nhaliday + presentation   104

CppCon 2015: Chandler Carruth "Tuning C++: Benchmarks, and CPUs, and Compilers! Oh My!" - YouTube
- very basics of benchmarking
- Q: why does preemptive reserve speed up push_back by 10x?
- favorite tool is Linux perf
- callgraph profiling
- important option: -fomit-frame-pointer
- perf has nice interface ('a' = "annotate") for reading assembly (good display of branches/jumps)
- A: optimized to no-op
- how to turn off optimizer
- profilers aren't infallible. a lot of the time samples are misattributed to neighboring ops
- fast mod example
- branch prediction hints (#define UNLIKELY(x), __builtin_expected, etc)
video  presentation  c(pp)  pls  programming  unix  heavyweights  cracker-prog  benchmarks  engineering  best-practices  working-stiff  systems  expert-experience  google  llvm  common-case  stories  libraries  measurement  linux  performance  traces  graphs  static-dynamic  ui  assembly  compilers  methodology 
4 weeks ago by nhaliday
CppCon 2014: Chandler Carruth "Efficiency with Algorithms, Performance with Data Structures" - YouTube
- idk how I feel about this
- makes a distinction between efficiency (basically asymptotic complexity, "doing less work") and performance ("doing that work faster"). idiosyncratic terminology but similar to the "two performance aesthetics" described here: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:913a284640c5
- some bikeshedding about vector::reserve and references
- "discontiguous data structures are the root of all evil" (cache-locality, don't use linked lists, etc)
- stacks? queues? just use vector. also suggests circular buffers. says std::deque is really bad
- std::map is bad too (for real SWE, not oly-programming). if you want ordered associative container, just binary search in vector
- std::unordered_map is poorly implemented, unfortunately (due to requirement for buckets in API)
- good implementation of hash table uses open addressing and local (linear?) probing
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4 weeks ago by nhaliday
The Future of Mathematics? [video] | Hacker News
Kevin Buzzard (the Lean guy)

- general reflection on proof asssistants/theorem provers
- Kevin Hale's formal abstracts project, etc
- thinks of available theorem provers, Lean is "[the only one currently available that may be capable of formalizing all of mathematics eventually]" (goes into more detail right at the end, eg, quotient types)
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4 weeks ago by nhaliday
"Performance Matters" by Emery Berger - YouTube
Stabilizer is a tool that enables statistically sound performance evaluation, making it possible to understand the impact of optimizations and conclude things like the fact that the -O2 and -O3 optimization levels are indistinguishable from noise (sadly true).

Since compiler optimizations have run out of steam, we need better profiling support, especially for modern concurrent, multi-threaded applications. Coz is a new "causal profiler" that lets programmers optimize for throughput or latency, and which pinpoints and accurately predicts the impact of optimizations.

- randomize extraneous factors like code layout and stack size to avoid spurious speedups
- simulate speedup of component of concurrent system (to assess effect of optimization before attempting) by slowing down the complement (all but that component)
- latency vs. throughput, Little's law
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5 weeks ago by nhaliday
How to make a fast command line tool in Python
An overview of why Python programs tend to be slow to start running, and some techniques Bazaar uses to start quickly, such as lazy imports.
techtariat  presentation  howto  objektbuch  tutorial  python  programming  performance  tricks  time  latency-throughput  yak-shaving  build-packaging 
august 2019 by nhaliday
Panel: Systems Programming in 2014 and Beyond | Lang.NEXT 2014 | Channel 9
- Bjarne Stroustrup, Niko Matsakis, Andrei Alexandrescu, Rob Pike
- 2014 so pretty outdated but rare to find a discussion with people like this together
- pretty sure Jonathan Blow asked a couple questions
- Rob Pike compliments Rust at one point. Also kinda softly rags on dynamic typing at one point ("unit testing is what they have instead of static types").
video  presentation  debate  programming  pls  c(pp)  systems  os  rust  d-lang  golang  computer-memory  legacy  devtools  formal-methods  concurrency  compilers  syntax  parsimony  google  intricacy  thinking  cost-benefit  degrees-of-freedom  facebook  performance  people  rsc  cracker-prog  critique  types  checking  api  flux-stasis  engineering  time  wire-guided  worse-is-better/the-right-thing  static-dynamic  latency-throughput 
july 2019 by nhaliday
One week of bugs
If I had to guess, I'd say I probably work around hundreds of bugs in an average week, and thousands in a bad week. It's not unusual for me to run into a hundred new bugs in a single week. But I often get skepticism when I mention that I run into multiple new (to me) bugs per day, and that this is inevitable if we don't change how we write tests. Well, here's a log of one week of bugs, limited to bugs that were new to me that week. After a brief description of the bugs, I'll talk about what we can do to improve the situation. The obvious answer to spend more effort on testing, but everyone already knows we should do that and no one does it. That doesn't mean it's hopeless, though.


Here's where I'm supposed to write an appeal to take testing more seriously and put real effort into it. But we all know that's not going to work. It would take 90k LOC of tests to get Julia to be as well tested as a poorly tested prototype (falsely assuming linear complexity in size). That's two person-years of work, not even including time to debug and fix bugs (which probably brings it closer to four of five years). Who's going to do that? No one. Writing tests is like writing documentation. Everyone already knows you should do it. Telling people they should do it adds zero information1.

