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Meditation skill: Surfing the Urge 2020-05-07T17:30:04.659Z

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Comment by max-hodges on Question on GPT-3 Excel Demo · 2020-07-30T13:13:20.771Z · LW · GW

The datasets it was trained on include Wikipedia (English), Common Web Crawl (basically a subset of the Internet), Github, among others.

A team of researchers from OpenAI recently published a paper describing GPT-3, a deep-learning model for natural-language with 175 billion parameters, 100x more than the previous version, GPT-2. The model is pre-trained on nearly half a trillion words and achieves state-of-the-art performance on several NLP benchmarks without fine-tuning.

In paper published on arXiv, a team of over 30 co-authors described the model and several experiments. The researchers' goal was to produce an NLP system that performs well on a variety of tasks with little or no fine-tuning, and previous work had indicated that larger models might be the solution. To test that hypothesis, the team increased the size of their previous model, GPT-2, from 1.5 billion parameters to 175 billion. For training, the team collected several datasets, including the Common Crawl dataset and the English-language Wikipedia. The model was evaluated against several NLP benchmarks, matching state-of-the-art performance on "closed-book" question-answering tasks and setting a new record for the LAMBADA language modeling task.

Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-08T06:57:24.277Z · LW · GW

thought of you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhcvejeAB0E

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T18:47:35.478Z · LW · GW

Why would the meditator not want to admit that they wasted their time? Often if people feel they wasted their time watching some stupid movie or TV program they have no issue at all complaining about it. Or if they went on a cruise and didn’t have a good time they are often completely open about the reality of the experience. When I read what you wrote I can’t help but think you have some strong bias against statements people make about meditation. If what you say is true, and people feel like they wasted their time meditating, then why would they continue doing it? Your logic just doesn’t add up.

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T16:37:42.117Z · LW · GW
...provides no more benefit than any other religious program would provide

What makes you call meditation a religious program?

Where is the religion in this practice:

Practice: Mindfulness of Breathing

  1. Find a quiet place, and sit on either a chair or cushion. Choose a chair with a firm, flat seat, and hold your back upright (although not stiffly so). Let the soles of your feet meet the ground, and bring your hands on to your lap. If you sit on a cushion, you can be cross-legged. Let your body be untensed, inviting openness and confidence.
  2. Decide how long to practice for. Your session can be as short as five minutes, or longer. You may find it useful to set an alarm to tell you when to stop, so you don’t have to think about it.
  3. Bring attention to the sensations of breath in your belly. Let go of thinking about or analyzing the breath. Just feel it. Follow its natural rhythms gently with attention: in and out, rising and falling. Let thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and sounds be as they are—you don’t need to follow them or push them away. Just allow them to happen, without interference, as you direct gentle attention to the breath.
  4. When you notice that your mind has wandered, as it likely will often, acknowledge that this has happened, with kindness. Remember, as soon as you’re aware of the wandering, bring your attention back to the breath, and continue to follow it, in and out, moment by moment, with friendly interest.
  5. Continue with steps three and four until it’s time to stop.

===

Clearly you have some interest since you're here reading and responding to a rather long series of articles on meditation. But it seems you may also harbor a lot of misunderstandings. What's meditation in your mind? And why are you convinced it's "a waste of time" when hundreds of millions of people are doing it?

Out of curiosity, is there anything that might change your mind? Scientific papers? Meta-analysis studies? Perhaps testimonials of people's positive experience? Hundreds of testimonials? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Or is your decision based on some kind of dogma, moral principle, or fear?

I'm not particularly trying to change your mind, I'm just wondering how someone here on a "rationalist"-themed site ended up so blinded by their biases.

I wrote up something on a meditation technique I used as a freediver.

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ieMQHkLuYXND8Yohn/meditation-skill-surfing-the-urge

Maybe it'll give you a new perspective; if not, I'd be happy to understand what makes this a "religious program."

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T14:12:18.902Z · LW · GW
Many people are in fact choosing to not have sex with humans, instead simulating interaction with a human while self-stimulating. If your criticism here is based on an assumption that such choice is somehow invalid or worse, it would be great if you could support that.

I thought that was probably not a choice for most people. Perhaps a result of society getting so obese that no one finds each other attractive anymore? For me, it's like the difference between riding (preferably racing) a motorcycle vs playing a motorcycle video game. I can't imagine why anyone who has experienced the former would prefer the latter.

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T13:43:22.725Z · LW · GW

The OP conceded my points were valid btw, but thanks for weighing in with your profound personal insights!

> I believe this is mostly a waste of time.

oh well!

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T13:33:24.067Z · LW · GW

>there are a lot of people on Less Wrong in particular are - for good reason - skeptical about whether or not there is actually anything worthwhile going on in this space.

if the goal is, in part, to get more people to try meditation, you could also 1) cite the scientific literature on the benefits, 2) maybe encourage them to try (if only for 10 minutes a day, but should be for at least 6-8 weeks in my opinion), 3) compile personal testimonials about the benefits (and perhaps your own story).

A lot has been written about the basic idea. I imagine the type of people who are most interested in a more academic "model" are probably the type who would be more inclined to debate the "ontological problems" with your "pedagogical assumptions" and your "lexical fallacies" blah blah lol You know the types. Arguments, I've found, rarely shift intuitions.

I think some simple metaphors are probably even more effective than a complex model of the mind that people are going to have many reasons to disagree with. This 60-second video gets the point across without so many fancy words:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxyVCjp48S4

My multiagent model of mind
I have been calling my interpretation of those models a “multiagent model of mind”.

No credit to Marvin Minsky for your model? He pioneered the multi-agent model in his 1986 book "Society of Mind."

http://aurellem.org/society-of-mind/som-1.html

The global workspace can only hold a single piece of information at a time. At any given time, multiple different subsystems are trying to send information into the workspace, or otherwise modify its contents.
The exact process by which this happens is not completely understood,

That sounds lifted wholly from Dennett's work. The similarities are striking:

According to the Multiple Drafts model, perception is accomplished in the brain by parallel, multi-track processes of interpretation and elaboration of sensory inputs. These content discriminations produce something like a narrative stream. Probing this stream at different places and times produces different effects and precipitates different narratives. There are many small agents screaming for attention. What we experience is a product of many processes of interpretation.
Frustratingly, Dennett has very little to say about how these content discriminations work and it is unclear what governs the modules.

Basically you've constructed a dumbed down version with a Cartesian Theater. One of Dennett’s aims is to get rid of this notion of a centralized place of processing in the brain in order to escape Cartesian materialism. For him, there is no single brain area in which it all comes together. With this decentralized notion of consciousness, there is no need for a Theater and no need for a homunculus to live inside our brains. Dennett’s Multiple Drafts model of consciousness must first be understood as an alternative for Cartesian materialism.

So far it seem highly problematic and appallingly inauthentic.

I recommend Minsky's "The Emotion Machine." He offers a much more compelling notion of how things like recent memories, serial processes, symbolic descriptions, and self-models conspire to create an illusion of immanence.

But nothing beats the Monkey Mind analogy in terms of bang for your buck!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6pMbRiSBPs

Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-07T10:32:39.359Z · LW · GW

> If you're planning on spending two months improving the revenue created by feature X by 3%, do the napkin math to see if existing revenue coming from X justifies two months salary.

How do you know they didn't? That deck is just a summary of years of work. Perhaps reach out to Dan McKinley for further discussion. I'm afraid we've both just making a lot of speculation at this point. Talk to Dan.

When your revenue is 7-8 digits, 3% can add up! Sometimes it's such a no-brainer that it's not worth opening Excel over. Last week I had my devs spend a few days implementing a way to create DHL labels using an API. We didn't do any cost-benefit analysis because it was so clearly something that needed to be done. Today we shipped 147 packages by DHL. That would have taken about 5m each to do the old manual way, so in one day it saved 9.5 hours of staff time. Over one-year that's an entire salary.

But I think the presentation tells you why they weren't doing that stuff:

And you know what, if the site’s growth is really insane, it looks like it’s working. You can release things and as long as they don’t completely destroy everything it will look like you’re a genius. All the graphs will go up and to the right.

You can read in the Farnum St. interview with Tobias Lutke, CEO at Shopify, how it held back Shopify's growth. I've met Tobias and he's a brilliant, level-headed engineer and CEO, but if you read that you'd probably conclude he's irrational, stupid, and not ambitious enough for not relentlessly maximizing growth for that period. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Regarding testing and validation, of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking, it still looks like they got it backwards to me. You're free to disagree. I'm running multiple companies and have produced many products and services--only one big failure. I've tried a lot of approaches and still mix and match many ideas, but can solidly endorse making the prototype in get the feedback.

Maybe you misunderstand how we think about prototyping. A realistic façade is all you need to test with customers. The prototype give you something concrete to put in front of customers for rich feedback and insights. But think lightweight (dirty) version of key aspects of a product or experience. The prototype only needs to be good enough to test out a hypothesis and nothing more. It's all about testing big ideas with minimal upfront investment.

I recommend the design thinking methodology presented in "Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days." Invented at Google by Jake Knapp, perfected with more than 150 startups at Google Ventuer (GV).

Prototype comes before Test.

https://www.thesprintbook.com/how

Cheers,

Comment by max-hodges on A game designed to beat AI? · 2020-05-07T09:48:31.817Z · LW · GW

Thanks! Was there any requirement that it needed to be a physical set? I assumed the AI would probably be interested in a digital environment.

The set could have a bunch of "cards" to start; or maybe the whole thing is open-sourced if you're philosophically opposed to the idea of people making their own decisions about trading money for things they find valuable. But those issues seem rather secondary to the spirit of the challenge here.

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T09:01:02.278Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure exactly what you disagree about, but thanks for the comparisons.

Here's a nice comparison on Quora from someone "Practicing Yoga & Meditation since 2001"

Zen is a school of "sudden enlightenment". You "just sit" on the cushion for a million years and with shear mind force destroy your ego and then you suddenly "get" it. Or (in the Rinzai school) you are given an absurd puzzle called Koan to solve. It throws your ego from its normal course that you reach Satori. Hence all the strange and crazy stories of Zen masters.

Vipassana is a school of "gradual enlightenment". First you learn how to focus on a single object or awareness for extended period of time. Then with non-judgmental awareness you observe. With long enough practice your mental obstructions or "fetters" as Buddhism calls them are broken - one by one. When all the ten fetters are broken, you have reached.

I have tried Zen in a monastery setting and quickly found that its not my cup of tea. People's temperaments are different. Some people may find Zen to be more appealing than the traditional Vipassana.

I would suggest you try out both a see which works for you. Its one thing to intellectually understand meditation and a totally different thing to sit in a cushion for 8-hours and watch your breath hit the tip of your nostrils.

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T08:52:02.471Z · LW · GW

Have you looked at the work of Sara Lazer PhD?

We study the impact of yoga and meditation on various cognitive and behavioral functions. Our results suggest that meditation can produce experience-based structural alterations in the brain. We also found evidence that meditation may slow down the age related atrophy of certain areas of the brain.

https://scholar.harvard.edu/sara_lazar/publications

And that's just from one researcher.

A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Effects of Meditation on Empathy, Compassion, and Prosocial Behaviors

"Clinicians and meditation teachers should be aware that meditation can improve positive prosocial emotions and behaviors."

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T05:56:56.739Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying, "It's dishonest to tell people that 10 minutes of daily meditation has worthwhile benefits"? Are you speaking from personal experience with meditation? Are you aware of the many benefits supported the scientific literature? Are you aware of any research that establishes necessary timelines or "ROI" estimates for those benefits? Do you think there might be a lot of individual variability around the benefits of meditation?

I've elaborated on my position here. Happy to hear your thoughts!

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Mf2MCkYgSZSJRz5nM/a-non-mystical-explanation-of-insight-meditation-and-the?commentId=g6QYqBEpt7KPYSsyj

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T05:48:15.096Z · LW · GW
I read the first ~100 pages of "Why Buddhism is True", but . . .

That's hardly 1/3 of the way in; not very "deep." ;)

Robert Wright is quite well-regarded for his writing on science, history, politics, and religion. His skeptical, non-mystical stance toward meditation sounds like just the thing you'd be keenly interested in. He argues the modern psychological idea of the modularity of mind resonates with the Buddhist teaching of no-self (anatman). One would think that's precisely the kind of thing you are trying to get at!

I admit the book is a bit clumsy, tedious and dull in places (aren't most books?), and Wright certainly isn't the last word on meditation, but if you want to understand this stuff more deeply like you say, perhaps try and be a little less hyper-focused on your mission to "dissolve the algorithm" see what else he has to say in the final two-thirds of his book. Maybe you're depriving yourself of the opportunity to discover some additional nuance, aspects, and features of meditation you may be overlooking.

