This is the bi-weekly open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:
2. I’m still trying to figure out how to relieve pressure on the open threads. I’m moving away from the idea of a forum (which wasn’t too popular) to having more regular open threads on the blog. I just need to figure out how to make it not clutter and detract from regular threads. One possibility would be to have even-numbered open threads have pictures and announcements and so on, and odd-numbered open threads be just the words “this is the open thread” so that it doesn’t take up as much room in feeds and the front page. A more interesting possibility: have the open thread be a hidden post like this. There would be a tab on the top, by the Comments tag and the About tag and all the others, that says Open Thread. It would link to whatever the hidden open thread was. After 1000 comments, some bot would automatically post a new hidden open thread and the location to which the tab directed would change. That way there would always be an open thread with fewer than 1000 comments. Would people use this? Would anybody want to program this for me?
3. Best comments of the week are people trying to explain mutational load to me, including Simon here, Gwern here, Ilai Bar-Natan here with a really interesting point that sexual reproduction is necessary to control mutational load (is this widely agreed and appreciated? should it be?), and Rosalind Arden (author of some of the papers my post cited) here.
4. Note a new advertisement by Numerai, which describes itself as “participatory cybernetic finance” and “an attempt at a hedge fund crowd-sourcing stock market predictions”. It offers prizes for algorithms that can predict a dataset they provide which corresponds to some features of the stock market that they plan to make money off of. I kind of thought the sort of people who have AIs that can predict the stock market would probably be, uh, busy with other things, but apparently this is a well-investigated field with a lot of possible incremental progress.