Comment by Ambition on Why don't you attend your local LessWrong meetup? / General meetup feedback · 2014-05-01T18:35:24.728Z · LW · GW

Finished and turned in.

Comment by Ambition on Use Your Identity Carefully · 2013-08-22T23:39:37.120Z · LW · GW

I notice I am confused.

Comment by Ambition on Biases of Intuitive and Logical Thinkers · 2013-08-13T09:25:03.132Z · LW · GW

Firstly, this post is awesome.

Secondly though, this post brushes on the topic of intuition as a useful tool, something I think far too many Logic-Based types throw out without considering the practicality of. It's better not to think of it as being an substitute for logical thinking, but rather as a quick and dirty backup, for when you don't have all the information.

Intuition can occur in up to two seconds, operates almost completely below conscious awareness, and begins effecting your body immediately. Here are some excerpts from Blink, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he researches how intuition works, what abilities and drawbacks it has, and what biases can effect it's overall usefulness.

In front of you are four decks of cards, two of them red and the other two blue. Each card in those four decks either wins you a sum of money or costs you some money, and your job is to turn over cards from any the decks, one at a time, in such a way that maximizes your winnings.*

Ah, a perfect opportunity to be a Logical Thinker, using careful observation and reasoning to find the ideal pattern. What path does intuition take though?

What you don't know at the beginning however, is that the red decks are a minefield. The rewards are high, but when you lose on the red cards, you lose a lot. Actually, you can win only by taking cards from the blue decks, which offer a nice steady diet of $50 payouts and modest penalties. The question is how long will it take you to figure this out? After about fifty cards or so, people start to develop a hunch about what's going on. We don't know why we prefer the blue decks, but we're pretty sure at that point that they are a better bet. After turning about eighty cards, most of us have figured out the game and can explain exactly why the first two decks are a bad idea.

This is all standard enough, but what is more impressive is the fact that people started generating stress responses to the red decks by the tenth card.

That's right, palms began to sweat in reaction to the red decks almost immediately, naturally pushing people towards the blue decks before they could even understand why, or even recognize what they were doing.

In those moments, our brain uses two very different strategies to make sense of the situation. The first is the one we're most familiar with. It's the conscious strategy. We think about what we've learned, and eventually we come up with an answer. This strategy is logical and definitive. But it takes us eighty cards to get there. It's slow, and it needs a lot of information. There's a second strategy, though. It operates a lot more quickly. It starts to kick in after ten cards, and it's really smart, because it picks up the problem with the red decks almost immediately.

There are better examples of applied Intuition in Blink, but I've purposefully only used one of the earlier examples in the Amazon Sampler to respect the book. I'd recommend reading the whole thing though, especially if you're interested in understanding what it does while you're thinking things through.

Comment by Ambition on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-03T01:18:16.962Z · LW · GW

He who knows nothing is further from the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors, but has the courage to acknowledge them as so.

-LessWrong Community

Comment by Ambition on A Call For Advice: · 2013-08-02T07:58:46.761Z · LW · GW

Sorry this has come so late, but I've been really puzzling over your statement about intelligence. What type of intelligence are you referring to when you say my maximum is fixed?

Are you saying something similar to, "I can practice baseball every day for 30 years, and improve by a huge margin, but I will only be ever so good, simply because my mind will only ever go so fast, and my body can only strengthen so much?"

Comment by Ambition on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-02T02:32:30.655Z · LW · GW

He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

-Thomas Jefferson

Comment by Ambition on Open thread, July 23-29, 2013 · 2013-07-28T00:34:21.799Z · LW · GW

Records definitely sound like a good idea. I've found that I'm very poor at judging how much progress I've made one something, (usually underestimate), and having some solid information sounds like the perfect solution to this problem. In addition, it should let me decide the next course of action off of numbers, rather than vague feelings on the situation.

As for social skills, it's already on my "High Priority" list of things to do. When researching things I try to collect information from a wide range of perspectives, and see what people agree on. Recently I've been looking into Con Artistry, the entire purpose of which is to make friends quickly and effectively, so you can exploit and subtly manipulate them. A very roundabout way of looking into psychology, but a lot of the things I've read on the topic match with demonstrated social experiments.

Programming has been recommended three times now, which marks it as something definitely worth looking into. Perhaps I can eventually get into one of those Prisoner's Dilemma competitions, after a long time studying of course.

Thank you for your advice, I will take it into consideration.

Comment by Ambition on Open thread, July 23-29, 2013 · 2013-07-28T00:18:43.716Z · LW · GW

Ah, so the confidence spiral approach? I've been getting that recommendation a lot lately, which is a good sign that it's effective. Anki is another good point too, I've started using it for memorizing the LessWrong Sequences, and intend to use as a resource for school when that starts, or anything in general that I'd like to memorize.

I appreciate your input, I'll see about trying SICP as well.

Comment by Ambition on Open thread, July 23-29, 2013 · 2013-07-28T00:12:45.745Z · LW · GW

Excellent point, I'll definitely want to incorporate compounding actions immediately, and as far as exercise goes, I make it a point to do it every day I can, which is most days.

