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Small-Scale Question Sunday for September 04, 2022

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Newcomer here, what is the reason behind the mega threads? What benefit do they deliver vs. having independent threads for each topic?

So the historical reason is that we did this because that's what the Slate Star Codex subreddit did and I didn't want to rock the boat.

But I actually think this may be an accidentally brilliant choice. The problem is headlines. If you see a row of headlines - which you do on a front page - then you naturally gravitate to whatever you're most interested in. I know you've skipped headlines when browsing Reddit, right? You say "that looks interesting, that doesn't, that doesn't, that does!" and click on things based on that.

That means people go to the things they find most interesting, which also means the things they already have the strongest feelings about. And I think that's a positive-feedback effect that causes people, and communities, to hyperspecialize around points of anger and disagreement.

In this case, you can't do that. You skim, and maybe you find yourself reading an effortpost on a random fight in the Irish Troubles. You wouldn't have intentionally chosen to read that, but, well, now you're reading that.

I think this may both reduce the anger-pressure-cooker effect and encourage people to branch out into other posts.

Sometimes people put headlines at the top of their big posts and I've honestly considered banning those entirely. I haven't done that, but I've thought about it.

Interesting. I admit the threads do seem more like reading a paper or a newsletter vs. typical posts in that sense. I found it initially cumbersome but they are definitely forcing me to look at topics I’d normally skip.

But I actually think this may be an accidentally brilliant choice.

Nope, it was very intentional. Reddit political echo chamber dynamics are well-understood, and we doubled down time after time on the megathread format because it introduced friction in those dynamics the way you describe.

Neat, I honestly hadn't realized it was intended!

How do you all plan on using your new found freedom?

I have already said (((nigger, faggot, tranny, retard, groomer))) in another comment, but I will do it just one more time. What a world to live in, finally can at least mention words !

Jokes aside, other than the commonly discussed pitfalls of infinite freedom (7 gorillion witches and all) , how do you think non-witchy discussions are to change now that AEO isn't breathing down everyone's necks?

Reading the CW thread, it seems to me people are subconsciously talking as if the threat of AEO still exists.

Reading the CW thread, it seems to me people are subconsciously talking as if the threat of AEO still exists.

Well, here's my personal view ( @ZorbaTHut can chime in, I think we're all kind of getting used to the "new normal" and will be for a while):

Yeah, you can use all the no-no words that risked getting you admin-banned back on reddit. Go ahead, retardniggerfaggottranny it all out of your system.

That being said, we don't want threads full of retardniggerfaggottranny. The Motte never has been and hopefully never will be that kind of place.

You want to call something retarded? Fine. You want to talk about the word nigger or quote someone else's use of it? Fine.

Actually referring to people as niggers or faggots or trannies is not fine.

As for all those sizzling hot topics, like Holocaust denial and whether trans women are men (or groomers) and whether HBD says blacks are too stupid to ever build rocketships, yeah, we can have those discussions now without worrying that AEO will come and put a boot on us, but we still expect a reasonable attempt at quality discussion, not just manifesto-posting and baiting.

We don't have emote reacts yet, but if we did, I'd be putting a "+1" emote on this post.

Hopefully we will get rigorous discussions on race and behavior/IQ. With western demographics changing quickly and equity being promoted, it’s important to understand the consequences of racial diversity.

What's the point of all that IQ if you have set your entire civilization into the population collapse funnel due to maxing out the intelligence section and single child resource focus segment of your cultural system?

Slow population decline wouldn't be a problem at all if IQ grew.

What do you mean by "collapse"? IIRC only South Korea gets somewhat close to 1 child/woman.

Uh... have you considered to possibility we act the way we do, because we want to, not because we're subconsciously threatened into it?

I don't know about this "we" but I have been posting in the motte for over 2 years now (various usernames) and have skirted around saying things plainly many times because of reddit associated nuisances (read my other comment on this post).

So I am pattern matching and assume that a lot of people speaking like I do, are doing it that way for the same reason I spoke that way.

I'm hoping very little.

I think there's a lot of people who think that we were hamstrung by Reddit, and we were always just waiting for our chance to show our true colors. I don't think that was accurate. The issue with AEO wasn't that it was actively preventing us from doing what we wanted to do, it was just making things slightly but increasingly difficult; it was a slow pressure threatening to squeeze the community into dust.

But practically speaking, we already weren't censoring ourselves much. We already had roughly the community I wanted, and I was worried about the future, not the present.

