Changing my life in 2021, halfway through 2021-06-10T01:36:50.997Z
Convict Conditioning Book Review 2021-04-09T22:10:58.939Z
Pragmatic Cutoffs 2021-03-07T18:35:23.490Z
Borasko's Shortform 2021-02-16T16:41:39.670Z


Comment by Borasko on Changing my life in 2021, halfway through · 2021-06-10T23:52:31.011Z · LW · GW

I have not, but I'll look into it. I hope it goes well for you!

Comment by Borasko on Big picture of phasic dopamine · 2021-06-08T23:11:20.672Z · LW · GW

Very interesting! I don't know much about the brain but I think this post did a good job of explaining the concept and showing it's importance. I wonder how the brain does this with neuroplasticity.  I've read this article from MIT about researchers rewiring eye inputs to the audio processing parts of the brain. Would the hypothalamus have that hyper-prior on what eye data "looks like" and create loops and systems that could de-code that data and reintegrate it with the undamaged processing systems? Could an AI system just as easily create or re-use existing substructures within it's code? I'm too new to ML learning to know if models can add layers during deployment, or how generalizability could be made within neuro networks past training.   

Comment by Borasko on Is driving worth the risk? · 2021-05-11T17:58:32.757Z · LW · GW

I don't want to die, but I also want to live. The future is inherently uncertain, so if I were to take a decreased quality of life (no more driving) to better my chances of surviving to ASI, I had better have strong intuition that ASI would come. 

I'm short on AI timelines (2035 median, right tailed distribution), but I also drive and take more risky activities on covid because I like being in person with my friends and family. The fact that I don't know what a post singularity world would look like helps me feel comfortable taking these risks, it seems almost anything can happen post singularity good (hopefully) and weird.

My main worry about decreasing my quality of life by not driving / decreasing risk is the alignment problem for AI. I can image a counterfactual world where AI is created but it is not aligned, where if I were to take heavy precautions I would suffer decreased quality of life many years just to die to a rouge agent. 

If I am to take this serious and hyperbolic discount my life I would need to be more assured AI is align-able, and I am too new on my journey into AI to feel comfortable talking about that yet. It may seem myopic to take these risks considering the odds, but everything is uncertain, and I could always die one day before ASI anyway.

I live in a more rural place however, if you live in a big city where walking everywhere is feasible, your calculations for quality of life change.  

Comment by Borasko on AMA: Paul Christiano, alignment researcher · 2021-04-30T20:06:53.771Z · LW · GW

If you believe AGI will be created. What would be the median year you think it will be created at? 

Ex. -2046, 2074, etc. 

Comment by Borasko on Borasko's Shortform · 2021-04-27T18:06:43.944Z · LW · GW

I think I am approaching the end game of video gaming.

 I can scroll through Steam and GoG for hours while seeing nothing that slightly interests me. Every once and a while a great game comes and revolutionizes my experience with video games, but like riding a roller coaster its then hard to go back to the Farris wheel after and feel a rush, all games after are discounted on their novelty. The games that did that for me were the Pathologic "series" and Disco Elysium.  Yesterday was a bit different, I went on a site called and they have a lot of old / almost lost media games. I spent a good couple of hours browsing very old games, downloading them and then trying to get them to work. Most were broken and corrupt. But it was fun.

It wasn't the act of playing the games themselves, most were clunky and hardly working even if they did run, it was mostly finding the hidden games that was fun. I was playing a meta game around video-games. But in all reality it was just novelty seeking behavior, which kind of worries me.

I want to enjoy games and get involved in their stories, like books and movies they are a great medium to explore. Meta gaming ruins that by making it a dopamine seeking outlet only. 

I don't know how to solve this, I am thinking of two possible causes right now. 

1. My threshold for novelty is too high, I've seen so many ideas and visual artistry that for something to seem interesting it really has to differentiate itself.

2. My dopamine receptors are fried, I can't just pick a game due to opportunity cost and I seek a greater hit of dopamine from the other options I have.


This does sadly extend past video games, I'm picky with books, movies, art and videos I consume. It's useful somewhat for avoiding Sturgeons Law but it has it's cost of making me become stuck in ruts sometimes. I think that somewhat ironically having heavy novelty seeking behavior is reducing my opportunity to experience novel things.

I'm putting this here as a  "To Do" for my own thinking, hopefully solving this would help me experience better quality of life. 

Comment by Borasko on Convict Conditioning Book Review · 2021-04-10T16:56:16.627Z · LW · GW

It's brushed over in the book but he believes weights put unnatural stress on the body causing it to deteriorate quicker. Little evidence other than his anecdotal experiences is given for this. It is mostly the assert and move on.

Comment by Borasko on Covid 4/9: Another Vaccine Passport Objection · 2021-04-09T21:21:37.502Z · LW · GW

I work at my county's health department helping with the vaccination process and I can confirm that you are scheduled for two weeks out exactly when your first shot is done.  If you miss that date or have to reschedule you are put on a waiting list for a different date in time,  I don't have access to the list, but I also assume it's scheduled for you again with the hopes things will just work out.

I take inbound calls sometimes and many people are worried if they cancel they won't ever get, or since it's been longer than 2 weeks "something" would happen where they wouldn't get full immunity. If you've been reading these posts for a while I don't think it should be surprising that lay people take the knowledge they are given on the covid issue without question. I think for most cases that's reasonable and tends to work well.

Our department is greatly over worked as well. when we register people in our system we try to put their preferred contact information as email since that is sent out automatically when that person is in the available age / priority group. If they sent their preferred method as call they might not ever get a call telling them they can schedule for appointments since we have very few staff (I haven't met any) who do outbound calls or have the time to do them. This has a major impact in our elderly community as they usually can't figure out technology as well as younger people, and the vaccination registration slots will be filled by the people that can work computers.

I have had many times older people call our vaccination line and wonder why they haven't been called to be scheduled after signing up so long ago, only to see they have been sent an email months ago but nobody could call them to tell them to register. When I was working at the vaccine clinic earlier today one guy wondered in, said he never got a confirmation time since nobody called but it had been two weeks since his first dose, sure enough he was scheduled for today and we got him his second dose.

I'm not high enough to know any more logistics or bottleneck issues other than that, but like most massive projects it's chaotic, with information changing rapidly, and little optimizations and setbacks happening all the time. To leave this post on a hopeful note, if they show up to our clinic and are in an eligible group, if we have shots left to give we get them registered and get them the shot that day. We also push through the spouses of the people there getting vaccinated as well. Most other vaccine workers like me try to push through as many people as we can as painlessly as possible, fighting the grinding wheels of bureaucracy as much as we can.  We understand we are here to vaccinate, not pencil push, little formalities are easily overlooked. I hope it's the same for clinics in other parts of the state's as well. 

Comment by Borasko on Covid 4/1: Vaccine Passports · 2021-04-02T14:39:19.202Z · LW · GW

As far as QR code privacy goes, anybody that has their location checked on in their phone is getting tracked much more than that code could ever do. Although I'm sure they wouldn't mind having the 'vaccinated/non-vacinated' categories. If being vaccinated wasn't already inferable by reading the persons emails / listening to their phone calls.

I really like the idea of privacy. But I just assume after Snowden's leaks everybody is being maximally tracked 24/7. I'm not saying its right, but I have no power to stop it. So when I hear of people's privacy concern issues about being tracked the best I can do is be sympathetically supportive, but I believe it's a lost cause and thus usually pre-factor it in to government proposals.

Comment by Borasko on Politics is way too meta · 2021-03-17T14:58:13.427Z · LW · GW

"But the front-page articles really shouldn't be about the controversy, the buzz, the second-order perceptions and spin and perceptions-of-spin."


