Domains of knowledge I’ve never gotten around to learning

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
  • Fashion
  • Dark Arts
  • Relativistic Quantum Mechanics
  • General Relativity
  • Algebraic Topology
  • Python, Go, C++
  • JavaScript and modern Web client tech

Is Quirrellmort an AI?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Continuing to think about Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, I noticed that the Stanford Prison Experiment continues to confuse me. Just what was Quirrell really thinking here? On no level did this make sense. And then I realized that I had neglected one key event in the story. Bellatrix comes to believe that her master is inside Harry. At the time I just assumed without reflection that this was just a necessary part of the plot to free her, but what if it’s more? In fact, what if it was one of the main purposes of the whole breakout? Voldemort is preparing Bellatrix to be ready for the time when he moves from Monroe/Quirrell’s body to Harry’s.

Now if this were any regular fiction, I’d stop there, but consider the author for a moment: Eliezer Yudkowsky, a man who does research in artificial intelligence and is fascinated with the idea of AIs and the singularity. Hmmm.

Stop the Bleeding

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

For many centuries, bleeding patients was a standard treatment for many diseases. Cancer? Bleed the patient. Headache? Bleed the patient. Fever? Bleed the patient. Pneumonia? Bleed the patient. Bleeding was accepted medical wisdom.

Perhaps surprisingly to modern patients, bleeding worked, at least some of the time. I.e. the patient would get better. Of course, a lot of the time if the doctor does nothing, the patient still gets better. No one bothered to ask whether it was the bleeding that caused the patient to get better or not. Few people even knew how to phrase the question.

Best of 2012

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

An idiosyncratic list of the most intriguing, most mind altering, and just plain fun books/movies/etc. I read in (not necessarily published in) 2012: