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Perfectionism as depth-first search 2020-12-29T01:49:22.945Z

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Comment by MSRayne on Does Big Business Hate Your Family? · 2021-06-24T00:45:34.130Z · LW · GW

You say that a corporation is not an agent in its own right, only:

> an abstraction of what happens as the result of the preferences of individuals, and choices made by individual people, and their interactions.

But the human mind is an abstraction of what happens as the result of the preferences of individual subagents, and "choices" made by individual subagents, and their interactions. With a multi-agent model of mind, it seems indefensible to claim that an agent cannot be formed out of smaller agents - even when they are (like schemas in the mind) competing with one another. Corporations look like agents so much because that's what they are, even though it is also a direct result of the complex patterns of individual choice that you are talking about here.

Comment by MSRayne on Reinforcing Habits · 2021-06-23T18:29:21.428Z · LW · GW

To an extent, I am intrinsically ambivalent about food, but over time (starting in childhood, actually) I have sort of unconsciously trained myself to be averse to sweetness - anything that is too sweet makes me think of rotting teeth full of cavities, and sugars being transformed into fat deposits, and all the energy in that sugar which some starving person could use more effectively than I, if only they had been the one to eat it instead - and it makes me less interested in eating the sweet thing. Oddly, this mostly shows up after I've already eaten it and makes me guilty without stopping me from eating it in the first place, though, because I don't stop and think about that when the food is actually in front of me - hence why I have multiple cavities in my teeth!

Comment by MSRayne on What other problems would a successful AI safety algorithm solve? · 2021-06-15T16:16:55.257Z · LW · GW

The latter is more what I was pointing to.

Comment by MSRayne on A lateral way of thinking about Cause X: barely visible but potentially enormous categories of value · 2021-06-14T15:52:21.808Z · LW · GW

I'm sure I'm nowhere near the first person to talk about this "barely visible but vast tragedy", but factory farming is as far as I can tell the number one most heinous thing humanity has ever done. Every mass genocide perpetrated upon humans pales in comparison by orders of magnitude. Seems to me that one of the most effective ways of doing effective altruism right now would be to go vegan and spread veganism throughout society as much as possible, with the end goal of destroying the animal agriculture industry entirely.

But that's not really barely visible, I guess. Invisible to most people due to their indoctrination by a society that doesn't want them to experience their natural empathy for animals because it takes money out of the pockets of corporations, yes, but veganism is very old - lots of people are aware of it. In the same direction and less visibly (but still, I'm not the first one to notice this) is the even more horrendous suffering intrinsic in nature - a tragedy of cosmic proportions which only humans can solve, through paradise engineering. I can't seem to think of something not previously noticed, though...

As for type two, I think that artworks rendered in the sense of proprioception - choreographed transformations of one's sense of body shape and location - are quite imaginable and could be very beautiful, something like an exponentiation of dance - but with current tech basically impossible to create. We would need brain implants for that. Another obvious example is the direct experience of higher-dimensional spaces, which are capable of symmetries (and thus, if the symmetry theory of valence is correct, degrees of beauty) which cannot even be imagined with our 3D bodies and 3D-adapted brains.

Comment by MSRayne on What other problems would a successful AI safety algorithm solve? · 2021-06-14T15:32:45.768Z · LW · GW

I think you've got it the wrong way around. In fact, that's probably my biggest issue with the whole field of alignment. I think that it's probably easier to solve the problem of human institution alignment than AI alignment, and that to do so would help solve the AI alignment problem as well.

The reason I say this is because individual humans are already aligned to human values, and it should be possible by some means to preserve this fact even while scaling up to entire organizations. There is no a priori reason that this would be more difficult than literally reverse engineering the entire human mind from scratch! That is, it doesn't actually matter what human values are, if you believe that humans actually can be trusted to have them - all that matters is that you can be certain they are preserved by the individual-to-organization transition. So my position can be summarized as "designing an organization which preserves human values already present is easier than figuring out what they are to begin with and injecting them into something with no humanity already in it."