I totally agree, but this seems like a business optimization problem. Considering all the different news sources that compete against each other for their consumers very limited time, they have to make it click-baity and scandalous if they want people to pick them over a competitor. I think sometimes when we get really close to an election that the election basically does become a tv show or a sports game. Its the talk of the town, the real consequences of what is happening usually get ignored, and people are just sports fanning it up. So assuming the average person probably likes to get their opinions fed back to them, and that political drama and scandal's becomes the stand in for entertainment. It becomes very hard for the news not to optimize towards overdramatic, not objective level cost / benefit analysis.

To be fair, regular cost/benefit analysis of a politician is pretty boring by all accounts. Find the policies of each, see what ones you agree / don't agree with. Find what the perceived costs and benefits of having that individual in office would be, then vote for them. You know what's not boring? Making conspiracies that your opponent is apart of an elite pedophile cabal trying to keep you down, or that your opponent is secret a puppet for foreign opposition sent to destroy America. That's much much more entertaining, and the lack of news about could even support your claims! I worry about how much people's need for escapism and bias for their side in politics fuels the rise of heavy skewed meta news as well.

Considering I agree with your post, and that there is a real chicken or the egg problem to current political reporting,  a good next step now for people politically inclined would probably be to think about the ways to better change election reporting news on the margin so that it eventually becomes more objective.

Comment by Borasko on Borasko's Shortform · 2021-03-09T17:23:00.248Z · LW · GW

That's a good idea, I'll try that.

Comment by Borasko on Fun with +12 OOMs of Compute · 2021-03-02T16:15:24.192Z · LW · GW

Awesome! Thanks for your answer!

Comment by Borasko on Fun with +12 OOMs of Compute · 2021-03-02T01:50:31.645Z · LW · GW

 This was really interesting to read. I'm still pretty new to the AI space so I don't know how this compares to our current FLOP usage. Assuming our current course of computing power doesn't change, how long is the timeline to get to 10^34 FLOP of computing power? 

Comment by Borasko on Borasko's Shortform · 2021-03-01T23:56:28.221Z · LW · GW

At the start of this year I stopped playing video games except when in social situations. My hope for doing this was I would be able to study more without the distraction, and sometimes playing videogames encourages behavior that lead me to be more reclusive than I think is healthy for me.

This worked fine for the first two months, however the last two days have been really rough on my mental state. I found myself breaking down and playing video games last weekend. I was bummed. I planned to go a full year without doing that. But considering I am still alive to be bummed, things could always be worse.

I started think more about about. Was not playing videogames producing the behavior I wanted to see from myself? Maybe. 

I think I definitely have better study habits now, I worry more about the reclusive part but I think that could be solved with mandatory breaks every 30mins to an hour to think about what I could be doing different, and opportunities I could make. 

The biggest problem I have now with not playing videos games right now is I realized today I replaced them. I checked my YouTube recommend. Every single video, every one, had some tie in to video games. Weather it be reviews, clips, or streamers playing them. I wasn't getting away from video games at all. I had replaced playing them with watching other people play them. I created a videogame proxy. And I think that's even worse.

I spent almost all time on YouTube when I wasn't study, it was what I used for leisure. If that was all videogame videos (which it usually was), then I think I ended up sending more time on videogames than I did before. Which I think isn't good.

So I think I found a solution. I thought about it, and while I am uneasy about playing videogames again since I don't want to regress into being unproductive, I'm proposing I play them for a fixed amount of time per day as a trade.

I can play video games for an hour and half per day after my study timeclock is over, in exchange that every YouTube video I click on from now on can't be video game related. I'll start this this Wednesday at the soonest. Track how this works out for me for a month, and decide what changes need to be made. 

The media we consume have power effects on who we are. Considering I spend most of my time on YouTube, consuming all game news is essentially trapping me in only knowing gaming, despite me not playing them. This would hopefully allow me to find some of my other interests and become more well rounded, even if that means just replacing videogames with animal videos. Most of my life has sadly been gaming related, those would hopefully make me branch out more. I know I can't quit cold turkey, so here my attempts to iteratively improve myself on the margin.

