Training Reflective Attention 2014-12-21T12:53:52.558Z · score: 21 (24 votes)
Simulate and Defer To More Rational Selves 2014-09-17T18:11:10.505Z · score: 134 (130 votes)
What It's Like to Notice Things 2014-09-17T14:19:02.157Z · score: 49 (39 votes)
A Dialogue On Doublethink 2014-05-11T19:38:47.821Z · score: 53 (59 votes)
On Straw Vulcan Rationality 2014-02-02T08:11:54.705Z · score: 7 (42 votes)
Tell Culture 2014-01-18T20:13:09.414Z · score: 121 (127 votes)
Rational Resolutions: Special CFAR Mini-workshop SATURDAY 2014-01-02T20:32:26.931Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
Human Memory: Problem Set 2013-10-31T04:08:45.436Z · score: 13 (16 votes)
Meditation Trains Metacognition 2013-10-20T00:47:03.927Z · score: 32 (36 votes)
How do you say no? 2013-10-04T03:44:12.712Z · score: 14 (15 votes)
Ketogenic Soylent 2013-09-27T01:17:33.889Z · score: 6 (11 votes)
Polyphasic Sleep Seed Study: Reprise 2013-09-21T22:29:05.744Z · score: 40 (49 votes)
Seed Study: Polyphasic Sleep in Ten Steps 2013-07-11T07:17:20.355Z · score: 31 (36 votes)


Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Monthly Bragging Thread January 2016 · 2016-01-22T23:01:53.933Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I wrote the first story I've ever truly been proud of.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Proper posture for mental arts · 2015-12-20T01:42:11.279Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So, by way of analogy, what might an error in attempting to (say) consider the opposite look like, and what would a good “mental posture” be that would make the error matter less?

(written before reading on)

Outward orientation. Focus on features of the external world. Seeking harmony with the movements of reality.

Here are some motions I might make if I discover I've failed to consider the opposite:

  • Oh no, I've broken a rule! That was bad and I am bad. wallows What do I need to do now to atone?
  • Can I retroactively save myself from fully acknowledging that I've made the error by finding a convincing argument showing that I didn't actually need to consider the opposite in the first place?
  • This is evidence that I'm intrinsically not the better version of myself I like to imagine.
  • I'm not as good as the people who wouldn't have made this mistake.

If you startle a cat that's preparing to pounce, it might suddenly jump, whereas if you startle it wile it's lazing about, it might just twitch and look at you suddenly. When it's preparing to pounce, its posture makes jumping the default reaction to anything that happens.

If any of these mental motions is my reflexive response to discovering an error, I must be posed for self assessment, as though I'm prepared to pounce on myself - "What do my experiences mean about me as a person?" - and for judgement of my relationship with other people, with imaginary versions of myself, or with a system of rules.

Some motions I'd rather make upon discovering I've failed to consider the opposite:

  • Consider the opposite. (Better late than never.)
  • What was the nature of my mistake, what damage have I done, and how can I repair it?
  • How would I like to respond next time I encounter an experience like the one that happened just before I made this mistake?

(Preferably in that order.)

What posture would make these thoughts the sort I'd have as an automatic reflex if a failure to consider the opposite were to sneak up on me and yell "boo"?

There are probably some more specific good answers to this, but the one that comes to mind - and my current best answer to the more general question "what posture is good for rationality?" - is something like "seeking harmony with external reality".

This is a feeling I'm familiar with from partner dance. When I'm not dancing very well, I tend to have a strong inward focus. I'm concerned about what I am doing, whether the thing I did was what the lead meant for me to do, and how I look to other people.

When I'm dancing my best, my focus is always outward: on the lead, on the music, on the patterns of movement we're creating together. My focus is on the dance, not on myself. It's a kind of being in love, an intense selfless attentiveness to the phenomenon of dancing.

Similarly, when I'm trying to make good decisions in the midst of uncertainty and frequent error, I move more effectively if my attention is on the world, instead of on myself.

Excuse me for getting all poetical, but: Just as a master dancer must be in love with the dance, so must a master rationalist be in love with the truth. Maintaining a posture of selfless attentiveness to accuracy is what it means to be in love with the truth.