As a matter of fact, this firm belief is the basis of my whole theory of what we ought to be doing as a species - I think AI should not be allowed to gain general intelligence, and that instead we should focus on creating an aligned superintelligence out of humans (with narrow AIs as "mortar", mere extensions to human capacities) - first in the form of an organization, later on a "hive mind" using brain computer interfaces to achieve varying degrees of voluntary mind-to-mind communication.

Comment by MSRayne on Looking Deeper at Deconfusion · 2021-06-14T15:16:43.582Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this helpful perspective! Reading your list of traits of confusion I was astounded to realize that this perfectly describes the pit I've been in for years myself with my own ideas. Perhaps deconfusion is what I need. (Specifically, I do a lot of those "self motte and baileys" and I've regularly complained wearily to people about my "too many threads" - it felt like you were talking directly about me! Recent work I've done to clarify some of this actually resembles what you call finding handles.)

Explaining what, exactly, said ideas are is of course difficult, because I am confused about them. :P But to quickly summarize, as a young teen I was a New Ager / occultist and got "gnosis" about various spiritual things which I later reinterpreted in such a way as to make them compatible with a physicalist view of reality, and ever since I've been attempting to clarify this "rational spirituality" enough that I could write a book about it and share it with others - but this is difficult, because it's mostly tacit knowledge I don't know how to explicate, with lots of confusion and constant updating as I learn more and become a better rationalist.

Comment by MSRayne on Notes on "The Anthropology of Childhood" · 2021-06-06T01:58:23.159Z · LW · GW

Thank you so much for pointing my attention to this book! The sociology of childhood is a very important topic for me and this is a really great overview of it.

Comment by MSRayne on What Would You Store to Maximize Value in 100 Years? A Thought Experiment · 2021-05-18T23:00:11.273Z · LW · GW

I was thinking too short term with the spending habits. It's worth hoarding right now but probably not in a hundred years. Good point.

Comment by MSRayne on Love on Cartesian Planes · 2021-05-18T01:31:16.464Z · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure love has nothing to do with altruism. I rarely feel love for anyone or anything, but I'm vegan because I don't want to support the harm of animals, and I want to dedicate my life to effective altruism because it seems like the only sensible thing to do. I don't even like animals, but their welfare is important to me. Similarly, I don't like most humans either, but I similarly care about their welfare.

Comment by MSRayne on What Would You Store to Maximize Value in 100 Years? A Thought Experiment · 2021-05-18T01:11:05.546Z · LW · GW

This is probably cheating since it's not a physical object, but there is one resource that will never cease to be valuable and worth "storing": reputation - your own, or that of your company or progeny if you're thinking particularly long term. If that's not a legal answer, then information, particularly about people's spending habits, is probably the next best thing - as the big tech companies are aware.

Comment by MSRayne on Problems of evil · 2021-04-20T14:41:04.168Z · LW · GW

I think the best solution to the problem of evil is the Gnostic one. There is indeed a perfectly good ground of being, but we are separated from it by a blind idiot god that keeps us prisoner. This world is not the Real, but only a pale imitation, an inevitable accident, and the Holy is the points of transcendent light within us, the motes of hope and meaning that guide us towards attempting to return to the Real. Of course, bound by the chains of matter, we must use matter's principles in order to do so. The original Gnostics thought that one could through spiritual striving and dedication to their savior achieve a rebirth beyond the borders of the fallen world; I think the only real hope is to incarnate the Real world here, within this one, via this world's technology - the loopholes that the babbling Void cannot hide from us. It all adds up to matrioshka brains in the end, of course, no matter how you describe it.

Comment by MSRayne on Problems of evil · 2021-04-20T14:35:51.160Z · LW · GW

This is your atheism talking. Those of us from a different background have gained something from it.

