How can you find the best information out of all information? 2020-06-03T06:40:57.501Z


Comment by raj-thimmiah on Are there non-AI projects focused on defeating Moloch globally? · 2020-09-15T03:43:08.031Z · LW · GW

I actually have been wondering about the safety mechanism stuff, if anyone wants to give examples of actually produced things in AI alignment I’d be interested in hearing about them.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on No Really, Why Aren't Rationalists Winning? · 2020-09-08T07:07:36.162Z · LW · GW

Did your friend ever finish that sequence? I'd still be quite interested in seeing it. After reading Chinese Businessmen: Superstition Doesn't Count, I've become very interested in becoming more instrumental.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach? · 2020-09-04T22:29:59.415Z · LW · GW

Agree on this, memory coherence is pretty important. Cramming leads to results sort of like how you can't combine the trig you learned in highschool with some physics knowledge: there aren't good connections between the subjects, leaving them relatively siloed.

It requires both effort and actually wanting to learn a thing for the thing to integrate well. We tend to forget easily the things we don't care about (see school knowledge).

Comment by raj-thimmiah on If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach? · 2020-09-04T08:32:00.343Z · LW · GW

On seeing the title of this post again, I'm reminded of an obvious answer: teach people how to decide what to learn for themselves. Sort of like the feed a man a day vs. teaching fishing thing.

I don't think there's a more useful meta thing to learn since that's what you need to figure out everything else for yourself.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach? · 2020-09-04T08:30:17.304Z · LW · GW

Haha, thanks for the rewrite, makes much more sense now.

tradeoff cognitive buck

Completely agree: too easy to cram mindlessly with Anki, I think in large part because of how much work it takes to make cards yourself.

I'm a bit skeptical of the drilling idea because cards taking more than 5 seconds to complete tend to become leeches and aren't the kind of thing you could do long-term, especially with Anki's algorithm. Still worth trying though, would be interested to hear if you or anyone else you know has gotten much benefit from it.

With the thoroughness vs. designer complexity, I think all the options with Anki kind of suck (mainly because I don't think they would work for my level of conscientiousness, at least).

If end users make their own cards, they'll give up (or at least most people would, I think. It's not very fun making cards from scratch).

If you design something for end users (possibly with some of the commoncog tacit knowledge stuff) I think it's sort of beneficial but you wouldn't get same coherence boost as making stuff yourself. Too easy to learn cards but not actually integrate them, usably. It also seems like a pain to make.

For declarative knowledge, I think the best balance for learning is curating content really well for incremental reading alongside (very importantly) either coaching* or more material on meta-skills of knowledge selection to prevent people from FOMO memorizing everything. I think with SuperMemo it wouldn't be hard to make a collection of good material for people to go through in a sane, inferential distance order. Still a fair bit of work for makers but not hellish.

I'm very, very, very curious about the tacit knowledge stuff. I still haven't gotten through all of the commoncog articles on tacit knowledge, though I've been going through them for a while, but in terms of instrumental rationality they seem very pragmatic. (I particularly enjoyed his criticism of rationalists in Chinese Businessmen: Superstition Doesn't Count [by which he means, superstition doesn't mess much with instrumentality]. I still have yet to figure out how to put any of it to use.

*while teaching people how to do IR, I've found direct feedback while people are trying it works well. It took me ages to be any good at IR (5 months to even start after buying supermemo and then another like 3 to be sort of proficient) while I can get someone to me after 1-2 month proficiency in a single ~2 hour session. Works wonders in areas where you can do lots of trial/error with quick feedback.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach? · 2020-09-03T20:24:54.911Z · LW · GW

Could you rewrite some of the first paragraph? I read it 2-3 times and was still kind of confused.

Funny you linked commoncog, was about to link that too. Great blog.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach? · 2020-09-03T20:23:14.025Z · LW · GW

Inferential distance based knowledge systems would be super cool. There are lots of stats ideas I'd like to engage in but ordering is too much of a pain.

The mentor thing is also true, I think for math in particular. Math/physics are the only subjects where I'd hesitate to just learn them by myself.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach? · 2020-09-03T09:31:06.810Z · LW · GW

Aside from memorizing declarative knowledge, the question of how to acquire tacit knowledge is very interesting.

I don’t have any current great ideas (other than adding in hammer time like practical tests into things) but I think commoncog’s blog is very interesting, especially the stuff about naturalistic decision making. (Can’t link more specifically, on mobile)

Comment by raj-thimmiah on If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach? · 2020-09-03T09:25:42.695Z · LW · GW

Anki deck is a bad idea because as you said: a. formulation b. poor coherence (when you’re stuffing things other people though was cool in your brain it won’t connect with other things in your brain as well as if you’d made the deck

I think incremental reading with supermemo is a decent option. I’ve taught a few rat adjacenct people supermemo and the ones that have spent time on the sequences inside it have said it’s useful. I’m not sure how to summarize it well but basically, anki let’s you memorize stuff algorithmically while incremental reading let’s you learn (algorithmically) then memorize.