Given that people aren't going to put any effort into testing, what's the best way to do it?

Property-based testing. Generative testing. Random testing. Concolic Testing (which was done long before the term was coined). Static analysis. Fuzzing. Statistical bug finding. There are lots of options. Some of them are actually the same thing because the terminology we use is inconsistent and buggy. I'm going to arbitrarily pick one to talk about, but they're all worth looking into.


There are a lot of great resources out there, but if you're just getting started, I found this description of types of fuzzers to be one of those most helpful (and simplest) things I've read.

John Regehr has a udacity course on software testing. I haven't worked through it yet (Pablo Torres just pointed to it), but given the quality of Dr. Regehr's writing, I expect the course to be good.

For more on my perspective on testing, there's this.

Everything's broken and nobody's upset: https://www.hanselman.com/blog/EverythingsBrokenAndNobodysUpset.aspx

From the perspective of a user, the purpose of Hypothesis is to make it easier for you to write better tests.

From my perspective as the primary author, that is of course also a purpose of Hypothesis. I write a lot of code, it needs testing, and the idea of trying to do that without Hypothesis has become nearly unthinkable.

But, on a large scale, the true purpose of Hypothesis is to drag the world kicking and screaming into a new and terrifying age of high quality software.

Software is everywhere. We have built a civilization on it, and it’s only getting more prevalent as more services move online and embedded and “internet of things” devices become cheaper and more common.

Software is also terrible. It’s buggy, it’s insecure, and it’s rarely well thought out.

This combination is clearly a recipe for disaster.

The state of software testing is even worse. It’s uncontroversial at this point that you should be testing your code, but it’s a rare codebase whose authors could honestly claim that they feel its testing is sufficient.

Much of the problem here is that it’s too hard to write good tests. Tests take up a vast quantity of development time, but they mostly just laboriously encode exactly the same assumptions and fallacies that the authors had when they wrote the code, so they miss exactly the same bugs that you missed when they wrote the code.

Preventing the Collapse of Civilization [video]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19945452
- Jonathan Blow

NB: DevGAMM is a game industry conference

- loss of technological knowledge (Antikythera mechanism, aqueducts, etc.)
- hardware driving most gains, not software
- software's actually less robust, often poorly designed and overengineered these days
- *list of bugs he's encountered recently*:
- knowledge of trivia becomes more than general, deep knowledge
- does at least acknowledge value of DRY, reusing code, abstraction saving dev time
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may 2019 by nhaliday
Timothy Heath - China's New Governing Party Paradigm - YouTube
What percentage of CCP elites sincerely believe in the official ideology?

One of the most useful things to aid understanding is reading the other side in their own words, rather than reading yet more vague analyses about "what the Chinese are up to."

Which is why you need to read this Xi Jinping speech:
I like this speech because it is a clear expression of Marxism as an "organizing philosophy of the state" - nothing about equality, barely even anything about "workers"
video  presentation  china  asia  government  institutions  communism  polisci  ideology  technocracy  leviathan  management  science  polanyi-marx  economics  growth-econ  multi  twitter  social  discussion  speculation  backup  realness  revolution  history  mostly-modern  poll  impetus  garett-jones  quotes  statesmen 
february 2019 by nhaliday
My March 28 talk at MIT - Marginal REVOLUTION
What happens when a simulated system becomes more real than the system itself?  Will the internet become “more real” than the world of ideas it is mirroring? Do we academics live in a simulacra?  If the “alt right” exists mainly on the internet, does that make it more or less powerful?  Do all innovations improve system quality, and if so why is a lot of food worse than before and home design was better in 1910-1930?  How does the world of ideas fit into this picture?
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march 2018 by nhaliday
Information Processing: US Needs a National AI Strategy: A Sputnik Moment?
FT podcasts on US-China competition and AI: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/05/ft-podcasts-on-us-china-competition-and.html

A new recommended career path for effective altruists: China specialist: https://80000hours.org/articles/china-careers/
Our rough guess is that it would be useful for there to be at least ten people in the community with good knowledge in this area within the next few years.

By “good knowledge” we mean they’ve spent at least 3 years studying these topics and/or living in China.

We chose ten because that would be enough for several people to cover each of the major areas listed (e.g. 4 within AI, 2 within biorisk, 2 within foreign relations, 1 in another area).

AI Policy and Governance Internship: https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/ai-policy-governance-internship/

Deciphering China’s AI Dream
The context, components, capabilities, and consequences of
China’s strategy to lead the world in AI

Europe’s AI delusion: https://www.politico.eu/article/opinion-europes-ai-delusion/
Brussels is failing to grasp threats and opportunities of artificial intelligence.

When the computer program AlphaGo beat the Chinese professional Go player Ke Jie in a three-part match, it didn’t take long for Beijing to realize the implications.

If algorithms can already surpass the abilities of a master Go player, it can’t be long before they will be similarly supreme in the activity to which the classic board game has always been compared: war.

As I’ve written before, the great conflict of our time is about who can control the next wave of technological development: the widespread application of artificial intelligence in the economic and military spheres.