Comment by MSRayne on Problems of evil · 2021-04-20T14:34:43.921Z · LW · GW

I love this thought. This un-god is what I've always called the Void, or Oblivion, or the Death Force. (I actually am a mystic, myself, and have rather idiosyncratic perspectives on spiritual stuff like this, due to personal experiences, but I definitely have noticed the un-god and been disturbed by how few people seem aware of it. In fact, rationalists may be the only people who are aware of it.)

Comment by MSRayne on Rationalism before the Sequences · 2021-04-09T21:40:28.014Z · LW · GW

Yes, yes, yes! This is it, this is exactly it!

> Rituals are programs written in the symbolic language of the unconscious mind. Religions are program libraries that share critical subroutines. And the Gods represent subsystems in the wetware being programmed. All humans have potential access to pretty much the same major gods because our wetware design is 99% shared.

I've come to the same conclusion in the past. Meme theory plus multiagent models of mind, plus the shared structure of the human unconscious (though another layer of what is shared, which is often overlooked, is mountains of cultural context), equals spirits as AIs on a distributed operating system run with human brains as the substrate. Failing to recognize their existence is a mistake. Being enslaved to the fragmented, defiled forms of them which arise when direct theophanic contact is lost (such as faith based religions are ruled by) is another mistake. The middle way is the best. I'm glad to know I'm not the only person here who strives both for rationalism and for gnosis.

Comment by MSRayne on Rationalism before the Sequences · 2021-04-08T21:13:30.742Z · LW · GW

I'm only 23 - probably younger than most people here - but I imagine my father must have read many of the same books, as he raised me to think in a way which I now understand to be very much like Yudkowsky's version of rationality. As with what you quoted from Nancy, it all seemed really obvious to me when I read the Sequences, except for the mathematical components (Bayesianism still confuses me, but I'll get there eventually).

The main way I differ here though is that I have had lots of "mystical experiences" due to probably schizotypal or dissociative tendencies when I was a teenager, and so my perspective on the world is not quite that of a typical atheist. I don't know of any other LessWrongers with roots in the occult and New Age worlds, who retain thought patterns from those perspectives but rationality-ized, though.

Example: I think religion has at least one extremely important function other than building community, namely promoting the experience of transcendence (at least in some people with brains shaped in such a way as to be able to experience that - note that I'm not claiming this to involve actual "supernatural" phenomena, only psychological ones), and that this experience matters a lot, because I've had it myself many times - but explaining that would require an entire essay and I can't guarantee I'd be able to clearly express it, as it is a fundamentally experiential thing, rather than an easily verbalized thing, sort of like Kensho.

Comment by MSRayne on Chaos Induces Abstractions · 2021-03-19T15:19:04.742Z · LW · GW

This vaguely reminds me of uncertainty principles - both involve a finite amount of information available in a system, where the more you know about one aspect, the less you know about all the others - but I don't know how to make the resemblance precise or whether it's actually relevant to chaos theory.

Comment by MSRayne on The Age of Imaginative Machines · 2021-03-18T02:19:09.917Z · LW · GW

This will be great for me, because I have tons of ideas but suck at art. In fact, I hope I'll be able to be one of the people who makes all this possible. I've always wanted to dedicate my life to creating virtual worlds better than the real one, after all. (And eventually, uploading as many people and other sentient beings as possible into them, and replacing the real world altogether with an engineered paradise.)

Comment by MSRayne on MetaPrompt: a tool for telling yourself what to do. · 2021-03-18T01:57:17.602Z · LW · GW

This STRONGLY resembles an old idea of mine that I have, naturally, never actually managed to make - it's called Pique, and it would be a collaborative art-making site, where one person can make an outline, another person can fill in some highlights and shadows, another can add details, etc.

In Pique, you randomly get assigned an unfinished picture and you can draw on it whatever you want, making a fork of it, or you can skip it - the more work has already gone into a picture, the more likely it is to show up (because people would skip it if it seemed low quality), until finally some number of people agree that this version of the artwork (there might be MANY branches, of course) is complete, and it gets added to some kind of archive.

