Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Seminar on Black Hole Information and Quantum Hair, Yangzhou University (video)


Center for Gravitation and Cosmology, Yangzhou University (May 16 2022) 

There were several good questions at the end, and a discussion of the following rather fundamental topic.

In the conventional description of quantum measurement a pure state evolves into a mixed state, with probabilities of distinct outcomes (non-unitary von Neumann projection). 

See, e.g., 

Against Measurement (John Bell)

What Hawking suggested is that a black hole (i.e., gravity) causes pure states to evolve into mixed states. But if pure states already evolve into mixed states in ordinary quantum mechanics, why is it problematic for black hole physics (gravity) to have this effect? 

Title: Quantum Hair and Black Hole Information 

Abstract: I discuss recent results concerning the quantum state of the gravitational field of a compact matter source such as a black hole. These results demonstrate the existence of quantum hair, violating the classical No Hair Theorems. I then discuss how this quantum hair affects Hawking radiation, allowing unitary evaporation of black holes. Small corrections to leading order Hawking radiation amplitudes, with weak dependence on the external graviton state, are sufficient to produce a pure final radiation state. The radiation state violates the factorization assumption made in standard formulations of the information paradox. These conclusions are consequences of long wavelength properties of quantum gravity: no special assumptions are made concerning short distance (Planckian) physics.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Quantum Hair and Black Hole Information -- Quantum Gravity and All of That seminar series (video)


May 5 2022 talk in the international seminar series Quantum Gravity and All of That

The talk is pitched at a slightly more expert audience than previous versions I have given. 

There are interesting comments by and discussions with G. Veneziano, V. Rubakov, Suvrat Raju and others during the seminar. 

The Zoom client on ChromeOS does not allow me to see others in the meeting when I share my slides fullscreen. So at times I was not sure whose questions I was responding to! 

Title: Quantum Hair and Black Hole Information 
Abstract: I discuss recent results concerning the quantum state of the gravitational field of a compact matter source such as a black hole. These results demonstrate the existence of quantum hair, violating the classical No Hair Theorems. I then discuss how this quantum hair affects Hawking radiation, allowing unitary evaporation of black holes. Small corrections to leading order Hawking radiation amplitudes, with weak dependence on the external graviton state, are sufficient to produce a pure final radiation state. The radiation state violates the factorization assumption made in standard formulations of the information paradox. These conclusions are consequences of long wavelength properties of quantum gravity: no special assumptions are made concerning short distance (Planckian) physics.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Raghuveer Parthasarathy: Four Physical Principles and Biophysics -- Manifold podcast #11


Raghu Parthasarathy is the Alec and Kay Keith Professor of Physics at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on biophysics, exploring systems in which the complex interactions between individual components, such as biomolecules or cells, can give rise to simple and robust physical patterns. 

Raghu is the author of a recent popular science book, So Simple a Beginning: How Four Physical Principles Shape Our Living World. 

Steve and Raghu discuss: 

0:00 Introduction 

1:34 Early life, transition from Physics to Biophysics 

20:15 So Simple a Beginning: discussion of the Four Physical Principles in the title, which govern biological systems 

26:06 DNA prediction 

37:46 Machine learning / causality in science 

46:23 Scaling (the fourth physical principle) 

54:12 Who the book is for and what high schoolers are learning in their bio and physics classes 

1:05:41 Science funding, grants, running a research lab 

1:09:12 Scientific careers and radical sub-optimality of the existing system 


Raghuveer Parthasarathy's lab at the University of Oregon - https://pages.uoregon.edu/raghu/ 
Raghuveer Parthasarathy's blog the Eighteenth Elephant - https://eighteenthelephant.com/

Added from comments:
key holez • 2 days ago 
It was a fascinating episode, and I immediately went out and ordered the book! One question that came to mind: given how much of the human genome is dedicated to complex regulatory mechanisms and not proteins as such, it seems unintuitive to me that so much of heritability seems to be additive. I would have thought that in a system with lots of complicated,messy on/off switches, small genetic differences would often lead to large phenotype differences -- but if what I've heard about polygenic prediction is right, then, empirically, assuming everything is linear seems to work just fine (outside of rare variants, maybe). Is there a clear explanation for how complex feedback patterns give rise to linearity in the end? Is it just another manifestation of the central limit theorem...?
steve hsu 
This is an active area of research. It is somewhat surprising even to me how well linearity / additivity holds in human genetics. Searches for non-linear effects on complex traits have been largely unsuccessful -- i.e., in the sense that most of the variance seems to be controlled by additive effects. By now this has been investigated for large numbers of traits including major diseases, quantitive traits such as blood biomarkers, height, cognitive ability, etc. 
One possible explanation is that because humans are so similar to each other, and have passed through tight evolutionary bottlenecks, *individual differences* between humans are mainly due to small additive effects, located both in regulatory and coding regions. 
To genetically edit a human into a frog presumably requires many changes in loci with big nonlinear effects. However, it may be the case that almost all such genetic variants are *fixed* in the human population: what makes two individuals different from each other is mainly small additive effects. 
Zooming out slightly, the implications for human genetic engineering are very positive. Vast pools of additive variance means that multiplex gene editing will not be impossibly hard...
This topic is discussed further in the review article: https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.05870

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

How We Learned, Then Forgot, About Human Intelligence... And Witnessing the Live Breakdown of Academia (podcast interview with Cactus Chu)

This is a long interview I did recently with Cactus Chu, a math prodigy turned political theorist and podcaster. (Unfortunately I can't embed the podcast here.)

