The Comet King

(If you read one post from my blog, it shouldn’t be this one. Also, serious Unsong spoilers.) Unsong’s Comet King is something of an indulgent caricature, implausibly determined and noble and capable. But if I put aside the desire to be respectable, I can enjoy indulgent caricatures. This post presents some Unsong excerpts that touch on the Comet King’s character and fate, in … More The Comet King

Crowdsourcing moderation without sacrificing quality

(Previously: optimizing the news feed) Online discussions consist mostly of uninteresting filler, with a sprinkling of thoughtful and valuable content that I’d like to engage with. The net result is that I usually avoid them. This is a shame, because in principle the internet offers a really great opportunity to increase access to and participation in useful discussions. It’s easy to focus on … More Crowdsourcing moderation without sacrificing quality

Optimizing the news feed

Humans publish trillions of words each year, yet any given human is going to read only a few of them. How should they choose which ones? This has long been a tricky and interesting question. But it’s much more fun now that society is basically forced to write an algorithm to answer it. I like this topic because it is a relatable allegory for value alignment. Conveniently, it’s also an issue du jour on … More Optimizing the news feed