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T05:44:00.905Z · LW · GW
I trace myself back through the labyrinth of my brain, through the innumerable turns by which I have ringed myself off and, by perpetual circling, obliterated the original trail whereby I entered this forest. Back through the tunnels—through the devious status-and-survival strategy of adult life, through the interminable passages which we remember in dreams—all the streets we have ever traveled, the corridors of schools, the winding pathways between the legs of tables and chairs where one crawled as a child, the tight and bloody exit from the womb, the fountainous surge through the channel of the penis, the timeless wanderings through ducts and spongy caverns. Down and back through ever-narrowing tubes to the point where the passage itself is the traveler—a thin string of molecules going through the trial and error of getting itself into the right order to be a unit of organic life. Relentlessly back and back through endless and whirling dances in the astronomically proportioned spaces which surround the original nuclei of the world, the centers of centers, as remotely distant on the inside as the nebulae beyond our galaxy on the outside.
Down and at last out—out of the cosmic maze to recognize in and as myself, the bewildered traveler, the forgotten yet familiar sensation of the original impulse of all things, supreme identity, inmost light, ultimate center, self more me than myself. Standing in the midst of Ella's garden I feel, with a peace so deep that it sings to be shared with all the world, that at last I belong, that I have returned to the home behind home, that I have come into the inheritance unknowingly bequeathed from all my ancestors since the beginning. Plucked like the strings of a harp, the warp and woof of the world reverberate with memories of triumphant hymns. The sure foundation upon which I had sought to stand has turned out to be the center from which I seek. The elusive substance beneath all the forms of the universe is discovered as the immediate gesture of my hand. But how did I ever get lost? And why have I traveled so far through these intertwined tunnels that I seem to be the quaking vortex of defended defensiveness which is my conventional self?
--Alan Watts

If you're going to double-down on the idea of "deep" meditation, would it be unreasonable to ask for some disambiguation? What are the key differences between "deep meditation vs. plain old meditation" in your "model"? Or are there more than two types? Are there 20 types? 200 types?

I don't mean to be pedantic, but I think this notion of "deep," or "serious," or "real" meditation vs. some false, light, or non-serious practice is dubious at best.

Sure, someone may be more likely to experience the benefits of meditation faster if she takes a 10-day retreat compared to 10-days of ten-minute practice. Or maybe not. She might just reject the experience as overwhelming, tedious and painful. Would you agree that someone who consistently runs for 10 minutes, three times a week, is going to realize greater long-term health benefits than someone who only run-walks one marathon a year? Furthermore, telling people that to do it right, physical fitness "requires a huge investment of time and effort" is more likely to discourage anyone from getting up off their ass. I appreciate that you raise awareness of potential risks, but your notion of the time required for "deep" meditation is curiously out of step with what leading meditation instructors advocate.

More importantly, this whole notion of "optimizing returns" is antithetical to the whole practice of meditation! More on this in a moment.

If I cook for only 10 minutes, am I not really "deep cooking"? If I read for 5 minutes, am I only "shallow reading"? How long do I need to exercise before I'm "deep" exercising? Or does this whole idea of "deep vs. shallow" only apply to meditation and not to aerobic sports, weightlifting, or other activities?

"Deep vs shallow (non-deep? light?)" smells like a dumbbell theory--an attempt to explain the world in terms of opposing forces or principles:

  • Good vs Evil
  • Conscious vs Unconscious
  • Intentional vs Unintentional
  • Thoughts vs Feelings
  • Enlightenment vs Non-Enlightenment
  • Self vs No-Self

Whenever I see such a two-part distinction, I try to see if I can separate things into three or four parts instead. If I cannot, then I suspect what we have isn't two things at all, but two extremes along a single continuum.

Sure, I'll grant that putting a frozen meal in the microwave barely counts as cooking. But when someone sets aside a specific amount of time to deliberately practice an established Vipassana meditation technique, even if for only 10 minutes, it seems wrong, and pretentious, to discredit that as insufficient and somehow fails to qualify as "real" hardcore meditation.

Joseph Goldstein is one of the first American vipassana teachers. He's led meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. He is a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (est. 1975). Joseph has conducted and produced countless short meditation sessions. Do you take the position that he's effectively wasting (quite a lot of) people's time with his "softcore" approach to meditation?

What if, in your quest to "dissolve the algorithm" you only succeed to dumb things down and distill away much of the nuance, subtlety, and non-obvious aspects of meditations effects before you even had a chance to notice some of them? Perhaps it's too much to hope that when Eastern philosophy encounters Western culture, it could ever result in the Easternization of the West and survive distortion and corruption by Western psychopathologies.

Imagine for a moment if we were talking about sex instead of meditation. Sex encompasses a pretty complex, wide-ranging set of experiences. It arouses intense physical and emotional responses. It's one of the most intimate experiences one can have with another person. It encompasses the ego dissolution of orgasm, the removal of barriers toward bonding with another person more closely, elements of risk and danger, vulnerability, a playful exploration of sensations and personal boundaries--giving and taking, connecting and disconnecting, tension and dissolution. And it can result in long-lasting physical, emotional, and cathartic benefits.

Now, say someone comes along and says they aren't happy with these loosely vague, poetic, romantic notions. They want to distill the sexual experience into "straightforward terms" and come up with a "precise" language to "correctly capture the essentials" and make an "unambiguous model" that any educated person would understand. Sorry, but I'm afraid to succeed in that endeavor is to fail. You'll end up with something, but I think you'll be leaving a lot out. It might even satisfy someone who has never had sex and therefore doesn't know what they are missing--like using a diagram to describe a J. S. Bach two-part Invention to someone who's never heard a performance.

Why stop there! Maybe we can patent the "algorithm" and commodify it as a sort of Mindfulness Porn. Perhaps we could build an "enlightenment machine." Something akin to one of those Electrical Muscle Stimulation devices for people who want to short circuit a proper weightlifting routine. Who needs sex when you can have an Autoblow 2?

I'm sure I'll get accused of being anti-science or anti-intellectual for my position here. But I only hope to convey that there are limits to reductionism when it comes to complex, multi-dimensional (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) aspects of human experience. In a similar vein, it's well-documented that while the reductionist approach has been successful in the early days of molecular biology, unmitigated reductionism underestimates biological complexity and has had an increasingly detrimental influence on many areas of biomedical research, including drug discovery and vaccine development.

Your focus on "results" and notions of "return on investment" and gamification of meditation by hacking the "algorithm" is profoundly antithetical to the practice and sounds misguided to me.

Abandon all hope of fruition.
--Atisha, an eleventh century Tibetan meditation teacher.

Pema Chodron calls this one of the most powerful teachings of the Buddhist tradition, and she says that as long as you wish for things to change, they never will. As long as you're wanting yourself to get better, you won't. As long as you have an orientation toward the future, you can never just relax into what you already have or already are. Pema admitted that she had been unconsciously thinking for decades that she was going to come to a place in the future when she was "really" enlightened. Eventually, she realized that the enlightenment had been happening all along the way, step-by-step, in each moment, and she let go of hoping for some big bang in the future.

The joke in meditation is that we get somewhere by not trying to get anywhere.

"Ten minutes a day toward Enlightenment" is the sort of slogan that has inspired the current generation to unimaginably large numbers of part-time meditators. I think this is something that should be celebrated, not discouraged with artificial notions of status or classes of accomplishment.

To be clear, I don't accuse you of any ill-intentions, and I write this all in good faith. I just wanted to try and raise awareness of some things you might not be considering.

Cheers!

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-07T00:26:40.652Z · LW · GW

There are two rules for success in life. First, never tell anyone all that you know.

Just throw away the word “deep”. It’s a dumbbell theory.—an attempt to explain things in terms of opposing pairs of forces or principles. Can you cook, read, or exercise for 10m? Or is anything less than an hour considered “shallow cooking” or “light reading”? .