3:24 Interview Starts  
15:49 Cactus' Experience with High Math People 
19:49 High School Sports 
21:26 Comparison to Intelligence 
26:29 Is Lack of Understanding due to Denial or Ignorance? 
29:29 The Past and Present of Selection in Academia 
37:02 How Universities Look from the Inside 
44:19 Informal Networks Replacing Credentials 
48:37 Capture of Research Positions 
50:24 Progressivism as Demagoguery Against the Self-Made 
55:31 Innumeracy is Common 
1:06:53 Understanding Innumerate People 
1:13:53 Skill Alignment at Cactus' High School 
1:18:12 Free Speech in Academia 
1:21:00 You Shouldn't Fire Exceptional People 
1:23:03 The Anti-Excellence Progressives 
1:28:42 Rawls, Nozick, and Technology 
1:34:00 Freedom = Variance = Inequality 
1:37:58 Dating Apps 
1:41:27 Jumping Into Social Problems From a Technical Background 
1:41:50 Steve's High School Pranks 
1:46:43 996 and Cactus' High School 
1:50:26 The Vietnam War and Social Change 
1:53:07 Are Podcasts the Future? 
1:59:37 The Power of New Things 
2:02:56 The Birth of Twitter 
2:07:27 Selection Creates Quality 
2:10:21 Incentives of University Departments 
2:16:29 Woke Bureaucrats 
2:27:59 Building a New University 
2:30:42 What needs more order? 
2:31:56 What needs more chaos?

An automated (i.e., imperfect) transcript of our discussion.

Here's an excerpt from the podcast:

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Complex Trait Prediction: Methods and Protocols (Springer 2022)

My research group contributed a chapter to this new book on Complex Trait Prediction (see below). The book is somewhat unique, covering applications to humans, plants, and animals all in a single volume. 
Complex Trait Prediction: Methods and Protocols (Springer Nature) 
Nourollah Ahmadi and Jérôme Bartholomé 
CIRAD, UMR AGAP Institut, Montpellier, France


About this book 
This volume explores the conceptual framework and the practical issues related to genomic prediction of complex traits in human medicine and in animal and plant breeding. The book is organized into five parts. Part One reminds molecular genetics approaches intending to predict phenotypic variations. Part Two presents the principles of genomic prediction of complex traits, and reviews factors that affect its reliability. Part Three describes genomic prediction methods, including machine-learning approaches, accounting for different degree of biological complexity, and reviews the associated computer-packages. Part Four reports on emerging trends such as phenomic prediction and incorporation into genomic prediction models of “omics” data and crop growth models. Part Five is dedicated to lessons learned from case studies in the fields of human health and animal and plant breeding, and to methods for analysis of the economic effectiveness of genomic prediction. 
Written in the highly successful Methods in Molecular Biology series format, the book provides theoretical bases and practical guidelines for an informed decision making of practitioners and identifies pertinent routes for further methodological researches. Cutting-edge and thorough, Complex Trait Predictions: Methods and Protocols is a valuable resource for scientists and researchers who are interested in learning more about this important and developing field.
Our article (pp 421–446):
From Genotype to Phenotype: Polygenic Prediction of Complex Human Traits 
T. Raben, L. Lello, E.Widen, and S. Hsu 
Decoding the genome confers the capability to predict characteristics of the organism (phenotype) from DNA (genotype). We describe the present status and future prospects of genomic prediction of complex traits in humans. Some highly heritable complex phenotypes such as height and other quantitative traits can already be predicted with reasonable accuracy from DNA alone. For many diseases, including important common conditions such as coronary artery disease, breast cancer, type I and II diabetes, individuals with outlier polygenic scores (e.g., top few percent) have been shown to have 5 or even 10 times higher risk than average. Several psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and autism also fall into this category. We discuss related topics such as the genetic architecture of complex traits, sibling validation of polygenic scores, and applications to adult health, in vitro fertilization (embryo selection), and genetic engineering.
Ungated arXiv version.

Previous discussion: 

See also Big Chickens.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Has Hawking's Black Hole Information Paradox Been Resolved? (Video of MSU Theory Seminar 4/22/2022)


Theory seminar at Michigan State University April 22 2022. 

Title: Has Hawking's Black Hole Information Paradox Been Resolved? 

Abstract: In 1976 Stephen Hawking argued that black holes cause pure states to evolve into mixed states. Put another way, quantum information that falls into a black hole does not escape in the form of radiation. Rather, it vanishes completely from our universe, thereby violating a fundamental property of quantum mechanics called unitarity. I give a pedagogical introduction to this paradox, suitable for non-experts. Then I discuss recent results concerning the quantum state of the gravitational field of a compact matter source. These results demonstrate the existence of quantum hair, violating the classical No Hair Theorems. I then discuss how this quantum hair affects Hawking radiation, allowing unitary evaporation of black holes. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Carl Zha: Xinjiang, Ukraine, and U.S.-China relations — Manifold podcast #10


Carl Zha is the host of the Silk and Steel podcast, which focuses on China, history, culture, and politics. He is a former engineer now based in Bali, Indonesia. 

Find Carl on Twitter @CarlZha

Steve and Carl discuss: 

1. Carl’s background: Chongqing to Chicago, Caltech to Bali, Life as a digital nomad 

2. Xinjiang (35:20) 

3. Ukraine (1:03:51) 

4. China-Russia relationship (1:16:01) 

5. U.S.-China competition (1:49:26) 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Black Hole Information and Quantum Hair in 10 minutes! (video)


This is a very nice 10 minute introduction to the black hole information paradox, and to our work on quantum hair. 