The reason I started was simply because I didn't want to be out of shape, but then I read spark, which makes the case that exercise not only improves the brain, but also increases happiness and productivity.

I'm assuming you came across the same information, one way or another. Thanks for the input.

Comment by Ambition on Open thread, July 23-29, 2013 · 2013-07-27T04:25:30.356Z · LW · GW

On August 4th, I will be turning 15, and I've decided to initiate a very large project, which for lack of a better name, I will dub "The Plan".

I intend to spend the days leading up to my 15th Birthday by taking information from an enormous variety of sources on what life improvements can be made, what skills are most useful, and what areas should be studied, to reach the ultimate goal of gaining as much benefit possible, as quick as possible.

There's tons of things to consider, even assuming I have a tireless work ethic and can implement this immediately. What types of utility increases are there? Which are more important? Should all time be devoted to the quickest increases in utility, or should energy be set aside for starting some long term goals early? Does it make more sense to improve yourself, so you can make more money? Or to make some money, and use it to improve yourself?

Obviously I'm not going to find a perfect answer, and attempting to plan out my whole life is doomed to fail, but I'd at least like to have a better idea of where to go from here. (Besides, I'll still have learned a lots of useful information.)

So, I pose this question to the LessWrong Community:

If you were me, and turning 15, what would you recommend that I do over the next year, to give me the biggest utility bonus the fastest, both in skill and wealth?

Hopefully, even if it proves an impossible question, we'll see some interesting discussion.

Comment by Ambition on A Call For Advice: · 2013-07-27T04:08:04.811Z · LW · GW

Your advice has not gone unappreciated, this is exactly what I was hoping for. I'm glad I could get some information, even if I asked for it the wrong way.

Comment by Ambition on A Call For Advice: · 2013-07-27T03:50:24.153Z · LW · GW

My apologies, I hope it didn't do any damage while it was up.

Comment by Ambition on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 22, chapter 93 · 2013-07-06T16:10:00.441Z · LW · GW

Sorry, how are Hermione and McGonagall, "essentially as flawed as they were in the original text", exactly? I always saw their characters as being a step up from their original descriptions, and it's clear that the difficulties that Eliezer is having them overcome are not random things that no other characters have, but rather, the sorts of problems with thinking we see in the real world. Hermione and McGonagall have made more progress over the book than many of the other characters. You can point out that this means they started out weaker, but there are clear, justifiable reasons for this, and not simply downgrading all the females.

You have to acknowledge the backgrounds of these characters.

Moody? Dark Wizard hunter for a hundred years. You can't expect McGonagall to be able to compete with that. Quirrell? In order for the story to work, we needed a villain that would be a match for the upgraded Harry, so it's obvious why he would need to be seriously ramped up. Dumbledore? After defeating Grindlewald, he had to wage the war against Voldemort for ten years, so his character needed to be the sort that could realistically withstand that pressure.

While I can't pretend to know exactly what Eliezer meant, I suspect these sorts of things are what he was referring to when he said canon was constraining him. If you're going to turn the PotterVerse into a world that makes sense, with actual cause and effect, you need Dumbledore to plausibly be able to have accomplished what he did, and unfortunately canon does not give him a strong backstory for a character like McGonagall. At least, not a backstory as strong as these other characters have, like Moody or Dumbledore.

If you're going to go out and call HPMOR problematic, and say it fails at a feminist reading, you need to at least understand why the story is like this.

I'm not even going to go into the fridging comment.

Comment by Ambition on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 21, chapters 91 & 92 · 2013-07-05T19:09:03.620Z · LW · GW

Fair point.

Comment by Ambition on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 21, chapters 91 & 92 · 2013-07-05T04:01:41.940Z · LW · GW

Harry told his patronus to specifically seek out Hermione, which lead him to the Troll. He also got a response back of "AHHHHHHHHHH", which seems suspicious enough, but not completely solid evidence. These details don't seem to match up with the idea that somebody else died in Hermione's place.

I think we are meant to assume that Hermione did die, or at least experienced something close enough to death that Dumbledore was alerted.

Comment by Ambition on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) · 2011-09-01T08:08:00.095Z · LW · GW

It sure was. As you can guess I'm not your average teen. Hopefully this time advantage will give me a head start on Rationality, and allow me to go far with it.

Comment by Ambition on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) · 2011-08-30T03:15:21.879Z · LW · GW

Hi! I want to use the Rationality Methods to improve my understanding of myself and how to improve. I guess you could say I had a strange way of "waking up" to Rationality. Many say they looked to rationality after realizing their religion was .... yeah. Well... That was a bit strange for me. when my parents married, "I was born about a year later", they were both from christian families and just went with it. When they realized that Christianity didn't match with the way things actually worked, the explained it all out to me. I was 5. Naturally that got my 5 year old mind thinking, "Wait.... Daddy was WRONG???". It took him about 2 hours to explain this strange new concept to me. That was step 1, on my path to rationality. I... am a 13 year old, confident, curious young male who decided that he wanted to skip the 30 years of bad habits and jump to the rational part. For my security, call me "Ambition".