So I'm hoping things just continue along in roughly the same way they were before, except with, y'know, less comments removed for using specific parenthesis.

I mean sure as far as content was concerned there wasn't much self censorship.

But there still was plenty in the form of obfuscation. Even aside from the AEO threat, other redditors were a threat. Many professed complains about not being able to say what they want in the simplest of terms because they fear getting into an argument later in another subreddit and that resulting in someone going through their post history and causing a stink about wrongthink. I consider the elimination of that nuisance a massive positive side effect.

It will be easier to "speak plainly" now. Instead of saying "a certain demographic in the united states tend to cluster around a lower mean in psychometric tests" one can just say "African Americans as a group have lower average IQ scores". Shitty example, ik, but gets the point across.

I think just being able to speak plainly, for real this time! will produce some interesting posts. Yes there are a lot of failure modes, and are still ultimately constrained by "the Rules" but I'm keen on seeing how things pan out.

I'm actually worried that's gonna turn out to be a negative :V I think there's value in people kind of talking around the hotbutton issues. People often have real kneejerk responses to common phrasings, and you can avoid those by using a different less-common phrase.

But I have no idea how to, like, legislate that in rules, so right now I'm just gonna keep an eye on things.

Not exactly related to your point but have you thought about adding the slur filter that rdrama uses? I think it’d be a good idea to have it on for logged-out viewers, at least for certain words

Oh man I would be like a thousand percent tempted to start putting in troll slur filters.


Part of me thinks that isn't a terrible idea, just to get people reading the site and kinda, y'know, ease them in.

But another part of me thinks that this comes across as being ashamed of what we're posting, and I'm just not ashamed of it. I'd sorta rather look people in the eye and say "yes, we are debating controversial things, deal with it".

I'll keep this in mind but my current feeling is that it's not worth the downsides. I'm not entirely convinced by myself yet, though.

"Speak plainly, but not too plainly" ????

Yeah, that's a tough one. But I don't think kicking the can down the road really doesn't help all that much, those destined to have that reaction will have it eventually and will probably flameout and get banned in short order.

I don't see the utility in taking the responsibility to spare the feelings of people who are incapable of not having their feelings hurt. Nth order effects be damned?

Keep in mind that our goal is to be a discussion site for people with differing opinions. Nothing there says we need to coddle people, but it also doesn't say we shouldn't coddle people; if asking that people tone down their most extreme opinions gets us more of what we're looking for, that's actually a good thing.

And there are many many many people who have kneejerk reactions to things.

Yeah I understand that, but "speak plainly" is so self evidently correct/good/useful (imo), that I can't come up with any justifiable reason at all to not do that. Or any excuse good enough to give up a little bit of that.

Speaking plainly. For whom speaking plainly will cause them to have a kneejerk reaction; probably lack the epistemological foundations to be the kind of person you want to visit the motte anyways. I am sure as a mod you have plenty of datapoints to assert that I what I am saying is at least, directionally true.

I am not discussing the legislation, I am discussing your vision for the community. But anyways, I will make an CW post on it later, I think you are chasing a white whale.

So, how many people registered here until now?

  1. I'm unsurprised that the registration has died down; I also need to send out the mailing list blast, I have no idea how many people registered on the mailing list and aren't aware of the new site yet.

oh come on do I really need to do Reddit-esque tricks to keep it from turning leading numbers into bullet points

Fine. 912. Take that, you parser.

I swear I'm turning this into a unit test once we start fixing up the parser issues.

Why don't you try inviting people over from other "intellectual" communities of reddit.

We don't want to just go straight-up spamming people. If there are communities you think would be receptive to a sidebar crosslink, I'd be happy to contact them.

Slatestarcodex, lesswrong.



Hah. Well, alright then. Fine.

Thanks :D

If you were in charge of setting high school fiction reading curriculums, what books would you choose? I think Dune holds up, maybe Blood Meridian? But I’m not as well read as some of you

Rule 1 - no series

Rule 2 - A book that an avid book reader can finish in a day to two at most.

Rule 3 - It should be older than 30 years in age and it's value should already have been noticed by society rather than the teacher giving their own value score to a random book.

I'm with Pirsig on that one: I would make them write fiction, not read fiction. You can't really appreciate things until you've tried your hand at them. Food, furniture, fighting, fucking and yes, fiction.

Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. It's literary enough to hit the checkpoints, and the story just rocks. Plenty of essays to be written about what it all means, especially during its reading before it all comes together.

