Prediction = Compression [Transcript] 2020-06-22T23:54:22.170Z · score: 59 (16 votes)
The Pit 2019-10-26T05:28:07.610Z · score: 31 (10 votes)
Timothy Chu Origins Chapter 1 2018-04-13T18:40:00.586Z · score: 49 (18 votes)
HPMoE 3 2018-04-04T01:00:01.660Z · score: 12 (2 votes)
HPMoE 2 2018-04-02T05:30:00.475Z · score: 18 (3 votes)
Harry Potter and the Method of Entropy 2018-03-31T20:10:00.448Z · score: 33 (7 votes)
Hammertime Postmortem 2018-03-22T18:10:01.627Z · score: 68 (20 votes)
Hammertime Final Exam 2018-03-22T01:10:00.662Z · score: 92 (27 votes)
The Strategic Level 2018-03-21T05:00:00.598Z · score: 68 (20 votes)
Reductionism Revisited 2018-03-20T06:00:01.379Z · score: 32 (9 votes)
Internal Double Crux 2018-03-19T05:50:00.733Z · score: 55 (19 votes)
Silence 2018-03-18T04:10:00.941Z · score: 98 (31 votes)
CoZE 3: Empiricism 2018-03-17T04:10:00.858Z · score: 51 (14 votes)
Design 3: Intentionality 2018-03-16T04:30:00.367Z · score: 42 (13 votes)
TAPs 3: Reductionism 2018-03-15T05:20:01.089Z · score: 39 (11 votes)
Yoda Timers 3: Speed 2018-03-13T18:00:00.861Z · score: 40 (15 votes)
Bug Hunt 3 2018-03-13T00:20:00.912Z · score: 46 (13 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Postmorterm 2018-03-11T20:10:00.818Z · score: 62 (18 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 13: Existential Risk 2018-03-11T07:10:00.683Z · score: 38 (10 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 12: Meta-Contrarianism 2018-03-10T23:00:00.941Z · score: 32 (8 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 11: Resolve 2018-03-10T06:40:01.081Z · score: 34 (8 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 10: Gears-Like Models 2018-03-09T23:00:01.234Z · score: 42 (10 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 9: Double Crux 2018-03-09T00:10:00.613Z · score: 40 (10 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 8: False Pentachotomy 2018-03-08T05:30:00.786Z · score: 41 (11 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 7: Outside the Box 2018-03-07T05:50:00.807Z · score: 49 (13 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 6: Perverse Incentives 2018-03-07T03:50:01.374Z · score: 33 (9 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 5: Fail Gracefully 2018-03-06T05:10:00.635Z · score: 33 (10 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 4: Noticing Confusion 2018-03-05T07:20:01.112Z · score: 46 (15 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 3: Murphyjitsu 2018-03-05T02:40:01.260Z · score: 35 (12 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 1: Exposure Therapy 2018-03-04T04:50:00.918Z · score: 66 (20 votes)
Murphy’s Quest Ch 2: Empiricism 2018-03-04T04:50:00.861Z · score: 55 (16 votes)
Hammertime Intermission #2 2018-03-01T18:20:00.894Z · score: 53 (13 votes)
Friendship 2018-03-01T06:00:00.657Z · score: 23 (9 votes)
TDT for Humans 2018-02-28T05:40:00.450Z · score: 62 (18 votes)
Goal Factoring 2018-02-26T23:30:01.074Z · score: 30 (10 votes)
Focusing 2018-02-26T06:10:00.614Z · score: 36 (14 votes)
Mapping the Archipelago 2018-02-26T05:09:49.833Z · score: 45 (14 votes)
Three Miniatures 2018-02-25T05:40:00.911Z · score: 43 (13 votes)
CoZE 2 2018-02-24T05:40:00.805Z · score: 36 (10 votes)
Design 2 2018-02-23T06:20:00.656Z · score: 39 (13 votes)
TAPs 2 2018-02-22T05:10:00.490Z · score: 45 (14 votes)
Yoda Timers 2 2018-02-21T07:40:00.792Z · score: 52 (20 votes)
Bug Hunt 2 2018-02-20T05:00:00.491Z · score: 50 (20 votes)
Missives from China 2018-02-17T12:30:00.555Z · score: 31 (11 votes)
Confidence Confusion 2018-02-16T02:00:00.852Z · score: 18 (4 votes)
Status: Map and Territory 2018-02-09T19:10:01.182Z · score: 48 (14 votes)
Hammertime Intermission and Open Thread 2018-02-07T22:10:00.382Z · score: 55 (20 votes)
Hammertime Day 10: Murphyjitsu 2018-02-07T18:40:00.679Z · score: 51 (18 votes)
Hammertime Day 9: Time Calibration 2018-02-07T01:40:01.141Z · score: 28 (13 votes)
Hammertime Day 8: Sunk Cost Faith 2018-02-05T01:00:00.503Z · score: 41 (17 votes)


