Comment by general_optimizer on Emotional Involvement · 2009-01-10T03:04:20.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it would be such a bad idea to have some prerequisites for breeding, such as:

• Self-reliance • Rationality • Non-violence • No criminal record • And the most important of all: having already given birth to a brain child... or a few. Just one useful thing that didn't exist before you were born. Just one. You can come up with one in a lifetime, can't you?

Comment by general_optimizer on Emotional Involvement · 2009-01-08T00:46:23.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Theoretical thoughts and experimental deeds involving computation, physics, and electronics - The Stuff Dreams Undreamt Are Made Of. :)

I've never learned to think "That looks awfully hard... I don't think I can do it in a year, not even a decade, so I won't even give it a try." For many people hearing something is hard equals "Don't bother, it's been attempted by people far smarter than you with far more resources; it's impossible." They have resigned to the "fact" that it's not going to be solved during their lifetime. Not by them, not by anyone. That may mean that not that many people are even trying to solve the "hard" problems. (Will the AGI-during-our-lifetime-for-sure crowd please raise their hand?) I target such problems specifically "not because they're easy, but because they're hard". I don't care if they're called hard. I need to find out for myself why they're called hard. Maybe I don't find them so hard. At least not impossible-hard. Maybe I just find them fascinatingly challenging.

My brain just won't let go of problems it finds interesting and solvable, when it's offered no other reasons than "too hard to even try". I has to get seriously stuck for years to give up. But even then, if it finds no logical impossibilities, just lack of skills and knowledge, it will not let go entirely. It mutters under its breath "I'll be back."

It's like there's a meat hook stuck in it with a cord attached to the solution far above, and the only way to pry it off is to pull myself inch by inch to the solution, which hopefully does not lie beyond the end of my health span. I can never solve everything I'd like to, but if I do have the time to solve something, I want it Solved for good.

The trip may be a barren landscape of few sights and sounds, but it's better than the alternative of "normal life", whatever that means by your cultural standards, which I find simply garishly decorated emptiness. I don't particularly enjoy the trip, I enjoy the thought of the destination. It's the first and last thing on my mind every day. I savor each precious drop of knowledge that quenches my thirst in this endless desert of drudgery. Now I'm hanging by these multiple meat hooks and they won't let my feet touch the ground until I've climbed up and parachuted down - if I ever do choose to come down...

From the Manhattan Project, I learned that there's at least one valid, socially acceptable reason to grin, laugh, and cry uncontrollably, and that is scientific discovery. But sometimes, silence is all you can come up with when face to face with matters vastly bigger than you are.

Comment by general_optimizer on Emotional Involvement · 2009-01-07T20:54:22.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like well-defined problems with a definite solved-state. I seek out problems that lie within my capacities. But most of the problems I've (often unsuccessfully) dealt with earlier have been beyond my then inadequate skills. After failure I've put them on the back burner, with the idea of revisiting them perhaps in a decade or two, to see if I'm skilled enough by then.

Part of the problem of problem-solving is of course acquiring the requisite skills without wasting time on skills you have no use for, ever. Schools, I'm looking at you with a disappointed sigh. I estimate about 9 10ths of my time at schools I could have been doing something more useful. I hate to think about it. These days I try to compensate by being hyper-efficient.

You really don't want to acquire any more skills than the problems require; if your goal is to play good rock music, better not hang around people with bow ties. No matter how much knowledge and experience you have, if it's not applicable, it's worse than useless; it has wasted your time and may have sidetracked you for years - even decades. Some persistent scientific paradigms are merely social clubs with social conventions, i.e. not science at all - wonderfully entertaining ones, too, unless you're actually looking for the inconvenient truth, in which case they become an abomination, and you, an outcast.

Most things in the human sphere of affairs are unfortunately merely time sinks - though undeniably pleasurable ones, us being evolved for that sort of thing. In terms of problem solving, having a social life is an efficiency killer. Efficiency matters until this life extension business really gets going.

I actually don't enjoy the act of problem solving that much, because the process is mostly tedious and rarely rewarding. An endless number of dead-ends await. Any progress is hard won. At best I fail to experience being physically present and don't notice the passage of time - or the fact that I need to eat and take bathroom breaks - which was easily solved with a few timed beeps. To to become pure thought for extended periods of time, I've found it helps to have no natural light, a silent, air conditioned space, no net, no phones.

I only like the solutions. The moments of 1. Most moments are 0. Sometimes there's a -1, when I've mistaken a 0 for a 1 - a moment of "oh well, back to the drawing board". A surprisingly large number of the brain states generated and utilized during the process are one-time-use-only, at least so they seem to me. Maybe it's just my failure to generalize.

I prioritize my to-do list by long-term impact, preferably indefinite utility. At the top of the list I find problems of the long-standing, hard kind which require anything from years to decades of effort and deep specialization embedded within a network of cross-disciplinary knowledge. For this reason some problems I identify could even go unrecognized by the world community of experts even if explicitly pointed out. I suspect that's not awfully rare; there probably are people here who possess such incommunicable skills and knowledge. If you're part of a handful of top people in your field you're actually having a rich and varied professional and social life compared those at the vanguard of knowledge, the ones who write the books. (I'm not saying I'm one, but I'm working on becoming one.)

The 99.999...% means that I don't like partial solutions. I like to go all the way. I guess it's simply the brief nice feeling I get when I can provably check a task as Done - for eternity - that I'm after, after all. The Smile. The widest grin in the world. That's the wire I'm trying to attach to my head, again and again. I've had it on a few times, but it just won't stick.

Back to the business of reattaching it.

Comment by general_optimizer on Emotional Involvement · 2009-01-07T16:44:11.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I guess I'm sort of living the life of an expected utility maximizer. All I do all day long, year in year out, is optimize. Every night I go to sleep having optimized more problems out of existence, or having learned about ways that fail. Some days I find more problems. I don't believe I can ever be done with it, because I've chosen problems with high challenges and complex novelty.

I've optimized my emotional landscape: it's barren when it's not filled with the radiant joy of successful optimization. I don't care how my mind or body feels. It's all in the service of optimization. Sleep, defecate, gym, eat, study, optimize, study, optimize. Repeat forever. Adjust parameters so that I always feel at peak performance. What about entertainment? Some time off? I enjoy some comedy, music, and perhaps the occasional video at the gym. No vacations. That's my life. All of it. I basically never meet anybody in RL, because anybody with thoughts relevant to my work doesn't live nearby.

In case you think that I'm missing out on some essential "human experience" and wasting my life with nerdy stuff, I disagree. I think I'm living one of the best possible lives ever lived - and I'm including the whole universe. There are a few billion thoroughly human lives being lived at the moment so I think that part of the experience space is pretty well covered already and needs no help from me. The part that is not well covered is my experience space. In that space, I find thoughts never thought before. I find deeds never done before. I never could get a kick from anything else, except maybe from creating an AI - but that's for someone else to explore (I hear it's not too crowded in there). I have no need to even briefly visit any other experience space as long as my experience space is brimming with novel and challenging experiences.

The meaning of life, as I see it:

In everything, achieve 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999...%