Parth G's video already has more than 10x as many views as my academic talk! Slides

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Scott Aaronson: Quantum Computing, Unsolvable Problems, & Artificial Intelligence — Manifold podcast #9


Scott Aaronson is the David J. Bruton Centennial Professor of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin, and director of its Quantum Information Center. Previously, he taught for nine years in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. His research interests center around the capabilities and limits of quantum computers, and computational complexity theory more generally. 

Scott also writes the blog Shtetl Optimized: https://scottaaronson.blog/ 

Steve and Scott discuss: 

1. Scott's childhood and education, first exposure to mathematics and computers. 

2. How he became interested in computational complexity, pursuing it rather than AI/ML. 

3. The development of quantum computation and quantum information theory from the 1980s to the present. 

4. Scott's work on quantum supremacy. 

5. AGI, AI Safety

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Sebastian Mallaby: Venture capital as an engine of courage — Manifold Podcast #8


Sebastian Mallaby is a writer and journalist whose work covers financial markets, international relations, innovation, and technology. He is the author of "The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future." 

Steve and Sebastian discuss venture capital, tech startups, business model and technology innovation, global adoption of the Silicon Valley model, and the future of innovation. 


Friday, March 18, 2022

Quantum Hair from Gravity (published version in Physical Review Letters)

This is the published version of our paper on Quantum Hair on black holes, in Physical Review Letters:
Quantum Hair from Gravity 
Xavier Calmet, Roberto Casadio, Stephen D. H. Hsu, and Folkert Kuipers 
Phys. Rev. Lett. 128, 111301 – Published 17 March 2022 
We explore the relationship between the quantum state of a compact matter source and of its asymptotic graviton field. For a matter source in an energy eigenstate, the graviton state is determined at leading order by the energy eigenvalue. Insofar as there are no accidental energy degeneracies there is a one to one map between graviton states on the boundary of spacetime and the matter source states. Effective field theory allows us to compute a purely quantum gravitational effect which causes the subleading asymptotic behavior of the graviton state to depend on the internal structure of the source. This establishes the existence of ubiquitous quantum hair due to gravitational effects.
The paper establishes that the quantum state of the graviton field (equivalently, the spacetime metric) of a compact matter source depends on the quantum state of the source. This can be established without a short distance theory of quantum gravity -- i.e., near the Planck length. Our results are long wavelength effects and are insensitive to the details of short distance physics, such as whether gravitons are excitations of strings, or something else, at the most fundamental level.

Classical theorems in General Relativity indicate that black holes are nearly featureless -- only a few aspects of the hole, such as its total mass, charge, and angular momentum, are manifested in its asymptotic gravitational field. We show that this "no hair" property does not extend to the quantum realm. Indeed at the quantum level the situation is the opposite: the full quantum state of the compact object can be recovered from the asymptotic graviton state.

In this companion paper we show how these results resolve Hawking's black hole information paradox, which has been an open problem for 46 years.
Quantum hair and black hole information 
Physics Letters B Volume 827, 10 April 2022, 136995 
Xavier Calmet and Stephen D.H. Hsu 
It has been shown that the quantum state of the graviton field outside a black hole horizon carries information about the internal state of the hole. We explain how this allows unitary evaporation: the final radiation state is a complex superposition which depends linearly on the initial black hole state. Under time reversal, the radiation state evolves back to the original black hole quantum state. Formulations of the information paradox on a fixed semiclassical geometry describe only a small subset of the evaporation Hilbert space, and do not exclude overall unitarity.

Note to experts: the companion paper explains why Mathur's Theorem (i.e., entanglement entropy must always increase by ~ln 2 with each emitted qubit) is evaded once one considers BH evolution in the full radiation Hilbert space. The radiation Hilbert space is much larger than the small subspace which remains after conditioning on any specific spacetime background or BH recoil trajectory. Even exponentially small entanglement between different radiation states (mediated by quantum hair) can unitarize the evaporation process.

This is also explained in detail in the talk video and slides linked below.

Press coverage:




Earlier discussion, with more background on the Hawking paradox. See especially the important work by Suvrat Raju and collaborators: 

Quantum Hair and Black Hole Information (December 2021) 

Monday, March 14, 2022

"The Pressure to Conform is Enormous": Steve Hsu on Affirmative Action, Assimilation and IQ Outliers (CSPI Podcast with Richard Hanania)


Another great conversation with Richard Hanania. 

Some rough timestamps: 
Begin: American society, growing up as child of immigrants 

18m: Russia-Ukraine conflict (eve of invasion), geopolitical implications (China, India, Germany, EU) 

38m: Affirmative Action, Harvard case at SCOTUS 

54m: Woke leftists at the university, destruction of meritocracy, STEM vs Social Justice advocacy, Sokal Hoax 

1h25m: Academic economics, 2008 credit crisis, Do economists test theories? 

1h33m: Maverick thinking, Agreeableness, Aspergers, Pressure to conform 

1h39m: Far-tail intelligence, Jeff Bezos and physics, progress in science and technology
Full transcript at Richard's substack.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Genomic Prediction’s Stephen Hsu: Making superhumans will be possible (Sunday Times podcast)

Danny Fortson (Sunday Times) is based in Silicon Valley and has a regular podcast on technology. I really enjoyed this conversation.
Genomic Prediction’s Stephen Hsu: Making superhumans will be possible 
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Stephen Hsu, co-founder of Genomic Prediction, to talk about the plummeting price of genomic sequencing (5:00), predicting height and cancer (9:10), mining biobanks (14:25), scoring embryos (19:00), why investors are staying anonymous (28:00), the need for a society-wide discussion (32:30), when he was accused of being a eugenicist (37:25), how powerful genetic prediction can be (43:15), genetic engineering (49:45), and why Denmark is the future (59:30).