When I've fallen - say, by failing to consider the opposite - and may have damaged my model, this kind of outward-facing, world-aligned mental posture helps me spring right back up to rejoin the dance and make things right again.

[Edit: "Maintaining selfless attentiveness" is most of how I personally be in love. I am aware of having an unusual way of being in love. This might be closer to what most people experience as parental love than romantic love. Anyway, it's probably a bad phrasing for most, and just a good handle for me.]

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Tell Culture · 2015-06-12T16:30:28.110Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For the record, I mostly regret posting this.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-02-10T20:34:40.782Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure why we're focusing in on narratives here, but I suspect it's for not very good reasons. Whether it's good for some people to "think of themselves as sidekicks" seems less important than whether it's good for people to actually perform the actions of a "sidekick". We can talk about how to promote or discourage the set of actions once that's settled. I'd much rather present a breakdown of what I actually do day to day and why, and then have people point out what precisely it is that I'm doing wrong.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Shit Rationalists Say? · 2015-01-03T16:34:53.546Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think this should still happen.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Training Reflective Attention · 2014-12-24T21:11:02.558Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I said it because of how I think about thoughts. When i say "thought", I mean anything that is happening in consciousness. Any sensation, any mental event that you're subjectively experiencing. When I say "conscious", I mean "you're experiencing things" (and maybe also you're awake). So if you're not experiencing things, you're not conscious. So if I taboo "thought" and "conscious", then I'd express this bit as "Try to stop having mental events. (You can't actually do that while in a state that affords trying, of course. Trying is a mental event.)"

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Training Reflective Attention · 2014-12-23T13:52:39.120Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't need citation. How would that help? It just needs clarification. Which will be easier if you'd tell me what you think might be wrong about it.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Training Reflective Attention · 2014-12-23T13:50:34.458Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not at all yet, though some of it is inspired by CFAR material. I'm not a CFAR staff member, just an occasional guest instructor. I'm in Chile for four months developing this stuff so I've had almost no contact with them for that time. But who knows, maybe they'll find some of it useful and pick it up.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Training Reflective Attention · 2014-12-21T18:56:23.916Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I answer that question honestly, it means I'm telling you the decisions I've made that I regret most. Mistakes like that pretty much don't happen when my mind is in good condition. I'm pretty sure I'm willing to do that, but I'd at least like to make sure first that trivial mistakes won't do.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Harper's Magazine article on LW/MIRI/CFAR and Ethereum · 2014-12-13T17:25:58.896Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This gave me so many warm fuzzies. <3

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Simulate and Defer To More Rational Selves · 2014-09-17T13:26:54.801Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

This whole comment thread is utterly delightful.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Simulate and Defer To More Rational Selves · 2014-09-09T21:51:08.636Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Wish granted!

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Simulate and Defer To More Rational Selves · 2014-09-08T21:44:43.488Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Please do report back on whether it helps you!

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on A self-experiment in training "noticing confusion" · 2014-08-22T18:04:51.284Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is one of the most valuable things I've read in months. Thank you!

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on A Dialogue On Doublethink · 2014-05-09T22:25:49.368Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I can already predict, though, that much or my response will include material from here and here.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on A Dialogue On Doublethink · 2014-05-09T02:40:15.440Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Can you give three examples of improvements in your life since your epiphany?


1) My conversations with friends are more efficient illuminating. 2) I learn more quickly from mistakes. 3) I prevent more mistakes before they get the chance to happen.

If I hadn't given those examples, could you have predicted positive changes resulting from having generally more accurate beliefs? It really doesn't seem that surprising to me that someone's life would improve in a zillion different ways if they weren't wrong so much.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on A Dialogue On Doublethink · 2014-05-09T02:34:10.257Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So8ers, you're completely accurate in your interpretation of my argument. I'm going to read some more of your previous posts before responding much to your first comment here.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on A Dialogue On Doublethink · 2014-05-08T18:15:41.036Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

done. sorry, didn't know.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Truth: It's Not That Great · 2014-05-06T23:40:29.407Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It is indeed a cue to look for motivated reasoning. I am not neglecting to do that. I have scrutinized extensively. It is possible to be motivated by very simple emotions while constraining the actions you take to the set endorsed by deliberative reasoning.