Comment by Borasko on Borasko's Shortform · 2021-02-17T15:07:29.435Z · LW · GW

Those are good to know! Thanks!

Comment by Borasko on Borasko's Shortform · 2021-02-16T16:41:40.417Z · LW · GW

I seem to be going back into a major depressive state, emotionally it doesn't feel much different from my normal functioning depression, but I notice a largely decreased ability to devote mental energy and get started on tasks. Words seem to not make sense, like everybody is writing in Wernicke's Aphasia, it's all there and fluent but the words have no meaning to me.

When I try to code or do mathematics my ability do calm down and try to solve problems get severely reduced, I short circuit to irritability and anger that I can't quickly solve what I think I should know.

Here are some warning signs that I'm heading in for a rough depression time for future reference, what I've noticed is

*I wake up feeling depleted emotionally and mentally. 

*Sleep disturbances happen a few times a night, mini nightmares as well.

*I feel trapped in a cycle of watching videos as a distraction 

*I generally feel half asleep and slightly uncomfortable throughout the day.

*The urge to play videogames or any other form of escapism skyrocket.

*impulsivity in general increases

*It takes a lot of effort to read longform posts, and those I don't immediately understand I give up on.

*My head feels like somebody lit my neurons on fire, they all feel tingly but thankfully there is no burning sensation

*Chocolate, Sweets, Carbs intake goes up a significant amount.

*Random emotional fluctuations, feeling the urge to cry for no reason at random times.


The strangest thing is for me and this might be why I never diagnosed myself with depression before this year is that I don't usually feel "bad". I don't feel guilty or like a burden. I love my family, I love my friends, and I am grateful for all the opportunities and the things I get to do in life. I got this way through gratefulness journaling and reading philosophy / this website. I recognize things are good for me, really good in comparison with most people. 

Using Scotts Dynamic Systems model of thinking

I think it's almost purely chemical for me, with the chemical problems popping up and building a wall in the middle of two attractor states which prevents me from moving from the depression attractor state to neurotypical attractor state. Chemical imbalances impose a hard limit on how far to the other attractor state I can get, while constantly trying to move me back to the bottom of the depression one. But through trying to be grateful for every tiny thing in my life and accepting my reality as is I move my emotional/cognitive variable towards the neurotypical attractor state (I think). But with the hard chemical limit imposed I can't go over the hump to get to the other side, this leads me to be as far towards the non depression attractor state as I can, and the competition forces cancel out, leading me to feel "eh" all the time.

I'm sure the reality of the situation is much more multivariable and complicated than that. But that is my current model of how my brain and "I" are battling now. Once again I am grateful for finding LessWrong and Scott Alexanders posts for giving a much better way to think about my problems.

Comment by Borasko on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-04T19:30:11.989Z · LW · GW

Thanks for posting this, I didn't know about radvac before and now I am excited. I will read the white paper and probably make some myself. If your results are good which I really hope they are, I will try to help my family members get some as well. I don't mind paying $1000+ for family safety, and with the delayed vaccine rollout I would feel better even getting the vaccine to them one month earlier.  So thanks again! I hope all goes well.

Comment by Borasko on The GameStop Situation: Simplified · 2021-01-29T23:26:49.533Z · LW · GW

I haven't seen almost any traders going off a "real value" analysis for Game Stop. Almost everybody believes Game Stop has a broken business model with no fundamentals, but are all buying it and taking losses just to screw over hedge funds. This is coordinated short-sited financial shitposting out of spite. There is bound to be many losers, but man is it interesting to watch.


Edit: I would also love to see an analysis at one point of the game theory involved getting so many individual traders to coordinate.

Comment by Borasko on Group house norms really do seem toxic to many people. · 2021-01-13T02:26:09.231Z · LW · GW

I lived in a Fraternity for most of my undergraduate schooling. The same problems you had we also had. noise, cleanliness, politics, amount of clothing worn in common areas, taking up space in common areas, showers, money. Except, fraternity level. It seemed every semester there would be at least a few altercations between roommates, it's just natural. 

