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Tom Everitt
Math student, interested in (artificial, general) intelligence and consciousness.
Math student, interested in (artificial, general) intelligence and consciousness.

Tom's posts

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This paradox keeps perplexing me :-) 

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Elinor Ostrom's solution to the prisoners' dilemma/the tragedy of the commons, from Governing the Commons

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This one's hilarious. And check out his next post as well 
UPDATE: Today was a crazy day regarding this post - Shoppers Drug Mart contacted me trying to identify who sent it, and a few news outlets too!
The writer identified himself as Mark Oliver - - I did not know him before this. This is just a happy, magical interaction that took place, and I wish him the best in his writing. This was a lot of fun!


Hi guys,

I received a piece of mail today in my mailbox with your letterhead on it. At first I was alarmed, because any mail with "drug" in the title immediately raises a red flag with me, but then I looked you guys up and saw you were legit, so that's not my concern.

No, my concern today is that the piece of mail was addressed to someone, Matthew [REDACTED],who is not currently a resident of this house, [REDACTED].

Naturally, I can draw one of two conclusions from this: 1) that Matthew is a previous resident of this address, and has not updated his address information with your system for over 3 years (the approximate time that I've lived here), in which case, please contact him about his up-to-date address information, and send no further mail to this address. Or 2), and I may be going out on a limb here, Matthew is a future resident of this address, and seemingly against the laws of causation, your computer system has this information, and prematurely mailed an advertisement to him before he's actually lived here.
It's this second case that I really need to delve into here, and again, hey, maybe it's a long-shot, but I have many questions about the future, and generally don't like passing up opportunities to address them to those who might have the answers.
Is this future address retrieval the result of some one-time glitch, or is it repeatable? Are the conditions to repeat it known? If the answer is no, I can maybe help you find out how it happened, but I'll need access to your lab.
Has anything other than an address come from the future through this computer system? Dire warnings? Advanced technology schematics? Again, they may be difficult to interpret, and I'm pretty handy with reverse-engineering things, so access to your lab is probably required if you want me to have a look.
I'm kind of on the edge of my seat here, and my brain is frantic with possibilities for what we could do with this time-gateway you may or may not have unlocked. If it turns out the course of history is indeed pliable, not fixed, then we can maybe avoid future disasters and get a real taste of utopia in a mere matter of years. This would, all in all, be very favourable press for the Shoppers Drug Mart brand, and would definitely allow citizens like me to overlook the fact that the word "drug" is in your name.

Any info I can get about this would be most helpful. I work full-time, so access to your lab would need to fall around work hours - I'm sure we can figure something out.

Thanks! And here's to a glorious tomorrow!

[EDIT: Updated with their fun response]

Hello Andrew,

Thank you for writing us. We apologize if you have been receiving mail from Shoppers Drug Mart that was addressed to another customer. Unfortunately, we cannot comment on any research projects that we may currently be conducting. However, we would appreciate it if you could provide us with some additional information that would help us determine when the mailer you received was sent. Could you please let us know if it contained any of the following advertisements?

1)     Now at Shoppers Drug Mart: Everexis
Cure any disease instantly with Everexis! Great for headaches, colds, cancer and more! With no known side effects, nothing can possibly go wrong!

2)     20X The Points on Meat Products
Got the Everexis munchies? Fill your strange and unspeakable hunger and get 20X The Points!

3)     20% Off Everexis Antidote
Everexis left you slow, lumbering, and quick to anger? Take the Everexis antidote. It hasn't been fully tested, but it certainly can't make things any worse!

4)     Hide in a Shoppers Drug Mart Refugee Shelter
With over 1,200 locations still standing across Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart is the ideal place to hold up and hide from the hoard. Ration Nativa Cheese Puffs and Life Brand Vitamins while you wait for rescue! Blood samples will be required for admittance.

5)     Wheat, Glorious Wheat
Exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart! Rebuild society with wheat, a traditional non-synthetic foodstuff from the before-times. Act fast, as quantities are extremely limited.

If you did not see any of these promotions, please disregard this message. We will simply update our customer database. As our mailers are often sent out in advance, you may still receive additional mail over the next few weeks. We appreciate your patience while the update is processed.

Shoppers Drug Mart Customer Service

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I like this guy's idea of local consistency.

"...Admittedly this belief is based on a somewhat unorthodox view of formal systems, according to which such systems should be seen not as unordered ("random access") sets of  syllogisms, but as structured spaces, with each layer of implicated objects representing a region, and the implications representing connections between different regions.  The space may even possess a kind of metric, although "distances" are not necessarily commutative.  For example, the implicative distance from an integer to its prime factors is greater than the implicative distance from those primes to their product. According to this view a formal system does not degenerate into complete nonsense simply because at some point it contains a contradiction.  A system may be "locally" consistent even if it is not globally consistent.  To give a crude example, suppose we augment our normal axioms and definitions of arithmetic with the statement that a positive integer n is prime if and only if  2n - 2 is divisible by n.  This axiom conflicts with our existing definition of a prime, but the first occurrence of a conflict is 341.  Thus, over a limited range of natural numbers the  axiom system possesses 'local consistency'."

"....The answer is that although Kash is globally inconsistent, it possesses a high degree of local consistency.  Traveling from any given premise (such as 5+7) directly to the evaluation (e.g., 12), we are very unlikely to encounter the inconsistency.  Of course, in a perfectly consistent system we could take any of the infinitely many paths from 5+7 to the evaluation and we would always arrive at the same result, which is clearly not true within Kash (in which we could, by round-about formal manipulations, evaluate 5+7 to be -3511.1093, or any other value we wanted).  Nevertheless, for almost all paths leading from a given premise to its evaluation, the result is the same.
Now consider our formal system of arithmetic.  Many people seem agog at the suggestion that our formalization of arithmetic might possibly be inconsistent at some point.  Clearly our arithmetic must possess a very high degree of local consistency, because otherwise we would have observed anomalies long before now.  However, are we really justified in asserting that every one of the infinitely many paths from every premise to its evaluation gives the same result?"

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Dunning-Kruger Effect in Action

When you think you understand something, write out your understanding and reevaluate it.

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This guy has consistently fabricated data for 10 years - 55+ articles, some in Science - and even become Dean at his university in the process. He hasn't collected real data for any experiment for 10 years!
"...a fascinating tale about the Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel, who fudged data for dozens of papers—data comporting with people’s intuitive ideas about human nature—and became famous along the way.  He eventually got caught and fired."

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A 'just-works' linux laptop. Cool.

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"It is pretty clear to anyone who’s paying attention that 1. a marketplace regime of firms dedicated to maximizing profit has—broadly speaking—added a lot of value to the world 2. there are a lot of important cases where corporate profit maximization causes harm to humans 3. corporations are—broadly speaking—really good at ensuring that their needs are met.

I don’t think that it’s all that far fetched to suggest that maybe they’re getting better and better at ensuring their needs are met. Pretty much the only thing that the left and right in America can agree on is that moneyed influence has corrupted American politics and yet neither side seems able to do much of anything about it."
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