### On redistribution

I’d prefer it if states took from the rich to give to the poor. But I wish they did it in a reasonably efficient way, such that poor people get about \$1 of utility for every \$1 of utility a rich person loses. I think we often fall short of that goal. (An expansion of … More On redistribution

### EDT vs CDT 2: conditioning on the impossible

In my last post I presented a basic argument for EDT, and a response to the most common counterarguments. I omitted one important argument in favor of CDT—that EDT can involve conditioning on a measure zero event, yielding either undefined or undesirable behavior, while CDT is always well-defined. In this post I dive into that argument … More EDT vs CDT 2: conditioning on the impossible

### Simplifying Avalon

Avalon has many complexities that become irrelevant given good enough play. If we remove those complexities the game can be played much more quickly (personally I also find the simpler version more aesthetically appealing): Only play the three largest (non-*) quests. (Skip the easier two quests.) The good players win immediately if a quest succeeds. … More Simplifying Avalon

### EDT vs CDT

There are many tricky questions in decision theory. In this post, I’ll argue that the choice between CDT and EDT isn’t one of them. Causal decision theory (CDT) evaluates expected utilities under causal interventions, while evidential decision theory (EDT) evaluates conditional expected utilities. Humans tend to have strong intuitions in favor of CDT, but I’ll … More EDT vs CDT

### Policy potpourri

Here are ~32 ways in which I think US policy could be better. Many of these are unrealistic changes. In some cases I think there is a corresponding marginal change that we should advocate for, but in some cases it’s just wishful thinking. You should read this post in the same spirit that you’d read … More Policy potpourri

### Solving Avalon with whispering

I’ve been playing some Avalon recently, and became curious about winning probabilities under perfect play.  (Avalon is the most common variant of The Resistance, rules are here, this post probably won’t be interesting if you haven’t played.) In this post I consider the version of the game where players are able to send secret messages … More Solving Avalon with whispering

### Epistemic incentives and sluggish updating

Summary: We can get better estimates of epistemic virtue by considering changes in people’s beliefs, rather than only comparing their predictions to reality. But if we use this information, people who want to appear virtuous are motivated to lie about their beliefs, resulting in “sluggish” updating in a predictable direction (or a failure to update … More Epistemic incentives and sluggish updating

### On the complexity of games

(Warning: frivolous.) It’s not obvious what properties of games determine whether they are easy or hard. Poker has imperfect information while Sokoban can have very long solutions; which is harder? Could the lack of communication between teammates in Bridge make the game more difficult? This post explores the computational complexity of natural classes of games, … More On the complexity of games

### The Elephant in the Brain

The Elephant in the Brain is the most cheerfully cynical book I have read. It argues for a simple core claim: Our brains are built to act in our self-interest while at the same time trying hard not to appear selfish in front of other people. And in order to throw them off the trail, our brains … More The Elephant in the Brain

### Sending a message to the future

If we humans manage to kill ourselves, we may not take all life on Earth with us. That leaves hope for another intelligent civilization to arise; if they do, we could potentially help them by leaving carefully chosen messages. In this post I’ll argue that despite sounding kind of crazy, this could potentially compare favorably to … More Sending a message to the future