No really, what’s the expected value of a startup?

In the effective altruism community, there’s a lot of interest in tech startups, because they look like an especially promising avenue for people who are earning to give. This is because if your reason for wanting money is to donate it to charity, the marginal value of your money declines slower, so it makes sense [Read More...]

Thoughts on CFAR

In spite of my criticisms of the LessWrong subculture, I’ve been contemplating going to a CFAR workshop for awhile now. I thought I’d type up my reasons for doing this. First, for people who don’t know what CFAR does, this is from the CFAR website: The Center for Applied Rationality is a nonprofit founded to [Read More...]

“Negatives” aren’t special

The oft-repeated claim that you can’t prove a negative is, frankly, dumb. Really, really dumb. It implies that you can’t prove Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, but you can prove he stayed dead. I’m not just being flippant. Negative statements always imply positive statements and vice-versa. If p is true, not-p must be false. [Read More...]

Bankroll management for entrepreneurs

Edit: After writing this post, I thought more about the topic and realized the entrepreneurial equivalent of good bankroll management is obviously “minimizing your burn rate.” So I’m kind of re-inventing the wheel here, but I think there are benefits to thinking about burn rate from a gambling perspective. Among professional gamblers, there’s a concept [Read More...]

The Christian right is in retreat, but don’t expect an atheist president any time soon

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Atheist community here. In the past, I’ve written about how the Republican party is going to have to pivot away from reliance on the religious right fairly soon. Indeed, in my last post [Read More...]

How effectively can we influence the far future?

The future, as Criswell was fond of saying, is where we will all spend the rest of our lives. And not only us but countless trillions of people who have yet to be born. At least potentially—that “countless trillions” assumes can avoid blowing ourselves up first. This suggests that anything we can do now to [Read More...]

In defense of Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy

In the comments on my Give me your philosophical questions! post, Vladimir Nesov said: I’d appreciate recommendations of sane first textbooks in any of the main topics, including history. Vladimir is a moderator at LessWrong, where Luke Muehlhauser has promoted textbooks as the best way to learn about any given subject. In fact, there’s a [Read More...]

Give me your philosophical questions!

I’ve decided to try an experiment with blogging a lot more about philosophy. How long this experiment goes on will depend in part on the response to it. If after testing the waters there seems to be not much demand, I’ll probably pack it in. If there turns out to be a huge amount of [Read More...]

Experts expect AI around mid-century, significant risk of bad outcomes

From a new paper by Nick Bostrom: These results should be taken with some grains of salt, but we think it is fair to say that the results show an agreement among experts that AI systems will probably reach overall human ability around 2040-50, certainly (with 90% probability) by 2075. From reaching human ability, it [Read More...]