Scrapbook photo 1
Scrapbook photo 2
Scrapbook photo 3
Scrapbook photo 4
8,631 followers|1,372,747 views



Computer security  - 
I figure some of you may be interested in the Bitcoin's use in politics (and how computer security concepts intersect with regulatory concepts).
Our summary & comments on the 2 FEC #Bitcoin drafts are @

You're welcome to join our live hangout on Apr 23 @
Fidem Turbāre's profile photo
Add a comment...


Shared publicly  - 
Sai's profile photoGlenn Willen's profile photo
+Glenn Willen Well, we proposed some specific, fairly simple ways to address those issues, so hopefully it won't be a problem. We'll see on Wednesday. ;-)
Add a comment...


Shared publicly  - 
Another fun discussion w/ Yony. Go comment (& read comments) on OP. Sample from me:

"In fact, I think that's a viable path for answering your question: tell me how you, +Yonatan Zunger the fairly sentient probably-human, would recognize something that is as much more sentient than you as you are more sentient than a rabbit.

I suspect it's not possible."
A CS question that I don't know the answer to

A conversation on another thread raised an interesting question about computers that I can't figure out the answer to: Is judging a Turing Test easier than, harder than, or equivalently hard to passing a Turing Test?

I figured I would throw this question out to the various computer scientists in the audience, since the answer isn't at all clear to me -- a Turing Test-passer doesn't seem to automatically be convertible into a Turing Test-judger or vice-versa -- and for the rest of you, I'll give some of the backstory of what this question means.

So, what's a Turing Test?

The Turing Test was a method proposed by Alan Turing (one of the founders of computer science) to determine if something had a human-equivalent intelligence or not. In this test, a judge tries to engage both a human and a computer in conversation. The human and computer are hidden from the judge, and the conversation is over some medium which doesn't make it obvious which is which -- say, IM -- and the judge's job is simple: to figure out which is which. Turing's idea was that to reliably pass such a test would be evidence that the computer is of human-equivalent intelligence.

Today in CS, we refer to problems which require human-equivalent intelligence to solve as "AI-complete" problems; so Turing hypothesized that this test is AI-complete, and for several decades it was considered the prototypical AI-complete problem, even the definition of AI-completeness. In recent years, this has been cast into doubt as chatbots have gotten better and better at fooling people, doing everything from customer service to cybersex. However, this doubt might be real and it might not: another long-standing principle of AI research is that, whenever computers start to get good at a task that was historically considered AI, people redefine AI to be "oh, well, not that, even a computer can do it."

The reason a Turing Test is complicated is that to carry on a conversation requires a surprisingly complex understanding of the world. For example, consider the "wug test," which human children can pass starting from an extremely early age. You make up a new word, "wug," and explain what it means, then have conversations about it. In one classic example, the experimenter shows the kids a whiteboard, and rubs a sponge which he calls a "wug" across it, which (thanks to some dye) marks the board purple. Human children will spontaneously talk about "wugging" the board; but they will never say that they are "wugging" the sponge. (It turns out that this has to do with how, when we put together sentence structures, the grammar we use depends a lot on which object is being changed by the action. This is why you can "pour water into a glass" and "fill a glass with water," but never "pour a glass with water" or "fill water into a glass.") 

It turns out that even resolving what pronouns refer to is AI-complete. Consider the following dialogue:

Woman: I'm leaving you.
Man: ... Who is he?

If you're a fluent English speaker, you probably had no difficulty understanding this dialogue. So tell me: who does "he" refer to in the second sentence? And what knowledge did you need in order to answer that?

(If you want to learn more about this kind of cognitive linguistics, I highly recommend Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought [] as a good layman's introduction.)

In Turing's proposal, the test was always administered by a human: the challenge, after all, was to see if a computer could be good enough to fool a human into accepting it as one as well. But given that we're getting computers which are doing a not-bad job at these tests, I'm starting to wonder: how good would a computer be at identifying other computers?

It might be easier than passing a Turing Test. It could be that a computer could do a reasonable job of driving "ordinary" conversation off the rails (that being a common way of finding weaknesses in a Turing-bot) and, once a conversation had gone far enough away from what the computer attempting to pass the test could handle, its failures would become so obvious that it would be easy to identify.

It might be harder than passing a Turing Test. It's possible that we could prove that any working Turing Test administrator could use that skill to also pass such a test -- but not every Turing Test-passing bot could be an administrator. Such a proof isn't obvious to me, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Or it might be equivalently hard: either equivalent in the practical sense, that both would require AI-completeness, or equivalent in the deeper mathematical sense, that if you had a Turing Test-passing bot you could use it to build a Turing Test-administering bot and vice-versa. 