If China’s ambitions sound plausible, that’s because the country’s achievements in deep learning are so impressive already. After Microsoft announced that its speech recognition software surpassed human-level language recognition in October 2016, Andrew Ng, then head of research at Baidu, tweeted: “We had surpassed human-level Chinese recognition in 2015; happy to see Microsoft also get there for English less than a year later.”


One obvious advantage China enjoys is access to almost unlimited pools of data. The machine-learning technologies boosting the current wave of AI expansion are as good as the amount of data they can use. That could be the number of people driving cars, photos labeled on the internet or voice samples for translation apps. With 700 or 800 million Chinese internet users and fewer data protection rules, China is as rich in data as the Gulf States are in oil.

How can Europe and the United States compete? They will have to be commensurately better in developing algorithms and computer power. Sadly, Europe is falling behind in these areas as well.


Chinese commentators have embraced the idea of a coming singularity: the moment when AI surpasses human ability. At that point a number of interesting things happen. First, future AI development will be conducted by AI itself, creating exponential feedback loops. Second, humans will become useless for waging war. At that point, the human mind will be unable to keep pace with robotized warfare. With advanced image recognition, data analytics, prediction systems, military brain science and unmanned systems, devastating wars might be waged and won in a matter of minutes.


The argument in the new strategy is fully defensive. It first considers how AI raises new threats and then goes on to discuss the opportunities. The EU and Chinese strategies follow opposite logics. Already on its second page, the text frets about the legal and ethical problems raised by AI and discusses the “legitimate concerns” the technology generates.

The EU’s strategy is organized around three concerns: the need to boost Europe’s AI capacity, ethical issues and social challenges. Unfortunately, even the first dimension quickly turns out to be about “European values” and the need to place “the human” at the center of AI — forgetting that the first word in AI is not “human” but “artificial.”

US military: "LOL, China thinks it's going to be a major player in AI, but we've got all the top AI researchers. You guys will help us develop weapons, right?"

US AI researchers: "No."

US military: "But... maybe just a computer vision app."

US AI researchers: "NO."

AI-risk was a mistake.
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february 2018 by nhaliday
What Peter Thiel thinks about AI risk - Less Wrong
TL;DR: he thinks its an issue but also feels AGI is very distant and hence less worried about it than Musk.

I recommend the rest of the lecture as well, it's a good summary of "Zero to One"  and a good QA afterwards.

For context, in case anyone doesn't realize: Thiel has been MIRI's top donor throughout its history.

other stuff:
nice interview question: "thing you know is true that not everyone agrees on?"
"learning from failure overrated"
cleantech a huge market, hard to compete
software makes for easy monopolies (zero marginal costs, network effects, etc.)
for most of history inventors did not benefit much (continuous competition)
ethical behavior is a luxury of monopoly
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february 2018 by nhaliday
Accurate Genomic Prediction Of Human Height | bioRxiv
Stephen Hsu's compressed sensing application paper

We construct genomic predictors for heritable and extremely complex human quantitative traits (height, heel bone density, and educational attainment) using modern methods in high dimensional statistics (i.e., machine learning). Replication tests show that these predictors capture, respectively, ~40, 20, and 9 percent of total variance for the three traits. For example, predicted heights correlate ~0.65 with actual height; actual heights of most individuals in validation samples are within a few cm of the prediction.


I'm in Mountain View to give a talk at 23andMe. Their latest funding round was $250M on a (reported) valuation of $1.5B. If I just add up the Crunchbase numbers it looks like almost half a billion invested at this point...

Slides: Genomic Prediction of Complex Traits

Here's how people + robots handle your spit sample to produce a SNP genotype:

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september 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Everything Under the Heavens and China's Conceptualization of Power
These guys are not very quantitative, so let me clarify a part of their discussion that was left rather ambiguous. It is true that demographic trends are working against China, which has a rapidly aging population. French and Schell talk about a 10-15 year window during which China has to grow rich before it grows old (a well-traveled meme). From the standpoint of geopolitics this is probably not the correct or relevant analysis. China's population is ~4x that of the US. If, say, demographic trends limit this to only an effective 3x or 3.5x advantage in working age individuals, China still only has to reach ~1/3 of US per capita income in order to have a larger overall economy. It seems unlikely that there is any hard cutoff preventing China from reaching, say, 1/2 the US per capita GDP in a few decades. (Obviously a lot of this growth is still "catch-up" growth.) At that point its economy would be the largest in the world by far, and its scientific-technological workforce and infrastructure would be far larger than that of any other country.

- interesting point: China went from servile toward Japan to callous as soon as it surpassed Japan economically (I would bet this will apply to the US)
- conventional Chinese narrative for WW2: China won the Pacific Theater not the US
- serious Chinese superiority complex overall
- "patriotic education", the fucking opposite of our god-awful ideology
- in Chinese history: each dynasty judges the last, unimpeachable
- ceding control of South China Sea would damage relations with neighboring countries (not enforcing their legitimate claims) and damage international norms (rule of law, etc.)
- next 10-15 years dangerous (Thucydides); of course Hsu criticizes
- suggestions: cultivate local alliances, prevent arms races, welcome Chinese international initiatives
I'm highly skeptical of all but the alliances
- ethnic melting in Chinese history, population structure (not actually as much as he thinks AFAIK), "age of nationalism", Tibet, etc.

