Wiki Contributions


Also re: the images on the website, is it intentional that images in the gallery view (i.e. when clicking on an image) are so small? It seems a bit weird that the image width in the gallery is apparently fixed to 800 px, to the point that I can't make out many details, and yet most raw images are much much larger.

I didn't realize this at first, but the linked website has a lot more photos.

Beyond that, the survey wasn't aiming to allow people to symbolically act out their responses or to reject the frame in an unambiguous way. Insisting that you get to register that you saw it but didn't like it feels like insisting that you get to participate, but in your own way, rather than simply not engaging if you don't like it.

Well, personally speaking, I've already spent more time on my comments here than were warranted by my initial annoyance. So if I consider just myself, then choosing not to vote, followed by registering that non-vote in a comment, was of course a sufficient (albeit time-consuming) way to object.

However, looking at this comment thread by Said shows that besides me, at least three other people (EDIT: here's one more) had problems with the framing and hence didn't vote. But because there was no "mu" option, we'll never know whether the proportion of those people was 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 50%, 90%, or whatever. That I continue to find unfortunate, and a "mu" option would've remedied this problem.

Can you elaborate on this?

Petrov Day has a variety of themes. A few comments here endorse the unilateralist interpretation, but insofar as another thematic connection is conscientious objection or resisting social pressure, the following argument applies:

You offered the option "resist social pressure". As I argued, this option doesn't really work, in that picking it doesn't really mean what it sounds like. It's like giving someone the options "think inside the box" or "think outside the box". Then choosing the latter is not a sign of creativity, just like choosing the option "resist social pressure" is not sufficiently (honoring the virtue of) resisting social pressure, because by picking it you're ultimately still conforming to the frame you've been given. I don't know if this point resonates, but I feel pretty strongly about it.

(Relatedly, it's in some sense harder to resist the social pressure of your own peer group than that of the broader society.)

Anyway, due to the above, if you want an option to actually symbolize <resist social pressure>, then options like "mu" or "do not participate" imo work much better than the explicit description "resist social pressure", because these alternatives let people answer without needing to buy into the provided frame.

There was no intention to be leading in the responses, nor to corral for any particular response.

Sure, I get that. But the result also matters. I predict that, if you presented the parts I quoted from the survey message to a random sample of the university-educated population, and asked them whether they thought the poll was biased, >50% would say yes. Doubly so if you also showed them the lopsided survey results.

Anyway, if the first message had been presented as a pick-your-team exercise, I indeed would've been somewhat less frustrated with it. Though even then, I don't think the team category "resist social pressure" or "be contrarian" ever works; it's an inherent contradiction. And as such, and in keeping with the Petrov Day theme, I maintain that it's important to offer a true "mu" option, or a "do not participate".

And insofar as one is inevitably tempted to interpret the results, while you do mention "there's non-zero bits even in an imperfect survey", your post does some interpretation but imo without sufficiently acknowledging the imperfection, which I don't think is particularly conducive to painting an epistemically accurate picture. For example, without the "mu" option, we don't even know which fraction of LWers who saw that message actually picked an option!

I saw the poll, found it really yucky, and thus didn't answer it. I like LW for mostly staying on low simulacrum levels, and this poll felt like anything but. In more detail:

"Today is Petrov Day! A day celebrating that the world didn’t end, and the virtues that helped it not end. There’s been a lot of discussion." [...]

Virtue A – Avoiding actions that noticeably increase the chance that civilization is destroyed [...]

Virtue D – Resisting social pressure

  1. So the poll begins with an explanation of Petrov Day, and then leads with that as the first answer. This felt like one of those television thingies where they aren't allowed to just enter you into a giveaway, and instead make you answer a question like "The president of the US is X. Who is the president of the US?", so that it's considered a game of skill, rather than pure chance. This kind of yucky Dark Arts style of leading questions is common, but I expect much more from LW.
    1. Another leading / biasing aspect: Virtue A is by far the longest answer, and on my screen is the only one that covers two lines rather than one.
  2. Anyway, having decided that I don't like the poll, there's no option for me to pick. Since the poll is so transparently biased towards making people pick Virtue A, even if I would've answered that in other circumstances, that's not an option now. And choosing Virtue D is not "resisting social pressure", it's conforming to the social pressure of answering a flawed poll. Where was my option for "I'm cranky and this poll is stupid"?
  3. Or if not that, then where was the option for "I saw the poll but don't want to answer it?". Twitter polls often have that, so that people don't just pick an option at random to see the results.
  4. Due to the lack of such a "mu" option, conscientious objection to the event didn't work well this time, in contrast to some previous Petrov Day celebrations, where "do nothing" was a legitimate option.
    1. There's something ironic about the poll rewarding answers of the form "avoiding actions", while actually punishing the avoidance of action.