Comment by max-hodges on The real difference between Reductionism and Emergentism · 2020-05-06T23:58:14.891Z · LW · GW

Ok then what in the world do you mean by “ cosnsciously” or “parts”? And why do you think we can’t make biological organisms? Is there something magical about then?

Google Craig Venter “synthetic life”

So emergence cannot be present in a mechanism if I “deliberately” make something but it can be it I make a mistake? So an emergent property is just anything accidental? Is software made from parts? So if I make a software application that has unexpected properties whether they are emergent or not all depends on how conscious I was of them when I set out?

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-06T11:32:29.077Z · LW · GW
Getting deep in meditation requires a huge investment of time and effort

Not really. You can start with just 5 or 10 minutes a day. 10 minutes a day for six weeks is just 5 hours (taking weekends off). Not such a huge investment for most. Just cut out a few hours of Netflix over the course of a month-and-a-half.

Comment by max-hodges on A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble · 2020-05-06T11:26:28.509Z · LW · GW

I think you'll find some interesting ideas which address your first point in this Tim Keller talk, especially the points about "recipes vs understanding," seeking first principles, and the point that 99% of what you think is wrong and you only have the remaining 1% to deal with that situation. I see meditation as a process to strength and expand that 1% part.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb2tebYAaOA

On the second point, Robert Wright's book "Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment" does a pretty good job.

Comment by max-hodges on The Futility of Emergence · 2020-05-06T11:17:14.850Z · LW · GW

not exactly. I'm fond of @ryleah's contribution: "Emergence as a term doesn't add a reason for a thing, but it does rule some out."

Comment by max-hodges on The Futility of Emergence · 2020-05-06T11:15:16.745Z · LW · GW

beautifully stated!

Comment by max-hodges on The Futility of Emergence · 2020-05-06T11:02:28.785Z · LW · GW

I think you're missing the point. To say, "life emerges from the activities of cells" or that "intelligence emerges from non-intelligence" is not simply to make empty statements devoid of meaning. The first is an assertions that "life" isn't a *thing* which one should seek to find somewhere, materially, in nature--like some yet-to-be-cataloged bird of paradise. It's a property of complex cellular processes. There are people who think that brain contains a "core self," as if it were a kind of organ. It might be so obvious to you that it's not, that you find the word emergent here to be redundant. But to say that "the self, or intelligence, is an emergent property of our brain activity" is to make it clear that it emerges as a kind of byproduct and is not a specific *thing* or essence. There are other ideas about intelligence going around. Not everyone agrees or understands how intelligence can emerge from the activities of non-intelligent "agents" or resources. So the notion of "emergence", while not explaining the details, can at least assert a stance on the matter.

So I don't see these terms as totally meaningless (nor "fun"to strip out of our language.)

Comment by max-hodges on The Futility of Emergence · 2020-05-06T10:48:44.263Z · LW · GW

Thanks. But why does he dismiss each idea?

Emergence as the existence of properties of a system that are not possessed by any of its parts.

That sounds true to me, but he says it's too ubiquitous "so this is surely not what we mean." Uh, why discredit something because it explains a lot of things??

Oddly, he systematically discredits each idea because they don't suit his tastes.

Comment by max-hodges on The Futility of Emergence · 2020-05-06T10:40:32.368Z · LW · GW

Photo of black hole

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/news/2019/4/19/how-scientists-captured-the-first-image-of-a-black-hole/

Comment by max-hodges on A game designed to beat AI? · 2020-05-06T10:28:36.267Z · LW · GW

Riddles


Riddle: What month of the year has 28 days?
Answer: All of them

Riddle: What is full of holes but still holds water?
Answer: A sponge

Riddle: What is always in front of you but can’t be seen?
Answer: The future

Riddle. What can you break, even if you never pick it up or touch it?
Answer: A promise

Riddle: A man who was outside in the rain without an umbrella or hat didn’t get a single hair on his head wet. Why?
Answer: He was bald.

Riddle: I shave every day, but my beard stays the same. What am I?
Answer: A barber

Riddle: You see a boat filled with people, yet there isn’t a single person on board. How is that possible?
Answer: All the people on the boat are married.

Riddle: A man dies of old age on his 25 birthday. How is this possible?
Answer: He was born on February 29.

Riddle: I have branches, but no fruit, trunk or leaves. What am I?
Answer: A bank

Riddle: What can’t talk but will reply when spoken to?
Answer: An echo

Riddle: The more of this there is, the less you see. What is it?
Answer: Darkness

Comment by max-hodges on A game designed to beat AI? · 2020-05-06T10:23:37.533Z · LW · GW

Riddles

Riddle: What month of the year has 28 days?
Answer: All of them

Riddle: What is full of holes but still holds water?
Answer: A sponge

Riddle: What is always in front of you but can’t be seen?
Answer: The future

Riddle. What can you break, even if you never pick it up or touch it?
Answer: A promise

Riddle: A man who was outside in the rain without an umbrella or hat didn’t get a single hair on his head wet. Why?
Answer: He was bald.

Riddle: I shave every day, but my beard stays the same. What am I?
Answer: A barber

Riddle: You see a boat filled with people, yet there isn’t a single person on board. How is that possible?
Answer: All the people on the boat are married.

Riddle: A man dies of old age on his 25 birthday. How is this possible?
Answer: He was born on February 29.

Riddle: I have branches, but no fruit, trunk or leaves. What am I?
Answer: A bank

Riddle: What can’t talk but will reply when spoken to?
Answer: An echo

Riddle: The more of this there is, the less you see. What is it?
Answer: Darkness

Comment by max-hodges on A game designed to beat AI? · 2020-05-06T10:17:16.953Z · LW · GW

Good idea! Maybe but something with more variety than Jenga. I'd bet hard-cash a dedicated team could make a Jenga champion in fraction of that time. Sounds like a fun challenge. Here's are a few impressive robot dexterity projects:

https://openai.com/blog/learning-dexterity/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVmp0uGtShk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiqC9emBk00

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KxjVlaLBmk

Comment by max-hodges on A game designed to beat AI? · 2020-05-06T10:07:44.105Z · LW · GW

The same is true for Trivia Pursuit. The solution is the same: sell expansion sets. My idea doesn't even merit an upvote? ;)

Here are some riddles which I think would be a challenge:

What occurs only in the middle of each month, in all of the seasons, except summer and happens only in the night, never in the day?

And this one, from Zork, a text-based adventure game I played in the 80s

What is as tall as a house, round as a cup, and all the king's horses can't draw it up?
Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-06T05:10:35.003Z · LW · GW

and I think "akrasia" is better explained by "rejecting the notion of a core self and considering how we are a multitude of competing urges and impulses."