The Northern Lights (American: The Golden Compass) would be great for middle school, as it is about standing up to groomers and keeping your integrity even when it's inconvenient. The strong gypsy representation and relative antagonism towards religion are both bonuses in my book.

Roald Dahl's The Witches is a good children's book about dealing with difficult changes, so put that in as well. Add The Chronicles of Narnia as well.

For high school... my school had a heavy focus on stories of disprivileged people, which I found helpful. One of the options was The Notebook by Agota Kristof, which is a great little read in spite of the beastiality and gang rape. We also had to read at least one book that reflected traditional life and culture in our region, which is something I think every school should do.

Ideally you'd want the kids to be exposed to at least one work of genre fiction and at least one work of literary fiction. At least one work reflecting liberal values, and at least one work subverting or critiquing liberal values. A few book-length works, and a few short stories.

I'm excited to see what the other posters come up with.

I wouldn't think either of those books are really that suitable. Dune is a bit pulpy and is on the fantasy side of sci-fi that uses technological premises to justify cool fights and exotic intrigues. Sci-fi that is more rewarding for in-class exploration focuses more on the social and philosophical aspects, imo. Blood Meridian is just far too bloodthirsty.

An English curriculum's canon wants do a few things (ideally all in the same book):

  • Introduce readers to culturally 'important' texts without which they would lack important context for a lot of other media

  • Exhibit technical expression in plot, prose style, tone, characterisation, and other unique devices, etc. that is legible enough to be useful as a tool to discuss these elements and their execution

  • Provoke the reader to consider broader ideas they may not have considered before

  • Actually hold a student's interest

Some texts hit on all of these points very well, which is why they're a mainstay in schools: Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Steinbeck's stuff, for example. You can also see the failure modes of some curriculums in trying to pursue one point at the expense of all others (it is easy to imagine someone fixated on the first point wanting to teach 12-year-olds Chaucer or the second point wanting to teach Joyce or Calvino without care for student interest, or conversely erring in the other direction and serving up the shallow YA lit of the day).

I think showing a range of techniques and big ideas is more important in the limited time you have, so my ideal English Curriculum would be heavily weighted towards shorter stories that could be consumed and dissected in a week or even a single lesson. Calvino is a lot more palatable when writing his cosmicomics, for example (the Distance of the Moon is keenly stylistic, heartbreaking, and poses interesting questions about sci-fi as a genre). DFW's Incarnations of Dead Children has a frenetic, heart-in-mouth pacing that deserves close attention (and god forbid you propose 8th graders read Infinite Jest). The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is both an important cultural touchstone and provokes questions that young readers latch onto hard, and it can be consumed in a half-hour. The Yellow Wallpaper, Orwell's Shooting an Elephant, maybe some of Saramago's absurdist stuff would also be on my ideal list.

(The other nice thing about short stories is that I can link to most of these online, and the short length is less intimidating for even adult readers to dive in and get something out of them)

An excerpt from Anna Karenina, Heaney's translation of Beowulf, the Scarlet Pimpernel (worth the inevitable pimp jokes) and an abridged Great Expectations, a good translation of a straightforward section from La Comédie humaine, Maccabees, Pride and Prejudice, Anabasis (extra credit for Watching the Warriors), same for Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, 1984. Some short stories from Guy de Maupassant and maybe Philip K Dick.

Definitely not Wuthering Heights. It's already hard enough to make kids read. Can we please stop giving them the impression that reading is painful?

I'd stick with the best of this particular "genre", so things like Animal Farm, 1984, etc.

The books you're recommending are good and I'm a fan of both, but they are well above the level we're talking about.

Blood Meridian is the best novel I ever read, but it's also a hard and unrewarding read for most people. I doubt it'd be suitable for highschoolers. If you want them reading McCarthy, then I think the Border Trilogy - either of the first two (All The Pretty Horses and The Crossing) or the whole trilogy - would be much better-suited on account of their more personable protagonists and less violent plots.

Dune I'm similarly not sure about. There are lots of people who just refuse to take Sci-Fi seriously. Maybe Dune can overcome this to some degree thanks to its fame, maybe it'll just cause a bunch of culture warring due do its mighty whitey plot, hard to say - but it's also been around for a long while; surely teachers somewhere must have experiences on how students react to Dune?