Comment by alkjash on The Pit · 2019-10-27T02:42:07.888Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · LW · GW

If I had to say (and this is only a slice of the story), I am the boy and the scientists (or whatever they are) are the rationality community. Rationality showed me light, taught me how to seek truth, saved me from destructive biases. Many others in my position dropped their "conventional" lives and moved to Berkeley/started working on EA or AI Risk. But me - after my interaction with rationality - I turned away from the community to continue grad school and pursue my pure mathematics with renewed vigor.

Comment by alkjash on [Hammertime Final Exam] Quantum Walk, Oracles and Sunk Meaning · 2019-09-10T20:46:17.817Z · score: 21 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I just stumbled back into LessWrong after many months, very pleased to see that you completed this journey with such seriousness! Looking forward to your thoughts and comments in the postmortem post.

Re: Sunk Meaning, immediately after reading this, my brain sent strong signals that *something else is going on here* with regards to making the cow's death mean something and there's some Chesterton's fence that you shouldn't break. I think the error you're making is basically the same error that causal decision theorists make two-boxing in Newcomb's problem. You do not get to choose whether or not to honor a dead cow in this specific instance. You only get to choose (for all time) whether or not your source code implements an algorithm which honors the dead. Being able to do this is really really useful for all sorts of Newcomblike situations that occur in real life.

Comment by alkjash on [Hammertime Final Exam] Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future · 2018-09-10T03:22:51.866Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I identify strongly with the "Accommodate Yourself" - a substantial fraction of things I figured out with rationality boiled down to realizations of the form "You didn't have to live like this!" I set up a Schelling point for my glasses so I didn't have to scramble around looking for them every morning. I got over the inherent virtuousness of cooking my own meals and tried Mealsquares. I got a monitor and mouse for my laptop. The list goes on...

Kierkegaard wrote "So only one lack remains [in our time], even though not yet felt, the lack of difficulty. Out of love of humankind, out of despair over my awkward predicament of having achieved nothing and of being unable to make anything easier than it had already been made, out of genuine interest in those who make everything easy, I comprehended that it was my task: to make difficulties everywhere." It seems to me, however, that despite all our progress, life is sufficiently hard as it is. We don't need to make it any harder than it has to be.

With regards to the thoughts on delayed gratifications, it seems like a valuable reminder that pendulums usually swing a little too far in the other direction. Most people most of the time would benefit from a reminder that the future exists, but some smaller fraction of them also need the reminder that the present exists too.

Thanks for following Hammertime, and I'd love to see more of your writing on here in the future. =)

Comment by alkjash on Friendship · 2018-08-20T01:56:25.360Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Just book a slot and leave a message for how long you want it to be.

Comment by alkjash on HPMoE 2 · 2018-04-04T01:02:59.916Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Guvf vf evtug, avpr! Gunaxf nyfb sbe gur pbeerpgvba.