If there is a difference between the two, then this might prove useful: for example, if it's easier to build a judge than a test passer, then Turing Tests could be the new CAPTCHA. (Which was +Chris Stehlik's original suggestion that sparked this whole conversation) 

And either way, this might tell us something deep about the nature of intelligence.


Shared publicly  - 
The FEC just published its first draft opinion on our Bitcoin advisory opinion request:
Add a comment...


Shared publicly  - now on as well as, for when there's something more to say about an update than fits in a tweet. 
Sai's profile photoKelvin Jackson's profile photo
+Kelvin Jackson doh. Thanks.
Add a comment...
Quoting Pater Aletheias @ mefi since it's spot on:

" When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
--Matthew 8:18-20

It is fascinating that people who (probably) have no objection to seeing Jesus depicted as an executed criminal are scandalized to see him depicted as a homeless man. But it makes a certain kind of sense. Everyone knows that the crucifixion was unjust, and was undertaken willingly on behalf of others, so to see him crucified is a reminder of his virtues. How we think of the crucifixion is reasonably close to how the Bible portrays it.

But many Americans see poverty much differently than the New Testament does. For them, poverty is generally the just result of the individual sin of sloth, so homelessness is a sign that someone lacks virtue. For Jesus, poverty is generally the unjust result of the societal sins of greedy and oppression, so homelessness is a sign that the culture is corrupt and needs to be set right. His own homeless is akin to his crucifixion--a sacrifice willingly made, but necessitated by the sins of others, not his own. "

See also the apologia of the woman who called the cops on the Jesus statute:

… and a song by mefite flapjax about this:

/via +Alex Fink 
The bronze sculpture depicting Jesus huddled under a blanket on a park bench has provoked praise and complaints — and a call to the police — in its new North Carolina neighborhood.
Boris Borcic's profile photo
> It is fascinating that people who (probably) have no objection to seeing Jesus depicted as an executed criminal are scandalized to see him depicted as a homeless man.

// exactly my feeling, except I would replace "executed criminal" with "a man undergoing terminal supplice". Like, someone made to die slowly and painfully in a grotesque and humiliating position, to the point that postponing death becomes a demonstrative part of the punishment. 
Add a comment...
Have them in circles
8,631 people


Direct & liquid democracy, participatory budgeting  - 
Add a comment...


Shared publicly  - 
See first link in OP. Have fun trying to be maximally evil with tile-placement.
One of the few other 2048 variants out there which I think has genuine creative merit in mechanics is 8402, by Tom Hargreaves (= HEx).
In a sentence, it's 2048 with a role reversal: you place the new tiles, trying to thwart the play of the earlier 2048 AI[0].  Tom's inspiration for this was discussion at Hacker News[1] about whether it's really sensible that the AI uses minimax, and therefore plays conservatively fearing the worst, rather than (say) expectimax: well, in 8402, minimax is certainly correct!

Tom and I got talking earlier this week, and I was tickled to discover that we were mutual admirers of each others' variants.  (We were introduced through common friend +Ivan Baines whom I know through conlanging: it's a small-girth world!)  He had several good suggestions regarding #DIVE , such as versions over number fields (but shouldn't we do a signed integer version first?), and something that records games for playback in the interest of comparing our play-styles.  And of course we discussed what features an AI for DIVE should consider good in a position, though neither of us had any particularly clever ideas beyond keeping the set of seeds small.  What else would be good?

I've got some travel coming up and it'll be a little while before I have time to code anything more.  (But if you are inspired to fork it, the time has never been more now!)

Also, the score to beat(?) in DIVE now is Tom's 8494:

Add a comment...


Shared publicly  - 
'cause why not. (FWIW, the FEC already does live audio broadcast of open meetings, together with posting full recordings.)
+Sai will be appearing remotely before the Federal Election Commission to respond to any questions or comments they have regarding Make Your Laws' advisory opinion request about Bitcoin contributions to political committees.

We'll be broadcasting it live, and responding to questions afterwards from anyone who wants to join the hangout. (The join link will be posted on the hangout page once the meeting is over.)

See for more, including how you can comment to the FEC yourself.
This Hangout On Air is hosted by Make Your Laws. The live video broadcast will begin soon.
FEC Meeting about MYL's Bitcoin request (AO 2014-02)
Wed, April 23, 10:30 AM
Hangouts On Air

Add a comment...