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/cbgKfAHSLz99zLzuR/stop-saying-wrong-things?commentId=yFrF2YH6N5Z73P4ZM

Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-06T05:04:05.769Z · LW · GW

Speaking to the larger issue you raise, yes, anyone who thinks we are purely rational creatures is deluding themselves:

. . . they failed to appreciate that the self illusion explains so many aspects of human behavior as well as our attitudes toward others. When we judge others, we consider them responsible for their actions. But was Mary Bale, the bank worker from Coventry who was caught on video dropping a cat into a garbage can, being true to her self? Or was Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic rant being himself or under the influence of someone else? What motivated Congressman Weiner to text naked pictures of himself to women he did not know? In the book, I consider some of the extremes of human behavior from mass murderers with brain tumors that may have made them kill, to rising politicians who self-destruct. By rejecting the notion of a core self and considering how we are a multitude of competing urges and impulses, I think it is easier to understand why we suddenly go off the rails. It explains why we act, often unconsciously, in a way that is inconsistent with our self image – or the image of our self as we believe others see us.

That said, the self illusion is probably an inescapable experience we need for interacting with others and the world, and indeed we cannot readily abandon or ignore its influence, but we should be skeptical that each of us is the coherent, integrated entity we assume we are.

ref:

https://samharris.org/the-illusion-of-the-self2/

Comment by max-hodges on The real difference between Reductionism and Emergentism · 2020-05-06T04:36:00.359Z · LW · GW

Your characterization is far from universally accepted.

See Mechanisms in Science, Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/science-mechanisms/#ProUndMai

Comment by max-hodges on Do people with more siblings commit suicide at a higher rate? · 2020-05-06T04:31:27.300Z · LW · GW

You could research it yourself on Google Scholar if you are really interested:

here's an article from 1949. I'm sure there must be other studies!

On the basis of these findings it finally is justified to conclude that the number of only children among persons with self-destructive tendencies does not differ significantly from the expected number as deduced from data available with respect to the general population. Evidently, only children are neither more likely nor less likely to commit suicide than are any other persons, including those who had an opportunity to perpetrate sibling rivalry or to develop identification mechanisms in intimate sibship relations.

Suicide in Twins and Only Children
FRANZ J. KALLMANN, JOSEPH DE PORTE, ELIZABETH DE PORTE
AND LISSY FEINGOLD

The explanation I know about why homosexual genes aren't weeded out, if that homosexuals exhibit higher altruism. Because of this, they are more disposed to help and support their siblings--such as participating domestic duties like child rearing--in ways they help spread copies of their own genes via their siblings. After all, your siblings share 1/4 of your DNA.

See Edward O. Wilson "On Human Nature" chapter on altruism.

Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-06T04:20:25.199Z · LW · GW

Regarding the way Etsy was prioritizing development, it sounds like even their late stage "idea > validate > prototype" cycle is wrong. How can you "validate" before you have a prototype to get feedback on? Where did the idea come from? I'd recommend starting with customer discovery talks. Read "The Mom Test" to learn how to talk to customers about their problems. Then you can take those ideas into a design sprint to mock-up and prototype a feature so that you have something you can get feedback on.

But just because Etsy lacked some better ideas about how to optimize their product doesn't mean they didn't get important shit done. Within one year of its initial release, Etsy had gained 10,000 artists (craft makers), pitching 100,000 items, and had a market of approximately 40,000 buyers.

Etsy as an organization, did not care or want to be correct at predicting what its users would want,

In a word, I'd say it's probably not that Etsy didn't care about how to do these things better. The person in charge of development probably just didn't know how to do these things better. I'm certainly doing things differently today than I did 5 years ago. We live, we learn. It's a process.

Regarding learning a foreign language, I'm not sure what I can say. I speak Japanese, and I run a company which makes some top selling Japanese language learning products. So I know something about this topic. You're right, learning a foreign language is a big commitment. So isn't it obvious that the longer the required commitment, the most likely it is that people will drop out? The same is true for college:

According to College Atlas, 70% of Americans will study at a four-year college, but less than two-thirds will graduate with a degree, and 30% of first-year students drop out after their first year of school.

In the case of learning a foreign language, maybe over time the quitter just decided that the effort was no longer worth it. Maybe that want to prioritize other hobbies and interests. Or maybe they just don't enjoy memorizing hanzi. Maybe the idea moving to China or the important of talking to people in Chinese has lost its luster. What's wrong with changing your mind about these things?

If you study a foreign language because you think it will be useful or cool, and then don't end up speaking it to a degree that makes up for the time invested, then yes, that is a mistake in hindsight.

That's one way to look at it. But could you been letting sunk costs fallacy get the best of you? Here's another way to look at it: what if our beginner or intermediate student of Chinese decides that speaking Chinese is no longer an important goals of theirs? From that point on, even moment they continue to spend learning Chinese is a waste of time and a mistake.

Also, maybe a lot of people don't realize how much of a commitment learning a language really is. The internet is full misleading information and false promises perpetuated by get-rich-quick schemes and douche bags like Tai Lopez and Jim Kwik who try to separate people from their money at an industrial-scale with claims like "how I learned 5 languages in a year" and promises that you too can "take your dream trip and actually be able to speak fluently" normally for 5 easy payments of $79.99, now for the low price of $39.95! ;)

My point with the anecdote is that much of the time this is nonsense. I spent so much time twisting my brain into an M.C. Escher painting to try and push myself to take actions I knew were good for me, that I often forgot to try honestly bringing the costs and benefits of the thing to the forefront of my mind and seeing if that would be enough. It turns out, quite often enough it is, and even further sometimes I realize that I don't actually value the thing I'm trying to convince myself to do enough to do it.

This sounds like valuable progress in your thinking! Probably just writing about it has helped you see things more clear. I hope you'll go back to my edited post. I shared some ideas about starting a journaling habit for precisely this reason!

Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-06T03:38:00.735Z · LW · GW

Hi, I've updated my post, toned it down, and added some new content. Hope that helps.

Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-06T02:56:11.978Z · LW · GW

OK I've taken your advice. I toned it down and elaborated. Thanks

Comment by max-hodges on The Futility of Emergence · 2020-05-05T19:03:23.215Z · LW · GW

Unmitigated reductionism has had a detrimental effect on drug discovery and vaccine development

We simply can't anticipate or compute some interactions and effects due to the sheer complexity of living organisms in thermodynamic interaction with their environment. For instance, the experience of pain can alter human behaviour, but the lower-level chemical reactions in the neurons that are involved in the perception of pain are not the cause of the altered behaviour, as the pain itself has causal efficacy. According to the principles of emergence, the natural world is divided into hierarchies that have evolved over evolutionary time (Kim, 1999; Morowitz, 2002). Reductionists advocate the idea of 'upward causation' by which molecular states bring about higher-level phenomena, whereas proponents of emergence accept 'downward causation' by which higher-level systems influence lower-level configurations (Kim, 1999).