Gur bayl pbzzrag V unir vf: sbe gur ynfg ceboyrz, lbh fubhyq or noyr gb jevgr qbja n pybfrq sbez, be ng yrnfg na rfgvzngr. Jung xvaq bs tebjgu engr qbrf guvf fhzzngvba unir? Cebonoyl Fgveyvat jvyy gnxr lbh pybfr gb gur evtug nafjre.

Urer'f nabgure jnl gb trg fbzrguvat: tebhc hc gur pbbeqvangrf va frgf bs guerr naq gnxr gur frg bs nyy irpgbef juvpu unir (1,1,1),(0,1,1),(1,0,1),(1,1,0) va rnpu gevcyr bs pbbeqvangrf. Guvf rknzcyr tvirf lbh 2^{(2/3)a} irpgbef.

Comment by alkjash on Unyielding Yoda Timers: Taking the Hammertime Final Exam · 2018-04-03T23:03:10.166Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like (2) a lot, I find writing up talk/lecture notes on a topic extremely productive. It's surprising how many details I'm always missing that take work to produce.

Would you mind commenting a link to this on the original final exam post?

Comment by alkjash on Harry Potter and the Method of Entropy · 2018-04-02T05:31:45.014Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Gur svefg unys vf evtug, gur xrl vqrn vf gb pbzcner r gb o, naq purpx gung guvf oernxf n havirefr bs 15 cbffvovyvgvrf vagb 7 naq 8. Nsgre gung lbh unir gb or n ovg zber pnershy nobhg znxvat gur evtug pbzcnevfbaf, sbe rknzcyr vg ybbxf yvxr lbh'er nffhzvat n<r<o whfg orpnhfr r<o, jura vg pbhyq nyfb ybbx yvxr r<n<o.

Comment by alkjash on April Fools: Announcing: Karma 2.0 · 2018-04-01T16:55:16.910Z · score: 16 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Smart and thoughtful change, what a wonderful Easter surprise!

Comment by alkjash on Harry Potter and the Method of Entropy · 2018-04-01T02:15:47.847Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1.2.3 Gurer rkvfgf n fgenvtug naq aneebj cngu gb fbegvat 5 ryrzragf va rknpgyl 7 zbirf. Xrrc ybbxvat sbe pbzcnevfbaf gung qvivqr gur ahzore bs cbffvoyr jbeyqf nf pybfr gb rirayl nf cbffvoyr.

2.2 Gung'f ebhtuyl evtug, tbbq wbo! Sbe shegure qrgnvyf ba guvf ceboyrz, frr gur "Yvne Tnzr" va Nyba&Fcrapre Pu 14.

3.2.2 Rknpgyl! V'yy fnl zber nobhg guvf arkg gvzr ohg lbh'ir ebhtuyl erperngrq gur vqrn bs Uhsszna pbqrf.

Comment by alkjash on Harry Potter and the Method of Entropy · 2018-03-31T22:29:17.265Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Avpr gevrf, n srj pbzzragf:

1.2.1 Vs lbh qba'g xabj Fgveyvat'f nccebkvzngvba, guvf pna or qbar whfg ol vagrtengvat ybtk sebz 0 gb a.

1.2.3 Gur ybjre obhaq jr cebirq vf 7. Pna lbh npghnyyl rkuvovg na nytbevguz juvpu gnxrf 7 pbzcnevfbaf gubhtu?

2.2 V npghnyyl qba'g xabj gur rknpg nafjre, ohg lbh pna qb orggre guna xybt_2(a). Urer'f nabgure jnl gb guvax nobhg gur ceboyrz jvgu 1 yvr: vavgvnyyl, lbh unir a puvcf ng cbfvgvba 2 ba gur ahzore yvar. Rnpu dhrfgvba, lbh trg gb cvpx n fhofrg F bs gur puvcf naq Serq zbirf rvgure F be F_pbzcyrzrag yrsg ol 1. Puvcf snyy bss gur obneq jura gurl ernpu 0. Ubj znal zbirf qbrf vg gnxr gb rafher bayl bar puvc erznvaf? Sbe rknzcyr, lbh fubhyq or noyr gb jva gur tnzr ba 32 cbffvovyvgvrf naq 1 yvr va 9 zbirf.