However we being an 'organization' really helped us function as a group of a bunch different people living in one house under one banner. We specifically had internal structures for dealing with grievances between roommates and keeping the house running smoothly. I understand these are hard to scale to 8 people, but it might be interesting to know regardless.

*We had a standards board run by one person who would receive complaints anonymously or otherwise, who called on preset people, not involved in the grievance to analyise it and come up with the best way the problem could be solved. Roommate mediation, extra chores for aggressor, fined, etc. These were considered to be "just business" punishments, not hard feelings. (although people being people they take it however they will).

*We had house meeting every week, about upcoming events, changes to the house, and changes we would like to see to the rules of the house, everybody without a good excuse had to be there. It kept people up to date about what was going on and established clear do's and dont's. 

*We had an advisor who would also come in and mediate / check that the house was going in a good direction. 

*If a person was really not working out behaviorally their would be an anonymous vote for if that person stays or goes based on the grievances, then the people voting would also give them a set time to move out by also based on the grievances.

Conflict is inevitable with people living together, but having trusted people on top of a set structure really helped mitigate the problems that could have arose

I have never been apart of a 'rationalist' group, nor am I truly sure what a group like that does, but if there is a community of people that live together that think of rationality as a banner rather than a practice, having organizational living rules I think would really help. 

Comment by Borasko on Babble Thread · 2021-01-10T02:05:45.190Z · LW · GW

{I don't know how long these can be but this might be a long post, mostly a vent on frustrations with online none university learning}


When I search for a new skill to learn there are hundreds and hundreds of tutorials and websites and courses that are instantly presented. Some of them seem more high quality than others, which is easy to tell both from websites hosting them (Khan Academy, etc), and then the ratings those individual courses have inside the websites. But there is also free vs paid courses. As somebody who has tried many open online learning courses (for coding) free and paid, I find the quality between them usually comparable. So when finding a new paid course which is supposedly good I am much more hesitant about actually paying for it feeling like I could find something for free that would do at least a similar but maybe slower job.

There is also the problem with the amount of depth covered in both free and paid courses.  I have taken many free coding courses that give you all the basic building blocks with very small intractable programs that basically has you do extremely specific things to make the code run. But coming out of these courses I felt like there was huge gaps of knowledge missing. Sure I can write a loop and put data in a list, but there is a big step between doing that and making a web-scraper, or doing that and analyzing data. Some courses offer too little content, and some courses offer too much content with no depth. I say they offer to much with no depth because I have seen many machine learning courses that also include an intro to python programming with them. Maybe it would be good for established coders who just need to learn syntax, but I am less optimistic that they were the target audience. 

So what I have found in online programming courses is that there is a huge amount of them, usually sticking to introductory level topics, and they either offer only the basics or give a little taste of everything at a blazing speed. 


Coding is also one of the lucky ones for online learning, today I was searching for electrical engineering courses. I think that one point it would be good to learn electronics and how to create robots / other parts to that use electricity.  I found a few courses across coursera and edx that were interesting, but the problem is I don't even know where to start. Coding at least has beginner programs labeled as such. As I try to pick beginner electronics courses or pick more higher level coding courses, its gets harder to weed out good from bad because I am not even sure what I am looking for. Or if it will be pragmatic to my goals of (learning to build small machinery, or becoming a programmer for a large company). Or the courses straight up don't exist because they are for too niche audience, its just random articles on the subject scattered across websites.


About a week ago a stumbled on this . I'm glad I did mainly because they offer a clear sense of progression on what getting more knowledgeable at computer science fundamentals would look like. Since I did not major in computer science I have no idea and I am fully trusting them on blind faith, but it is the best I have found and I am sticking too it. 

I wish there were more resources like that. Khan Academy does good progressions with Math (I haven't looked at their other courses). But having a path forward is hugely beneficial, I don't feel like I will be trapped in Autodidact intro to python hell.