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Vlatko Vedral: Oxford Theoretical Physicist on Quantum Superposition of Living Creatures — Manifold Podcast #7


Vlatko Vedral is Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford and Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the National University of Singapore. He is known for his research on the theory of Entanglement and Quantum Information Theory. 

Steve and Vlatko discuss: 

1. History of quantum information theory, entanglement, and quantum computing 

2. Recent lab experiments that create superposition states of macroscopic objects, including a living creature (tardigrade) 

3. Whether quantum mechanics implies the existence of many worlds: are you in a superposition state right now? 

4. Present status and future of quantum computing


Entanglement Between Superconducting Qubits and a Tardigrade: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2112.07978.pdf 

Macroscopic Superposition States: entanglement of a macroscopic living organism (tardigrade) with a superconducting qubit (Infoproc blog discussion including Sidney Coleman talk Quantum Mechanics In Your Face!) 

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Geopolitics and Empire podcast: The End of the Unipolar Moment & the Cementing in Blood of the Eurasian Alliance


This was just recorded two days ago. Enjoy! 

From the show notes:
Physicist, startup founder, and polymath Steve Hsu discusses the end of the unipolar moment, the return of geopolitics, and the U.S.-China New Cold War. He believes China is not as fragile as some say. We talk Taiwan, how Beijing has caught up in military tech, and how the nature of naval warfare in the next war will be very different. On the technology and AI front, he feels the U.S. and China are at parity, but that the long-term trend is in China's favor. He feels the social credit system is advancing just as fast in the West as in China and that the digital yuan is rapidly gaining in stature. He gives his view on the Ukraine crisis and how it has been a huge strategic error by the U.S. because it has cemented the Eurasian alliance. He's concerned about a systemic financial meltdown, discusses being a victim of woke cancel culture, and knowing Richard Feynman.

Friday, March 04, 2022

On Ukraine: the return of Multipolarity and Hard Power

I've had numerous requests to comment on the conflict in Ukraine, but have been too busy to write anything. 

For background on the situation, I highly recommend the discussion in the video below, released March 3 2022.

To save time, just listen to the presentations by Mearsheimer and McGovern, and their final comments at the end of the video. Both present historical details from the last decade or so that will shock people who only pay attention to mainstream Western media. (Also in the discussion: Jack Matlock, former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union, and Ted Postol, MIT professor and missile expert.)

Ray McGovern is a retired CIA analyst who served as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. I featured another interview with him in an earlier post on the US catastrophe in Afghanistan: Tragedy of Empire / Mostly Sociopaths at the Top.

Corey Washington and I interviewed John Mearsheimer for the original Manifold, but the episode was not released. It's possible that I might release it some time in the future. 

Mearsheimer has appeared in many posts on this blog. See this March 1 2022 interview in The New Yorker: Why John Mearsheimer Blames the U.S. for the Crisis in Ukraine.

While military and diplomatic aspects of the conflict in Ukraine are worthy of attention, far more important are the long term consequences of Western hysteria and economic war on Russia. Tacit support for Russia from China, India, Brazil, Turkey, OPEC states, indeed perhaps the majority of the world population, may presage a new era of multipolarity and hard power confrontation between great powers.

Why do educated citizens of the countries listed above understand the situation better than the typical American or European? Because they are familiar with Western media propaganda and the history of US imperialism. They are much more likely to understand the facts described by Mearsheimer and McGovern about the recent history of NATO, Ukraine, and Russia leading up to this conflict.

PS I'm surprised there isn't more discussion of systemic risks from defaults of highly networked financial entities that are affected by sanctions on Russia.

This looks dangerous -- like the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008. Or am I missing some structural reforms that prevent that from happening again? (Maybe the earlier round of sanctions have already decoupled Russia enough...) Or will the central banks that effectively run our economies now simply issue a blanket put, allowing all of our clever money men to go back to sleep? People used to complain about "zombie companies" in some countries with excessive state intervention in their economies. It looks to me like we've had zombie financial markets for some time now...

Added from Comments

Of course I think individuals in TW and UKR have every right to vote / fight for the government they want. 

But they are not likely to get their way as the issue is much more important to their giant neighbor (RUS, PRC) than to the USA or soft Europeans in Brussels. 

They are probably better off negotiating a peaceful coexistence with the nearby great power. Finland "Finlandized" itself and that was probably the best it could do... 

What you are seeing right now in UKR is what great power realists like Mearsheimer *predicted* would happen IF the West gave too much hope to UKR without being willing to actually back it up. 

Now, you may say that Joe Smith in Iowa *should* want to back up UKR or TW, send his son to fight on the front lines there. But it is not the case and we know that. We also knew it 10-15y ago when NATO expansion mischief got started and Mearsheimer made his early cautionary statements on this, as did Kennan, Nitze, Perry, Sam Nunn -- all the old cold warriors who ACTUALLY DEFEATED USSR and understood things better than today's leaders. 

US won't even sanction RUS energy imports to this country... How much pain are we willing to endure for UKR? 

We're going to fight this war to the last Ukrainian... If there isn't a negotiated settlement soon UKR will end up like Iraq and Afghanistan -- abandoned by the US and destroyed. 

I can predict something very similar for TW, even though I have extended family living there right now. Does that count towards emotional commitment / empathy? I'm descended from KMT military officers on both sides of my family tree! 

TW should negotiate for the best deal it can get from PRC and not count on the US to protect it. 