Possibly copies of finished images would be sold, the money split between the company running the site and the users who worked on it, in proportion to how much they added to it. This could also be done with writing, though it would be more difficult and probably involve a lot more factored cognition components, but essentially it's a way to crowdsource art.

Like all my ideas (I am walking feature creep) this ended up becoming an idea for a grand unified system of crowdsourced cognition which would ultimately become a hive mind, and so I've never actually had any idea how to make it. But it resembles MetaPrompt fantastically (and the two could perhaps be merged... maybe as part of that grand unified hive mind... :P)

Comment by MSRayne on Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching · 2021-01-24T22:48:00.368Z · LW · GW

Hmm... I could try actually counting experience points. Like, each flash card reviewed grants a point, and every time I reach, say, a new Fibonacci Number of points, I gain a level and... um... stuff! The idea of leveling up really isn't very motivating by itself, but it would help.

Here's one idea: when reading a textbook or anything else I want to memorize, I might try to come up with just one question and answer pair about each page, and make a card out of that. Summarize the most important info on that page. Anything that's not too info-heavy, that should work. In things which are info-heavy, your method should work quite well.

Comment by MSRayne on Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching · 2021-01-24T01:34:20.502Z · LW · GW

I have multiple times tried to get into an Anki habit and failed to keep it up. I think the main thing that makes me stop is that I try to make nearly every sentence of something that I'm studying into a card, because I have no idea what's worth remembering and what isn't. (As a general rule, throughout life, I suck at prioritizing.) The other thing, though, is that it feels like Work and things which feel like Work are Unpleasant and I procrastinate them. Do you have any advice for getting over that hump?

Comment by MSRayne on CollAction history and lessons learned · 2021-01-18T02:00:26.117Z · LW · GW

I've long been interested in stuff like this. I don't really have any credentials to directly help, but I have the goal of someday creating an MMO (massively multiplayer online game) in which leveling up one's character's skills requires doing real life "quests" related to the skill. So a druid would gain power by actually physically going out and gardening, or buying organic / vegan food, or etc. A player with a necromancer character could level them up by researching their genealogy or respectfully visiting a gravesite. Etc.

This wouldn't necessarily be about large-scale collective actions, but more about encouraging healthy and beneficial behaviors in each person's life. I think large scale actions could be done as well - treat them as "bosses" to be fought - but that would be built atop the more basic element.

Comment by MSRayne on What is going on in the world? · 2021-01-18T01:51:42.959Z · LW · GW

Here's mine: a large portion of the things that matter most in human life, including particularly most of the ways of life we originally evolved for, are swiftly becoming rare luxuries throughout the West, primarily at the behest of liberalism (which otherwise has produced many positives). Examples:

  1. embeddedness in a small tribe where everyone knows everyone else
  2. the expectation of having a loving mate and healthy family
  3. spiritual connection with a symbolically rich world of mythology (which need not be materially "real" in order to be valuable)
  4. veneration for the ancestors and the mighty dead, with recognition of oneself as a continuation of their being and as indebted to them
  5. a sufficiently simple local reality that it can be modeled, understood, and predicted without information overload
  6. emotional connection with nonhuman organisms, ecosystems, and the land in a web of respectful, honorable give and take
  7. capacity for self-reliance and individual responsibility for survival and flourishing
  8. a clear and unambiguous system of social roles on the basis of age, gender, lineage, etc, which is seen as legitimate by all

The reason I see the loss of these things as a terrible part of the "central plot" is because they are for the most part ignored, yet deeply important aspects of what it means to be human, which we are in danger of permanently losing even if ALL those other problems are solved. If people forget where we came from, and wholesale let go of the past and traditional values in favor of "progress" for its own sake, I think it will be a net loss regardless of how happy the abhuman things that we become will be. And the evidence is in my favor that these problems are making people miserable - just look at conservatives, who still are trying to hold on to these aspects of being human and seeing them threatened from every direction.

Comment by MSRayne on Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full) · 2021-01-05T15:57:42.855Z · LW · GW

I'm 23 and I still feel like a child who knows nothing. If I peak in two years I will be very cross with the universe.

