Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (October 2016)


Blog: eleVR | We’re Not a Startup -- "It’s fun to see unmarketable inventions of the past turned into modern business successes by clever hard-working people. I worry, though, when we meet people in the industry who have trouble understanding that we’re a research group, rather than a startup somehow desiring to come up with a research-based business model. I worry that the industry has no idea how much research already goes on, or how vital it is to fund."


Blog: Eavesdropping on Typing Over Voice-Over-IP -- "[W]e show that very popular VoIP software (Skype) conveys enough audio information to reconstruct the victim's input ­ keystrokes typed on the remote keyboard."


Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | My Second Thoughts About Universal Basic Income -- is the best argument I've heard against UBI.


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Water Runs Downhill: Edition XXVI: Airbnb and Hotel Prices -- "A hotel executive said a recently-passed New York law cracking down on Airbnb hosts will enable the company to raise prices for New York City hotel rooms..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Vertical Integration, Market Foreclosure, and Consumer Welfare in the Cable Television Industry -- "Out of date, yes, but still evidence that the proposed AT&T and Time-Warner merger is unlikely to damage the interests of consumers. When there is some market power at each step along the supply chain, vertical integration typically lowers margins and prices, thereby increasing consumer surplus."

Blog: Overcoming Bias | In Praise of Low Needs -- Robin argues that maybe, on a societal scale, we should be thinking about lower tiers of Maslow's hierarchy than we are.


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Renminbi vs. yuan -- "Renminbi, which means the people’s currency, is the description of the yuan, as sterling is the description of the pound. Use yuan."

Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | China Can Resist a Crash, But Can't Prevent One -- "When bad economic news arrives, the Chinese government can instruct the companies it owns to spend wealth to keep workers employed. Think of this as using the companies to conduct fiscal policy rather than laying off workers, building another bridge or erecting another steel plant."


Blog: Slate Star Codex | AI Persuasion Experiment Results -- "Last month I asked three thousand people to read some articles on AI risk and tell me how convinced they were. Last week, I asked them to come back and tell me some more stuff, to see if they stayed convinced..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Should entrepreneurs prefer a rising or shrinking population?


Blog: JeffTK | An Update on Gendered Pronouns -- "Executive Summary: The use of gendered pronouns has been deprecated in favor of singular they. All users of English should migrate to the new system as soon as practical, but we do expect this to be a long transition."

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Seduced by Tech -- "A lot of tech fits this pattern. Initially it faces widespread opposition or skepticism, or would if a wider public were asked. Sometimes such opposition prevents a tech from even being tried. But when a few people can try it, others nearby can see if it offers personal concrete practical benefits, relative to costs. Then, even though more abstract criticisms haven’t been much addressed, the tech may be increasingly adopted."

Blog: eleVR | A webVR with threeJS Tutorial


Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Every Trade Deal Needs a Referee


Blog: Otium | Ra -- If you liked Slate Star Codex | Meditations on Moloch...


Blog: Marginal Revolution | What I’ve Been Watching: Knox, Cage, Westworld -- "Westworld (HBO)–this is the one that you must watch. The first two episodes have been remarkable. Every scene has something to see or to think about. Audience expectations are continually subverted. The cinematography is stunning."

Comic: xkcd | Making Friends -- "This explains a lot."


Blog: Slate Star Codex | More Hardball Debate Questions -- cw: puns

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Piketty, Housing, and Capital Share -- "This suggests that it is not entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that are taking an increasing share of the economy, but land owners."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | From The Adam Smith Institute -- "So it’s official. As of today we are no longer a libertarian think tank. We’re neoliberals. And maybe you are too." Well um.


Blog: Cass Sunstein @ Bloomberg View | Five Books to Change Liberals' Minds -- "If you think that Barack Obama has been a terrific president (as I do) and that Hillary Clinton would be an excellent successor (as I also do), then you might want to consider the following books, to help you to understand why so many of your fellow citizens disagree with you..." h/t Tyler Cowen


Blog: The Merely Real | Self-Reflection and Self-Loathing: Welcome to the High Holy Days

Blog: Popehat | Hillary Clinton, the Sixth Amendment, and Legal Ethics


Blog: Bits and Pieces | FAQ on the Nondiscrimination Motion

Job: GiveWell | Senior Fellow -- "We are looking for a Senior Fellow with a strong background in causal inference and quantitative research methods (either through academic coursework at the graduate level or previous work experience) and a demonstrated interest in global health and/or development to lead our work assessing the evidence and cost-effectiveness of global health and development interventions such as immunization campaigns, bednet distribution, breastfeeding promotion, etc. This position would be a great fit for a candidate who wants to apply a rigorous methodological background toward making real-world funding decisions at a small, agile organization." h/t Tyler Cowen

Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Maybe Companies Aren't Too Focused on the Short Term -- "I don’t think economists have a good standard yet for judging whether corporate decisions are too long-term or too short-term. There are anecdotes pointing in all directions, and it has not been shown that corporate time-horizon decisions are major factors driving changes in stock prices."


Blog: Scott Sumner @ EconLog | Non-materialistic millennials and the Great Stagnation

Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | The Rich Are Also Different From One Another -- A very interesting laundry list of surprising statistics.

Blog: Otium | Cross-Sex Hormone Therapy: Female Hormones


Blog: A.Critch | Leveraging academia -- "When you’re part of a team, it’s quite helpful if you can leverage resources outside your team to solve the team’s problems without having to draw heavily on the team’s internal resources. Thus, if you want to be part of a new/young field like AI alignment, it’s nice if you can draw on resources outside that field to make it stronger..."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Free trade has been good for the poor -- Note the tense, and also note that the linked research examines purchasing power, not employment.


Blog: JeffTK | Responsible Transparency Consumption -- "So imagine an organization makes something public, and voluntarily reports some kind of failure that people outside of the organization wouldn't have known about otherwise. If people react critically and harshly to this failure, it makes them much less likely to be willing to be so transparent in the future. And not just this organization: others will also see that sharing negative information doesn't go well."