US war hawks want to see PRC blow itself up fighting for TW. The conflict will destroy Asian economies and leave USA largely unscathed (just as WWII did). They don't care about the well-being of ~2-3 billion Asians.  

Some of them just can't help themselves and want to see RUS blow itself up fighting in a UKR trap. But this group is very stupid as they are driving RUS into the arms of PRC and that is going to be very bad for USA. 

Some US war hawks are smarter than others...


US to Ukraine, pointing at Russia: "Let's you and him fight."


William Burns is Biden's CIA Director, and was Ambassador to the Russian Federation. What did he write about Ukraine and NATO expansion? From Peter Beinart's substack:
Two years ago, Burns wrote a memoir entitled, The Back Channel. It directly contradicts the argument being proffered by the administration he now serves. In his book, Burns says over and over that Russians of all ideological stripes—not just Putin—loathed and feared NATO expansion. He quotes a memo he wrote while serving as counselor for political affairs at the US embassy in Moscow in 1995. ‘Hostility to early NATO expansion,” it declares, “is almost universally felt across the domestic political spectrum here.” On the question of extending NATO membership to Ukraine, Burns’ warnings about the breadth of Russian opposition are even more emphatic. “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin),” he wrote in a 2008 memo to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.” 
While the Biden administration claims that Putin bears all the blame for the current Ukraine crisis, Burns makes clear that the US helped lay its foundations. By taking advantage of Russian weakness, he argues, Washington fueled the nationalist resentment that Putin exploits today. Burns calls the Clinton administration’s decision to expand NATO to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic “premature at best, and needlessly provocative at worst.” And he describes the appetite for revenge it fostered among many in Moscow during Boris Yeltsin’s final years as Russia’s president. “As Russians stewed in their grievance and sense of disadvantage,” Burns writes, “a gathering storm of ‘stab in the back’ theories slowly swirled, leaving a mark on Russia’s relations with the West that would linger for decades.” 
As the Bush administration moved toward opening NATO’s doors to Ukraine, Burns’ warnings about a Russian backlash grew even starker. He told Rice it was “hard to overstate the strategic consequences” of offering NATO membership to Ukraine and predicted that “it will create fertile soil for Russian meddling in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.” Although Burns couldn’t have predicted the specific kind of meddling Putin would employ—either in 2014 when he seized Crimea and fomented a rebellion in Ukraine’s east or today—he warned that the US was helping set in motion the kind of crisis that America faces today. Promise Ukraine membership in NATO, he wrote, and “There could be no doubt that Putin would fight back hard.” 
Were a reporter to read Burns’ quotes to White House press secretary Jen Psaki today, she’d likely accuse them of “parroting Russian talking points.” But Burns is hardly alone. From inside the US government, many officials warned that US policy toward Russia might bring disaster. William Perry, Bill Clinton’s Defense Secretary from 1994 to 1997, almost resigned because of his opposition to NATO expansion. He has since declared that because of its policies in the 1990s, “the United States deserves much of the blame” for the deterioration in relations with Moscow. Steven Pifer, who from 1998 to 2000 served as US ambassador to Ukraine, has called Bush’s 2008 decision to declare that Ukraine would eventually join NATO “a real mistake.” Fiona Hill, who gained fame during the Trump impeachment saga, says that as national intelligence officers for Russia and Eurasia she and her colleagues “warned” Bush that “Putin would view steps to bring Ukraine and Georgia closer to NATO as a provocative move that would likely provoke pre-emptive Russian military action.”
Oh, there's some historical background to all this? Some context? Wait I'm told every day this crisis just happened because Putin went crazy and wants to rebuild the USSR / Russian Empire. 

Who is full of crap? Western governments and media today, or our CIA Director and former Ambassadors and Secretaries of Defense? The whole world ex-USA/EU can see this. It's only Westerners who are brainwashed.

Added March 7 2022: This is a long Chinese analysis of the military aspects of the war so far. They also cite Oryx estimates. Note comparisons near the end of Russian and PLA capabilities.

More from comments:

I certainly sympathize with "Putin bad", "Russia bad place for me to live", "democracy good" sentiments. 

But suppose the realistic possible outcomes are: 

1. Ukr is dominated by Russia but not destroyed in a war 
2. Ukr is dominated by Russia after a brutal war, with its economy destroyed 
3. (Low probability) Ukr escapes Russian domination thanks to strong US support (avoiding WWIII).  
4. (Low probability) US strongly supports Ukr, leading to MAD, WWIII 

To be very definite, suppose that 

I. Given actual past US policies of ~2010-2022 probabilities are P(#1) = P(#2) = 45% and P(#3) = 9% and P(#4) = 1% 

II. Following advice of Mearsheimer, frmr SecDefs Perry and McNamara, CIA director Burns, etc. etc. we have P(#1) = 95% P(#2) = 4%, others much less than 1%. [ i.e., this is a counterfactual scenario that, in my opinion, turns out better! ]
I think this is a REALISTIC characterization. You may disagree. Under my assumptions II is better than I. 

But this is not primarily a normative or moral discussion... we don't disgree there.

Note, in a standard utilitarian framework P(#4) dominates everything else!

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Manifold Podcast #6: Richard Sander on Affirmative Action, Mismatch Theory, and Academic Freedom


Richard Sander is Jesse Dukeminier Professor at UCLA Law School. 
AB Harvard, JD, PhD (Economics) Northwestern. 

Sander has studied the structure and effects of law school admissions policies. He coined the term "Mismatch" to describe negative consequences resulting from large admissions preferences. 