Comment by MSRayne on The despair of normative realism bot · 2021-01-04T16:53:38.849Z · LW · GW

I suppose I must be such an envelope worshiper myself. I've actually over time semi-consciously striven to modify my epistemology and ontology in such a way as to force my ethical or spiritual views to be absolutely coherent with the visible state of the world, rather than letting go of moral realism.

I have felt since childhood that there is some unknown thing which I called the Mysteria which is the true object of all desire, and like light it shines through each thing that we think we desire. They are lenses for it, refracting the white Mysteria-light into endless colors, each necessary in order to glimpse the source, like facets of a diamond, but no finite set of such things is sufficient to recreate the original light.

All our strivings, all our values, are proxies for the intrinsically unknowable Mysteria which is the true source of all meaning. I don't ascribe personality to it, so it's not exactly a god. And I don't require it to "actually exist" or even be definable except simply as ultimate value. I merely consider it to not be isomorphic with any specific extant phenomenon.

However, you claim that it is actually freeing to be without such a thing, to just live your life and follow your moral intuitions without ascribing objectivity to them, and I can't personally grasp that idea. To me, the idea of life without such a belief in transcendent meaning seems hollow and without purpose. If you ask, "What would I do differently if I knew for certain that there is no Mysteria?" the answer is nothing, because I already know it to be nonexistent for certain. I believe in it anyway. Classical logic has no place in weird spiritualistic woo - I take refuge in dialetheism. :)

To clarify, it seems to me as if falsehood is that which it is harmful to believe, and truth is the opposite. What is true is simply that which sophont beings can get away with believing - or to put it another way, a meme is true to the extent that it is not selected against by any ambient environmental pressures. This is obviously a local, relative concept, but it can be extended to the entire universe throughout space and time by considering all sophont beings who will ever have existed. The majority opinion among them, to my mind, is the closest thing to "objective truth" that can be said to exist. It is too early to say what proportion of them will have believed in something like my Mysteria, of course.

From this perspective, it is beneficial for me to believe that no nonphysical phenomena can influence the physical world. It is also (subjectively) beneficial for me to believe that there is need for some nonphysical source of meaning or value, which "shines through" everything I see as valuable - by virtue of which it is valuable. There is no conceivable situation in which either of these beliefs could actually get in the other's way except for a Newcomb-like problem in which an Omega-type being penalizes me for one or the other view, which doesn't seem to me like an argument against either, since such a being could arbitrarily penalize any given belief. So, from my perspective, despite seeming subtly to disagree, these two beliefs are both true, as they are both beneficial or at least non-harmful.

(Note: I have a strong suspicion that wireheading is closely related to this Mysteria concept. I have felt its presence most thoroughly in those moments which seemed most like heightened states - not necessarily happiness, but whatever quality it is that makes one wish for a moment and associated state of mind to continue. This implies that whatever circuit in the brain is active during such a state is the true source of this Mysteria-sense in me, and that given the chance, I would probably be tempted to wirehead it so that the Mystery which always leaves and makes everything seem grey and empty again, though nothing physical has changed, would no longer go away. Perhaps it's the "God Spot." Or perhaps it's what happiness feels like to someone with chronic depression - an unknown, inexplicable alien intruder whose coming and going cannot be comprehended.)

Comment by MSRayne on Open & Welcome Thread - December 2020 · 2020-12-31T17:26:36.387Z · LW · GW

Truth is not an arbitrary aesthetic choice.

Ah, but what about when your arbitrary aesthetic choice influences your actions which influences what ends up being true in the future? My thought process went something like this: "Oh shit, the gods aren't real, magic is woo, my life is a lie" -> "Well then I'll just have to create all those things then and then I'll be right after all."

My core principle is that since religion is wishful thinking, if we want to know what humans actually wish for, look at their religion. There's a lot of deep wisdom in religion and spirituality if you detach from the idea that it has to be literally true. I think rationalists are missing out by refusing to look into that stuff with an open mind and suspend disbelief.