If there are any English teachers in our ranks, one thing I'd like to know before making suggestions is: what are the ostensible goals of the books in a high school fiction reading curriculum? Are we trying to have our students gain proficiency with certain types of language, or learn to interpret various kinds of story, or learn about the history of literature? Or something else? There are a lot of different ways you could answer that question, which would influence the books you'd select.

The Screwtape Letters, The Man Who Was Thursday, The Gig Economy.

What software should I learn how to use if I want to make an infographic?

Easy one: Inkscape. It's a vector graphics program that's sort of like powerpoint on steroids. It's drag and drop, making it effortless to make simple graphics, and also supports extremely powerful tools for more complex stuff. It's good for everything from a 2 minute infographic to print quality page layouts for publications. It's free and open-source.

Looks perfect, thanks.

How many are thinking of deleting their Reddit accounts entirely once there's some confidence in this move succeeding reasonably well?

While I've occasionally commented on some other subs, chiefly SSC, I'm also a believer in pruning out the social medias you're not actually needing or using out of your life entirely, and the transfer would largely render Reddit into that category, for me.

I'm keeping mine. I use my account for generic hobby stuff, asking general questions about new places/things, and business. Reddit for all its flaws is still a good forum for non CW things.

Sometimes I want an answer to something specific, fast. Niche subreddits almost always deliver on that regard.

Same here. Certain subs are very helpful because of their experts' replies. Other -- as a quick way to assess range of opinions on the topic. Nice balance between interactivity and quality (eg StackExchange is usually high quality, but less interactive)

The culture war account most certainly. The other ones?maybe.

I'm going to stop discussing political and culture war topics on Reddit. It's been a bad platform for those kinds of discussions for a few years now and is only getting worse. But it's still a great platform for non-political interests and hobbies, especially if you stick to smaller subs.

I am split on whether I should delete all my posts, because fuck reddit, or leaving them there, because the communities deserve to have archives.

I've just copypasted all my Reddit posts (well, almost all, not the most recent ones) to a doc file, and am planning to categorize them and use them as grist for blog posts.

Why not just request a full export from Reddit directly? You get a link to an archive which contains comments.csv file; it's exhaustive.


Is there a tool for doing this? I do have a database of reddit posts, mostly as an exercise for myself, but I never ran it against my whole profile.

You can use to do a lot of queried searches, and "your username, on The Motte" would be an easy task for it. If you're handy with a scripting language you can use it to dump JSON files containing everything you're looking for.

Yeah, should add that I used camas.unddit to fetch my posts.

Probably? I'm just going through them one by one, though. It's kind of relaxing.

I have a strong urge to use my 10 years of archived comments to train a GPT-3 bot and just set a few loose to keep commenting on a regular basis.

It could only raise the level of discourse over there.

I am very pro this.

Back them up and provide them here somehow.

I would hate to lose my place for discussing the local baseball team. But maybe I need to get out and do that more IRL anyway.

It's also different to /r/Drama which was and is comprised in large part of retirees from various other internet shitholes.

Is this an observation you made yourself, or is it a running gag? I do recall some time ago perceptive lolcow who called it a '4chan retirement home' and I found that piercing.

In any case, you really should try something like RSS or gaining sovereignty over your 'feed' - leaving it up to a third party like Reddit is asking for trouble.

For my part, I'd given up on using Reddit, so the Motte moving offsite gained a user, rather than losing one. I don't think the problem was banning as such, it was an ever-constricting line around what you can say which was so unpleasant. Living under a censor where the rules are deliberately made opaque is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a community that so highly populated by autistic people.

I found myself trending to individually check subreddits anyways, so I found that except for a bookmark which I already had on my toolbar my habits haven't changed much. As I've seen the more interesting subs constantly get maligned or removed for one reason or another despite their intellectual and milque-toast (seeing /r/itsafetish get banned was a travesty) posting rules I think it's ultimately for the better that Motte is proactive on migrating to a new forum instead of being eventually quarantined or banned with no preparation whatsoever.

I'll probably hang onto a Reddit account, maybe not the one I used on themotte, for a while. Until the archives become unusable or unsearchable with google. Reddit remains a useful repository of eg hobby information. There are probably comparable or better forums out there for each individual purpose, but I don't know what they are off-hand, and it's easier to search "Reddit typical repairs e46 3 series" and find a nice thread already put together, than it is to find which bmw forum is any good, figure out how to navigate it, etc. It seems unlikely that /r/weightroom or /r/trucks are gonna get banned for political reasons any time soon, though I guess anything is possible.