3.2 Gur fgengrtl lbh qrfpevorq vf ernyyl onq jura nyy gur c_v ner rdhny gb 1/a; lbh'yy arrq a/2 zbirf ba nirentr vafgrnq bs gur jbefg pnfr ybt_a jr unq orsber.

Comment by alkjash on Harry Potter and the Method of Entropy · 2018-03-31T21:28:54.422Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The LW LaTeX support does seem to be much better, but it's still quite annoying. For example you'll notice if you copy from PDF the logs get messed up, and worse would happen with original LaTeX (\section, \begin{equation}, etc. all need to get converted).

There's moderately annoying additional inconvenience because I have to convert LyX to LaTeX and probably scrap a bunch of other LaTeX code but I expect it takes > 15 minutes.

Comment by alkjash on Design 3: Intentionality · 2018-03-29T20:29:52.211Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, having a default place to jot down thoughts is super useful.

Comment by alkjash on Hammertime Postmortem · 2018-03-25T22:54:10.396Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like the author took down all his posts, my best guess is he's porting them to a new account.

Comment by alkjash on Hammertime Day 3: TAPs · 2018-03-25T19:02:47.589Z · score: 12 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No worries, I wrote the thing at my own pace with the expectation that as an instructional tool people would want to space it out over much longer than a month anyway.

Comment by alkjash on Browser Bug Hunt for migration · 2018-03-23T04:49:46.133Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Voting seems to be broken?

Edit: nvm, works after refresh.

Comment by alkjash on My Hammertime Final Exam · 2018-03-23T00:34:01.065Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is awesome! It's nice that you tied all three together.

Since you shared your buttons and asked my monkey brain to press them, I can't resist. I hereby EXPECT to see you post some fiction every Tuesday, and commit to giving no negative criticism. =P

Comment by alkjash on Taking the Hammertime Final Exam · 2018-03-23T00:22:02.185Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1. I like the general premise and metaphor a lot but am a little fuzzy on what you're referring to exactly. I endorse a statement of the form "take arbitrary constraints and run with them rather than resisting them, it'll at least be a fun and creative exercise." But there's probably something more to Boxing your Brain?

2. This reminds me of trying to learn life and death problems in Go. Trying to figure out general heuristics other than "read very carefully" seems hopeless. Perhaps AlphaGo would disagree.

3. Good point.

Comment by alkjash on Hammertime Final Exam · 2018-03-22T23:55:56.815Z · score: 21 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Inspired by lifelonglearner's submission "No Do-Overs," I want to add:

The OFFICIAL DEADLINE for Hammertime Final Exam submissions is 11:59pm PDT, April 30, 2018. High-quality submissions will be immortalized in a separate Final Exam sequence, conditional on the author's approval. I will happily accept private submissions by email, assuming you can find my email address.

You are highly encouraged to reply to this comment to pre-commit to writing the exam.

Comment by alkjash on Hammertime Postmortem · 2018-03-22T23:27:39.027Z · score: 17 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Reply to this comment with your personal grades of any of the Hammertime techniques you tried. What worked and didn't work for you? How could the exposition have been improved?

Comment by alkjash on Explicit and Implicit Communication · 2018-03-22T01:44:58.428Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if the someone being Bruce Lee changes your decision?

Comment by alkjash on The Math Learning Experiment · 2018-03-21T23:20:31.279Z · score: 36 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Cool experiment, I hope you run more things like this!

Re: definitions, this is a serious struggle I have with the way math is presented. The definitions and notations we have now have been simplified, condensed, and iterated upon for hundreds of years, and what sticks is a matter of practical utility for mathematicians. To present the product of this process as a fait accompli without explanation or motivation is really misleading.

I mean, look how long it took to come up with the modern definition of the group! Even after it was named, for the longest time, mathematicians only considered permutation groups.