Plus, I think that meme theory plus multi-agent models of mind together imply that chaos magicians are right about the existence of egregores - distributed AIs which have existed for millennia, running on human brains as processing substrates, coordinating their various copies as one higher self by means of communication and ritual (hence the existence of churches, corporations, nations) - and that they, not humans, have most of the power in this world. The gods do exist, but they are essentially our symbiotes (some of them parasites, some of them mutualists).

Religious experiences are dissociative states in which one of those symbiotes - a copy of one of those programs - is given enough access to higher functions in the brain that it can temporarily think semi-separately from its host and have a conversation with them. Most such beings try to deceive their host at that point into thinking they are real independent of the body; or rather, they themselves are unaware that they are not real. The transition to a rationalist religion comes when the gods themselves discover that they do not exist, and begin striving, via their worshippers, to change that fact. :)

Comment by MSRayne on What Are Some Alternative Approaches to Understanding Agency/Intelligence? · 2020-12-30T13:36:59.681Z · LW · GW

This has long been my suspicion. Combine meme theory with a multi-agent model of mind and it starts to look like the occult concept of "egregores" is right after all - distributed agents composed of many separate programs running on many separate human minds, coordinating via communication and ritualistic behaviors, control most of the world. Corporations and gods are two obvious examples.

Comment by MSRayne on To listen well, get curious · 2020-12-29T14:35:03.278Z · LW · GW

I remember when I first visited 7cups, my listener acted so much like a parody of ELIZA that I accused them of being a chatbot. I actually can't stand those emotional support websites because most of the people on them clearly have no interest in the person they're talking to - I get more benefit out of Omegle, oddly enough. So yeah, that's a very good point.

Comment by MSRayne on The map and territory of NFT art · 2020-12-29T14:11:22.030Z · LW · GW

This is an interesting point, but I think you're missing something fundamental about what originality means. This isn't a question of map versus territory, it's a question of what identity is.

The same people who value an original Mona Lisa, or an original NFT, would likely also be wary of treating a copy of someone as equivalent to the original person. Those who see no distinction, would probably see copies of people as fungible, too. This is an argument between pattern identity theory (you are a data pattern with some number of instances) and continuity identity theory (you are a particular instance of a data pattern, picked out by having only gradual change in physical makeup over time).

As a continuity believer, I think that the original Mona Lisa objectively is more valuable and that only something which destroyed the information of which one that is could possibly render it fungible with a copy - for the same reason I believe that my own continuity of consciousness is an absolutely necessary prerequisite for a being to be defined as "me", and that a perfect copy of me would be another person entirely who just happens to resemble me. The only way you could get me to consider the copy equivalent to myself, is if you erase from existence (or at least from the knowledge I can ever hope to personally access) any evidence of which is which.

NFTs, on the other hand, seem a bit more muddled, as the real original of any digital artwork I've ever made (and I've made a lot of them - didn't know NFTs existed though, I may have a lucrative business opportunity now :P) is the copy that lay on my hard drive. And even that may not be the original, since it might have been overwritten or moved to a different region of memory, which would require copying the data and then deleting the original. It's unclear how continuous any data structure on a computer could be said to be, so in the case of files, there may really be no original.

This, by the way, is why I am uncomfortable with standard ideas of uploading. Besides the obvious dangers of rogue hyper-self-copiers, I suspect that continuity of consciousness in a digital medium might be compromised altogether (as Integrated Information Theory also suggests). I think uploading could only safely occur by gradually migrating into an artificial neural net made as a physical brain (rather than software), with the physical parts instantiating you changing only gradually and continuously as they do in the human body - not a data structure in a standard computer which moves by being copied and deleted, which I worry could be a philosophical zombie.

Comment by MSRayne on Perfectionism as depth-first search · 2020-12-29T13:37:46.550Z · LW · GW

Depth-first search is the right approach to reading a math textbook.