Can you usefully search reddit comments using google? I try to find my own stuff and it is incredibly difficult unless it was the main post.

Google is useless for Reddit comments, especially in big threads. camas works much better for finding specific content.

I've never tried to find my own work, so IDK that you can find a specific comment that easily. For me it's more like I hear about a new training program and search "Reddit /r/weightroom super squats" which tends to get me threads from /r/weightroom about Super Squats. If I couldn't do that, I'd probably lose interest.

and it's easier to search "Reddit typical repairs e46 3 series" and find a nice thread already put together, than it is to find which bmw forum is any good, figure out how to navigate it, etc.

Yeah, this is the problem I run into whenever I try to wean myself off reddit. I can just use Cold Turkey to block Instagram and other social media easily cause I don't also use them for information every once in a while. With reddit it's inevitably a problem. Which is unfortunate because it has too much of the stuff I don't like about Instagram, Twitter and so on.

So I'm keeping an account.

Already deleted.

Your social media rule is a good one, but I take it a step further and I actively try to cut out even the things I am using.

Recently I've been looking for off-BigTech communities, and it's crazy what a desolate wasteland the internet has become. Anything that can be done to promote these indie alternatives, should be.

Have you done anything recently to increase the amount of love in the world?

I started working out. Self love is still more love in the world hombre.

I continue to visit my family three sundays a month for a family dinner, they're my favorite people and it keeps me grounded.

Nutted in a chick, now I love her.

Not a lot, got a load of problems to deal with. I'm sincerely polite and nice to people I deal with? I try to keep my marriage affectionate even when its sorely stress-tested? I somewhat regularly check up on family even when I have little time for it? Feels more like love damage control and love maintenance than love expansion.

I met some guy at a gas station who had Phocomelia in both of his arms. (The thing that makes your arms look like baby arms) I asked him if I could buy him a drink, and he said a mountain dew, so I bought him 2 dews and a bag of popcorn.

Never knew such syndrome exists; reminds me of T-rex jokes... sad


How many comments did the average culture war thread get by the end of the week on Reddit? Want to compare to comment counts here

Not removed! My general target was 3000, though a lot of recent ones dropped down due to various topic-specific megathreads. Manifold Markets doesn't seem to be working right now so I can't point to the market, but 1500 was the target I set for The Changeover Is Successful.


Have you discussed moderation somewhere already? Have any moderators agreed to follow us here? Also I am grateful for the worked you've put into making this possible.

We've actually got all the active moderators moved over. I admit I'm expecting one or two of them to decide it's not worth the time investment and drop out, but they're here!

At some point I'll probably end up doing another Doge Moderator Choice, although I don't know how that's going to work in the absence of a (terrible) chat feature.

Anyone have good fantasy or sci-fi recommendations? I have read a ton of speculative fiction and am always looking for more good, completed series. I tend not to read something if it's ongoing. Sadly the subreddits I've found for fantasy don't tend to skew towards my taste.

Some examples of more obscure fantasy series I've enjoyed:

  • Malazan

  • The Traitor Son Cycle

  • The Black Company

  • The Second Apocalypse

  • The Inda Quartet

  • Chronicles of the Black Gate

  • Mother of Learning

  • Commonwealth Saga

  • Night's Dawn Trilogy

  • The Void Trilogy

  • Diaspora (Greg Egan)

  • Aching God Series

  • Annihilation

  • The Broken Earth

  • Memory, Sorrow, Thorn

  • Book of the New Sun

  • Otherland

  • Gravity Dreams

  • Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  • Magician series by Feist

As you may be able to tell I prefer my series to be somewhat morally gray, and at least try to have a system of magic/technology that makes internal, consistent sense.

I've heard Worth the Candle is good but haven't gotten around to reading it. Any other suggestions in line with the books/series I listed above?

Diaspora was so good, I've read it three times.

Blindsight by Peter Watts

Three Body Problem trilogy by Cixin Liu

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

The Culture should definitely be on your list. Player of Games and Excession are total bops

I have also read it, and love it. This list was a bit rushed I see now!

Blindsight, by Peter Watts.

  1. Brave new world is my favorite sci-fi book (a classic which has actually aged well)

  2. revelation Space is superb hard sf which centers around the Fermi paradox (while revelation space is great the rest of the series is disappointing). The characters are definitely morally grey although it’s usually more a case of being unable to identify what is actually good. Alistir Reynolds is my favorite contemporary author, he has written many short stories if you wanted to get a sense of his style (Troika is my favorite)

  3. Passage at arms is another one by glen cook. It’s a sci-fi novel which is easily described as Das Boat in space

It's Das Boot.