Gideon Rachman writes for the FT, so it's not surprising that his instincts seem a bit stronger when it comes to economics. He makes a number of incisive observations during this interview.


At 16min, he mentions that
I was in Beijing about I guess a month before the vote [US election], in fact when the first debates were going on, and the Chinese, I thought that official Chinese [i.e. Government Officials] in our meeting and the sort of semi-official academics were clearly pulling for Trump.


I wonder if the standard of comparison shouldn't be with the West as a whole, not just the United States?

It depends on what happens to the EU, whether western powers other than the US want to play the role of global hegemon, etc.

The situation today is that the US is focused on preserving its primacy, wants to deny Russia and China any local sphere of influence, etc., whereas Europe has little appetite for any of it. They can barely allocate enough resources for their own defense.

Europe and the US have their own demographic problems to deal with in the coming decades. An aging population may turn out to be less challenging than the consequences of mass immigration (note population trends in Africa, so close to Europe).

If China behaved as an aggressive hegemon like the US or former USSR, it would probably elicit a collective back reaction from the West. But I think its first step is simply to consolidate influence over Asia.


interesting somewhat contrarian take on China's girth here: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/08/03/manufacturing-chinese-history-cheaply/

China Does Not Want Your Rules Based Order: http://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2016/06/china-does-not-want-your-rules-based.html
There is much that is good in this narrative. McCain proclaims that "no nation has done as much to contribute to what China calls its “peaceful rise” as the United States of America." He is right to do so. No nation has done more to enable China's rise than America has. No country's citizens have done more for the general prosperity of the Chinese people than the Americans have. This is true in ways that are not widely known or immediately obvious. For example, the role American financiers and investment banks played in creating the architecture of modern Chinese financial markets and corporate structures is little realized, despite the size and importance of their interventions. Behind every great titan of Chinese industry--China Mobile, the world's largest mobile phone operator, China State Construction Engineering, whose IPO was valued at $7.3 billion, PetroChina, the most profitable company in Asia (well, before last year), to name a few of hundreds--lies an American investment banker. I do not exaggerate when I say Goldman Sachs created modern China. [2] China has much to thank America for.


In simpler terms, the Chinese equate “rising within a rules based order” with “halting China’s rise to power.” To live by Washington’s rules is to live under its power, and the Chinese have been telling themselves for three decades now that—after two centuries of hardship—they will not live by the dictates of outsiders ever again.

The Chinese will never choose our rules based order. That does not necessarily mean they want to dethrone America and throw down all that she has built. The Chinese do not have global ambitions. What they want is a seat at the table—and they want this seat to be recognized, not earned. That’s the gist of it. Beijing is not willing to accept an order it did not have a hand in creating. Thus all that G-2 talk we heard a few years back. The Chinese would love to found a new order balancing their honor and their interests with the Americans. It is a flattering idea. What they do not want is for the Americans to give them a list of hoops to jump through to gain entry into some pre-determined good-boys club. They feel like their power, wealth, and heritage should be more than enough to qualify for automatic entrance to any club.


Greer is even more pessimistic as of late:
That is the political reality of the present moment. We will ride through this conflict not with the people we want, but with the people we have. But that people can be prepared. This is not the first time Americans have stood indifferent to the maneuvers of rising tyrannies. Indifference can be changed. It has been changed many times before.

But not by accident.

We do not face war. But we do face something like unto it. Economic weapons will be drawn and used. We will face a rough time. Before us lies an escalating circle of punishment and counter-punishment. The Chinese people will hurt dearly.

But so will ours.

Victory won will be worth its price. But that price will be paid. The Chinese understand this. They prepare their people for the contest that is coming.

We would be wise to follow their example.

This book will not be pleasant reading for some. It is built on a hard foundation of official PRC and CPC statements, white papers, laws, and pronouncements—together these documents suggest that China's ambitions are far less limited than many Americans hope:
> China’s Vision of Victory is a useful antidote to the popular delusion that Chinese leaders seek nothing more than to roll back U.S. hegemony in the Western Pacific—or that they will be sated by becoming the dominant East Asian power. Despite presenting modest and peaceful ambitions to foreigners, the Chinese Communist Party leadership transparently communicates its desire for primacy to internal audiences. By guiding readers through a barrage of official documents, excerpted liberally throughout the book, Ward shows just how wide-ranging these ambitions are.
> To start with, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) already defines its maritime forces as a “two-ocean navy.” Chinese energy demands have led the PLA to extend its reach to Pakistan, Africa, and the disputed waters of the South China Sea. White papers spell out Chinese ambitions to be the primary strategic presence not just on the East Asian periphery but in Africa, the Indian Ocean, and the Southern Pacific. China’s leadership claims that it has core economic interests as far abroad as Europe, Latin America, the Arctic, and outer space. With these economic interests come road maps for securing Chinese relationships or presence in each region.
> By 2050, the Chinese aim to have a military “second to none,” to become the global center for technology innovation, and to serve as the economic anchor of a truly global trade and infrastructure regime—an economic bloc that would be unprecedented in human history. In their speeches and documents, Chinese leaders call this vision of a China-centered future—a future where a U.S.-led system has been broken apart and discarded—a “community of common destiny for mankind.” That ambition debunks the myth of a multipolar future: China seeks dominance, not just a share of the pie.[1]
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Tyler Cowen on Brexit, Steven Pinker, and Joseph McCarthy | askblog
Also, in my other post today, I mention an event on plutocracy co-sponsored by the Hudson Institute and The American Interest. Tyler Cowen makes remarks that have little or nothing to do with the article that he wrote for the event. Two of his more provocative opinions:

1. Steven Pinker may be wrong. Rather than mass violence following a benign trend, it could be cyclical. When there is a long peace, people become complacent, they allow bad leaders to take power and to run amok, and you get mass violence again. (Cowen argues that there are more countries now run by bad people than was the case a couple of decades ago)

2. Joseph McCarthy was not wrong. There were Soviet agents in influential positions. Regardless of what you think of that, the relevant point is that today Chinese and Russian plutocrats may have their tentacles in the U.S. and may be subtly causing the U.S. to be less of a liberal capitalist nation and more of a cronyist plutocracy.

hmm, the USPS stuff here: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:fc443b256b1a
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Why China Cannot Rise Peacefully - YouTube
- unexpected accent/tone lol
- principles: states as unit of action/global anarchy, uncertainty (fog-of-war), states as rational, selfish actors
- consequences: need to become as powerful as possible, regional hegemon, prevent peer competitors (no other regional hegemon in world, eg, China)
- future: China as giant Hong Kong
- future coalition: India, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, and the USA
- does he actually think Brazil coulda gotten as powerful as the US? lol.
- his summary of American grand strategy (lol):
1. Europe (great powers)
2. NE Asia (great powers)
3. Persian Gulf (oil)
- "Europe will become distant 3rd, Europe is a museum, lotta old people." lol
- "not gonna help us with Asia, got their own problems, bankrupting themselves"
- counterarguments: "not gonna grow, China's a Confucian culture (don't pay attention to those), economic interdependence." doesn't buy the last either.
- best counterarguments: nuclear deterrence, economic interdependence, "age of nationalism"
- mass-murder usually strategic (eg, maintaining power) not ideological

debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd-1LymXXX0

interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXSkY4QKDlA
- Clinton's a realist
- plenty of economic independence prior to world wars
- nukes makes WW3 unlikely, but do not rule out limited war (eg, over East/South China Sea)
- Confucian pacifism argument is ahistorical
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may 2017 by nhaliday
What We Do Together: The State of Associational Life in America - Social Capital Project - United States Senator Mike Lee
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Educational Romanticism & Economic Development | pseudoerasmus


Did Nations that Boosted Education Grow Faster?: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/10/did_nations_tha.html
On average, no relationship. The trendline points down slightly, but for the time being let's just call it a draw. It's a well-known fact that countries that started the 1960's with high education levels grew faster (example), but this graph is about something different. This graph shows that countries that increased their education levels did not grow faster.

Where has all the education gone?: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=




The Case Against Education: What's Taking So Long, Bryan Caplan: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2015/03/the_case_agains_9.html

The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/whats-college-good-for/546590/
Students don't seem to be getting much out of higher education.
- Bryan Caplan

College: Capital or Signal?: http://www.economicmanblog.com/2017/02/25/college-capital-or-signal/
After his review of the literature, Caplan concludes that roughly 80% of the earnings effect from college comes from signalling, with only 20% the result of skill building. Put this together with his earlier observations about the private returns to college education, along with its exploding cost, and Caplan thinks that the social returns are negative. The policy implications of this will come as very bitter medicine for friends of Bernie Sanders.

Doubting the Null Hypothesis: http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/doubting-the-null-hypothesis/

Is higher education/college in the US more about skill-building or about signaling?: https://www.quora.com/Is-higher-education-college-in-the-US-more-about-skill-building-or-about-signaling
ballpark: 50% signaling, 30% selection, 20% addition to human capital
more signaling in art history, more human capital in engineering, more selection in philosophy

Econ Duel! Is Education Signaling or Skill Building?: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/03/econ-duel-is-education-signaling-or-skill-building.html
Marginal Revolution University has a brand new feature, Econ Duel! Our first Econ Duel features Tyler and me debating the question, Is education more about signaling or skill building?

Against Tulip Subsidies: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/06/against-tulip-subsidies/




Most American public school kids are low-income; about half are non-white; most are fairly low skilled academically. For most American kids, the majority of the waking hours they spend not engaged with electronic media are at school; the majority of their in-person relationships are at school; the most important relationships they have with an adult who is not their parent is with their teacher. For their parents, the most important in-person source of community is also their kids’ school. Young people need adult mirrors, models, mentors, and in an earlier era these might have been provided by extended families, but in our own era this all falls upon schools.

Caplan gestures towards work and earlier labor force participation as alternatives to school for many if not all kids. And I empathize: the years that I would point to as making me who I am were ones where I was working, not studying. But they were years spent working in schools, as a teacher or assistant. If schools did not exist, is there an alternative that we genuinely believe would arise to draw young people into the life of their community?