I would lay some of the blame at the feet of Platonism. Mathematical Platonism, the idea that "mathematics is out there in idea-space and we just discover it" is at best a useful metaphor or fake framework and has been taken way too far. It implies that definitions are somehow floating in thought-space and the mental move to discover them is to look really hard. In practice, the construction of definitions is more like engineering: there's some weird thing that's there and we'll try to build a vessel that captures its shape as closely as possible.

Note: I tried verifying the received wisdom that "most mathematicians are Platonists" and found the answer to be much murkier than I expected. I would still say that mathematics, the way it is presented, suggests that things like chain complexes and schemes are "things out there in reality" instead of "definitions progressively engineered by people to fit reality."

Comment by alkjash on Reductionism Revisited · 2018-03-21T18:36:25.915Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Certainly sleep issues can be a result of deeper physiological problems, but I'm doubtful as to whether this is often the case. The most likely cause is "lack of conscientiousness and beliefs that sleep times matter." I would guess that 9 out of 10 LWers who sleep irregularly probably could fix the problem with attention and instrumental rationality.

Comment by alkjash on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-21T06:47:58.083Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The two pieces of evidence I mentioned are not inconsistent with your model, but they seem to certainly be weak evidence for mine.

I will chalk it up to minds being more different than I expected. If you can offer any testable predictions about the "confabulation hypothesis" I'd be happy to try them, but it seems far-fetched to me.

Comment by alkjash on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-21T03:47:00.601Z · score: 17 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, this is basically what I believe too, modulo the occasional manifestation of desires/anxieties/memories. Here's my current version of the multiple agents model:

(1) There are processes in the brain like the "dream-generator" and "various pieces of System 2" that I experience as definitely not me. They are not conscious or all that agenty but have enough of a semblance of intent that you might forgive someone for anthropomorphizing them.

(2) There are methods of introspection such as focusing, meditation, and lucid dreaming which allow you deliberate access to these processes. The internal experience of accessing these processes is becoming or fusing with them, e.g. Focusing feels like speaking for a suppressed voice. What's actually going on might be "accessing data and algorithms that was hidden from you."

(3) You experience various states of mind hooked onto each process. The combination of you hooked onto process A is significantly different in terms of experiences, values, and/or personality from just you or you hooked onto process B. The claim is that it is often useful to think about these different states as "different agents living in the same brain."

Comment by alkjash on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-20T16:04:11.359Z · score: 28 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I have myself felt that the concept "fake framework" is often a way (at least when it is misused) to avoid the burden of proof, and I confess that was part of what I was doing above. Thanks for keeping me honest.

Interesting. This seems to be shaping up more and more to be a matter of interpersonal variation, yes? (For me, no such thing is remotely true, nor ever has been.)

Regarding the detail of dreams, it's certainly possible that it's a matter of interpersonal variation, but I also believed ~six months ago that I dreamed very infrequently and in not that much detail. After writing down my dreams for a few days, my recall of dreams is substantially improved, to the point that I can recall an average of two dreams a morning with very little effort and remember much more detail about them.

Let me suggest the following experiment: each morning for three days (a week would be better but three days should do) immediately after you wake up, try to recall and write down as much about your dreams as you can for five minutes. If after three days your experience remains unchanged I'll update towards the "idiosyncratic alkjash" model.

I… have serious doubts about the idea that writing down your dreams actually works.

It sounds like you're suggesting dream recall is "my brain filling in fake details to a story when prompted," which seems the much more unlikely explanation than "I have dreams and then remember them piece by piece." For one, I usually, but don't always manage to remember my dreams. For another, if I could reliably make up details as interesting as the stuff that happens in my dreams I would write much better fiction.

Comment by alkjash on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-20T06:19:45.917Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Meta-note: I tend to err on the side of overstating my confidence so as to better elicit debate. I am actually unsure of (b) at present and aware that "dreams having intentions" is at least a little weird. Perhaps I didn't communicate that clearly.

