An exciting Progress Report, as promised! No, I don’t have an improved word count – I spent the last month writing up a research report whose draft is due today. But as soon as I finish up one or two more short things, my employer will again allow me time working solely to produce the next Methods update. I feel nervous about promising anything I haven’t yet finished and delivered, but watch for it in late June or early July, on some Sunday at 7pm Pacific Time (though you probably shouldn’t bother checking until at least June 16th).
Meanwhile: The Eyre Affair (first novel in the Thursday Next series) seems to be shaping up well so far. Postnuptial Disagreements is even better on a second reading. Between these two data points, I’m beginning to believe that classical references are in fact a strong signal of quality. And if you’re an economist, please check out my recent publication “Intelligence Explosion Microeconomics” (warning: nonfiction).
I will produce a Progress Report on July 1st (7pm Pacific) if there hasn’t been a Methods update before then, and if I don’t have lots of progress to report, shoot me.
Not much HPMOR progress this month – as previously warned, the 3-week April math workshop at MIRI ate my existence. Lots of math progress there – more than I was expecting, a very pleasant surprise – and now I’ve got to write up my parts of it!
Things I’ve been reading lately include Tales of Mu (original, still reading this) and Black Cloaks, Red Clouds (Naruto, incomplete). Dirty Old Men (Naruto, incomplete) was surprisingly funny but started out slow; I’d recommend skimming everything before Ch. 5, and even then it takes a while to get to the hysterical cackling parts. All of these have adult themes somewhere, may the young and innocent be warned.
Shannon (Chaotic Shannon in Ch. 78) is once again offering life coaching / counseling, especially people with productivity problems or who are fighting depression. I checked with some of the readers she previously got from HPMOR and they seem to have positive reports so far.
The current top post on /r/HPMOR is a proposal that using babies to make horcruxes is a net ethical positive. You’d do well on LessWrong.com, Ilverin.
I don’t have super high hopes for May but will definitely try to offer you a more exciting progress report come June 1st, 2013 at 7PM Pacific Time.
I am now 6,500 words into Ch. 90 (plus 8,800 words for Ch. 88-89). Please don’t expect much progress during April 2013 since MIRI is holding a major math workshop that’s going to consume basically all of my existence from April 3-24. After that there should be more hope. Writing has been going relatively fast on the few days I’ve been able to do it!
I was recently in the middle of a first read of The Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett; and then I switched in midday to rereading Harry Potter and the Natural 20 by Sir Poley and realized that HPN20 is funnier, more gripping, and just generally better. Now The Truth is not shaping up to be the best Discworld novel Pratchett ever wrote and I wouldn’t necessarily say that HPN20 was funnier than Sourcery or more gripping than Mort but still, on side-by-side comparison HPN20 seems like it would be considered at least average for a Terry Pratchett novel if Terry Pratchett had written it. I just thought Sir Poley might enjoy hearing that particular opinion of mine, which may or may not be shared by any particular reader. And HPN20 just finished Harry and Milo’s first year, so it’s a good time to read or reread.
The next Progress Report will appear on May 1st, 2013 at 7PM Pacific Time.
8,000 words into either Ch. 88, or Ch. 88-89, depending on whether I decide to agglomerate or divide them. Almost done with those two chapters which do not form a complete arc and no you do not want me to just post them, trust me on this.
The new website of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute is up at intelligence.org.
Metamed is a medical startup by some highly rational friends of mine: Instead of just having “evidence-based medicine” in journals they will provide you with actual evidence-based healthcare. If you have a sufficiently serious problem and can afford their service, they will (a) put someone on reading the relevant research literature who understands real statistics and can tell whether the paper is trustworthy (yes, a lot of the p-values out there are complete garbage); and (b) refer you to a cooperative doctor in their network who can carry out the therapies they find. This is a new service and it has to interact with the existing medical system, so they are currently expensive, starting at $5,000 for a research report. (Keeping in mind that a basic report involves a lot of work by people who are good with math and computers.) This seems well worth it if you can afford it: There are amazing things out there, in the scientific literature, that most doctors have never heard of – and Metamed will find them for you and find you a doctor who can implement them. (The startup was partially inspired by the case of a woman who had her fingertip chopped off, was told by the hospital that she was screwed, and then read through an awful lot of literature on her own until she found someone working on an advanced regenerative therapy that let her actually grow the fingertip back. Basically, Metamed will find this sort of thing for you if it exists, and you would be surprised how often it does.)
If you know somebody who’s sick and can afford it – especially if the standard healthcare system has failed them, and they want their next step to be better science instead of ‘alternative medicine’ – please do refer them to Metamed immediately. We can’t all have nice things like this someday unless somebody pays for it while it’s still new and expensive.
On the lighter side, I recommend the recursive fanfic “Friendship is Optimal: Caelum est Conterrens” (Heaven Is Terrifying). This is the first and only effective horror novel I have ever read, since unlike Lovecraft, it contains things I actually find scary. You may or may not need to first read My Little Pony: Friendship is Optimal. I would recommend reading FiO first to get acquainted with the Optimalverse, but Caelum est Conterrens was written by a much more experienced fanfic writer and you might consider moving onto Conterrens directly if Optimal isn’t doing it for you. Also, you have no idea how hard it is not to write my own take on the Optimalverse, which is something I’m not doing so I can put all my available writing energies into Methods. I want relationship credit for this.
The next Progress Report will be posted on April 1st, 2013 at 10PM Pacific Time.
Currently 3,300 words into Ch. 88. I suspect I won’t have any exciting numbers to report here until I get another chance to work on HPMOR for a solid week or two. Still, it’s further along than I was at the same relative time after the Ch. 78-85 update.
Many correct identifications of Miss Chloe’s Epileptic Trees in Ch. 86, but still nobody’s gotten the vrooping thingy. Win some, lose some.
I’m afraid I don’t have much new fanfiction to recommend – but did run across The Best Night Ever (Groundhog!MLP) and Imperfect Metamorphosis (Touhou, long). In ‘mainstream’ fiction, Sanctum wasn’t bad but it won’t be everyone’s cuppa tea, so I recommend having a Kindle or a Kindle app so that you can download a sample first. (I don’t understand why people ever bought books before they could download samples of things. Libraries? Physical bookstores where you’d sit around reading the few opening chapters?)
The organization formerly known as “Singularity Institute” is now the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. We haven’t changed our actual mission, but since our organization was founded the word “Singularity” has become associated with toomuchotherstuff in general and Ray Kurzweil’s ideas in particular. We’ll just talk about self-improving AI and I. J. Good’s intelligence explosion from now on.
Next Progress Report on March 1st, 2013 at 10pm Pacific Time.