This is a collection of random stuff I’ve written. I’m a believer in “strong opinions, weakly held”, and I like to write arguments for the sake of arguing. Don’t take anything here too seriously!

Egyptian multiplication and its legacy (6 July 2021)

Ancient Egyptians1I’m talking about Egyptian mathematics from roughly 3,500BC to 350BC, at which point they were replaced with more advanced Greek mathematics. used a non-positional system for writing numbers. It was based on signs which each represented a power of 10, and which were repeated to specify a number:

  1. I’m talking about Egyptian mathematics from roughly 3,500BC to 350BC, at which point they were replaced with more advanced Greek mathematics. 

Why does insurance work? (10 April 2021)

Insurance works because expected value is linear, but standard deviation isn’t.

Book review: The Problem of Pain (18 March 2021)

A summary and discussion of The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis, ISBN 9780060652968. (The text is available online in various formats, for instance here.) The book is about the problem of the existence of human suffering in the presence of an omnipotent and good God, often known as the problem of evil.

Inelastically colliding cars (5 December 2020)

Until today I thought that, ignoring any (very important in practice) crunch zone effects, two cars heading towards each other with speed $\frac v 2$ each will collide with the same force as a car heading towards a solid wall at speed $v$. It turns out this is not true at all.

Reading Notes (2 June 2020)

A collection of articles or concepts I’ve come across and found interesting, June 2020 edition.

The Company as a Model for Misaligned AGI (31 May 2020)

A common counterargument to AGIs going FOOM on us and placing the universe in a state we dislike is that there is a fundamental incompatibility between intelligence and having goals considered dumb by humans. (I’ve touched upon this in my previous post, under “But a superintelligent AGI couldn’t be this dumb!”)

The Paperclip Maximizer (16 May 2020)

The paperclip maximizer, which was first proposed by Nick Bostrom, is a hypothetical artificial general intelligence whose sole goal is to maximize the number of paperclips in existence in the universe[^1].

Questions to which somebody probably knows the answer, but not me (9 April 2020)

These are two questions that I can’t find a good answer to, even though I’m pretty confident they exist.

Reading Notes (4 April 2020)

Reading notes for some interesting posts and articles.

Book Review: Consciousness and the Brain (17 September 2019)

Highlights and comments on Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts, Stanislas Dehaene, 2014. ISBN 978-0670025435.

The Paragraph Postulate (13 September 2018)

Surely you’ve seen these around:

You don’t really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother in three sentences or less.

Other Minds (24 May 2018)

A summary and highlights from Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, Peter Godfrey-Smith.

Thoughts on US culture (10 November 2017)

This is an edited version of a comment I made in reply to yet another forum dweller that was arguing that the lack of a proper US culture was the reason why so many Americans still consider themselves Italian or Irish more than a century and a half after their families emigrated.

Should you tape your webcam over? (9 November 2017)

A slew of people, from James Comey to Mark Zuckerberg, have been seen taping over their laptop webcams or advocating for people to do it.

The Black Hole War (7 November 2017)

Short summary of The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics, Leonard Susskind, ISBN 978-0316016414.