It is not an accident that the state that spends the least on education is Utah, where the LDS church can take up some of the slack for schools, while next door Wyoming spends almost the most of any state at $16,000 per student. Education is now the one surviving binding principle of the society as a whole, the one black box everyone will agree to, and so while you can press for less subsidization of education by government, and for privatization of costs, as Caplan does, there’s really nothing people can substitute for it. This is partially about signaling, sure, but it’s also because outside of schools and a few religious enclaves our society is but a darkling plain beset by winds.

This doesn’t mean that we should leave Caplan’s critique on the shelf. Much of education is focused on an insane, zero-sum race for finite rewards. Much of schooling does push kids, parents, schools, and school systems towards a solution ad absurdum, where anything less than 100 percent of kids headed to a doctorate and the big coding job in the sky is a sign of failure of everyone concerned.

But let’s approach this with an eye towards the limits of the possible and the reality of diminishing returns.

The real reason the left would support Moander: the usual reason. because he’s an enemy.

I have a problem in thinking about education, since my preferences and personal educational experience are atypical, so I can’t just gut it out. On the other hand, knowing that puts me ahead of a lot of people that seem convinced that all real people, including all Arab cabdrivers, think and feel just as they do.

One important fact, relevant to this review. I don’t like Caplan. I think he doesn’t understand – can’t understand – human nature, and although that sometimes confers a different and interesting perspective, it’s not a royal road to truth. Nor would I want to share a foxhole with him: I don’t trust him. So if I say that I agree with some parts of this book, you should believe me.


Caplan doesn’t talk about possible ways of improving knowledge acquisition and retention. Maybe he thinks that’s impossible, and he may be right, at least within a conventional universe of possibilities. That’s a bit outside of his thesis, anyhow. Me it interests.

He dismisses objections from educational psychologists who claim that studying a subject improves you in subtle ways even after you forget all of it. I too find that hard to believe. On the other hand, it looks to me as if poorly-digested fragments of information picked up in college have some effect on public policy later in life: it is no coincidence that most prominent people in public life (at a given moment) share a lot of the same ideas. People are vaguely remembering the same crap from the same sources, or related sources. It’s correlated crap, which has a much stronger effect than random crap.

These widespread new ideas are usually wrong. They come from somewhere – in part, from higher education. Along this line, Caplan thinks that college has only a weak ideological effect on students. I don’t believe he is correct. In part, this is because most people use a shifting standard: what’s liberal or conservative gets redefined over time. At any given time a population is roughly half left and half right – but the content of those labels changes a lot. There’s a shift.

I put it this way, a while ago: “When you think about it, falsehoods, stupid crap, make the best group identifiers, because anyone might agree with you when you’re obviously right. Signing up to clear nonsense is a better test of group loyalty. A true friend is with you when you’re wrong. Ideally, not just wrong, but barking mad, rolling around in your own vomit wrong.”
You just explained the Credo quia absurdum doctrine. I always wondered if it was nonsense. It is not.
Someone on twitter caught it first – got all the way to “sliding down the razor blade of life”. Which I explained is now called “transitioning”

What Catholics believe: https://theweek.com/articles/781925/what-catholics-believe
We believe all of these things, fantastical as they may sound, and we believe them for what we consider good reasons, well attested by history, consistent with the most exacting standards of logic. We will profess them in this place of wrath and tears until the extraordinary event referenced above, for which men and women have hoped and prayed for nearly 2,000 years, comes to pass.

According to Caplan, employers are looking for conformity, conscientiousness, and intelligence. They use completion of high school, or completion of college as a sign of conformity and conscientiousness. College certainly looks as if it’s mostly signaling, and it’s hugely expensive signaling, in terms of college costs and foregone earnings.

But inserting conformity into the merit function is tricky: things become important signals… because they’re important signals. Otherwise useful actions are contraindicated because they’re “not done”. For example, test scores convey useful information. They could help show that an applicant is smart even though he attended a mediocre school – the same role they play in college admissions. But employers seldom request test scores, and although applicants may provide them, few do. Caplan says ” The word on the street… [more]
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Realignment: Will America Forge A New Political Consensus [NEW] - YouTube
Thiel: "When lip-service preachers [of ideology] stop receiving subsidies for spreading gospel, we'll see how much they really believe in it."

Bill Kristol comes out looking like an ass (and picks Obama trumpeting pulling out of Iraq of all things was an example of "demagoguery"...)

also like the comment about "'populism' being democracy by people you don't like". dude was kinda soporific otherwise.
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Lee Kuan Yew versus the SIA Strikers - YouTube
"Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards! This is your life and mine! I've spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I'm in charge, nobody is going to knock it down."
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations | SpringerLink
- Michael A. Woodley

We argue that in social species, interorganismal gene-gene interactions, which in previous literatures have been termed social epistasis, allow genomes carrying deleterious mutations to reduce via group-level pleiotropy the fitness of others, including noncarriers. This fitness reduction occurs by way of degradation of group-level processes that optimize the reproductive ecology of a population for intergroup competition through, among other mechanisms, suppression of free-riding.