The observation that something fits the status-seeking patterns you've cached is not strong evidence that nothing else is going on. If you can write off everything anybody does by saying "status" and "signaling" without making predictions about their future behavior--or even looking into their past behavior to see whether they usually fit the patterns-- then you're trapped in a paradigm that's only good for protecting your current set of beliefs.

Yes, I do have good reasons to think the things I'm imitating are causes of their success. Yes, they're more successful on average than people who don't do the things, and indeed I think they're probably more successful with respect to my values than literally everybody who doesn't do the things. And I don't "happen" to be in close proximity to them; I sought them out and became close to them specifically so I could learn from them more efficiently.

I am annoyed by vague, fully general criticisms that don't engage meaningfully with any of my arguments or musings, let alone steel man them.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Truth: It's Not That Great · 2014-05-05T04:03:47.537Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I was not signaling. Making it a footnote instead of just editing it outright was signaling. Revering truth, and stating that I do so, was not.

Now that I've introspected some more, I notice that my inclination to prioritize the accuracy of information I attend to above its competing features comes from the slow accumulation of evidence that excellent practical epistemology is the the strongest possible foundation for instrumental success. To be perfectly honest, deep down, my motivation has been "I see people around me succeeding by these means where I have failed, and I want to be like them".

I have long been more viscerally motivated by things that are interesting or beautiful than by things that correspond to the territory. So it's not too surprising that toward the beginning of my rationality training, I went through a long period of being so enamored with a-veridical instrumental techniques that I double-thought myself into believing accuracy was not so great.

But I was wrong, you see. Having accurate beliefs is a ridiculously convergent incentive, so whatever my goal structure, it was only a matter of time before I'd recognize that. Every utility function that involves interaction with the territory--interaction of just about any kind!--benefits from a sound map. Even if "beauty" is a terminal value, "being viscerally motivated to increase your ability to make predictions that lead to greater beauty" increases your odds of success.

Recognizing only abstractly that map-territory correspondence is useful does not produce the same results. Cultivating a deep dedication to ensuring every motion precisely engages reality with unfailing authenticity prevents real-world mistakes that noting the utility of information, just sort of in passing, will miss.

For some people, dedication to epistemic rationality may most effectively manifest as excitement or simply diligence. For me, it is reverence. Reverence works in my psychology better than anything else. So I revere the truth. Not for the sake of the people watching me do so, but for the sake of accomplishing whatever it is I happen to want to accomplish.

"Being truth-seeking" does not mean "wanting to know ALL THE THINGS". It means exhibiting patters of thought and behavior that consistently increase calibration. I daresay that is, in fact, necessary for being well-calibrated.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Audio Version of "How to Actually Change Your Mind" · 2014-02-19T05:33:21.446Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The reason I'm excited about this: I read quite slowly. But there's plenty of software available for speeding up audio, so I get a lot more read by listening at around 3x.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on On Straw Vulcan Rationality · 2014-02-03T20:25:48.362Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

As someone recently said on Facebook: I am trying really hard to read any of the comments as similarly tongue in cheek, but... it's not working.

What I was actually expecting was a playful battle-of-the-Trekies where we argue largely in jest over whether, how, and why an ideal Bayesian community should emulate or differ from Steel Vulcans. I am updating pretty strongly toward "Lesswrong doesn't do humor." If I shouldn't be, feel free to explain what I'm missing. I'm sort of new here.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on On Straw Vulcan Rationality · 2014-02-02T20:11:15.280Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're definitely right about Sarek, but I've not seen Enterprise, so I'm not familiar with T'Pol.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Tell Culture · 2014-01-18T20:11:48.554Z · score: 2 (12 votes) · LW · GW

A community of HPMOR!Quirrell variations would have your very post in main, with plenty of upvotes, all the while secretly whetting their blades. Perfectly rational.