I’d be surprised if after day a year of using IR on the sequences you weren’t at least a fair bit more instrumental

(If you want to give it a try I’ll gladly teach you. I don’t think there’s any more efficient way to process declarative information)

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Hammertime Day 1: Bug Hunt · 2020-07-30T16:56:29.622Z · LW · GW

Interesting idea, I will try this. I'd generally been skeptical of the worth of adding rules like that to SuperMemo and memorizing them since there's a difference between knowing and doing but I think a lot of the ones I've memorized have become such a natural part of my thought process that I fail to explicitly recall them as being from a card.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Longevity interventions when young · 2020-07-26T14:33:36.350Z · LW · GW

>I think it would be great to know the percentage of cards answered at a certain day correctly that get answered correctly the next time the card is shown. 

Sorry but what would you do with that? It's not immediately obvious to me

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Longevity interventions when young · 2020-07-26T08:27:28.878Z · LW · GW

re: Anki, I think you might find some of the data the creator of SuperMemo (what anki is based on) very interesting. He's used a combination of repetition data + a thing in SuperMemo called sleepchart to look at how alertness as the day goes on varies with different sleep things.

First graph here shows how recall varies as a function of hours from waking.

As a long-term SM user, Idon't think you could use anki/supermemo to measure cognitive ability (easily). Compared to when I first started, my cards are much better with higher optimum interval. That hasn't been do to anything but just me getting better at the skill of formulating my cards. Changes in skill would create too much noise long-term to see cognitive ability changes. Short term though, I wonder if you could daily recall % as a proxy for cognitively enchanting drugs as long as the time period isn't so long that skill improvements mess things up.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Open & Welcome Thread - February 2020 · 2020-07-09T07:55:52.356Z · LW · GW

What do you mean by n-blindness?

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Five Ways To Prioritize Better · 2020-06-30T07:23:37.669Z · LW · GW

I'm also interested in this, there are lots of things I'd want to track (and use the data from) but I don't know a good not messy framework for it.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on The point of a memory palace · 2020-06-24T11:00:16.460Z · LW · GW

I don't have so much experience with memory palaces but I have used mnemonics a fair bit with SRS/IR. It's hard to explain and I have no idea how transferable it is but I don't think it's as hard to make mnemonics as you think. E.g.: if you're trying to memorize a word in Japanese which sounds like random syllables, if you lift the filters on your brain it isn't as bad as you'd think to figure out some connection by which to give those syllables meaning where they had none and to more easily memorize the word.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on The point of a memory palace · 2020-06-24T10:57:45.785Z · LW · GW

Pretty much my experience until I discovered SuperMemo/Incremental Reading/SRS. It's pretty weird how little teachers think about teaching students how to learn when they're supposed to spend so much of their time doing it.

I'm curious about the visualization stuff. I don't think it's all just talent but I don't know how much of it could be gained from practice either.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on The point of a memory palace · 2020-06-24T10:55:53.838Z · LW · GW

4) Visualization practice and memory palaces make you more able to see and manipulate 3D structures.

Have you seen any studies on this by chance? I've thought about learning drawing for roughly similar reasons but I've never been able to quantify well enough if the benefits are wroth the time investment.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Personal experience of coffee as nootropic · 2020-06-24T10:54:03.170Z · LW · GW

I like mate and I mainly chose it over coffee because of the issues the OP mentioned. It feels like it works fairly well, I usually make a tea of 1-2 spoons and have it after waking up from night sleep and again after waking up from afternoon nap.

I have no idea how I'd do it but I think I'd like to try making mate gum at some point because apparently gum has benefits for focusing as well.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Using a memory palace to memorize a textbook. · 2020-06-19T04:15:27.433Z · LW · GW

Have you considered trying SuperMemo instead of Anki? Anki is a pain to use because it gives you tools for memorizing but nothing else. SuperMemo works way better because it has tools for learning/processing/managing material then memorizing it, when it's reasonably learned.

Video I made on SM recently: SuperMemo for Wizards

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Wireless is a trap · 2020-06-08T17:59:40.604Z · LW · GW

Regarding wires, have you tried wire boxes? Like this:

They’re pretty simple but by eating up all slack on your wires they make things look way nearer. They’re the only wire organizing solution that I’ve found to really hold up over time.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Effective children education · 2020-06-07T15:05:36.655Z · LW · GW

I'm happy to hear that!

1-self learning: How I read it so far is that instead of selecting "the way" first and optimizing it later, instead it might be a good idea to focus on learning how to learn by yourself first, recognizing what's the most effective in any given case, be it via internet or an actual human resource such as a tutor.