Have a read:

Reductionism and complexity in molecular biology

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299179/

Some highlights


The constituents of a complex system interact in many ways, including negative feedback and feed-forward control, which lead to dynamic features that cannot be predicted satisfactorily by linear mathematical models that disregard cooperativity and non-additive effects...
An additional peculiarity of complex biological systems is that they are open—that is, they exchange matter and energy with their environment—and are therefore not in thermodynamic equilibrium...
In the past, the reductionist agenda of molecular biologists has made them turn a blind eye to emergence, complexity and robustness, which has had a profound influence on biological and biomedical research during the past 50 years.
The number of new drugs that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration has declined steadily from more than 50 drugs per annum 10 years ago to less than 20 drugs in 2002. This worrying trend has persisted despite continuous mergers and acquisitions in the industry and annual research and development expenditures of approximately US$30 billion. Commentators have attributed this poor performance to a range of institutional causes . . . However, there is probably a more fundamental reason for these failures: namely, that most of these approaches have been guided by unmitigated reductionism. As a result, the complexity of biological systems, whole organisms and patients tends to be underrated (Horrobin, 2001). Most human diseases result from the interaction of many gene products, and we rarely know all of the genes and gene products that are involved in a particular biological function. Nevertheless, to achieve an understanding of complex genetic networks, biologists tend to rely on experiments that involve single gene deletions. Knockout experiments in mice, in which a gene that is considered to be essential is inactivated or removed, are widely used to infer the role of individual genes. In many such experiments, the knockout is found to have no effect whatsoever, despite the fact that the gene encodes a protein that is believed to be essential. In other cases, the knockout has a completely unexpected effect (Morange, 2001a). Furthermore, disruption of the same gene can have diverse effects in different strains of mice (Pearson, 2002). Such findings question the wisdom of extrapolating data that are obtained in mice to other species. In fact, there is little reason to assume that experiments with genetically modified mice will necessarily provide insights into the complex gene interactions that occur in humans (Horrobin, 2003).
Another defect of reductionist thinking is that it analyses complex network interactions in terms of simple causal chains and mechanistic models. This overlooks the fact that any clinical state is the end result of many biochemical pathways and networks, and fails to appreciate that diseases result from alterations to complex systems of homeostasis. Reductionists favour causal explanations that give undue explanatory weight to a single factor.
Comment by max-hodges on The real difference between Reductionism and Emergentism · 2020-05-05T18:55:57.118Z · LW · GW
The high-level behaviour of a mechanism is always reducible to its the behaviour of its parts, because a mechanism is built up out of parts, and reduction is therefore, literally, reverse engineering.

This characterization isn't universally accepted. What you if simple can't anticipate or compute the high-level effect due to the shear complexity and lack of total knowledge? For instance, the experience of pain can alter human behaviour, but the lower-level chemical reactions in the neurons that are involved in the perception of pain are not the cause of the altered behaviour, as the pain itself has causal efficacy. According to the principles of emergence, the natural world is divided into hierarchies that have evolved over evolutionary time (Kim, 1999; Morowitz, 2002). Reductionists advocate the idea of 'upward causation' by which molecular states bring about higher-level phenomena, whereas proponents of emergence accept 'downward causation' by which higher-level systems influence lower-level configurations (Kim, 1999).

Have a read:

Reductionism and complexity in molecular biology

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299179/

Some highlights

The constituents of a complex system interact in many ways, including negative feedback and feed-forward control, which lead to dynamic features that cannot be predicted satisfactorily by linear mathematical models that disregard cooperativity and non-additive effects...
An additional peculiarity of complex biological systems is that they are open—that is, they exchange matter and energy with their environment—and are therefore not in thermodynamic equilibrium...
In the past, the reductionist agenda of molecular biologists has made them turn a blind eye to emergence, complexity and robustness, which has had a profound influence on biological and biomedical research during the past 50 years.
The number of new drugs that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration has declined steadily from more than 50 drugs per annum 10 years ago to less than 20 drugs in 2002. This worrying trend has persisted despite continuous mergers and acquisitions in the industry and annual research and development expenditures of approximately US$30 billion. Commentators have attributed this poor performance to a range of institutional causes . . . However, there is probably a more fundamental reason for these failures: namely, that most of these approaches have been guided by unmitigated reductionism. As a result, the complexity of biological systems, whole organisms and patients tends to be underrated (Horrobin, 2001). Most human diseases result from the interaction of many gene products, and we rarely know all of the genes and gene products that are involved in a particular biological function. Nevertheless, to achieve an understanding of complex genetic networks, biologists tend to rely on experiments that involve single gene deletions. Knockout experiments in mice, in which a gene that is considered to be essential is inactivated or removed, are widely used to infer the role of individual genes. In many such experiments, the knockout is found to have no effect whatsoever, despite the fact that the gene encodes a protein that is believed to be essential. In other cases, the knockout has a completely unexpected effect (Morange, 2001a). Furthermore, disruption of the same gene can have diverse effects in different strains of mice (Pearson, 2002). Such findings question the wisdom of extrapolating data that are obtained in mice to other species. In fact, there is little reason to assume that experiments with genetically modified mice will necessarily provide insights into the complex gene interactions that occur in humans (Horrobin, 2003).
Another defect of reductionist thinking is that it analyses complex network interactions in terms of simple causal chains and mechanistic models. This overlooks the fact that any clinical state is the end result of many biochemical pathways and networks, and fails to appreciate that diseases result from alterations to complex systems of homeostasis. Reductionists favour causal explanations that give undue explanatory weight to a single factor.
Comment by max-hodges on Reductionism · 2020-05-05T18:18:11.317Z · LW · GW

Answering the question of who is experiencing the illusion [of self] or interpreting the story is much more problematic. This is partly a conceptual problem and partly a problem of dualism. It is almost impossible to discuss the self without a referent in the same way that is difficult to think about a play without any players. Second, as the philosopher Gilbert Ryle pointed out, in searching for the self, one cannot simultaneously be the hunter and the hunted, and I think that is a dualistic problem if we think we can objectively examine our own minds independently, because our mind and self are both generated by the brain. So while the self illusion suggests an illogical tautology, I think this is only a superficial problem.

-Bruce Hood

Comment by max-hodges on Reductionism · 2020-05-05T18:10:18.457Z · LW · GW

Minsky writing in Society of Mind might bring some light here (paraphrasing):

How can a box made of six boards hold a mouse when a mouse could just walk away from any individual board? No individual board has any "containment" or "mouse-tightness" on it's own. So is "containment" an emergent property?

Of course, it is the way a box prevents motion in all directions, because each board bars escape in a certain direction. The left side keeps the mouse from going left, the right from going right, the top keeps it from leaping out, and so on. The secret of a box is simply in how the boards are arranged to prevent motion in all directions!

That's what containing means. So it's silly to expect any separate board by itself to contain any containment, even though each contributes to the containing. It is like the cards of a straight flush in poker: only the full hand has any value at all.