Shared publicly  - 
Video finally up (with permission).

I still get a tingle at the standing ovation in the last segment — though also with a bit of a cringe. It's only because of my own privilege that such a suggestion is applauded, and that the under-represented majorities I spoke to support weren't fully represented in the first place (and/or didn't feel comfortable making a demand for fuller representational equality).
+Sai at the 2013 World Forum for Democracy at the Council of Europe (
Woozle Hypertwin's profile photoSai's profile photolee colleton's profile photo
+lee colleton Ah. Thanks. :-) I share that hope, and more to the point a hope that what I'm doing w/ MYL will make it happen. I guess we'll see.
Add a comment...
Have them in circles
8,631 people
Hi! My full name is Sai; my handle is saizai.

Right now, I'm primarily working on Make Your Laws (G+), a practical liquid democracy project. I also have CogSai (G+), a YouTube channel about cognitive science.

- I was twice suspended :-/

MYL disclaimer: things I post to my own stream are my own musings, not official positions on behalf of Make Your Laws. If I don't mention MYL, they're not even that, they're just my own personal political beliefs — something I do not mix with the non-partisan, systemic PoV I take with MYL. If you're reporting on MYL, please respect the difference; I do not want to be a public figure, and my personal political beliefs are not relevant.

If I know you outside G+, or if you have something interesting for us to talk about that hasn't come up in comments, please send me a private message. Unfortunately, I just get too many adds to track them. If I don't add you back, that's only a comment about my lack of mental bandwidth, not about you; I still enjoy good crunchy conversation, though.

About G+:

G+ games:
Mafia/Werewolf signup; games #1 #2 

I'm interested in lots and lots of things; this is only a small part of them. See my website for more:
Bragging rights
My full legal name is in fact just "Sai". I'm mononymous. And I have the shortest possible email:
Basic Information
In an open relationship
Other names
Sai Emrys, saizai
Sai's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
Scandinavia and the World

Because your country is weird too.

The Humble Frozen Synapse Bundle (pay what you want and help charity)

Pay what you want for some awesome games and help support two charities. All of the games are DRM-free and support Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

News: February 02, 2012. Indulge me. I'm starting to finally climb back in the saddle after about 2 weeks of travel and moving. So, the

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality Chapter 78: Taboo Tradeoffs ...

Chapter 78 of a Harry Potter - Drama/Humor fanfiction with characters Harry P. & Hermione G.. Petunia married a professor, and Harry gr

» Conlangery #12: Personal Names Conlangery Podcast

Conlangery #12: Personal Names. August 22, 2011 by admin 6 Comments. We have no Will today, but we do have Adam Skoog from Sweden. After a g


Analogous to the concept of genes is that of "memes." These are ideas, practices, and other cultural items that persist because of their abi

YouTube - Eminem Beautiful signed by DEF-EYES new video

Create AccountSign In. Home. BrowseMoviesUpload. Hey there, this is not a commercial interruption. You're using an outdated browser, whi

Vote Republican 50.0 - Oklahoma, by Roy Zimmerman

please subscribe to my mailing list - Also, Like me on Facebook:

Make Your Laws

This is what democracy looks like.

xkcd: Brand Identity

Permanent link to this comic: Image URL (for hotlinking/embedding): Se

Watsky & Mody- Man of Constant Sorrow ft. Dylan Saunders FREE EP DOWNLOAD Director- Jackson Adams - Executive Producer - Brad Si


Aaron is such a helpful guy...

Having It All

How peaceful would the world be if everyone had everything that they needed and wanted?

YouTube - The 21th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

Create AccountSign In. Home. BrowseMoviesUpload. Hey there, this is not a commercial interruption. You're using an outdated browser, whi

Jonathan Coulton opening for TMBG, 2/15/12 @ Lincoln Theater, Raleigh NC

Most of Jonathan Coulton's opening act. Unfortunately, the camera battery died, so it cuts out partway through one song, and is missing anot

YouTube - 'there are no gods' (3/3)

Create AccountSign In. Home. BrowseUpload. Hey there, this is not a commercial interruption. You're using an outdated browser, which You

Just for the Halibut

Just for the Halibut team for MIT Mystery Hunt and other Puzzle Hunts

YouTube - Michael Masley - Macworld 2008

Create AccountSign In. Home. BrowseMoviesUpload. Hey there, this is not a commercial interruption. You're using an outdated browser, whi