Sort of, though this is mostly my vague theory. I think the ultralearning thing that Panashe mentioned could be a useful framework though I'm not super familiar with it. People like Peter Gray who are experts on homeschooling/self directed learning could also be worth looking into.

By the way, my solely main motivation for her to know English was the access to much better materials so she can learn by herself.

Yeah, that's a pretty important long-term skill. It would be really challenging to have be able to freely learn whatever you want without access to the English internet.

A quick search shows that there are some very reasonably priced democratic schools around. So great to see there are some options like this (at least, I will be able to get some references or even visit them myself)

Awesome. One thing to be careful of is that people think schools are important for socialization. I like Seymour Papert's answer to that:

Nothing bothers me more than when people criticize my criticism of school by telling me that schools are not just places to learn maths and spelling, they are places where children learn a vaguely defined thing called socialization. I know. I think schools generally do an effective and terribly damaging job of teaching children to be infantile, dependent, intellectually dishonest, passive and disrespectful to their own developmental capacities

I've found the above criticism fairly true for my experience with school. I ended up with a lot of not great socialization habits that took a long while to unravel.

It feels like I'm going on a bit too much but one other heuristic to consider: try to do for your daughter what you would have liked as a child rather than what you as a parent think you should do. It's very easy to assume that you know better than your child, and you do, but coercion is really bad. Trying to influence choices by making them appealing is far healthier than forcing things which I think younger you probably would have appreciated too.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Effective children education · 2020-06-07T14:44:18.174Z · LW · GW
His book touches on spaced repetition (he's a big proponent of the testing effect) and other things. It's really about how to put together effective learning projects, from the research phase, through execution.

Oh I didn't know that. Raises priority a bit then.

I am interested in IR, but I don't have a windows machine (MacOS/Linux) and don't think the overhead of maintaining a VM would be worth it. Do you IR everything you read online, or do you reserve it for materials in your field? I mostly take notes in roam, and add particularly salient things that I think I'll want to remember to anki.

If you use IR well, in my opinion it would increase long-term potential by at least 1,5-2 times. If you don't trust me and take my claim at say 1.2 times, I think even then it's worth the time investment of trying a VM and trying SM for a while to verify the claim (I don't think there are any other interventions that would improve long-term potential as much as SM).

I'm actually using it on a Mac in parallels and it works pretty well. VMWare on Linux is also mostly good though in the end I ended up switching from Linux because VMWare has this weird behavior where it exists fullscreen everytime you change workspaces. It drove me crazy. You can run SM through wine with this with a few constraints. I haven't tried it personally though.

I don't have a particular field (I am in university but I don't care about it very much), I learn based on what I find interesting and applicable. I've found a lot of golden nuggets I otherwise would never have with incremental reading. I tend to just import everything I see that looks shiny but it's still manageable because of SuperMemo's priority system. I'll probably never get to all the things I import because of the rate of new things vs. rate of review but I'm slowly making peace with that. At the least, priority system makes it possible to import as much as you want but still be certain that you focus most of your time on the things that matter more.

Roam seems pretty nice to me and I really wish there was an SM plugin to replicate graph connection functionality. I write a lot in SuperMemo and while it is extremely useful to be able to write things incrementally, graph view would be likely a better way to work on things.

Noted. The SuperMemo wiki has always seemed quite unwieldy to me, but I'll take closer to what he says to say on topics outside of spaced repetition.

For SuperMemo documentation, I would definitely agree. It is not fun figuring it out on your own. From recent experiences teaching people, I think being taught 1-1 is a far easier way to get started with it. I can generally teach people in 1-2 hours what it took me around a fair while (at least a month) to figure out.

For other subjects on blog, I think the articles are pretty good though not many people seem to be aware of them which is unfortunate.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Effective children education · 2020-06-06T06:31:58.254Z · LW · GW

Interesting about ultralearning, I will need to skim that in more detail some point. Without spaced repetition/incremental reading, that looks like the best method of learning to me. I get the feeling this is why my generation (2000s onwards) lack practical skills, we almost never learn for a purpose so we end up lacking the notion that we can do things yourselves. There are plenty of things I really wanted to do (like building a table from scratch [I really love big tables]) that I never did because I had no experience and had never had any experience that would tell me where to start.

Regarding SuperMemo, yes, I use the software and incremental reading extensively (if you have an interest in learning it, I would happily teach you). I would go insane learning without it, especially because I have ADHD and incremental reading makes managing what to learn easy.

I also subscribe heavily to Woz's ideas. I like them because they tend to be much closer to global maximas (e.g. free running sleep) because societal/academic norms do not restrict his views.