How dare you get your German wrong!

Have you read anything by Guy Gavriel Kay? He writes mostly standalone fantasy novels, often with little or no magic and sometimes veering close to historical fiction, but with an epic scope. My favorite is Tigana, which is inspired by medieval/renaissance Italy and has a comparatively large amount of magic. Another good one is The Lions of Al-Rassan, which is inspired by medieval Spain.

I would also recommend The Iron Dragon's Daughter and The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick, They're very well written, weird and grim novels set in a steampunkish fantasy world.

If you liked Diaspora by Greg Egan, I'd recommend his short stories. He has several really good collections (I've read Axiomatic, Oceanic and Luminous), but I think he has many stories available on his website. This is one of my favourites:

If you read Magician series by Feist, did you get to the Empire series, that he wrote together with Janny Wurts? It's more political and a bit of a precursor the Game of Thrones, and I liked it a lot more than the main Magician series.

Thank you! Yes Kay is incredible although I've only read Lions and the Sarantine Mosaic. I should check out more of his work.

Not sure if it'll be up your alley based on what you liked so far, since I haven't read almost all of them, but I really liked The Golden Oecumene trilogy. It's set in the very far future, in what I'd call a trans-humanist utopia. It's hard to describe without spoiling it, so I'll just quote the plot introduction from Wikipedia:

The author's first novel, it revolves around the protagonist Phaethon (full name Phaethon Prime Rhadamanth Humodified (augment) Uncomposed, Indepconsciousness, Base Neuroformed, Silver-Gray Manorial Schola, Era 7043). The novel concerns Phaethon's discovery that parts of his past have been edited out of his mind—apparently by himself.

Added to my list thanks.

For epic/classical fantasy, I always recommend Patricia McKillip’s Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy. It’s my ur-example of how to worldbuild outside of a Tolkien nation war/angel war or D&D adventuring party in a land of many gods context. It’s at once the most personal and the grandest story I’ve read in fantasy, operatic in scale and tone.

I also recommend Matthew Woodring Stover’s SF / fantasy series, the Acts of Caine. Starting with Heroes Die, we follow the son of a failed freedom radical on a cyberpunk dystopia world, an actor with a brain implant which allows his studio bosses to stream his adventures live to the world’s paying customers in full five sense VR. He travels through a portal regularly to an alternate Earth where magic is real and there are various Tolkien-esque/D&D-style races, and commits acts of destabilization (assassinations, starting and ending wars, etc.) to keep the masses entertained. The novel’s trouble begins when the cult of a strange new god captures his ex-wife, a river goddess and an actor herself. Where this novel shines is the visceral descriptions of bodily combat; the writer is a martial artist. It gets more philosophical in the second and fourth novels, and delves more into worldbuilding in the third, but the first novel is one of my top five books of all time. Once I reach the 2/3 point, I can’t put it down until I finish it, even if that’s 2am.

Riddle-Master of Hed is so overlooked. It should be in top 10 lists.

I will check out your 1st recommendation, I've read acts of caine and I actually shouted it out in the book thread.

Feist has more books set in Midkemia that are worth reading if you haven't already. The series Shadow of a Dark Queen > Shards of a Broken Crown is particularly good.

Yup I've read all 12 (?)

A Deadly Education is probably right up your alley:

Looks good, but like I mentioned I have a pretty strict rule about only reading finished series.

The last book comes out this month, if that helps.

Larry Coreia's Son of the Black Sword and Richard Morgan's The Steel Remains are both interesting intersections of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, and I'm still not entirely sure which side of the line they're on.

They both have a lot of fantasy tropes: disillusioned anti-heroes, talking swords, divine messengers, etc

But they also have suggestions of inter-dimensional travel and UFOs that may or may not suggest the setting is a computer simulation.

I've read the steel remains and quite liked it. If you like those stories the acts of caine sounds pretty similar.

You've probably tried it, but how about The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan? I recommend this because I like it, and I also liked Malazan, The Black Company, Mother of Learning, and the Magician series, so it's possible that you might also like the series.

Unfortunately wheel of time is just one series I could never quite finish. I read the first 7 or so books but really lost steam around there.

Have you tried any Brandon Sanderson? I enjoyed many of the books on your list and also love his books, many of which are standalone or in completed series.