"The same applies to words like life and mind. It is foolish to use these words for describing the smallest components of living things because these words were invented to describe how larger assemblies interact. Like boxing-in, words like living and thinking are useful for describing phenomena that result from certain combinations of relationships. The reason box seems nonmysterious is that everyone understands how the boards of a well-made box interact to prevent motion in any direction. In fact, the word life has already lost most of its mystery — at least for modern biologists, because they understand so many of the important interactions among the chemicals in cells. But mind still holds its mystery — because we still know so little about how mental agents interact to accomplish all the things they do."

Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-05T17:45:19.056Z · LW · GW

I hope this helps

The most important investment that people can make is not to learn a particular skill—”I'll learn how to code computers,” or “I will learn Chinese,” or something like that. No, the most important investment is really in building this more flexible mind or personality.

https://www.gq.com/story/yuval-noah-harari-tech-future-survival

Comment by max-hodges on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-05T17:36:55.659Z · LW · GW
Most people just don't even try to believe correct things, and make major life decisions based on transparently bad logic.

That's quite an assertion. What's your source? Evidence? Or is this mere conjecture (here, in this sacred space!)? ;) You advise others to only say true things, but why are you sure this is true?

There is a lot of ambiguity around major life decisions. Many decisions aren't a matter of rationally weighing all the facts, but more a matter of analyzing a bunch of compromises and then rolling the dice. Many major decisions can be reversed later anyway.

I think most people, most of the time, make the best decisions for themselves that they know how. If someone's decision looks like transparently bad logic to you, why not ask them about it?

No one has "full knowledge and consciousness" (whatever that means to you). We're complicated beings with a multitude of urges and impulses.

No one needs to be a rationalist to understand these pathologies, and no one needs to be a rationalist to recognize them. Think of all the people who start and don't finish learning a new language, yet with clear intention at the beginning to make full use of time well spent. Do most of these people actually believe they will finish learning Chinese?

Failing to master a foreign language is a "pathology"? People experiment. They try things to see if they'll enjoy them enough to stick with them. I've tried to learn how to draw at various time in my life, but never made it a habit for very long. I guess it wasn't that important to me. I quit watching movies and Netflix serials before the end. I don't finish a lot of books that I start, and I don't view this as a failing. If I don't feel I'm getting much value out of that book, I'll pick up a different book.

There is only so much time in the day. It's not pathological to change your goals and priorities. There is no shame in quitting something. I proudly quit things all the time. I trained intensely as a freediver. I met interesting people, and learned more than I ever imagined I would. It was very enriching on many levels. I learned to hold my breath for five-and-a-half-minutes, entered and won a competition, and ranked in the top 10 here in Japan where I live. Then I quit, just like that. I felt that I learned about as much as I was going to learn and decided to free up my time. Same with photography. I got intensely into photography for a few years. Had a studio with +$30K in equipment. My photos landed on Page One of the NY Times, twice. Then I quit and sold off all my photo equipment to make time for other activities. So what? I started studying Chinese for 6-weeks while living in Beijing, then I stopped because I was traveling a lot, moved back to the US, and never continued with it. Am I pathological? Irrational? Did I do something wrong?

Etsy as an organization, did not care or want to be correct at predicting what its users would want,

People have different skill-sets. Maybe math is your thing, maybe networking or operations management, culture building, or something else was the Etsy founder's skill they got them started. You pick things up along the way. I'm been running a company for more than 10 years, and I'm only recently getting into doing a deeper analysis of our customer behaviors and fees. But they didn't stop me from the success I've had up until now. You don't have to be very intelligent to be successful in business. Look at Jack Ma.

Have you ever run a fast-growing startup? There are a metric-shit-ton of things you could be working on. Multiple fires are burning. No one has the time or the resources to do all the things they could be doing. You also have to to look at all the things Etsy did instead of A/B testing, like working on their platform, building their company culture, fund-raising, etc. I'm running multiple e-commerce companies with a team of 20. I've never done a proper A/B ever, yet I've served tens of thousands of customers in 100+ countries. I could get to work right away on those A/B tests, but everything comes with opportunity costs. Time I spend on the A/B test project is time I could spend doing R&D for our new data model, mentoring other managers, doing financial analysis, streamlining operations, or trying to give advice to some stranger on Less Wrong. What's the most important thing I should be doing this very moment? Maybe we should ask Jack Dorsey. He seems to have his priorities and daily schedule all sorted out, but then he has the personality of a wet towel, so maybe we shouldn't ask him ;) (And maybe being extremely-efficient all the time isn't the best way develop as a human.)

You could go to any company and tell them 10 things they should be doing, and they will probably tell you, "I have a list of hundreds of things I should be doing. But I only have so many resources and so many hours in the day. Having a strategy is about what you will not do as much as what you will do.

You know, there really is nothing in my brain that changes the dynamics of the choice I'm about to make. No matter what I say to myself about the impeding circumstances, if I don't somehow exercise today, I'm going to be very slightly physically weaker by tomorrow and have a very slightly shorter life expectancy.
I pretty much work out as often and as intensely as I figure is aligned with my goals now. I just do it, because I know working out is a good idea and I know it's usually still a good idea regardless of the weather that day. It's amazing the quality of life increases I have made by merely not trying my damnedest to believe incorrect things.

I don't follow this line-of-argument. Are you saying you didn't know that you'd be weaker if you stopped working out? Surely you knew that. Your story doesn't sound like an a matter of "having correct information," but an issue of resolve. Motivation is complex. We can't just reach into our brains and flip a switch--and that's a good thing. It's how nature prevents one part of the mind from shutting down all the other parts. Instead, when motivating oneself, we have to rely on some of the same strategies and tactics we use when motivating others.

The domain name of this website would lead me to believe most of you are attempting the same, but I don't see a lot of the discussion about this that I would expect. I don't see people discussing the same problems that I fight. The books and skills I pour hours and hours into, then forget; the university I study at because a friend I no longer hang out with decided to attend; the job I take without applying anywhere else, researching salary or internship expectations, or learning any negotation or marketing strategies. How distant and conceptual the prediction market is in the face of my absurd self-sabotage. How foreign timeless decision theory. Am I so unique? I refuse to believe it.

If you want some input on specific topics like this, perhaps they work better as individual posts.

I could share my process for getting the most value out of the books I read. Maybe post that question separately and send me a link.

But reading over that list, it sounds like the general issue is a matter of setting clear priorities. Not everything can be a priority. So perhaps decide your top priorities for the next six weeks, and don't beat yourself up about all things that you didn't make a priority. I recommend taking some quiet time. Take long walks to clear your head. Mindfulness meditation is also a great way to clear your head. Start journaling. Write for 15 minutes a day in a notebook with a pen (not on your iPad or mobile phone). It doesn't matter if you're handing writing is terrible--you never really go back and read the stuff. It more about cultivating a habit of making time to think deliberatively and self-reflect.