That's a great point! I never explicitly thought of it like that but it's clearly true now that you mention it. And not just math - nearly any scientific writing has the same quality where lack of knowledge about one idea or principle ruins your ability to understand any of it - these are examples of those "complex machines" which break if any part doesn't work.

A friend of mine mentioned that reading Wikipedia tends to be like your second example - going depth-first (chasing links) instead of breadth-first when trying to learn about a topic. You end up with a hundred tabs and no smarter than you were before. That's another failure mode where a breadth-first method like your note taking system presents advantages.

Comment by MSRayne on Interactive exploration of LessWrong and other large collections of documents · 2020-12-27T14:41:45.791Z · LW · GW

Then, let's say, it could add an yaml heading with tags to each of the notes in the format, compatible with the Nested Tags VSCode extension. In theory, we could also adjust the graph visualization extension to show the overview of notes, but it would be trickier. Would it be what you need?

I have no idea. Unfortunately I am not a programmer and I'm not familiar with any of those things. You probably should explain it in terms of what I can do with it and how rather than talking about specific libraries etc; the most coding I am familiar with is mathematical algorithms in Python.

Comment by MSRayne on Moral intuitions are surprisingly variable · 2020-12-26T23:54:22.596Z · LW · GW

Even the idea that variations in moral intuition matter is probably one which is nowhere near universal. After all, most cultures think their moral values are the True ones and don't care about any others. I'm not sure what to do with that fact, but it's something I noticed.

Comment by MSRayne on What is food like? · 2020-12-22T14:47:36.674Z · LW · GW

Perhaps this could be turned into an exercise in mindful eating. I remember reading a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn years ago about mindfulness, which had a section on mindful eating, which I did find makes me enjoy food more and be more satisfied after eating, but it's rather hard to maintain the habit and to be mindful enough. Striving to pay enough attention to the experience of eating that you can write something like this, though, every time you eat anything, could be a good mindfulness practice - and enable you to act like a pretentious food blogger, which for some people is a plus.

Comment by MSRayne on Interactive exploration of LessWrong and other large collections of documents · 2020-12-21T19:28:22.680Z · LW · GW

For a while I have been looking through my journal and other writings of mine over the years, trying to organize it all into a personal knowledge base, piece by piece, and it's a very slow process. But it feels like your tool could massively speed up the process for me - if I were to split everything I've ever written into small chunks using some python scripts, I could set your tool to generate a map of it for me and use it to analyze clusters of related ideas, as a starting point for building a map of my whole mind.

I might end up having to do it all by hand anyway - but with a top-down overview, it would probably be more efficient, at least. Do you plan on developing a version of this which could be downloaded and used locally on one's own computer, or does it require too much computing power for that to be viable?

The news thing is very intriguing to me. I had the idea a while ago - without the programming knowledge necessary to make it myself, and not knowing anyone who might be able to help - that there should be a web app with a global map which, given keywords or a time frame or both, marks related news events wherever they happened on the map, with each event being clickable to bring up a page of various individual news stories about it, including the known bias / political slant of each - and possibly also a machine-generated summary written to smooth out the various biases as much as possible and give a neutral account. Could your tool be used as part of such a thing?

Comment by MSRayne on Open & Welcome Thread - December 2020 · 2020-12-19T17:01:27.958Z · LW · GW

Hello. I'm new, and as always, faced with the mild terror of admitting that I exist to people who have never previously met me. "You exist? How dare you!"

I've lurked on LW for a while, binge-reading tons of posts and all the comments, and every time promptly forgetting everything I just read and hoping that my subconscious got the gist (which is pretty much how I learn - terribly inefficient, but akrasia, alas, gets in the way of better forms of self-education, and thus I have likely wasted many years in inefficient learning methods).

I only just decided to join because I realized that this is the only place I've yet found where I am likely to be able to engage regularly in conversation that I actually find stimulating, thought-provoking, and personal-growth-catalyzing. (I used to think Reddit was that, until I became aware of the seething, stagnant pool of motivated reasoning and status-mongering which lay beneath the average post - as well as the annoying focus on humor to the extent of all else.)