I enjoy him but most of his plots are a little too small scale, I will say that storm light archives is pretty awesome so far but I quit reading it because it will take so long to get finished.

If you haven't read The Expanse, give it a go. It really is exceptionally good. Comparable to A Song of Ice and Fire, but tighter, and it sticks the landing. The worldbuilding is very strong, the plot is intricate and internally consistent. There are a few weaker points around characterization, particularly female characters, but overall one of the better works of fiction I've read.

I'll second The Expanse, and recommend The Dagger and the Coin and The Long Price Quartet by (half of) the same author[1]. All three fit your criteria of having defined (if imperfectly understood) magic/tech and focusing on the conflicts between somewhat-sympathetic groups.

If I were to blurb all three series at once, it would go: People are meddling with forces they don't understand. You, as the reader, get a better view of the upcoming disaster than any individual character, but they really should have known better. The disaster causes drastic changes that nobody was adequately prepared for, and everyone has to readjust to the new world before the next thing happens.

1 "James S. A. Corey" is Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank. Those two series are by Abraham.

Good lord how did I forget about those two series, Long price especially is an incredible series and one of my favorites. The magic system and cultural world building is unparalleled.

Also read the expanse and loved it.

I have been enjoying Pact and Pale. Its magic system is internally robust and well-developed, in my opinion. Sadly, it doesn't quite meet your criteria three times: its system has baked-in morality (though it's not linked to contemporary morality and it's one of the core conflicts of the serials that characters don't always agree with it), it is more like TVTropes than science, and Pale is ongoing.

Wildbow is great, really enjoyed worm. I can usually tolerate baked in morality if it's written well, but the ongoing nature of the story is usually a dealbreaker.

Pact is finished.

Didn't know this, thanks.

House of the New Sun

Did you mean Book Of The New Sun by Gene Wolfe? Because the only thing I found on google for HotNS was a reddit post by a user named "VerbalAcrobatics".

Ahh yes, thank you. I was going partially by memory.

Now that Stable Diffusion has been public for a week - what will be the next field to be revolutionized by AI?

(And if your answer is "writing" or "music", I'd like to hear what field you think will be next after those. Those are obvious candidates because AI systems are already in use in those fields and/or will be shortly, but due to structural differences between those fields and the visual arts, I'm skeptical that AI will have the same seismic impact there that it's currently having in art.)

Finance, if it hasn't already behind the scenes.

There's a lot of intermediaries who currently get paid pretty handsomely for a job that is, at core, just channeling money from one account to another and explaining what they did and why to a human. And 'money' just means a digital entry on a ledger for most purposes, now.

I see no reason why an 'investment/financial advisor' can't be completely replaced by a bot that listens to the customer's situation and goals, and based on its learning from a dataset of billions of similar situations, spits out recommendations for how to invest or otherwise distribute one's money to achieve that goal.

Same for stock brokers. Same for financial analysts. Same for Tax advisors, even (see my point about law, below).

Factors vitiating against this: Regulations and distrust of AIs to handle one's money.

I know that banks and credit card companies are already using AI to detect fraud and handle customer service. The question is when they'll allow/be allowed to give the AI the ability to access customer accounts directly.

Also: Law. At least the transactional side. There are already HUGE databases of highly structured information about every single topic that is relevant to the practice of law, and legal writing is, by it's nature, very predictable and rigidly formal such that any AI should easily be able to produce human-passing work that can match all but the most learned and innovative jurists for quality.

I have to assume we are mere months away from some company announcing that they've trained an AI to draft and analyze contracts and similar legal documents, AND to draft motions complete with legal citations based on a description of the desired motion and outcome.

This kills legal assistant and paralegal jobs instantly. It also carves a big gaping whole out of available attorney jobs.

Acting. Once we have a Stable Diffusion for movies (Any guesses on when this happens?), few will hire actors. We will likely have an explosion in content as anyone who can write can make a film, and lots of book get quickly made into movies. I can't wait for the Worm movie.

Scams. Imagine an AI that calls your grandmother claiming to need money, sounding exactly like you, using voice recognition and GPT-N (fine-tuned on previous successful scam calls and prompted by a selection of your own social media information) to reply.

It'd work just as well on non-English speakers too, so nations that have up to now been more or less immune to Indian/Nigerian scammers due to the language barrier will now get targeted just as easily — and they don't have any sort of resistance from being exposed to the current "weak" versions of the scams either.