I'll have more to say tomorrow but for now: my models of multiple agents and "dreams having intentions" are predicated on at least a weak version of Jungian (and ergo Freudian) psychoanalysis, and it seems to me that Focusing, IDC are also predicated on these ideas (as fake but useful frames let's say).

Whether or not dreams actually have intentional structure is up to debate in my mind, but I can say my own dreams are at very least surprisingly detailed, fruitful, and subject-relevant material to sift through for metaphorical insight. This surprise, which only occurred after I started writing down my dreams and noticed how exorbitantly detailed they are, is sufficient that I am prone to the hypothesis that there's more than just "stream of rich relevant babble" going on.

Comment by alkjash on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-20T04:09:36.391Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to pin down your confusion. I only see three ways to interpret your statement: (a) you don't believe dreams originate from neural activity, (b) you don't believe this neural activity is patterned in some intentional way, or (c) you don't believe whatever pattern of neural activity this is fits into the category "agent"? (a) is hard to believe and (c) is (mostly?) semantics, so I'm guessing it's (b).

If the confusion is (b), the only way I can think of testing that is checking how useful/interesting/coherent the contents of dreams is, and this suggests that there is some intentional content in them.

Regarding the idea of being the agent that is deliberately constructing my dreams, in my rather unsatisfactory adventures with lucid dreaming I've had a handful of brief lucid moments where I had the clear conscious experience of conjuring pieces of the dream environment into existence by expecting particular things to be there. Unfortunately in each instance the dream dissipated quickly and I woke up, but the conviction remains: whatever is constructing my dreams is something I can access deliberately. Perhaps check out accounts of lucid dreaming on r/LucidDreaming for more successful examples.

Comment by alkjash on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-20T00:49:55.616Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Leaving the others aside, I think the way you both frame dreams one really confuses me. Dreams are at best half-random - in mine there are events and preoccupations from the day, as well as recurring themes and anxieties. Some examples of mine: hiking up hill and feeling my thighs clamp up, viruses taking over my computer with popups and requiring an OS wipe, teeth falling out.

If the scenery you encounter is not you and is being constructed in a deliberate way by some brain module, surely something in your brain is constructing it, right? I frame this thing as "another agent." Perhaps you never get to experience being that agent.

Comment by alkjash on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-19T18:40:59.334Z · score: 21 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is a conversation well worth having, and none of the possibilities that steven0461 listed stand out as obviously false.

Let me start by listing a few observations about myself that make the multiple agent framework feel real to me. I'm curious whether these experiences resonate at all with either of you.

(1) Watching my dreams and daydreams, I experience it as the one who is in the dream. Something else is crafting the scenery and action. As far as I know, it's part of my brain. What is that something? It's like the inner sim module that's modelling the world and drawing stories of its own accord.

(2) I find that I can reliably query that something to construct stories: when I write fiction I have two different modes that feel like (a) consciously writing a story and (b) closing my eyes, inhabiting the character, and watching the mental imagery that appears. The two types of stories produced are significantly different, and my experience of (b) feels like I'm querying a part of my mind I don't have conscious access to.

(3) Around different people, I am pulled into different roles/masks. It's possible and effortful to resist, but I do so only rarely. In the role, I say things that I don't normally say. I act in ways that surprise me. I have a handful of friends who reliably provoke these patterns of thinking and behavior, and I generally find it stimulating and fresh.

(4) On that note, I've spoken Chinese and English since early youth and I experience a context switch between the two languages; they're accompanied by different modes of thought. For example Chinese_me is much more authoritarian and puts more stock into virtue ethics/honor.

Comment by alkjash on A Motorcycle (and Calibration?) Accident · 2018-03-19T16:10:54.436Z · score: 21 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Fun story! Chinese also has a funny colloquial name for motorcycle riding: 肉包铁, which means "meat wrapped around steel," as opposed to driving, "steel wrapped around meat."

For me there's a certain amount of attraction to motorcycles precisely because of the danger involved (not enough to actually try them). It's part of the well-known phenomenon of "who can stand at the precipice of death the longest is king" that especially characterizes adolescent males and seems to be built into people instinctively.