I really don't think so. A community of Briennes, which is not a community of HPMOR!Quirrells but shares some relevant features, would recognize the overwhelming benefit of coordination. Any given individual would be much stronger if she had the knowledge of all the other individuals, or if she could count on them as external memory. And because she would be stronger that way, she knows that they would be stronger if she also remains trustworthy. Her being trustworthy allows her to derive greater benefit from the rest of the community. Other people are useful, you see. With Tell culture in place, you can do things like feed your model of the world into someone else's truth-checker and get back a more info-rich version. You only defect if the expected utility of doing so outweighs the expected utility of the entire community to your future plans.

I'd love to hear what culture Eliezer thinks an entire community of Quirrells would create.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Tell Culture · 2014-01-18T18:55:06.878Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

^_^ I'll move it to Main then.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Tell Culture · 2014-01-18T18:54:18.202Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

People's feelings do sometimes get hurt when you say "no". And people's feelings get hurt when you're honest with them sometimes. My thesis is that it's easier, as a community, to recover from hurt feelings than from ignorance and deceptions.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Tell Culture · 2014-01-18T18:51:55.165Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not suggesting all of society is ready for this. I'm suggesting we work toward it among highly rational peers and allies. This is how, and much of why, my close social circles work. Now that I'm used to it, I'd have it no other way.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-11-24T06:03:13.649Z · score: 26 (26 votes) · LW · GW

Survey complete! I answered ALL the questions. ^_^

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Human Memory: Problem Set · 2013-11-01T22:23:44.723Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well I don't actually recommend it. :-p It's just something along the right lines that I wouldn't have thought of.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Human Memory: Problem Set · 2013-11-01T03:53:40.935Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm liking this for "hit the door with your head". Just the kind of thing I was looking for.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Human Memory: Problem Set · 2013-10-31T18:22:57.610Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It would almost certainly fail for me. I seem to store stuff like this just fine, which I believe because the information will often come to me when I don't need it, but I'm no good at retrieving it at will just because it's somewhere in my brain.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Human Memory: Problem Set · 2013-10-31T18:17:58.185Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have used the pretending to forget thing several times. Good stuff.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-21T22:36:34.128Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Will your doing so make it worse if and only if people continue the practice?

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-21T18:42:46.898Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Or maybe I don't notice it somehow.

Yes, this is exactly why I want to be able to directly test for inner speech without having to go through the vocal muscles.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-21T18:10:02.118Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting! You're the first person I've heard of who never used inner speech while reading in the first place. I know people who believe they've learned to stop, but there's also evidence that their vocal chords continue moving when they read just like everyone else's so something fishy is going on. On the other hand, I really doubt Eliezer's vocal chords are doing that, because he reads at least three times more quickly than I could possibly speak no matter how many times I'd rehearsed the words, yet he does claim to hear a little voice in his head as he reads. (How he parses it I have no idea. It's frightening how quickly his mind can move.) I was about to say, "I wish we could know by third-person science rather than mere reporting on phenomenology whether vocal chord movement reliably tracks inner speech," but if we could do that then vocal chord movement wouldn't matter since what I'm really interested is knowing whether inner speech is happening.

Edit: Not the study I had in mind, but evidence that subvocalization can be detected via electrical signals sent to vocal muscles.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on PSA: Very important policy change at Cryonics Institute · 2013-10-21T01:35:09.390Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the time, when I listen to discussions like this I hear, "How much exactly do you want to not die?" To which my unequivocal response is "A WHOLE FUCKING LOT."

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on PSA: Very important policy change at Cryonics Institute · 2013-10-21T01:32:21.860Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

1) There are an awful lot of relatively probable accidents that end with me dying in a hospital after a trip to the emergency room. I'd actually really like to see statistics on what percentage of people who die in each age group have their brains squished. 2) If you take FAI seriously, it may be worthwhile to attempt to preserve yourself regardless of what kind of shape you're in. I'm not certain a superinteligence could repair damage I can't even begin to imagine how to repair, but I'm not very confident it can't in many cases either.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-20T17:21:12.347Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't mean for this to be a challenge to conquer. If you're noticing internal dialogue or what's happening in your head as you try to prevent it, you're doing it just fine. The only way to do this wrong would be to read or to play a video game and pay no attention for the minute instead.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-20T17:16:38.494Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah. The point is to try for a whole minute to do it. I don't expect you to succeed. I can't always manage it myself.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-20T08:05:57.294Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I felt a little uncomfortable about my presentation of the exercises for precisely this reason. It was a choice between giving instructions that might be insufficient to cause the desired effect--which is noticing of subvocalization, not subvocalization itself--and causing subvocalization that might not have been there had I a way to communicate "notice subvocalizations" without mentioning subvocalizations.