 It would be nice if there was a website that offered basically an undergraduate course list equivalent for a wide range of subjects (Coding, Engineering, Biology, Botany) made up of other sites learning resources, like the github link above for everything. If I cared about the accreditation for biology I would go back to college, but it be nice to have a site that would give learning progressions so I could know up an undergrad level what is going on.

Maybe I'm being to harsh on the online courses I have taken so far, but I still think a progression system would greatly help new learners, even competing progression systems can be made and then learners can cut out the differences between them to find what truly matters.


tl;dr: For me online learning had been an slog, with an overwhelming amount of choices for some skills and no choices for others. I find most of the overwhelming skill choices to also be either not enough information or too much information spread to thin over the entire discipline. I also think its hard to new learners to be become comfortable with there skills because they no idea how to progress further with them after their course.

I think a solid solution to this would be to create a website or websites that basically act as an undergraduate course list for all major skills taught about online. With the website(s) pointing to other courses online appropriate with the learning skill level and offering the learner a progression guide on where to go next with their skill.

If nobody else wants to make, I just might. 


Feel free to post your thoughts about this idea too, and if you know of any good electronic engineering courses please let me know.

Comment by Borasko on DALL-E by OpenAI · 2021-01-07T03:10:26.650Z · LW · GW

I wonder if something like this could be pared with AI Dungeon? If they do release a image generator model for public or private use I think it would be fun to see an image accompany the last line(s) of the text output that has been generated for the story thus far. 

Then more complex AI generated games wouldn't be too far away either.

Comment by Borasko on Blog plant · 2020-12-14T20:04:54.013Z · LW · GW

I've been interesting in getting into plant life lately. Do you have any learning resources you would recommend?

Comment by Borasko on Blog plant · 2020-12-14T20:03:33.108Z · LW · GW

I've been interesting in getting into plant life / botany lately. Do you have any learning resources you would recommend?

Comment by Borasko on Quick Thoughts on Immoral Mazes · 2020-12-09T20:47:55.462Z · LW · GW

I think the rise of the popularity of the internet has actually strengthened moral mazes in companies. 

Especially now since everybody on the internet can access their own very intense small scale subgroups which usually perfectly conforms to whatever ideology / life style that person wants. Not only does the internet allow people to find their niche interests, it allows them to jump between group cultures relatively easily.  In each of these groups there is norms and unwritten culture rules about what is and isn't acceptable, I think that's why the social sites with points system like reddit took off was because not only is their a reward for posting acceptable in-group content but it also allows the shaming of out-group content.

These small subcultures usually draw specific pools of users, who draw more pools of users, who then make up a majority of the platform. But it is subcultures all the way down, and different subcultures can have dramatic effects on the type of content an individual consumes. Some getting to the point where it is as close to an echo chamber as it can be. There is a distinct difference in types of content produced on YouTube's trending page and say game design tutorial playlists. For another example of subcultures I like to look to reddit, I would say the site is increasingly political, but how those political subcultures divide on the left and right is both interesting and I would argue mostly psychotoxic to consistently read through. But the point is all sub-cultures online are made of people, then those subcultures keep grouping until their are a generally cohesive base on a few big topics. 

A business can be thought of as a bunch of sub-cultures as well also grouping into a hopefully cohesive unit. Office politics has always and forever will be a thing, but I think due to the rise of intense social subcultures online that maybe tailored to each individual it's become more difficult to find commonality. The middle managers will have to stay on top of very fuzzy social and moral issues to keep their competitive edge on other managers or firms. I think of it as social keynes beauty contest, the typical appeal to the mass audience except with the light on you at all times with social media. Specific sub-cultures online and probably major media corporations will drag you and your company into the spotlight if you violate social order. 

tl;dr: I think it has become harder for middle managers to navigate through office culture as the rise of the internet has given sub-groups both in and out of the corporation to have a lot more direct social influence on acceptable actions and positions your company can take, thus increasing the intensity in company moral mazes.