Consider working more hours and taking more stimulants

post by Arjun Panickssery (arjun-panickssery) · 2022-12-15T20:38:32.996Z · LW · GW · 10 comments


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by romeostevensit · 2022-12-15T21:27:43.277Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

High energy output = exploit. I don't get the impression that dopaminergic pharmaceuticals are great for explore. This implies that we know what to do and just need to do it faster. I think the opposite conclusion is much more obvious.

Replies from: lorenzo-buonanno
comment by Lorenzo (lorenzo-buonanno) · 2022-12-18T10:41:03.558Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But weightlifting and working longer hours would still help in both explore and exploit, right?

Why do you get the impression that Adderall and similar don't help with exploring for 50 hours a week? e.g. Erdos explored quite a lot

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2022-12-17T03:01:41.659Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I... actually think this post is mostly good advice. Like, I do indeed think some stimulant use is pretty good (though I would mostly stick to caffeine), and I also think working long hours is great. I feel a bit like the controversialness of this post is somewhat of an immune reaction to recent FTX stuff, which I think is somewhat justified, but I actually thought this post was pretty good.

Replies from: sharmake-farah
comment by Noosphere89 (sharmake-farah) · 2022-12-17T03:19:47.260Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the biggest red flags are using anecdotal evidence and intuition as evidence, combined with strong selection biases, to be concerning. I do think risks need to be taken, but I'd like much better evidence than this.

comment by interstice · 2022-12-15T21:32:39.428Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As recent events have illustrated, stimulant use can also have its downsides.

comment by Cameron Berg (cameron-berg) · 2022-12-15T23:09:00.504Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm definitely sympathetic to the general argument here as I understand it: something like, it is better to be more productive when what you're working towards has high EV, and stimulants are one underutilized strategy for being more productive. But I have concerns about the generality of your conclusion: (1) blanket-endorsing or otherwise equating the advantages and disadvantages of all of the things on the y-axis of that plot is painting with too broad a brush. They vary, eg, in addictive potential, demonstrated medical benefit, cost of maintenance, etc. (2) Relatedly, some of these drugs (e.g., Adderall) alter the dopaminergic calibration in the brain, which can lead to significant personality/epistemology changes, typically as a result of modulating people's risk-taking/reward-seeking trade-offs. Similar dopamine agonist drugs used to treat Parkinson's led to pathological gambling behaviors in patients who took it. There is an argument to be made for at least some subset of these substances that the trouble induced by these kinds of personality changes may plausibly outweigh the productivity gains of taking the drugs in the first place.

comment by shminux · 2022-12-16T18:20:00.024Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Strongly downvoted for advice that is almost certainly harmful to an average reader.

Replies from: trevor
comment by tlevin (trevor) · 2022-12-18T01:13:28.365Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think this is the right axis on which to evaluate posts. Posts that suggest donating more of your money to charities that save the most lives, causing less animal suffering via your purchases, and considering that AGI might soon end humanity are also "harmful to an average reader" in a similar sense: they inspire some guilt, discomfort, and uncertainty, possibly leading to changes that could easily reduce the reader's own hedonic welfare.

However -- hopefully, at least -- the "average reader" on LW/EAF is trying to believe true things and achieve goals like improving the world, and presenting them arguments that they can evaluate for themselves and might help them unlock more of their own potential seems good.

I also think the post is unlikely to be net-negative given the caveats about trying this as an experiment, the different effects on different kinds of work, etc.

comment by Marco P · 2023-01-12T09:59:31.086Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay that's actually good advice, i feel like pos cause area

comment by Delete account (Karolina) · 2022-12-15T22:35:23.193Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do you feel about experimenting with meth?