Technically Exists

Should you pursue common or rare achievements?

2018-07-21

Recently I’ve been considering what video game achievements are most worth aiming for. Specifically, the question is whether I should go after common achievements or rare achievements. I’d been targeting rare achievements, but it occurred to me that I might be better off going after common ones instead.

One reason to pursue common achievements is that they’re generally lower-hanging fruit. All else equal, the easier an achievement is, the more people will have it. Thus, if you simply want to maximize the number of achievements you have, going after more common achievements seems like the way to go. Occasionally a rare achievement may seem just as easy, but that shouldn’t be your main focus, only a possibility that you pursue as it comes up.

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Why discuss superintelligence?

2018-07-01

My site now contains a miscellaneous section with exactly one page, the Superintelligence reference page. I’ve briefly brought up superintelligence in the past, but I’ve never discussed it in detail. However, given that others have already written so much about it, I feel like it makes more sense to collect the resources I think do a good job of explaining it. Therefore, if you have no idea what superintelligence is or why you should care about it, I’d recommend starting with some of the links in the Introductions section before reading on.

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My thoughts on Microsoft acquiring GitHub

2018-06-04

Today it was announced that Microsoft is acquiring GitHub. The responses to this event have been mixed, with some people expressing optimism and others fear. I have two lines of thought regarding this subject.

First of all, I don’t expect Microsoft to ruin GitHub. I agree with those who believe that Microsoft genuinely cares about open source. So long as software is a complement to Microsoft’s products, Microsoft is incentivized to support open source software. I was worried when I discovered that Microsoft’s revenue from Windows is dropping since operating systems are an obvious complement of software, but luckily Microsoft seems to be pivoting to cloud services, another complement of software. Therefore, I expect that Microsoft will at least avoid damaging GitHub in any way since it stands to gain from open source.

What does worry me is the larger pattern that this acquisition is a part of. Microsoft has made a lot of acquisitions in the past, and it’s far from the only company to do so. This pattern, along with some other factors, has resulted in a major increase in market power, which means there’s a lot less competition among companies. This leads to a variety of problems, including lower wages, less economic growth, and the phenomenon known as cost disease, among many others. So while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this acquisition specifically, in context it is part of an extremely harmful pattern that needs to be ended.

Outlining the opposite of a singleton

2018-06-01

In one of my previous posts, I discussed the concept of a singleton as defined by Nick Bostrom. Now I’d like to consider what the rough opposite of a singleton would look like, based on what has been written by others on the subject.

For me, the obvious place to start is Scott Alexander’s Meditations On Moloch. In it, Moloch is introduced as that which causes the following:

In some competition optimizing for X, the opportunity arises to throw some other value under the bus for improved X. Those who take it prosper. Those who don’t take it die out. Eventually, everyone’s relative status is about the same as before, but everyone’s absolute status is worse than before.

This type of situation is known as a coordination problem, something I discussed previously in the context of boycotting video games. If those in the competition could choose to cooperate, they could easily coordinate to avoid sacrificing any other values. But as long as they are competing, once one of them chooses to sacrifice something for a short-term advantage, the rest must do the same or be eliminated.

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Freedom of speech is good

2018-05-20

In my previous post, I laid out what I consider to be the strongest argument against freedom of speech. Now I will cover what I believe to be the flaw in that argument.

In that argument’s analogy, ideological propaganda produced by think tanks is equated with pathogens produced by bioweapon labs. But this comparison misses something. Multiple pathogens will all weaken a host more than just one of them would, but multiple ideologies will contradict and weaken each other, influencing people less. This gives freedom of speech an advantage that “freedom to distribute pathogens” lacks.

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