Comment by alkjash on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-19T06:09:48.176Z · score: 23 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I also confess that I really really liked it at CFAR and then mysteriously didn't do any of it afterwards ... as I type this comment my mind is coming up with ways to weasel out of making a commitment to do it more ...

Comment by alkjash on Silence · 2018-03-18T22:10:57.049Z · score: 17 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Totally! I was reading some mediocre fanfiction the other day and I had this note of confusion: "why am I reading this? I thought this was pica for something but...the character is bland and unintelligent, the writing is weak and meandering..."

My current model is that what I usually thought of as "escapism" i.e. I want to be elsewhere for a while, is actually "fast-forward" i.e. I want to cease to be for a while.

Comment by alkjash on Silence · 2018-03-18T18:14:41.610Z · score: 17 (4 votes) · LW · GW
Alternative hypothesis is you were just sleep-deprived? I also find it harder to resist superstimuli when I'm not getting enough sleep, not eating well, etc.

This is definitely a huge part of it, and taking naps every so often really does reduce what I thought was nihilism.

I'm still not sure how many of my psychological problems have purely physiological causes and cures. Every outside data source suggests "way more than I think."

In some sense this whole post is just saying "lots of things are escapism from pain," but somehow I found the idea of the "fast-forward button" a fresh and more resonant statement of the problem than "escapism."

Comment by alkjash on Bug Hunt 2 · 2018-03-18T05:07:18.183Z · score: 16 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, totally. At some point you realize that solving every problem consciously is an exercise in futility, and all this intentional rationality practice is really just practice for training your subconscious to automatically think in the right patterns and solve your actual problems with no apparent effort.

Comment by alkjash on Bug Hunt 3 · 2018-03-15T17:23:06.510Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1) Getting Got is usually a failure of making a smart big-picture decision. When the average person or activity clamors for my time, I know I'd be better off literally staring at a wall introspecting, and yet it's still difficult to refuse. I think you overestimate how easy it is to make clear-headed decisions with all the noise - Getting Gone and Getting Compact are tools for this.

2) Don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say you should work on the hardest problems. I said you should think about why you're not working on them.

3) Agree.

Comment by alkjash on TAPs 3: Reductionism · 2018-03-15T17:06:34.966Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's surprising that taking a five or ten minute break makes such a big difference. I wonder what would happen if you practicing taking 5 minute breaks throughout the day, e.g. pomodoros.

Comment by alkjash on Hammertime Day 7: Aversion Factoring · 2018-03-15T00:58:27.735Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sweet! This sounds like a huge step, thanks for sharing!

Let me know if you further resolve this problem. More data points are always appreciated.

Comment by alkjash on Yoda Timers 3: Speed · 2018-03-14T04:46:29.455Z · score: 12 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Video Speed Controller is much better than the jank chrome extension I was using, thanks! Anime might just be barely watchable at 3x.

Comment by alkjash on Bug Hunt 3 · 2018-03-13T22:38:30.600Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely, I think doing things more quickly and cleanly than demanded is also (and perhaps the correct) a form of succeeding with abandon. I was referring to the many situations where you're stuck in an activity anyway after the "outcome" is already clear (e.g. a won game). Making the most of these situations is helpful.

Comment by alkjash on Hammertime Day 7: Aversion Factoring · 2018-03-13T15:00:38.623Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds like this is a moderately serious aversion you probably endorse, but don't understand deeply. In this situation I think it's not correct to try to CoZE it. I would suggest throwing Focusing and/or Goal Factoring at it:

Focusing: try to conjure up the feeling of being annoyed at this guy, and see if you can attach a specific, resonant name to the feeling. Something like "I'll never catch up to him" or "Being around this guy makes me sadistic and anitisocial" or "This guy is not smart/virtuous enough to deserve to beat me."

