Links (May 2022)

Part Of: Links sequence

Current Events

  1. Tiktok is eating leisure time. I wonder the extent to which this explains Netflix stock price.
  1. Does democracy create positive outcomes? Massive publication bias discovered in the literature.
  2. Only one-hundredth of 1% of missing children are abducted by strangers. The last comprehensive study estimated that the number was 142 a year. “I feel like American society still hasn’t recovered from the moral panic around stranger danger in the 1980s.”
  3. Chart-topping original movies have gone extinct. People have a lot of explanations for this, but they’re all incomplete because they don’t realize the same thing is happening everywhere. An oligopoly has conquered all of popular culture.
  1. Pegasus is everywhere
  2. Godel’s Loophole: a design flaw in the US Constitution, which would permit the American democracy to be legally turned into a dictatorship.
  3. Labor market explanation of the Flynn effect. Contrast with the education revolution hypothesis.

Artificial Intelligence

  1. Gato, a scalable generalist agent that uses a single transformer with exactly the same weights to play Atari, follow text instructions, caption images, chat with people, control a real robot arm, and more. 
  2. Imagen, Google’s answer to DALL-E. Also, DALL-E code is now open sourced. DALL-E Mini is available for use on this website. Finally, independent researchers can now load and use a 30B LLM in Colab
  3. GoPro physics: where a camera can point at an event and an algorithm can identify the underlying physics equation.
  4. Incantations and prompt engineering. Simply adding “Let’s think step by step” increases the accuracy on MultiArith from 18% to 79% with GPT-3.
  5. GPT-3 vs the Turing Test.
  1. Homeostatic NNs adapt well to concept shift. 
  2. Beyond message passing: towards continuous learning
  3. Probabilistic interpretation of transformers. More here
  4. Transformer feed-forward layers as key-value memories. 


  1. Against the lithium theory of obesity
  2. Sex differences in temperature preferences. Women prefer 24C (75F), men prefer 21C (70F).
  3. Transfer addiction is surprisingly common in bariatric surgery patients. Supports the food addiction theory of some ~30% of the obese (YFAS).
  4. An extraordinary amount of surgery complication risk is explained by differences in skill among surgeons. 
  5. Paxlovid and the mysteries of rebound COVID
  6. A new theory of SIDS has arrived. Some cold water
  7. Light-activated mitochondria extend lifespan in C. elegans.

Cognitive Science

  1. Personality changes in response to leadership.
  2. What if the reason we dream is similar to the reason MLEs add noise to their models: to promote generalization? 
  3. Lesions in the left precuneus are associated with distorted time perception. “Minutes felt like hours… each time he would check his watch he’d be surprised how little time had passed.”
  4. How to reverse general anesthesia? Electrical stimulation of anterior thalamus is sufficient to restore consciousness.
  5. More progress in categorization of facial expressions. 
  6. Brains on artificial vs natural stimuli
  7. How does literature evolve? One birth at a time. Contrary to belief that literature changes due to external events like 9/11, 54% of the style of literature is solely driven by when its popular authors were born. After their 20s, authors don’t change much.  


  1. “If there is a God, why does he love crabs so much?” Carcinization in fish
  2. Incomplete abscission as a bridge towards multicellularity
  3. Is mutation random, or is natural selection more efficient? Evidence for the latter hypothesis


  1. New mug shot just dropped! Second black hole ever recorded, this one at the center of our galaxy.
  1. Starships as superweapons.  


  1. Gorgeous optical illusions (one, two) and failures of folk physics (Dzhanibekov Effect)
  2. Salvage epistemology: on the dangers of contrarianism in the rationality community.  
  3. The Backwards March of Christology is a theory of how Christian interpretations of Jesus evolved over time. In the earliest writings, many Christians seemed to view him as a human prophet elevated to divinity at his resurrection: “God fulfilled his promise by resurrecting Jesus, as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have fathered you.” These views became more elaborate as the decades passed.
  1. Moving as the one parenting decision that really matters. The Opportunity Atlas is fun to use.   
  2. Maximally accurate expert beliefs should not change in predictable ways, but rather be a random walk. 

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