back to the house I was staying in I ate dinner and I got to work with a few pencils some tape and some paper and some markers and I used some of the markers to make the eyes and mouth but I didn't want to add a nose so what I did was I made little pink s…

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts November 7, 2022

Light Switch

When I got my loft bed it was just so annoying every morning to have to get out of bed, climb down the ladder, turn the light on, and climb back up, just so I could see stuff. I decided to make a string for my light switch because I really wanted to be able to turn on the light from just my bed. I got to work and got some string and some tape and taped the string to my light switch. Now I can just pull the string in the morning and turn the light on, and I don't even have to get out of my loft …

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts November 7, 2022

Childbirth location and safety

How much does it matter for you and for the baby? The post Childbirth location and safety appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise November 6, 2022

Practical Plant-Based Meal Planning for Groups

So far it has been quite easy and practical for me to eat mostly plant-based food in my life. When I go to restaurants I choose restaurants that have good veg options.

via Home September 12, 2022

Futurist prediction methods and accuracy

I've been reading a lot of predictions from people who are looking to understand what problems humanity will face 10-50 years out (and sometimes longer) in order to work in areas that will be instrumental for the future and wondering how accurate these predictions of the future are. The timeframe of predictions that are so far out means that only a tiny fraction of people making those kinds of predictions today have a track record so, if we want to evaluate which predictions are plausible, …

via Posts on September 12, 2022

On the Beach

I really like going in the water and this beach is a great place for building sand castles and boogie boarding. I also like trying to float on top of big waves. I'm not very good at it. I only float on the flat waves.

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts July 12, 2022

Decision theory and dynamic inconsistency

Here is my current take on decision theory: When making a decision after observing X, we should condition (or causally intervene) on statements like “My decision algorithm outputs Y after observing X.” Updating seems like a description of something you do when making good decisions in this way, not part of defining what a good … More Decision theory and dynamic inconsistency

via The sideways view July 3, 2022

10x (engineer, context) pairs

Your actual output depends on a lot more than just how quickly you finish a given programming task. Everything besides the literal coding depends deeply on the way you interact with the organization around you.

via June 9, 2022

Buckingham Palace

I love England. Especially because of the big castle called Buckingham Palace. I got to see the outside there, but my mom showed me some pictures of the inside. I love it there. But the outside doesn't look very fancy to me. But I never knew why those people wear big bear skin black poofy hats.

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts April 25, 2022

What is causality to an evidential decision theorist?

(Subsumed by: Timeless Decision Theory, EDT=CDT) People sometimes object to evidential decision theory by saying: “It seems like the distinction between correlation and causation is really important to making good decisions in practice. So how can a theory like EDT, with no role for causality, possibly be right?” Long-time readers probably know my answer, but … More What is causality to an evidential decision theorist?

via The sideways view April 17, 2022

How I Lost My Shoe

I was walking around in London when I saw this gigantic building shaped like an egg. Then I walked around it a little and I saw these pillars that had glass on one side, but one side didn't have glass. There was kind of a hole so it was kind of like a case, and I wanted to try and climb in. So I walked over and started to climb in, but I was having trouble. I got my ankle in, but when I tried to get it out it didn't work; it was stuck. I needed to try something different. I took off my sh…

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts April 17, 2022

I Love England

There are many big buildings here. A lot of them are skyscrapers. And, there's lots of old buildings here. Like, buildings from long ago. Like, ones that Romans built! One of them is even a castle. It's pretty fun here, and it barely ever snows here. So there's always pretty flowers here. And there's even palm trees.

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts April 17, 2022

In defense of simple architectures

Wave is a $1.7B company with 70 engineers1 whose product is a CRUD app that adds and subtracts numbers. In keeping with this, our architecture is a standard CRUD app architecture, a Python monolith on top of Postgres. Starting with a simple architecture and solving problems in simple ways where possible has allowed us to scale to this size while engineers mostly focus on work that delivers value to users. Stackoverflow scaled up a monolith to good effect (2013 architecture / 2016 architecture), …

via Posts on April 6, 2022

Why is it so hard to buy things that work well?

There's a cocktail party version of the efficient markets hypothesis I frequently hear that's basically, "markets enforce efficiency, so it's not possible that a company can have some major inefficiency and survive". We've previously discussed Marc Andreessen's quote that tech hiring can't be inefficient here and here: Let's launch right into it. I think the critique that Silicon Valley companies are deliberately, systematically discriminatory is incorrect, an…

via Posts on March 14, 2022

Misidentifying talent

[Click to collapse / expand section on sports] Here are some notes from talent scouts: Recruit A: ... will be a real specimen with chance to have a Dave Parker body. Facially looks like Leon Wagner. Good body flexibility. Very large hands. Recruit B: Outstanding physical specimen – big athletic frame with broad shoulders and long, solid arms and leg. Good bounce in his step and above avg body control. Good strong face. Recruit C: Hi butt, longish arms & legs, leanish torso, young colt [different sc…

via Posts on February 21, 2022

How to be vegan (if you’re me)

I’ve been interested in eating less meat, and possibly becoming vegetarian or vegan, for 15+ years. I reviewed some vegan substitutes a few years ago. I am not 100% vegan yet, but I’ve made a ton of progress in the last few months.

via Home February 15, 2022

A decade of major cache incidents at Twitter

This was co-authored with Yao Yue This is a collection of information on severe (SEV-0 or SEV-1, the most severe incident classifications) incidents at Twitter that were at least partially attributed to cache from the time Twitter started using its current incident tracking JIRA (2012) to date (2022), with one bonus incident from before 2012. Not including the bonus incident, there were 6 SEV-0s and 6 SEV-1s that were at least partially attributed to cache in the incident tracker, along with 38 …

via Posts on February 2, 2022

EDT with updating double counts

I recently got confused thinking about the following case: Calculator bet: I am offered the opportunity to bet on a mathematical statement X to which I initially assign 50% probability (perhaps X = 139926 is a quadratic residue modulo 314159). I have access to a calculator that is 99% reliable, i.e. it corrupts the answer … More EDT with updating double counts

via The sideways view October 12, 2021

Secure homes for digital people

Being a “digital person” could be scary—if I don’t have control over the hardware I’m running on, then someone else could get my code and run tons of copies in horrible conditions. (See also: qntm’s Lena.) It would be great to guarantee digital people some control over their situation: 1. to control their local environment … More Secure homes for digital people

via The sideways view October 10, 2021


I love Nora. She is a really fun sister. I give her a hug and a kiss each night. Nora is pretty much always nearby so I can go and cuddle her. Unless she's nursing. Or sleeping. Or having her diaper changed. Which is a lot of the time. But, overall, Nora is a really really fun sister. She's also very silly, and she makes silly faces.

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts July 6, 2021

via openring