Topics discussed: 

1. Early life: educational background and experience with race and politics in America. 

2. Mismatch Theory: basic observation and empirical evidence; Law schools and Colleges; Duke and UC data; data access issues. 

3. CA Prop 209 and Prop 16. 

4. SCOTUS and Harvard / UNC admissions case 

5. Intellectual climate on campus, freedom of speech 


Faculty web page, includes links to publications: 

A Conversation on the Nature, Effects, and Future of Affirmative Action in Higher Education Admissions (with Peter Arcidiacono, Thomas Espenshade, and Stacy Hawkins), University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 683 (2015) 
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2625668 Fifteen Questions 

About Prop. 16 and Prop. 209, University of Chicago Law Review Online (2020) 

Panel at Stanford Intellectual Diversity Conference, April 8, 2016, Stanford Law School 

ManifoldOne podcast (transcript).

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Quantum Hair and Black Hole Information (Physics Letters B published version)

This is the published version of our recent arxiv preprint, previously discussed here.
Quantum hair and black hole information 
It has been shown that the quantum state of the graviton field outside a black hole horizon carries information about the internal state of the hole. We explain how this allows unitary evaporation: the final radiation state is a complex superposition which depends linearly on the initial black hole state. Under time reversal, the radiation state evolves back to the original black hole quantum state. Formulations of the information paradox on a fixed semiclassical geometry describe only a small subset of the evaporation Hilbert space, and do not exclude overall unitarity.
The earlier paper, which established the existence of quantum hair, has been accepted by PRL and should also appear soon. 

Seminar video and slides

From the paper:
4. Conclusion 
Hawking's information paradox has been the focus of intense interest for almost 50 years. In his 1992 lecture on the subject, John Preskill wrote [5] 
I conclude that the information loss paradox may well presage a revolution in fundamental physics. 
The resolution described here is conservative: the quantum state of the exterior gravity field is determined by the interior black hole state, allowing the latter to influence Hawking radiation produced at the horizon. Two distinct quantum states of the black hole may produce the same semiclassical external geometry, but the graviton states differ at the quantum level. The relationship between interior and exterior quantum states is not governed by classical no-hair theorems. Indeed, it has gradually been appreciated that gravity itself prevents the localization of quantum information [4], [9], [10], [11], [21], [22], [23], even behind a horizon. We stress that all formulations of the paradox require a degree of factorization between the black hole internal state and the radiation (see, e.g., (6)), which is clearly not true of our equation (4). 
Certain aspects of our expressions (2)-(4) are very clear: the black hole information is spread over many branches of the final radiation state, and macroscopic superpositions of different spacetime geometries play a role in the evaporation. Some of the difficulty in resolving the paradox may originate from a reluctance to accept these aspects of quantum dynamics.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

ManifoldOne Podcast Episode #5: Shai Carmi (Hebrew University): Polygenic risk scores & embryo screening


Shai Carmi is Professor of Statistical and Medical Genetics at Hebrew University (Jerusalem). 

Topics and links: 

1. Shai's educational background. From statistical physics and network theory to genomics. 

2. Shai's paper on embryo selection: Schizophrenia risk. Modeling synthetic sibling genomes. Variance among sibs vs general population. RRR vs ARR, family history and elevated polygenic risk. 

3. Response to the ESHG opinion piece on embryo selection. https://twitter.com/ShaiCarmi/status/1487694576458481664 

4. Pleiotropy, Health Index scores. 

5. Genetic genealogy and DNA forensics. Solving cold cases, Othram, etc.  https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aau4832

6. Healthcare in Israel. Application of PRS in adult patients.

ManifoldOne podcast (transcript).

Thursday, February 17, 2022

ManifoldOne Podcast Episode#4: Jon Y (Asianometry) on Semiconductor Tech and U.S.-China Competition


Jon Y produces Asianometry, which focuses on Asia technology, finance, and history: Podcast, YouTube channel, and Substack

Steve and Jon discuss the global semiconductor industry with an emphasis on U.S.-China technology competition. 

Topics discussed: 

Jon's background and his move to Taipei. 
Key components of the semiconductor ecosystem: fabs, lithography, chip design. 
US-China tech war: TSMC, ASML, Huawei 
Taiwan politics: Green and Blue parties, independence 
PRC invasion / blockade of Taiwan?

ManifoldOne (transcript)

Note Added: To clarify the Huawei discussion 

1. The US stopped TSMC from fabbing leading edge Kirin CPUs for Huawei (designed by Huawei's chip design subsidiary HiSilicon). These were used in their smartphones. For a year or two Huawei was arguably the leading smartphone maker in the world and looked entirely capable of competing against Samsung and Apple. US Nat Sec concerns had more to do with Huawei's 5G business. But 5G infrastructure doesn't use leading edge chips (the base stations are big and don't rely on battery power the way phones do). The connection between Huawei's smartphone business and its 5G infrastructure business is very indirect -- they are entirely different businesses. 

2. No sanctions were applied to ZTE which, unlike Huawei, is an actual state-owned entity and had previously been on the US entity list. ZTE also sells 5G infrastructure equipment. It is flourishing while Huawei is starting to run low on the non-leading edge chips (e.g., >20nm process) it buys for its base stations. 

It's hard to explain what the US was up to with Huawei -- I would say it's a good example of the kind of incoherent "emergent" policy that Hanania writes about in his new book.

If you believe all the Western propaganda about Huawei and Xinjiang produced over the last few years you might be an NPC or at least someone who doesn't properly calibrate their Bayesian updates. As such it isn't really worth my effort to engage with you. 