Fitness indicators theory (Houle 2000; Miller 2000) predicts that the behavioral and physiological condition of prospective partners strongly influences female mate choice in particular, as these constitute honest indicators of underlying genetic quality. Furthermore, as deleterious mutations are pleiotropic (i.e., they can influence the development of multiple traits simultaneously), they are a source of genetic correlation among diverse behavioral and physiological domains, yielding a latent general fitness factor( f ). This optimizes the efficiency of sexual selection, as selection for quality with respect to one domain will increase the probability of selection for quality “across the board” (Houle 2000; Miller 2000). If purifying selection is primarily cryptic—working by virtue of those lower in f simply being less successful in competition for mates and therefore producing fewer offspring relative to those higher in the factor—then considerably less reproductive failure is needed to solve the mutation load paradox (19% instead of 88% based on simulations in Leseque et al. 2012).


Theoretical work involving humans suggests a loss of intrinsic fitness of around 1% per generation in the populations of modernized countries (Lynch 2016; Muller 1950). Thus, these might yet be undergoing mutational meltdown, albeit very gradually (i.e., over the course of centuries)


An interesting observation is that the fitness of the populations of modernized nations does appear to be rapidly decreasing—although not in a manner consonant with the direct action of deleterious mutations on the fitness of individuals (as per the mutation load paradox).


Increased education has furthermore encouraged individuals to trade fertility against opportunities to enhance their social status and earning power, with the largest fitness losses occurring among those with high status who potentially carry fewer deleterious mutations (i.e., by virtue of possessing higher levels of traits that exhibit some sensitivity to mutation load, such as general intelligence; Spain et al. 2015; Woodley of Menie et al. 2016a). Hitherto not considered is the possibility that the demographic transition represents a potential change in the fitness characteristics of the group-level extended phenotype of modernized populations, indicating that there might exist pathways through which deleterious mutations that accumulate due to ecological mildness could pathologically alter fertility tradeoffs in ways that might account for the maladaptive aspects of the fertility transition (e.g., subreplacement fertility; Basten, Lutz and Scherbov, 2013).


Cooperation, though offering significant fitness benefits to individual organisms and groups, involves some costs for cooperators in order to realize mutual gains for all parties. Free riders are individuals that benefit from cooperation without suffering any of the costs needed to sustain it. Hence, free riders enjoy a fitness advantage relative to cooperators via the former’s parasitism on the latter.


The balance of selection can alternate between the different levels depending on the sorts of selective challenges that a population encounters. For example, group selection may operate on human populations during times of intergroup conflict (i.e., warfare), whereas during times of peace, selection may tend to favor the fitness of individuals instead (Woodley and Figueredo 2013; Wilson 2002). A major factor that seems to permit group-level selection to be viable under certain ecological regimes is the existence of free-rider controls, i.e., features of the group’s social ecology that curb the reproductive fitness of the carriers of “selfish” genetic variants (MacDonald 1994; Wilson 2002).


High-status individuals participate in the generation and vertical cultural transmission of free-rider controls—these take the form of religious and ideological systems which make a virtue out of behaviors that overtly benefit the group, and a vice out of those that only favor individual-level fitness, via the promotion of ethnocentrism, martyrdom, and displays of commitment (MacDonald 1994, 2009, 2010; Wilson 2002). Humans are furthermore equipped with specialized mental adaptations for coordinating as part of a group, such as effortful control—the ability to override implicit behavioral drives via the use of explicit processing systems, which allow them to regulate their behavior based on what is optimal for the group (MacDonald 2008). The interaction between individuals of different degrees of status, i.e., those that generate and maintain cultural norms and those who are merely subject to them, therefore constitutes a form of social epistasis, as the complex patterns of interactions among genomes that characterize human culture have the effect of regulating both individual- and group-level (via the curbing of free-riding) fitness (MacDonald 2009, 2010).

Mutations that push the behavior of high-status individuals away from the promotion of group-selected norms may promote a breakdown of or otherwise alter these social epistatic interactions, causing dysregulation of the group’s reproductive ecology. Behavioral changes are furthermore a highly likely consequence of mutation accumulation, as “behavior” (construed broadly) is a large potential target for new mutations (Miller 2000; Lynch 2016) 1 owing to the fact that approximately 84% of all genes in the human genome are involved in some aspect of brain development and/or maintenance (Hawrylycz et al. 2012).

Consistent with the theorized role of group-level (cultural) regulatory processes in the maintenance of fitness optima, positive correlations exist between religiosity (a major freerider control; MacDonald 1994; Wilson 2002) and fertility, both at the individual differences and cross-cultural levels (Meisenberg 2011). Religiosity has declined in modernized nations—a process that has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of a values system called postmaterialism (Inglehart 1977), which is characterized by the proliferation of individualistic, secular, and antihierarchical values (Welzel 2013). The holding of these values is negatively associated with fertility, both at the individual level (when measured as political liberalism; Goldstone et al. 2011) and across time and cultures (Inglehart and Appel 1989). The rise of postmaterialist values is also associated with increasingly delayed onset of reproduction (Klien 1990) which directly increases the (population) mutation load.

Pathological Altruism

Some of the values embodied in postmaterialism have been linked to the pathological altruism phenomenon, i.e., forms of altruism that damage the intended recipients or givers of largesse (Oakley et al. 2012; Oakley 2013). Virtues associated with altruism such as kindness, fidelity, magnanimity, and heroism, along with quasi-moral traits associated with personality and mental health, may be under sexual selection and might therefore be sensitive, through the f factor, to the deleterious effects of accumulating mutations (Miller 2007).