Some starter topics you could journal about (+15 minutes each)

  • What's your current context? Write a snapshot of your life at the moment.
  • What excites you about life? What brings you alive? When do you experience flow? What are you passionate about?
  • What do you love? What are the things you couldn't live without? What are your favorite things? What flavors/sights/sounds/textures do you love? What lights you up, turns you on? What delights you?
  • How do you celebrate life? Maybe you have rituals or traditions? What do you do to rest or play and honor yourself?
  • What's important to you? Why?
  • What do you need for self-care to keep you resourced / healthy / fit / resilient?
  • Describe who you are when you're in flow? What is life like? How do you treat others? How easy is it to accomplish things?
  • What would someone write about you in a letter of recommendation? What do other people appreciate about you?
  • What are you doing that you should stop doing?
  • What am you not doing that you should start doing?
  • Write a letter to your future self one-year from now.

Further reading:

What’s All This About Journaling?

One of the more effective acts of self-care is also, happily, one of the cheapest.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/style/journaling-benefits.html

When setting your priorities, for each thing you decide to do, take a sheet of paper and write down all the reasons why you've chosen this thing as a priority. How does it fit in with your goals and values?

Comment by max-hodges on How will this recession differ from the last two? · 2020-05-05T16:34:43.285Z · LW · GW
"a bunch of wealth was lost on paper..."

I think you make light of the fact that 861,664 families lost their homes to foreclosure in 2008

Comment by max-hodges on Consistent Glomarization should be feasible · 2020-05-05T15:46:37.864Z · LW · GW

How honest are you really being if you're coming up with silly logical scenarios to avoid answering a question truthfully? I just don't see the point of being "technically honest" when you don't want to reveal something? The only people who say, "I can neither confirm nor deny such and such" is when they are on trial and have a right against self-incrimination--not when they are talking to their friends.

So this all seems silly and unnecessary. If you don't want your friend to know what you did, just change the subject or lie about it. Or tell them, "I'd rather not talk about it." Let's say I stay up doing cocaine with a male prostitute all night, but I don't want to reveal this to my friend. If I say, "either I did or I don't want to tell you" now you've created some suspicion which could involve some unwanted attention or scrutiny into your affairs, such as pressing forward with follow-up questions, or unwanted office gossip about your late night activities.

FRIEND: Did you get to sleep early last night?

Just lie and cover up the reason why you're really tired.

"Yes, I went to bed early, but then woke up at 5AM and couldn't get back to sleep."

Deflect

"Sure, how about you? Or did you stay up watching binge watching Netflix again?"

Subject Change:

"Oh hey! Can we talk about that upcoming dinner party?" (they were just making small talk anyway, so swap to something more important.)

Comment by max-hodges on Why are people so bad at dating? · 2020-05-05T14:48:03.298Z · LW · GW

If you think having a girlfriend is like picking up free money I suspect you've never had one before ;)

Comment by max-hodges on A game designed to beat AI? · 2020-05-05T14:42:48.897Z · LW · GW

How about if you have to solve brain teasers by visual analogy. For example: a card shows a drawing of a bear and a 12-inch ruler; answer is "BAREFOOT." A pair of dice showing the value of 2 (one and one); answer: "SNAKE EYES." The word "READ" between two lines; answer: "READ BETWEEN THE LINES." The word "agent" twice; answer: "DOUBLE AGENT." A picture of an Apple and the number 3.14158. You get the point.

Comment by max-hodges on A game designed to beat AI? · 2020-05-05T14:41:48.036Z · LW · GW

How about if you have to solve brain teasers by visual analogy. For example: a card shows a drawing of a bear and a 12-inch ruler; answer is "BAREFOOT." A pair of dice showing the value of 2 (one and one); answer: "SNAKE EYES." The word "READ" between two lines; answer: "READ BETWEEN THE LINES." The word "agent" twice; answer: "DOUBLE AGENT." A picture of an Apple and the number 3.14158. You get the point.

Comment by max-hodges on I'd Like To Maximizing Profit and Happiness but My Happiness conflicts a lot with making profit... · 2020-05-05T14:29:07.297Z · LW · GW

It's easy to be happy: give up on your goals. After I finish some project or solve some problem, I enjoy a brief moment of happiness. Then I quickly move on to the next challenge. If we simply bask in that happiness forever, we'd never get anything done. Happiness should remain a byproduct of accomplishing goals; not a goal in itself.

People are pretty shallow and dull. Maybe this is because they are already too happy with themselves. We have lot of problems in the world that could use some attention, Maybe we'd be better off if people were less happy about things. If on a scale of 1 to 10 most people report their Happiness score at 6 or 7, maybe we'd be better off if most people were a 4 or 5 instead.

Instead of a "happy life" choose to have a meaningful life. And, research supports the idea that life with moderate stress is actually more meaningful than a easy life. (See "The Upside of Stress" by Kelly McGonigal, chapter 6 "Grow: Adversity Makes You Stronger").

So what are you really asking for here? Advice on how to get rich? Advice on how to be happy? Or advice on how to find a career you'll enjoy? Success isn't all about money. It's about liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

Making money from music and painting is notoriously difficult. Same with fashion design. Avoid--unless you have a undeniable burning passion for designing clothes (and it doesn't sound like you do). The job outlook for Fashion Designers for the next 10-years is 200 jobs (basically zero growth).

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/fashion-designers.htm

You might want to checkout the Design Your Life book which came out of Stanford. I see they have a new "Design Your Work Life" book, which I've not read. But the original book is excellent:

https://designingyour.life/designing-your-work-life-book/

Here's some great general advice that might help you get you know yourself better:

https://www.gq.com/story/yuval-noah-harari-tech-future-survival

Comment by max-hodges on The real difference between Reductionism and Emergentism · 2020-05-05T13:54:40.968Z · LW · GW

I find your brickwork bridge overly complex. I propose a more simple example (borrowed from Minsky's SOM): How can a box made of six boards hold a mouse when a mouse could just walk away from any individual board? No individual board has any "containment" or "mouse-tightness" on it's own. So is "containment" an emergent property?

Of course, it is the way a box prevents motion in all directions, because each board bars escape in a certain direction. The left side keeps the mouse from going left, the right from going right, the top keeps it from leaping out, and so on. The secret of a box is simply in how the boards are arranged to prevent motion in all directions!

That's what containing means. So it's silly to expect any separate board by itself to contain any containment, even though each contributes to the containing. It is like the cards of a straight flush in poker: only the full hand has any value at all.

"The same applies to words like life and mind. It is foolish to use these words for describing the smallest components of living things because these words were invented to describe how larger assemblies interact. Like boxing-in, words like living and thinking are useful for describing phenomena that result from certain combinations of relationships. The reason box seems nonmysterious is that everyone understands how the boards of a well-made box interact to prevent motion in any direction. In fact, the word life has already lost most of its mystery — at least for modern biologists, because they understand so many of the important interactions among the chemicals in cells. But mind still holds its mystery — because we still know so little about how mental agents interact to accomplish all the things they do."

-Minsky