Still, I'm claiming something whose positive and negative versions are extremely difficult to verify. I'm claiming that subvocalization happens when you aren't paying attention to it, which means you're very unlikely to remember that it ever happened. It's easy to design an experiment to test this, but it would require some expensive equipment few of us have access to. My claim comes from the many many reports of meditators who are almost universally astonished to discover how much narration is going on in their head when all the distractions are removed--and they often aren't told explicitly about subvocalization. Soto Zen is notorious for simply telling students so sit down and shut up, basically. And then they experience this anyway.

Obviously, that doesn't mean everyone experiences it. Just that lots of people do. I'm banking on "lots" being "almost all" for the exercises to work.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-20T06:07:43.400Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't link to other posts on Lesswrong about meditation in the OP for three reasons. First, most of them aren't related in especially useful ways (but perhaps I'm wrong; I did skim parts). Second, some of them make claims and express perspectives I'd feel a strong need to respond to if I sent people over to them, and I wanted to stick as closely as possible to my main point rather than talking a lot about meditation in general, which I could do for a very, very long time once I got going. Finally, I didn't want to prime people who hadn't already read them. I attempted to divorce meditation from many of its stereotypes so I could make points that didn't depend on the reader taking seriously whole memplexes deeply entangled with religious doctrine.

But now that all of that is out of the way, if you're interested in how this relates to past LW meditation posts, you can find the first of a three part series on meditation here, a discussion thread on minfulness in particular here, a post on theory here, a solid description of Vipassana here plus a followup here, a discussion of a study on mindfulness here, and something I haven't yet checked out about meditation for brainstorming here.

I'm quite new to the site and expect I've left out some interesting posts, so please leave a comment if you know of more.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-20T05:32:43.005Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Fascinating; I know just which study you're talking about, and I applied for it myself. Alas, I did not make it through screening. I await your post with excited anticipation!

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-20T05:23:38.635Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Others have said this in person; I'll fix both things. Thanks for the feedback!

(I'm used to blogging for a very different audience with short attention spans, a desire for constant entertainment, and a great fear of large blocks of text.)

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Meditation Trains Metacognition · 2013-10-20T05:20:37.861Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You mean you couldn't set the timer, or you couldn't not narrate?

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Ketogenic Soylent · 2013-09-28T00:15:03.134Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Already have choline. That's what the lecithin is for. Sorry I didn't make that explicit.

Brienne has no intention of losing weight and will be making a non-ketogenic version of this in the future since I'm tired of cooking and eating.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Ketogenic Soylent · 2013-09-27T03:53:57.335Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He has tried a ketogenic diet, and he did not enter ketosis. You'd have to ask him for more details than that, for I know them not.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Ketogenic Soylent · 2013-09-27T03:16:47.339Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Polyphasic Sleep Seed Study: Reprise · 2013-09-25T05:22:30.903Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I made the post despite not having detailed quantitative information yet because people are curious. I made a post before promising the results of a very high VOI experiment, so people kept sending me messages along the lines of, "Ok, the month of the experiment is over! What happened?" and I didn't want them to lose interest or think the whole thing had been abandoned. I think this post was fairly well received because it was effective at reassuring people that the good thing they care about continues to exist and be good. Further, it's provided evidence that I'm the kind of person who does things when she says she will (I said I'd do the experiment, and I did it), which raises their confidence in eventually seeing the full results (because I've said I'd provide those in somewhere around three months).

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on A map of Bay Area memespace · 2013-09-24T18:04:07.520Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Even straight vanilla mono can be part of kink culture. Especially when described in those words. Subcultures come as much from how people are doing things as what it is they're doing.

Comment by brienneyudkowsky on Belief as Attire · 2013-09-24T16:25:43.435Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I understood as soon as I read the next sentence. I just felt silly that I couldn't figure it out myself.