A lot of them, especially about learning, really changed my life. Though I also love what he has written about sleep, stress, ADHD, addiction amongst other things.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Effective children education · 2020-06-04T08:35:54.364Z · LW · GW

Did you read about B2D linked by OP? This is what Bloom found (from wikipedia):

the average tutored student was above 98% of the students in the control class".[1]:4 Additionally, the variation of the students' achievement changed: "about 90% of the tutored students ... attained the level of summative achievement reached by only the highest 20%" of the control class.

I don't think high school can hold a candle to that. All the content in any specialized class can be found online and learned at the leisure of the child rather than praying for a decent teacher that fits the kid.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Effective children education · 2020-06-04T08:32:06.372Z · LW · GW

B2D shows clear superiority of 1-1 over 1-many but I think it neglects something even better: 1 to self. IMO, issues with 1 to many teaching result from high semantic distance: teacher is either too far ahead of student or are teaching things the student already knows. Thus, they're always stuck either frustrated or bored. 1-1 teaching eliminates that because a tutor knows what the student does or not know; they can teach with continuous low semantic distance that isn't frustrating.

I think 1-self teaching goes beyond tutoring because:

1. you know what you don't know so if you need some preceding information you can find that for yourself (in large part thanks to the internet)

2. teaching is centered around the idea that a teacher knows what you should know better than you do. In many cases, I don't think this makes much sense. If I want to learn how to make x thing, getting a general education on the field x falls into (field y) doesn't make sense. Learning a bunch of useless things in field y is a waste of my time. If I'm deciding what to learn by myself, I can make sure that I'm not only learning things efficiently but that I'm choosing what to learn effectively.

As a result, I think prioritizing large behavioral spaces where your daughter can make mistakes and figure things out by herself is better than any rigid system forcing her to learn things she doesn't want to. (Note: you might think that having her educated in depth on some topic and having lots of knowledge is useful. Free learning leads to higher coherence which in turn makes knowledge more applicable and better retained. No matter how well your daughter is taught trigonometry, if she learns it independent of her own desires the ability will likely stick to being useful only for useless math problems.)

I highly recommend reading any of the articles in I would never send my kids to school; particularly the ones you find yourself disagreeing with the most.

I would also check out Sudbury or democratic schools, which are schools with high behavioral space and very low in coercion.

The people at the bottom here mentioned in further reading could also be helpful.

I'm vaguely trying to work on looking at 1-self learning as a means for solving B2D (thanks for the acronym by the way) better than 1-1 learning. I have no formal science background but I've started talking with a professor who found it very interesting. Hopefully we can find something concrete though I have no idea how we'd test it right now.

Unfortunately, I'm too confident in my own views and there are a lot of priors I'm guessing we don't share that might make some of this not make sense. Please bring them up and I will try to answer them though most answers could probably be found in some way on

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Modeling sleep patterns · 2020-06-04T06:21:45.889Z · LW · GW

I know this is a long dead thread but on the off chance notifs reach any of you guys, do you folks still use SuperMemo?

Edit: I just realized I can dm people directly. Gonna do that

Comment by raj-thimmiah on Spaced Repetition Database for the Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions Sequence · 2020-06-04T06:13:44.628Z · LW · GW

Are you still using SuperMemo?

Comment by raj-thimmiah on The Pavlov Strategy · 2020-06-03T06:49:37.324Z · LW · GW

The link for “Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.” appears to be not working

Comment by raj-thimmiah on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2020-05-23T09:13:43.638Z · LW · GW

Earmuffs have helped me a lot for productive time. The silence lets me focus more on what I'm trying to work on. Compared to my noice cancelling headphones (qc 35 II) I can't play music even if I want to to so less likelihood of distraction. On occasion though, if they aren't enough by themselves I'll put earbuds inside the earmuffs with low wind noise. I can hear pretty much nothing external after that.

They also help me sleep on planes since they block out a fair portion of the noise.

This is the one I use:

It looks ridiculous when you wear it. Really ridiculous, I won't lie.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2020-05-23T09:10:36.033Z · LW · GW

Eyemasks and earplugs have helped a lot for sleep. I'm not sure how to quantify the benefit but I haven't slept without them (for nightsleep) in at least a year from what I can recall.

Comment by raj-thimmiah on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2020-05-23T08:59:43.287Z · LW · GW

Have you tried barefoot running? I haven't tried running with shoes on all that much so I don't have much to compare to but I find barefoot running really fun and anecdotally it seems my knees act up a bit less with it. I was partially inspired to try it originally by:

Comment by raj-thimmiah on What are the best ways of absorbing, and maintaining, knowledge? · 2020-05-04T17:41:36.021Z · LW · GW

This post is quite old but I'm curious if you ever investigated incremental reading further. I'm an IR user and I don't think there is any more effective way of managing large volumes of learning. If you have questions about it I can answer them.