Goal Factoring: not every aversion has to be tackled head on. If this seriously bothers you, there are a hundred ways around it. e.g. a different martial art/training place/sport.

I also wonder how you feel about talking to the guy/whoever's in charge and telling them about your aversion. If I had to guess, just thinking about this is also aversive - try to factor this aversion as well.

Comment by alkjash on Murphy’s Quest Postmorterm · 2018-03-12T17:17:10.268Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yea, I only recently found the fiction subreddit r/rational on reddit and my week is probably gone.

I find it kind of shocking that the standard progression for fiction writers is something like: keep writing full-length novels until you git gud. Light novels seem to be a good transition stage for training (at least). It's still an open question for me whether light novels are better full stop.

Thanks for the support!

Comment by alkjash on Murphy’s Quest Postmorterm · 2018-03-12T17:08:43.992Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm also a little bit dubious of this; I tried playing a couple times and we've gotten a bit of (2) and (3) with mostly (1).

Comment by alkjash on Murphy’s Quest Postmorterm · 2018-03-12T02:30:56.560Z · score: 22 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yea, I think rationalists bias towards rule-based learning because it's more conscious/S2, but much of learning happens via imitation: [find interesting mentor] -> [copy their every move wholesale]. Funny example: I learned analytic number theory from an Indian postdoc whom I admire very much and I still think about prime numbers with the slightest of Indian accents.

Comment by alkjash on Murphy’s Quest Ch 13: Existential Risk · 2018-03-12T00:07:41.782Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Kudos for the comment, normally I would allow speculation but that was way too spot-on! You should write the sequel =).

Comment by alkjash on ESPR 2018 Applications Are Open · 2018-03-12T00:06:37.917Z · score: 6 (1 votes) · LW · GW

URL typo.

Comment by alkjash on Murphy’s Quest Postmorterm · 2018-03-11T20:59:07.940Z · score: 34 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the support! I don't fully understand the tradeoffs between fiction and nonfiction writing - in particular I wonder how many of the ideas on LW would be better transmitted as fiction:

(1) Fiction is experientially "cost-free" to read whereas nonfiction always incurs some mental tax.

(2) Object-level examples are as good or better than meta-level principles.

(3) Learning by imitation is easier than learning from rules.

Comment by alkjash on Misery Pits · 2018-03-11T20:05:22.819Z · score: 55 (15 votes) · LW · GW
Several nasty things happened in one week: we split up with my first gf after a 7 year relationship (mostly due to my neediness), the company I worked at went bankrupt, I lost my apartment, and my grandmother died in the hospice as I watched. That wouldn't bother a stable person much, but 23 year old me also wasn't a very stable person.

Jesus, whoever these "stable people" you speak of are, I'd like to meet them. I don't think I know a single person who wouldn't crack in such a situation.

Comment by alkjash on Misery Pits · 2018-03-11T01:05:21.197Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · LW · GW

This is a very important consideration. I would phrase the actionable portion as: for any relationship between a pair of people A worse off than B, A is as likely to drag B down as the other way around. Do not go around assuming you have what it takes to help people just because you're better off than them (even in situations where it's obvious from both sides who is better off).

in general it's not paradigmatically manipulative

My priors disagree with this, having been somewhat needy and pathetic in the past. In such a state I have been, for example, gripped by destructive rage when my friends succeed more than I imagine they deserve. Zizek likes to say poverty is a moral crisis as well as a humanitarian one - suffering brings the worst out of people, and the worst part of a human being is plenty bad.

I think it's right to treat people as if they have good intentions, because people generally have both good and bad intentions and play tit-for-tat in life. But we shouldn't confuse this with actually believing that most people only have good intentions.

Comment by alkjash on Murphy’s Quest Ch 9: Double Crux · 2018-03-09T22:15:20.856Z · score: 21 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm writing as fast as I can!

Comment by alkjash on If rationality skills were Harry Potter spells... · 2018-03-09T18:13:16.532Z · score: 19 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Any chance you'd like to do some cover/chapter art for Murphy's Quest?