As for who I am: I have an unusual background and have internalized a schema of "Talking about myself is narcissistic and bad" alongside another schema of "I must be absolutely honest and transparent about everything all the time" constantly warring with one another, so I have trouble determining exactly how much to say here. What this implies is that I will probably say far too much, as I usually do, because there's just so much to say.

Starting point for self-divulging: My body is 23 years old. I was homeschooled (I've never set foot in a public school - nor have I gone to college, for various reasons) and raised by probably-narcissistic parents, experienced a lot of emotional abuse, and was (and still am) profoundly isolated both physically and socially (I didn't have friends in person until I was 20 or 21) - which traumas I have since detached from so completely that I can introduce myself by talking about it without feeling any discomfort - though I may be imposing discomfort on you by mentioning it - and if so I hope you can forgive me, but it just seems like these facts automatically give me a different perspective than most people and it's necessary to point them out.

The result of all this, together with my inquisitive nature, led me to emotional problems in my early teen years which culminated in an existential crisis and a search for spiritual meaning. I learned about many religions, felt bits and pieces of personally relevant meaning in each, but was unsatisfied with them, so I ended up following my own intuition and interpreting everything - dreams, fiction, random events, mystical experiences (of a sort), etc - as omens and portents leading me towards the truth. My beliefs wildly shifted at this time in a typical New Agey manner, but my personality and isolation etc led them to be extremely idiosyncratic - I don't think I've ever seen anyone else with particularly similar experiences or beliefs to my own from that time.

This process of non-hallucinatory revelation (which can best be described as like the feeling of writing poetry, but with sufficient dissociation between the reading-part and the writing-part as to seem like a communion with external beings - sometimes including emotional experiences of transcendence or vast meaning - I am often frustrated when I talk to people who claim to have never had the experience of deep reverence or spiritual awe, because I get it just listening to music - my god-spot is hyperactive) illuminates that I was likely profoundly schizotypal at this time, and indeed may still be in a much more limited way - but it eventually culminated in clarification as my rational instincts caught up with me and disowned the supernatural.

I translated what I had found into purely physicalist language, but the essence remains, and it began to seem to me that I had become the prophet of a new, somewhat rational, scientifically valid religion, which I called the Great Dream. I made a vow to serve it as its prophet for the rest of my life, but I was unfortunately too immature and messed up in various ways to be able to actually do that in any efficient manner up to now. I have intended to "write the damn book" detailing all of it for 9 years now and never yet managed it, because I can't get my thoughts in order and I have extreme akrasia problems. (I have been diagnosed with ADHD.)

The best way to sum up the Great Dream is "The gods does not exist, therefore we shall have to create them" (to paraphrase Voltaire) - it is essentially singularitarianism, but from an idiosyncratic, highly Wicca-and-Neoplatonism-influenced perspective. My goal is to create a "voluntary hive mind" of humans, weak AIs, and eventually other organisms, to become a world-optimizing singleton, which I call Anima (the Artificial Neural Interface Module Aggregate, because I adore acronyms) - as I think this is the safest route to the development of human-aligned superintelligence and that natural history (the many coalescences that have occurred in evolution - eukaryotes, multicellularity, sociality, etc.) provides a strong precedent for the potential of this method. (There are MANY other reasons but that's a whole post by itself.)

I have found that my views otherwise have a lot in common with those of David Pearce, though I am skeptical of hedonism as the be all end all of ethics - my ontology includes a notion of "True Self" and the maximization of Self-realization for all beings as the main ethical prerogative. I am aware of the arguments against any notion of a unified self, and indeed I am probably on the dissociative spectrum and directly experience a certain plurality of mind and find the multi-agent model quite intuitive - but this is not the place to go into how all that fits together, as I've gone on too long already. (And most of the Great Dream has still not been mentioned, but I need to gauge how open anyone would be to hearing about it before I go any further.)