Regarding PRC invasion of Taiwan, missile technology, etc. see

Meeting China’s Military Challenge: Collective Responses of U.S. Allies and Partners (Jaunary 2022) 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

ManifoldOne Podcast Episode#3: Richard Hanania on Wokeness, Public Choice Theory, & Geostrategy


Note Added:  Richard also interviewed me on his podcast. See his substack discussion. Highly recommended! :-)

Richard Hanania is President of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology (CSPI). He is a former Research Fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. His interests include personality differences between conservatives and liberals, morality in international politics, machine learning algorithms for text analysis, and American foreign policy. In addition to his academic work, he has written in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Hanania holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA and a JD from the University of Chicago. 

He is the author of the recently published Public Choice Theory and the Illusion of Grand Strategy: How Generals, Weapons Manufacturers, and Foreign Governments Shape American Foreign Policy. 


Richard Hanania on Twitter - https://twitter.com/RichardHanania 

Public Choice Theory and the Illusion of Grand Strategy

The Great Awokening | Zach Goldberg & Richard Hanania 

Transcript: manifold1.com

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Black Hole Information and Quantum Hair: seminar video and slides


This is video of a seminar I gave at the University of Sussex. Slides.
Has Hawking's Black Hole Information Paradox Been Resolved? Quantum Hair and Black Hole Information 
Abstract: In 1976 Stephen Hawking argued that black holes cause pure states to evolve into mixed states. Put another way, quantum information that falls into a black hole does not escape in the form of radiation. Rather, it vanishes completely from our universe, thereby violating a fundamental property of quantum mechanics called unitarity. I give a pedagogical introduction to this paradox, suitable for non-experts. Then I discuss recent results concerning the quantum state of the gravitational field of a compact matter source. These results demonstrate the existence of quantum hair, violating the classical No Hair Theorems. I then discuss how this quantum hair affects Hawking radiation, allowing unitary evaporation of black holes.

In the talk I mention an introductory colloquium on the history of black holes and the connection to entropy and information. See slides.

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Annals of Psychometry: Wordcels and Shape Rotators

Fun with psychometrics! 

Did it all start with High V, Low M, a 2011 post about Stephen J. Gould?

A famous theoretical physicist once complained acerbically to me about someone's paper we were discussing:
It is nothing more than the calculus of words.
Yet there are people who have nothing more than the calculus of words with which to build their models of the world. See Bounded Cognition, and Oppenheimer:
Mathematics is "an immense enlargement of language, an ability to talk about things which in words would be simply inaccessible."

From A Song of Shapes and Words by Roon.
There are many verbally gifted writers and speakers that, when pressed to visualize some math problem in their mind's eye, must helplessly watch their normally high-octane intelligence sputter and fail. They often write or talk at a blistering clip, and can navigate complex mazes of abstractions — and yet, when it comes time to make contact with the real world or accomplish practical tasks, they may be helpless. They'll do great in English class, and terrible in Physics. They can be very fun to listen to due to their terrifying leaps in logic and the exceptional among them will be natural leaders. 
The wordcel moniker describes more than just one’s level of verbal skill: it’s also a socioeconomic classifier that refers to people whose verbal ability borders on self-sabotage (thus the “-cel”). Perhaps they’re driven mad by political rage, postmodernism, and disconnection from reality. It might refer to the priestly figures who work in the culture factories of the New York Times with their incomes and social prestige both precipitously declining only for the unperturbed masses on the internet to tell them in unison: “learn to code”! There’s even an implication that these folks are entirely rent-seekers (wrong, but directionally interesting). 
The shape rotators have been a minor force until very recent history. Though they’ve produced a significant portion of human progress through feats of engineering excellence, they were rarely celebrated until the dawn of the Enlightenment, perhaps 500 years ago. While the long-lasting glory of the Roman aqueducts is renowned to this day, nobody knows the chief engineer behind the project (probably Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, but who’s counting). Today their stock is climbing to the moon. The world’s richest (self-made) men are almost uniformly engineers, computer scientists, or physicists. Vast portions of society that in a prior age might have been organized by government bureaucrats or private sector shot-callers have been handed over to cybernetic self-organizing systems designed and run by mathematical wizards. We have been witness to the slow, and then rapid transfer of power from the smooth-talking Don Drapers of boardroom acclaim to the multi-armed bandits of Facebook Ads. 
It’s clear that these big tech CEOs are verbally gifted, but by affinity and by practice they are in the rotator camp. Elon continually attributes his success to studying physics in college. Zuck programmed the original iteration of Facebook himself. Larry & Sergei did an entire PhD in linear algebra based information retrieval, a platonic ideal of shape rotation. Of the ten largest companies in the world, several are driven by fundamental technical breakthroughs. Society at large seems to respect and fear the forces of technology more and more as its cultural and financial capital rises.

There is some conflation between Math ability and Spatial ability in this recent talk of Wordcels and Shape Rotators. Math and Spatial ability are positively correlated but are actually separate factors that emerge from PCA in psychometrics. Look carefully at the arrows in the figure below -- if you can't read the figure you might be a wordcel ;-)

Note also that in the SMPY/SVPY data physicists dominated the wordcels even in their own verbal domain. This is also confirmed here.

See post from 2016 reproduced below, especially point #3.
3. There are systematic differences in cognitive abilities and profiles in different fields (business, medicine, engineering, physics, etc.)
This figure displays the math, verbal and spatial scores of gifted children tested at age 12, and their eventual college majors and career choices. This group is cohort 2 of the SMPY/SVPY study: each child scored better than 99.5 percentile on at least one of the M-V sections of the SAT.

