masque

masque wrote (edited )

If the word "corpse" was used to refer to living bodies as well as dead ones, then no one would find it weird to describe their own body as a corpse, because that would just be the normal usage of the word. Meaning is determined by usage.

Coincidentally, the English word "corpse" comes (via French) from the Latin corpus, which did regularly refer to any body regardless of alive-ness.

Come to think of it, does English even have a word that refers exclusively to a living body? Because "body" can also refer to a dead body.

On a similar note, there are lots of languages where "friend" or a variant can be used to refer to a platonic friend or a romantic partner (see e.g. "ami" vs "petit ami" in French). Even English has both platonic and romantic uses of "girlfriend".

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masque wrote (edited )

But no. Its going to be used by the states in attempts to gain power. At what point do researchers or scientists just say, "will this be necessary?"

The thing is, there is a division of labour between scientists and engineers. The scientists are interested in investigating the boundaries of what's possible in a general sense, but then software engineers come along and turn it into stuff that benefits those already in power.

Text generation (or, more precisely, language modeling) is interesting to academic researchers because

  • It's a challenging problem with lots of data available, which makes it a great testbed for investigating the limits of ML on sequential data more broadly.
  • Pre-training on language modeling can massively improve performance on pretty much any other NLP task you can think of (e.g. question answering, dialogue agents, translation, etc.).
  • Since language is a general tool for representing arbitrary abstract ideas, language understanding seems like one possible route to "general AI" (see e.g. GPT-3 achieving good results in the one-shot setting, potentially meaning that it can "figure out" tasks that it was not specifically trained on, which is something that has not been achieved with similar success in any other area; tbh I feel like this is a bit overblown, though).

There are plenty of reasons why people like me are excited about this stuff. The question is, to what extent are scientists liable for other people abusing their more general results?

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masque wrote (edited )

"Spiritual growth" is a super vague phrase. Different religions / belief systems have different conceptions of what the "spirit" is, and what would constitute "spiritual growth." To a christian it might mean "developing a closer relationship with God," while to a Buddhist it might mean "getting closer to achieving enlightenment and breaking the cycle of reincarnation" or something similar (I am not very familiar with Buddhism, so this is probably wrong). These seem to be totally different concepts.

Whenever someone claims that a particular practice is "good for spiritual health" without clearly situating the claim within a specific belief system, I find it very fishy. And I don't understand why some people engage in spiritual practices from multiple, incompatible belief systems that they don't otherwise believe in or have any real connection to.

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masque wrote (edited )

We would lose out on everything but the "formal sciences" (math, logic, theoretical CS, etc.) and certain branches of philosophy.

If you want to know about the natural world as it actually exists, you need your reasoning to be based to some extent on observations of the world. And while I mostly find the natural sciences quite boring when compared to math, CS, etc., I will begrudgingly admit that understanding how the actual world works is probably a good and useful thing.

EDIT: I will say, however, that I am a lot more confident in the knowledge gained through mathematics than in any empirical science (e.g. I am more confident in Kuratowski's Theorem than in the existence of electrons).

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masque wrote (edited )

The most plausible theory I've seen so far is that the system is specifically looking for subs made up primarily of former subscribers of a banned sub. So if the majority of genzanarchist subscribers were also chapotraphouse subscribers, the system would notice this and assume that the new sub was intended as a replacement for chapotraphouse.

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masque wrote

"This subreddit was banned due to a violation of Reddit’s content policy against creating or repurposing a sub to reconstitute or serve the same objective as a previously banned or quarantined subreddit."

Which makes no sense, because the previous subreddit was not banned or quarantined.

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masque OP wrote (edited )

I wasn't really thinking about climate refugees, more along the lines of the potential for civil war and/or more open & blatant political persecution. Climate refugees still feel like a longer time horizon thing, and not specifically unique to America/Canada.

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masque wrote

If carbon dioxide is a bullet, methane is a bomb. Odorless and invisible, it captures 86 times more heat than CO₂ over two decades and at least 25 times more over a century.

It kinda seems like lighting one of these things on fire, Fires-of-Kuwait-style, would both force someone to do something about it sooner and be better wrt greenhouse gas emissions in the short term. Hypothetically.

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masque wrote (edited )

I'd imagine that in the long run, being exposed to a wider variety of "alien-looking positions" might improve your skills in a general sense that would pay off even in conventional chess.

In machine learning, it's known that training on more varied data - even including variations that would never appear in the "real world" - can result in better performance on test data than just training on data that closely reflects the "real world". This is because such training avoids overfitting (or memorization) of the training data - which, in human terms, seems analogous to the problem of tediously memorizing openings that you're concerned about in chess.

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masque wrote

I don't think the paradox of tolerance is particularly built in to Raddle as a platform or a community, but I've seen it brought up by Raddle users (or internet leftists in general) fairly often, which is why I thought it would be relevant.

Obviously, "tolerating" intolerant views can, in practice, lead to those who are targeted by said views being excluded (or worse), which is definitely a problem. But it's only paradoxical if you think of "tolerance" as an ideal aimed at bringing about a tolerant world, rather than an ideal about how people ought to behave. The "paradox" implies that total tolerance of everyone is impossible when in reality it might only be impractical or dangerous, which are still problems, but not of the same logical calibre.

I think there are other, better arguments for the sort of moderation practices that Raddle has.

With respect to nonviolence, my concern really applies to both arguments. If someone genuinely believes that violence is intrinsically wrong, then arguing that they should actively accept/participate in a diversity of tactics that includes violence is not that different (to them) from just directly trying to convince them to engage in violence; in both cases, an argument based primarily on effectiveness misses the mark.

On the other hand, if someone's preference for nonviolence is motivated by their own beliefs about effectiveness (e.g. "violence is bad optics"), or just some vague personal reluctance/fear, then the diversity of tactics argument could go through.

I'm personally on the fence about pacifism currently. I used to be strictly pacifist back when I was more religious, but now I'm agnostic & unsure about a lot of moral questions.

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masque wrote (edited )

I don't have a very consequentialist/results-oriented approach to ethics, which leads me to not be very convinced by a) the "paradox of tolerance" argument against a broad interpretation of free speech, and b) the "nonviolence is ineffective" argument against pacifism.

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masque wrote

I've experienced forest-fire-induced orange skies before, and I found it very impression-forming (Impressive? Impressionnant? I can't think of a good word here). So I understand the impulse to want to see it.

I feel similarly about thunder & lightning. I'm used to living in environments where we just don't get thunder storms, but I recently moved to somewhere that does get them, and I still haven't gotten over the impulse to just drop what I'm doing, crack open a window so I can hear the thunder better, and watch for lightning for minutes at a time.

Relevant comic

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