Book review: God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists, chapter 1

I find the title compelling:

God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists: Proof that the atheist doesn’t exist

Ray Comfort

I’m a professed atheist, and I’m also keen to find out ways in which I don’t believe what I think I believe. This book makes the bold claim that it can do that.

Let’s see if it lives up to it.

Continue reading ‘Book review: God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists, chapter 1′

Local Bylaws

  1. At least 2 players assemble in a rough circle.
  2. The most confident player starts. Ideally the next person should be reasonably confident too so that everyone else can get the hang of how the game works.
  3. Players take turns clockwise.
  4. Each player:
    1. Says “Local Bylaws state:”
    2. Recites the current list of Local Bylaws in order (this list is initially empty)
    3. Adheres to all local bylaws in this list
    4. States a new local bylaw, which gets added to the list for the next player.
  5. Rules 3, 4, 7, 8 and 12 can be overridden by local bylaws.
    1. In particular, the list of local bylaws will not always grow by one each turn as laws can cause previous laws to be deleted (this is encouraged for long games)
    2. These rules and local bylaws should be interpreted in such a way as to make it possible for a player to delete previous local bylaws
  6. In the event of contradictory or paradoxical local bylaws, or if a player cannot reasonably complete their turn while adhering to the active local bylaws:
    1. Take the most elegant route possible
    2. Adhering to the spirit of these rules as much as possible
    3. Adhering to the spirit of the active local bylaws as much as possible
  7. Players are encouraged to help each other remember local bylaws.
    1. There is no penalty for forgetting.
    2. You don’t have to get the exact wording right, just get the meaning across
  8. The game may involve props
  9. The game may not involve
    1. Anything illegal
    2. Behaviour contrary to any actual local bylaws, or the rules of the premises
    3. Offensive or excessively disruptive behaviour
    4. Unpleasantness
    5. Bullying or humiliation
  10. Players should make reasonable effort to ensure their local bylaws can be understood, and enjoyably followed, by the other players.
    1. Be particularly nice to children here
    2. Most people aren’t going to have this list of rules memorized, so don’t make local bylaws depend explicitly on things written here
    3. Not everybody has an undergrad degree in mathematics or computer science
  11. The game ends when all but 1 or 0 players have chosen to leave, or have been told to leave by the owner of the premises.
  12. It is impossible to win or lose a game of Local Bylaws.

Continue reading ‘Local Bylaws’

An Unofficial Toronto Bus Map

toronto bus map 2012-06-02

(click to enlarge)

This is an unnofficial map – it will be out of date and contain mistakes. But you may find it useful all the same. I drew this a while ago (2012-06-02) but only just got around to sticking it online. Have fun riding around Toronto!

This is part of my “do one nice thing a week” strategy.


toronto bus map 2012-06-02

Toronto LW Singularity Discussion (sort of), 2012-04-19

Present: SD, GE, SB

SD was reading an article on Ribbonfarm about “Hackstability“, the equilibrium position between singularity and collapse.

SB wonders how far into the future we can reliably predict, so this discussion is more about the near future(trope) than the singularity which we hope is still some way off. We pick a 5 year timescale and try to predict what we think we will see.

(This post may contain buzzwords)

Continue reading ‘Toronto LW Singularity Discussion (sort of), 2012-04-19′

Toronto LW Singularity Discussion, 2012-04-05

Sorry I haven’t been writing these up – or holding new ones. This will get fixed in the near future.

Present: SD, GE, SM

In this discussion we were brainstorming counterarguments to the Singularity Institute worldview. We ranked these according to our vague feeling of how plausible they were – don’t read too much into this classification. When it says ½ or +/- it’s generally because there was some disagreement within the group. (Our plausibility tolerance probably also drifted so I’m listing these in the order they came so that you can correct for that).

We also noted whether the arguments related to the TIMESCALE for the emergence of AGI (as opposed to whether it’s possible in the first place), and whether they relate to the CONSEQUENCES. If you reject the multiple discovery(wp) hypothesis and assume that AGI invention occurs infrequently then arguments that suggest most AGIs will have mild consequences are also relevant to the timescale for the emergence of destructive or high-impact AI.

4 is the most plausible (according to us) and 1 is the least plausible.

Continue reading ‘Toronto LW Singularity Discussion, 2012-04-05′

Just a bit of fun: rock-paper-scissors

So now that I have my few lines of Python written, I obviously want to have a play with it. What would happen if instead of playing Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, they were playing Rock Paper Scissors?

There’s no iteration here, and no chance to choose a “mixed” strategy (e.g. randomly choosing each with 1/3 probability). Just three strategies: rock, paper, scissors.

So I figured: either it’s going to go around in cycles, or converge to a point where each strategy is stuck at 1/3. Since the problem feels time-reversible I’d expect cycles. And what do we get?

Continue reading ‘Just a bit of fun: rock-paper-scissors’

Group Selection

This was inspired by last week’s Less Wrong discussion.

First of all, taboo “group selection” – it seems to be responsible for too many cached thoughts.

The game is iterated prisoner’s dilemma. There is a large population, and random individuals from the population have to play IPD against each other. Over time they will accumulate a “utility” (just the sum of all the scores from the different games they played) and this utility is exponentiated to determine the number of asexual offspring that individual will have in the next generation.

We would expect successful strategies to dominate in the population, but also that whether a strategy is “successful” depends on the mix of strategies present in the rest of the population.

The payoffs are as follows:

  D C
D 1,1 3,0
C 0,3 2,2

So on each turn, if both players defect then they both score 1. If they both cooperate they both score 2. If one cooperates and the other defects then the defector scores 3 and the cooperator scores 0. Each game lasts for 10 turns.

If this was real life then we could imagine the creatures evolving all kinds of strategy. But I’m only modelling three possible strategies:

  • Always defect
  • Always cooperate
  • Tit-for-tat. Always cooperate on the first turn and then on subsequent turns, do whatever the other player did on the previous turn.

I’ve made some modelling simplifications here:

  • There is no mutation
  • Individual interactions are not modelled. Instead I compute a matrix of how well each strategy scores against each other, then work out how the populations of different strategies will change based on the mix of other strategies.
  • The total population is held constant. (This would correspond to there being some resource which is both tightly constrained and fully utilised by the population).
  • There are discrete time steps.

So what happens?

Continue reading ‘Group Selection’


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