Scores are normalized in units of SDs, within this cohort of gifted children. (So above and below average are defined with respect to the gifted population of >99th percentile kids, not relative to the general population.) The vertical axis is V, the horizontal axis is M, and the length of the arrow reflects spatial ability: pointing to the right means above the group average, to the left means below average; note the arrow for business majors should be twice as long as indicated but there was not enough space on the diagram. The spatial score is obviously correlated with the M score. More data here.

SMPY at 50: Research Associate position (2016)

I'm posting the job ad below for David Lubinski. The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) is the most systematic long term study of individuals of high cognitive ability since the Terman Study.

SMPY helps to establish a number of important facts about individuals of high ability:

1. We can (at least crudely) differentiate between individuals at the 99th, 99.9th and 99.99th percentiles. Exceptional talent can be identified through testing, even at age 13.

2. Probability of significant accomplishment, such as STEM PhD, patents awarded, tenure at leading research university, exceptional income, etc. continues to rise as ability level increases, even within the top 1%.

3. There are systematic differences in cognitive abilities and profiles in different fields (business, medicine, engineering, physics, etc.)

4. Men and women of exceptional ability differ in life aspirations and preferences.

No one can claim to understand high level human capital, technological innovation, scientific progress, or exceptional achievement without first familiarizing themselves with these results.

Needless to say, I think this Research Associate position will entail important and fascinating work.
Research Associate:

The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) seeks a full-time post-doctoral Research Associate for study oversight, conducting research, writing articles, laboratory management, and statistical analyses using the vast SMPY data base. SMPY is a four-decade longitudinal study consisting of 5 cohorts and over 5,000 intellectually talented participants. One chief responsibility of this position will be to manage laboratory details associated with launching an age-50 follow-up of two of SMPY’s most exceptional cohorts: a cohort of 500 profoundly gifted participants initially identified by age 13 in the early 1980s, and a second cohort of over 700 top STEM graduate students identified and psychologically profiled in 1992 as first- and second-year graduate students. Candidates with interests in assessing individual differences, talent development, and particularly strong statistical-technical skills are preferred. Send vitae, cover letter stating interests, (pre)reprints, and three letters of recommendation to: Dean Camilla P. Benbow, Department of Psychology & Human Development, 0552 Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 37203. The position will remain open until a qualified applicant is selected. For additional information, please contact either co-director: Camilla P. Benbow, camilla.benbow@vanderbilt.edu, or David Lubinski, david.lubinski@vanderbilt.edu.

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/. Vanderbilt University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

We are aiming for a June 30th start date but that’s flexible.
Some relevant figures based on SMPY results of Lubinski, Benbow, and collaborators. See links above for more discussion of the data displayed.

Thursday, February 03, 2022

ManifoldOne podcast Episode#2: Steve Hsu Q&A


Steve answers questions about recent progress in AI/ML prediction of complex traits from DNA, and applications in embryo selection. 


1. Overview of recent advances in trait prediction 
2. Would cost savings from breast cancer early detection pay for genotyping of all women? 
3. How does IVF work? Economics of embryo selection 
4. Whole embryo genotyping increases IVF success rates (pregnancy per transfer) significantly 
5. Future predictions 

Some relevant scientific papers: 

Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy: New Methods and Higher Pregnancy Rates 

2021 review article on complex trait prediction 

Accurate Genomic Prediction of Human Height 

Genomic Prediction of 16 Complex Disease Risks Including Heart Attack, Diabetes, Breast and Prostate Cancer 

Genetic architecture of complex traits and disease risk predictors 

Sibling validation of polygenic risk scores and complex trait prediction 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Genetic risk factors have a substantial impact on healthy life years (FinnGen)

This new preprint obtains very interesting results using data from the FinnGen cohort of 300k+ Finns (genotypes + medical records) and UK Biobank. 
Genetic risk factors have a substantial impact on healthy life years 
Sakari Jukarainen et al. 
The impact of genetic variation on overall disease burden has not been comprehensively evaluated. Here we introduce an approach to estimate the effect of different types of genetic risk factors on disease burden quantified through disability-adjusted life years (DALYs, “lost healthy life years”). We use genetic information from 735,748 individuals with registry-based follow-up of up to 48 years. At the individual level, rare variants had higher effects on DALYs than common variants, while common variants were more relevant for population-level disease burden. Among common variants, rs3798220 (LPA) had the strongest effect, with 1.18 DALYs attributable to carrying 1 vs 0 copies of the minor allele. Belonging to top 10% vs bottom 90% of a polygenic score for multisite chronic pain had an effect of 3.63 DALYs. Carrying a deleterious rare variant in LDLR, MYBPC3, or BRCA1/2 had an effect of around 4.1-13.1 DALYs. The population-level disease burden attributable to some common variants is comparable to the burden from modifiable risk factors such as high sodium intake and low physical activity. Genetic risk factors can explain a sizeable number of healthy life years lost both at the individual and population level, highlighting the importance of incorporating genetic information into public health efforts.
The figure below shows DALYs attributable to being in the top 10% vs bottom 90% of each PGS. (So, roughly, top 10% vs average individuals.) 

The Shorter Lifespan Polygenic Score is a kind of index similar to the Embryo Health Score used by Genomic Prediction. Note that the difference between 90+ percentile and average individuals is roughly 4 DALYs!  

In our 2019 sibling validation paper we showed that disease risk polygenic scores have roughly as much predictive power to differentiate high and low risk sibs as when applied to pairs of unrelated individuals. 

Thus the results above are indicative of DALY gains from embryo selection.

In 2018 we had Arno Palotie, one of the founders of FinnGen, at MSU to give a talk about the project. 

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