Anyway, overall, I really didn't like this.

More stuff:

He co-initiated the framework program "New Frameworks of Rationality" (German Wikipedia, German-only website) which seems to have been active in 2012~2018. Their lists of publications and conferences are in English, as are most of the books in this list.

(Incidentally, there's apparently a book called Von Rang und Namen: Philosophical Essays in Honour of Wolfgang Spohn.)

And since 2020, he leads this project on Reflexive Decision & Game Theory (longer outline). The site doesn't list any results of this project, but presumably some of Spohn's papers since 2020 are related to this topic.

The Koselleck project explores reflexive decision and game theory. Standard decision and game theory distinguish only chance nodes (moves by nature) and action nodes (possible actions of the agent or player, usually and confusingly called decision nodes). The reflexive extensions additionally distinguish genuine decision nodes referring to possible decision situations (decision or game trees plus probability and utility functions) the agent may be in or come to be in. Thus, these decision nodes generate a rich recursive structure. This structure is required, though. Surely, we agents not only rationally act within a given decision situation, but are also able to reflect on the possible situations which might be ours and thus about what determines or causes our actions. And clearly, such reflection is important for rational decision making.

The reflexive extension allows for a general account of anticipatory rationality, i.e., of how to rationally behave in view of arbitrary envisaged changes in one's decision situation (so far income­pletely treated under the labels “strategic rationality” and “endogenous preference change”). The extension also allows us to account for what is called sensitive rationality, which considers a so far largely neglected point, namely the fact that being in a certain situation not only causes the pertinent rational action, but may have side effects as well (as exemplified in the Toxin puzzle). This fact is ubiquitous in social settings, and it is highly decision relevant and can obviously be accounted for only in the reflexive perspective. Moreover, the extension also allows us to respect the point that it is a matter of our decision when to decide about a certain issue, e.g., whether to commit early or to decide as late as possible. This leads to an account of so-called commissive rationality possibly rationalizing our inclination to commit ourselves. Finally, in the game theoretic extension suggested by the phenomenon of sensitive rationality, the reflexive perspective leads to a new equilibrium concept called dependency equilibria, which, e.g., allows a rationalization of cooperation in the one-shot prisoners' dilemma and promises a kind of unification of noncooperative and cooperative game theory.

Having searched for "Spohn" on LW, it appears that Spohn was already mentioned a few times on LW. In particular:

11 years ago, in lukeprog's post Eliezer's Sequences and Mainstream Academia (also see bits of this Wei Dai comment here, and of this long critical comment thread here):

I don't think Eliezer had encountered this mainstream work when he wrote his articles

Eliezer's TDT decision algorithm (2009, 2010) had been previously discovered as a variant of CDT by Wolfgang Spohn (2003, 2005, 2012). Both TDT and Spohn-CDT (a) use Pearl's causal graphs to describe Newcomblike problems, then add nodes to those graphs to represent the deterministic decision process the agent goes through (Spohn calls them "intention nodes," Yudkowsky calls them "logical nodes"), (b) represent interventions at these nodes by severing (edit: or screening off) the causal connections upstream, and (c) propose to maximize expected utility by summing over possible values of the decision node (or "intention node" / "logical node"). (Beyond this, of course, there are major differences in the motivations behind and further development of Spohn-CDT and TDT.)

And the comments here on the MIRI paper "Cheating Death in Damascus" briefly mention Spohn.

Finally, a post from a few months ago also mentions Spohn:

I introduce dependency equilibria (Spohn 2007), an equilibrium concept suitable for ECL, and generalize a folk theorem showing that the Nash bargaining solution is a dependency equilibrium.

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