Collection of papers and articles that I’ve spotted since my previous links post that seem interesting.

  • Female Genital Mutilation rates have fallen massively in Africa
  • Suicide is declining almost everywhere
  • Some international regulators have been captured by producer interests
  • Quantum neural networks may be coming
  • Progress in longevity research: scientists discover a way to destroy cells that are senescent, one of the pillars of an effective life-extension protocol as outlined by Aubrey de Grey back 17 years ago.
  • The present phase of stagnation in the foundations of physics is not normal, by Sabine Hossenfelder
    • Starring Peter Shor, of Shor's algorithm fame in the comments
  • Do the elderly regret not having saved more money?
    • Yes (~60% of them), but it's not that they are lazy, it's that they may suffer from unemployment for longer than expected, or suffer from a disabling health condition, and they underestimate the odds of that happening. However, only 22% were very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with their economic situation.
    • The paper also presents the topic of "Do people really undersave?" as controversial. I would have guessed that for many the idea that people will undersave (And that they must be forced to save) is solid and accepted. I admit I sit on the other side of the divide. As I argued here, the reason why mandatory pensions were introduced was not that there were large masses of chronically empoverished pensioners.
    • If the results of the papers are true, the policy response to compensate for this regret is not forced saving, but forced catastrophic insurance.
  • Scott Alexander on preschool programmes like Headstart
    • Related: publication bias in the field, reasons to be even more skeptical. It was already shown that for -cognitive- skills, gains were nil. Now, non-cognitive gains are either small or also nil.
  • Michael Nielsen asks twitter: What are some beautiful video games?
  • Academic research in the 21st century: maintaining scientific integrity in a climate of perverse incentives and hypercompetition
    • Academia as Goodhart's Law writ large: measure science and you destroy it.
    • Sabine Hossenfelder, already in 2008, wrote about this.
  • Why does sending money take so long? A thread
    • In my own case, money transfers using my regular bank (Starling Bank) app to my friends (usually Monzo) takes a matter of -seconds-. If everywhere were like the UK, Transferwise (And one rationale for cryptocurrencies) would have less reason to exist. Blame regulations?
  • The case against quantum computing
    • Scott Aaronson said a while ago "if you want to build a scalable quantum computer you don’t need to get perfect qubits that are perfectly isolated from their environment. Which of course, would be a physical absurdity. You merely need to get them ridiculously well isolated from their environment. And you know, way better than we can do. But in the minds of most experts it reduced it to merely a staggeringly hard engineering problem"
    • This essay could be read as saying: "There only is mere theoretical work showing that it could work, what matters is engineering, not theoretical CS"
  • The IEA continues to amuse the world with their forecasts of growth in installed PV capacity
  • The end of the beginnng, a presentation from Benedict Evans on the future of technology as the world increasingly is more connected.
  • Random Critical Analysis on healthcare expenditures, in one million charts.
  • Income in the US not stagnating. Household income for the poorest quintile grew 32% between 2000 and 2015.
  • The debate over whether most persistent mutations in DNA are due to natural selection or not (random)
  • Science is getting less bang for its buck, essay by Michael Nielsen and Patrick Collison, with comments from Noah Smith
    • The essay, together with Smith's comments, and another recent essay from Paul Romer prompt the question: What can really be done to increase growth through science? If throwing more money at science after WWII did not increase growth, why? Thiswrit large?
    • Is science showing diminishing returns? Looks like everyone is writing about this these days!
      • _  In 2016 the prestigious international science journal Nature  published a __survey __which showed that “More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.”  In  2011 the Wall Street Journal described how the pharmaceutical company Bayer attempted to replicate a number of drug studies and failed nearly two thirds of  the time.  The situation may be even worse than these results suggest, because in social science, especially, replication is rarely attempted.  It follows that many conclusions about dietdrugs, bias, prejudice and the right way to teach – are false. _
    • It does sound like a good idea would be to set up the Institute for Adversarial Research, where scientists working there would have the sole task of looking at other people's papers and poking at them until they crumble into dust (or survive). This way, their success would be other people's failure, and viceversa. This would make science more like a court trial and I think that's good.
  • Why central bankers missed the crisis
  • Alexey Guzey criticises Will McAskill's book "Doing Good Better"
    • Discussion at SSC subreddit
    • Discussion at EA forum
    • I reviewed an early draft of the critique, and I still maintain that the core of the book's arguments stand, and that the mistakes that Alexey found are most likely not attributable to McAskill's bad faith. To me, one should write a comprehensive critique when that does show that key premises are false, and the critique shows that some supporting evidence is weaker, but does not undermine the book as such.
    • But then, we are on opposite ends of the cynic-naive spectrum
  • Interest in bitcoin and blockchain fading among CEOs
  • The synaptic theory of memory: a survey and reconciliation of recent opposition.
    • It is generally believed that neurons store memory in the connections (synapses) with other neurons, just like artificial neural nets have weights. This has come under critique recently.
  • How filter bubbles will save the world.
    • This was widely shared on twitter, but I'm skeptical that it matters much. Look at innovators and scientists, how weird are they? Not that much.
  • Why do so few people major in CS?
    • My answer: Not everyone can major in CS, or in general highly demanding STEM degrees, you need to be conscientious and have a high IQ. This applies to STEM in general.
    • The post also illustrates the pitfalls of using indexed data (normalising a time series to the value on a given year). In my Soviet Series I had a section in a post going over this, and how the choice of indexing year can greatly affect the results.
  • Ada Lovelace is overrated, via Sam Bowman
  • Gwern reviews Cat Sense. Cats are undergoing dysgenic selection :(
  • Do emotions play an essential role in moral judgements?
    • As foreshadowed in earlier link posts, moral rationalism is rising again in academia.
  • The moral machine experiment
  • Kevin Simler is back! A natural history of beauty
  • Devon Zuegel's strategies for having great conversations
  • The miraculous berry: If you eat it, sour food tastes sweet for some time. via @emmasalinas

Comments from WordPress

  • James James 2018-11-27T20:32:09Z

    How high an IQ is required to complete a comp sci degree? A math degree? A physics degree? I have always been curious.

  • Artir Artir 2018-11-27T20:41:30Z

    This of course depends on university. It is not the same to have a CS degree from some easy place than from MIT. It's not that there is a hard threhold for completion, if anything those traits will influence that one is more or less likely to complete it.

    You can find some samples of what the distributions by profession look like

    I'd probably say that below 115, say, your odds won't be high.


In academic work, please cite this essay as:

Ricón, José Luis, “Links (22)”, Nintil (2018-11-25), available at