Another form of pathologically altruistic behavior that Oakley (2013) documents is self-righteousness, which may be increasing, consistent with secular trend data indicating elevated levels of self-regarding behavior among Western populations (sometimes called the narcissism epidemic; Twenge and Campbell 2009). This sort of behavior constitutes a key component of the clever silly phenomenon in which the embrace of counterfactual beliefs is used to leverage social status via virtue signaling (e.g., the conflation of moral equality among individuals, sexes, and populations with biological equality) (Dutton and van der Linden 2015; Charlton 2009; Woodley 2010). There may be a greater number of influential persons inclined to disseminate such beliefs, in that the prevalence of phenotypes disposed toward egoistic behaviors may have increased in Western populations (per Twenge and coworkers’ research), and because egoists, specifically Machiavellians and narcissists, appear advantaged in the acquisition of elite societal stations (Spurk et al. 2015).

[Do Bad Guys Get Ahead or Fall Behind? Relationships of the Dark Triad of Personality With Objective and Subjective Career Success: http://sci-hub.tw/http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550615609735

After controlling for other relevant variables (i.e., gender, age, job tenure, organization size, education, and work hours), narcissism was positively related to salary, Machiavellianism was positively related to leadership position and career satisfaction, and psychopathy was negatively related to all analyzed outcomes.]


By altering cultural norms, elite egoists may encourage the efflorescence of selfish behaviors against which some older and once highly influential cultural systems acted. For example, Christianity in various forms strongly promoted personal sacrifice for the good of groups and proscribed egoistic behaviors (Rubin 2015), but has declined significantly in terms of cultural power following modernization (Inglehart 1977). Thus, it is possible that a feedback loop exists wherein deleterious mutation accumulation raises population levels of egoism, either directly or indirectly, via the breakdown of developmental constraints on personality canalization; the resultantly greater number of egoists are then able to exploit relevant personality traits to attain positions of sociocultural influence; and through these … [more]
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Our Demographic Decline - The Daily Beast
Hypothesis: to slow demographic/cultural transformation,no ideology will make any difference,only rich/powerful people having huge families.
You can keep one or two kids walled off from a decaying society,if you have enough money and connections. You can't do that with eight kids.
I don't worship Elon Musk,but it seems nonaccidental that only plutocrat with any kind of vital or inspiring vision of the future has 5 kids

Demographics, Robots, and AI | Elon Musk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA4ydDUsgJU
- TFRs about 50% of replacement throughout much of Europe. what's that gonna do to society?
- like the comment about people needing to develop a sense of duty to reproduce.

I think I think demographics is is a real issue where people are not having kids in a lot of countries and very often they'll say I'll solve it with immigration. Immigration from where?! If...Europe has an average of many plots...Europe have an average of of a 50 or six...you know they're only at fifty or sixty percent of what's needed for replacement or China for that matter they're at half replacement rate where exactly are we going to find six hundred million people to replace the ones that were never born. I think people are going to have to regard to some degree than the notion of having kids as almost a social duty. Within reason, I mean just if you can and you're so inclined you should, you should. You know it's like otherwise civilization will just die literally.

that's true of older generation of, eg, NYT writers but I think this new crop will just have fewer kids, be less hypocritical, more terrible

Many of the smartest people I know are quietly giving up on America. They don't see viable future. Very troubling.
They are choosing "exit" instead of voice. Abandoning politics. This takes many forms:
>denialism - tuning it out; moving to the country or gated community
>localism - rebuilding at local levels
>futurism - embracing tech to build the future
>nihilism - not voting; drugs
People point to American resilience throughout history. They view this period of time as different for a variety of reasons: debt, demographics, cultural decline, destructive technology, etc. Late-stage empire decline.

that netouyo__ comment (deleeted) about 'The Sopranos' and how the subtext was that we're at the end of America, not the beginning
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: The joy of Turkheimer
In the talk Turkheimer gives the following definition of social science, which emphasizes why it is hard:

Social science is the attempt to explain the causes of complex human behavior when:
- There are a large number of potential causes.
- The potential causes are non-independent.
- Randomized experimentation is not possible.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
A computer program used for bail and sentencing decisions was labeled biased against blacks. It’s actually not that clear. - The Washington Post
How We Analyzed the COMPAS Recidivism Algorithm: https://www.propublica.org/article/how-we-analyzed-the-compas-recidivism-algorithm
Automatic Justice: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/automatic-justice/
A.I. ‘BIAS’ DOESN’T MEAN WHAT JOURNALISTS SAY IT MEANS: https://jacobitemag.com/2017/08/29/a-i-bias-doesnt-mean-what-journalists-want-you-to-think-it-means/
When a journalist discusses bias, they typically do not mean it in the same manner that statisticians do. As described in the examples above, a journalist typically uses the term “bias” when an algorithm’s output fails to live up to the journalist’s ideal reality.
Machine Learning and Human Bias: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59bMh59JQDo
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november 2016 by nhaliday
"Design Patterns" Aren't
The "design patterns" movement in software claims to have been inspired by the works of architect Christopher Alexander. But an examination of Alexander's books reveals that he was actually talking about something much more interesting.

patterns in Alexander sense = vocabulary not dogma
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november 2016 by nhaliday
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