For a few months many of my neighbors repeatedly got scam phone calls with my name and number on the Caller ID. I supposed in a few years these calls will also have my voice.

Speaking of phone scams, does anyone know of a way to block an entire area code minus a whitelist? I get so many spam calls (or group texts; those are the worst because of the other victims' subsequent "remove me from this list" mass-replies) purporting to come from my home region, where everyone who'd have a reason to contact me is already in my contacts, and blocking every other available number on those sequential group-texts one by one gets tiring. (Though I expect I've taken an appreciable bite out of all the nearest few thousand numbers already, anyway...)

Unfortunately I think sales will be sooner than most people think. The AI to automatically get rid of your accent in real time on a phone call already exists - from there you only need to be able to accurately feed phrases/words to the AI and it will be a better salesperson than most could hope to be. An AI also doesn't get discouraged, which from what I have seen is the #1 reason people leave sales.

I think music will be differentiated into different groups. People love concerts, and being able to physically play an instrument has always been, to my mind at least, much more impressive than being an artist. It's 'cooler' if you will, to play guitar than to wield a paintbrush.

Writing is, well, the writing is already on the wall. GPT-3 is incredible, and scaling shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. (1) I'm extremely confident that many lower-quality blogs are now entirely GPT-3, and instead of hiring ghostwriters, which is a shockingly common practice, writers will just use GPT-4 or 5 to offload their work. I'm neutral on whether or not this is a good thing.

Ironically I now think taxi drivers, who I once thought would be the first to go, will probably last pretty long. Mistakes are far costlier when driving than when creating a piece of art, or a piece of writing. One of the ways I view different jobs is how serious the immediate consequences are when you fail.

1 -

I think sales will be offloaded on the lowest end - if you do direct marketing, yes. Phone calls, maybe. The interpersonal relationships people still work on in business-to-business sales I don't see being co-opted by AI at any point before AI co-opts all human roles. The role of 'maintain a relationship (partially in realspace) with a human being in order to understand them and sell them things' can certainly be facilitated by AI, but it seems implausible that role can be turned over to machines before we build something fully general and capable of replacing human beings entirely.

I expect less new fields getting revolutionized and more currently AI friendly fields getting huge upgrades.

Imagine call center AI that actually sounds fully human or AI assistants that sound fully human.

However, sticking to the spirit of your question, my answer would be mathematics. With Mathematicians only existing to reevaluate the solutions given by AI to confirm they would work. Mathematics would become far more an engineering field than a person coming up with a solution on their own field.

I think this is misguided because it's the opposite of what currently happen, with theorem provers doing so much of the evaluation work relative to the 'creative' work. I can definitely see AI expanding the search space, though, with mathematicians working with the machine to find more novel or interesting results as a consequence. Much like art, I think AI are at the present time both a job-destroyer for the bottom end of the market (want your fursona fucking a famous politician? No longer do you have to pay $50, you can just get the machine to do it!) such as commissions but will ultimately enable people who understand art (colour, composition, etc, and consequently how to more reliably get the machine to do the work you want) to create more interesting and varied things at the top end.

Academic mathematicians are towards the top end of what you'd consider 'stem jobs' IQ-wise, so I'd anticipate a similar effect there.

Theorem provers do all of the evaluation work ... for those specific results which have been painstakingly translated into the theorem prover's language, which to a first order approximation is zero percent of the new and interesting results.

Training a transformer AI on MetaMath (or on Coq results, whatever large database has both complete proofs and adequately verbose comments), combined with the verifier itself, might be enough at this point to create a "math-paper to formal-proof" translator. Skimming through comments I see a lot of links back to the papers which originally published each theorem, which certainly ought to qualify as "adequately verbose" even if the database comments themselves are fairly terse.

Doing creative work would of course be more interesting ... if we could only define what's "interesting". 378+135=513 is a theorem among infinite others, but nobody cares about it. We tend to like math if it eventually has endpoints with real-world applications, and it's a bit hard to put that into an evaluable loss function. We also tend to like theorems if they're more general, and if they're short to state but long to prove, and if they're on the shortest path to proving other theorems, and maybe there's something to those criteria that could be quantified well enough to point a Neural Net Monte Carlo Tree Search in the right direction?

AI is more likely to replace technical jobs than manual jobs though. It's easier to program an AI to figure out a trillion parameters of data then to teach it to walk. Welcome to the upside down where the safest job will be factory worker.

Said tongue in cheek.