It was just just BJ Campbell and myself, but that allowed for a very enjoyable, extremely wide ranging conversation.
Many things discussed – the notion of evolved causes (see his crowdsourced religion and my “Let’s Kill Hitler”) seems to be what stuck with me the most after the meeting.
One of the things that came up at the last SSC Atlanta meetup was the notion of the Murder Ghandi (read the link for an explanation). It’s easy to think of the whole concept as a good example of slippery slopes, i.e. where the same person faces different incentives over time. However, I think the true point is a bit more lasting than that – and much more useful and interesting.
The “make me 1% less pacifistic” pill does not just change the incentives – it is fundamentally a transformative experience for the pill taker. The person who takes the second pill is not the same as the person who took the first pill. The person is different, not the incentives. This should be explained by mathematical formula.
We had the second monthly Atlanta Slate Star Codex meetup yesterday and a fine time was had by all. Fewer people attended (only four) – but I found the conversation just as interesting – it lasted the same amount of time too – a little over three hours.
- Wonder drugs and self-reported results
- Machine learning
- The evils of the modern medical system
- “Lodge Doctors”
- China and enlightened despots
- Infrastructure spending
And for those keeping track at home – the economic theory I tried to explains was Solow’s “Steady State Theory of Capital” – essentially over time the depreciation of existing capital (essentially the same as infrastructure in our conversation) will equal investment – therefore leading to a leveling off of capital goods/infrastructure and growth. Short version – every thing rusts – the more stuff you have, the more rust. And also catch-up growth, and cutting edge growth. My thought (with phrasing in hindsight) is that America is in a cutting edge growth phase, with an old population, whereas China is still in catch up growth, with a young population (albeit one aging rapidly.)
The next meetup will be at the same place – sometime soon after Thanksgiving.
“It’s a real problem for people, but…” was the one-liner of the day, spoken by Nathan about the incentives faced by hospitals.
The first Atlanta Slate Star Codex meetup (that I’ve been to) was a smashing success. We had one RSVP (who did not show) and seven attendees, which makes for a wonderful meetup. The number was right (and the SSC readership behaves quite well in groups) for everyone to be in on the conversation with no need for direction.
The topics of the day included
- Brain chemistry and optimization
- Melatonin (but not sleep in general, I found interesting)
- Sleep in particular (particularly sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming)
- Guns (group consensus – they’re awesome – (that surprised me))
- Niche groups
- Ingroup/outgroup (a lot)
- Mental illness
- Optimizing credit card usage/gaming the system of rewards, bonuses
- Machine learning/AI (of course)
- Books (of course – Kolmya Stories and American Hippopotamus were the ones I was talking about)
- A couple others I’ve forgotten about
The meeting had no structure or set topics and the conversation just drifted happily. I am setting up another meetup for next month, probably at the same place.