Link: Study finds that using a foreign language changes moral decisions 2014-04-30T05:26:14.683Z
[Link] You Should Downvote Contrarian Anecdotes 2012-06-18T07:57:17.887Z
[LINK] NYTimes essay on willpower, based on an upcoming Baumeister book 2011-08-18T10:05:17.720Z
Link: Paul Graham on intelligence vs determination 2011-03-24T08:18:40.449Z
Link: What does it feel like to be stupid? 2010-12-10T07:43:28.889Z
Link: Writing exercise closes the gender gap in university-level physics 2010-11-27T16:28:24.651Z
[LINK] Humans are bad at summing up a bunch of small numbers 2010-10-06T13:01:58.192Z
Share Your Anti-Akrasia Tricks 2009-05-15T19:06:31.527Z


Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Cargo Cult and Self-Improvement · 2018-08-08T10:41:42.648Z · LW · GW

The link to Budge Burgess story is broken -- please fix.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, July 10 - July 16, 2017 · 2017-07-11T15:40:57.402Z · LW · GW

Running the names through native speakers definitely was a good idea :D

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, July 10 - July 16, 2017 · 2017-07-11T03:55:45.422Z · LW · GW

Thomas, thank you for setting up the poll! Somehow this didn't occur to me.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, July 10 - July 16, 2017 · 2017-07-11T03:54:28.356Z · LW · GW

There's no chance that I will be able to secure or anything similar for a reasonable sum of money (i.e. under $3000 or so).

Edit: oh, sorry, I completely misread you (was in a hurry). I did a search on, and there were one-syllable words among the results, but none of them jumped at me as a good name (in addition to the vast majority of them being already taken).

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, July 10 - July 16, 2017 · 2017-07-10T10:09:44.024Z · LW · GW

I’d like to ask LW for feedback on names for my upcoming todo list app.

In summary, I spent the last 2 years developing a todo app to replace Wunderlist because I’ve always been unsatisfied with it. I mentioned the app on LW earlier. Microsoft recently announced that they plan to shut down Wunderlist, which is a one-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity, so I’m currently in scramble mode preparing everything (site, app, company) for the closure event.

The central idea of the app is that it helps you keep your todo list focused on what you can do right now, at this very moment (the approach is similar to Mark Forster’s Autofocus system and is heavily based on the concept of mental ‘ripeness’ of the task to be done).

So here’s my shortlist of names (all with .com domains I already own):

  • Matterlist
  • LumenList
  • PragmaPad
  • PragmaPlanner
  • Persisto

Which name do you like the most? Which ones sound bad to you?

When giving feedback, consider Paul Graham’s advice on naming: “It turns out almost any word or word pair that is not an obviously bad name is a sufficiently good one.” So if any of the names jumps at you as ‘obviously bad’, please let me know.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on How often do you check this forum? · 2017-02-05T13:18:26.701Z · LW · GW


Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Making intentions concrete - Trigger-Action Planning · 2016-12-04T10:12:42.274Z · LW · GW

Yes, I meant a low-functioning state. My current todo app lacks tools for assigning contexts to tasks. When I switch to my own app (currently in development), I'll make a dedicated context for this type of tasks, e.g. @zombie - and will try to adopt the following TAP:

  • When in zombie mode, Open the todo app, turn on the @zombie context, and look at the list.
Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Making intentions concrete - Trigger-Action Planning · 2016-12-04T10:10:41.260Z · LW · GW

I do have this one, but the trigger doesn't fire reliably. Sometimes I go to bed, sometimes I don't.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Making intentions concrete - Trigger-Action Planning · 2016-12-02T13:14:21.854Z · LW · GW

Just tried to list my fully-adopted TAPs and found that they are all linked to my use of a smartphone todo app:

  • When I think of something that needs to be done at some point, Open the todo app and write it down.
  • When the thinking part of the morning is finished, Open the todo app.
  • When I'm idle, Open the todo app.
  • When leaving home or work, Open the todo app (maybe I forgot something I need to do while I'm here).
  • When I'm in the todo app looking at my current tasks, Snooze or hide any tasks that I can't do right now.

There's a TAP I'd like to adopt, but I can't report any success so far:

  • When I'm tired / in zombie mode, Open the todo app (and do some tasks tagged as @zombie).
Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on What do you actually do to replenish your willpower? · 2016-11-07T10:20:40.081Z · LW · GW

For me, the best way to replenish willpower is a long solitary walk. 2 hours, 5 kilometers or longer, preferably in nature or a non-crowded park, with minimized exposure to cars, dogs, people, speech, loud sounds, and any other attention-taxing things. I've been going on these walks for over 20 years, so the technique is time-tested.

Also: mini-vacations. Basically the same as above, but they should provide at least a week-long period of uninterruptible time ahead. This works wonders for me.

I've read (I can't remember where) that completing difficult tasks gives a boost to willpower, but then how do you convince yourself to start that difficult task? And what difficult task do you use?

In my case, the concepts of Trivial Inconvenience and Trivial Impetus were very helpful. I soften difficult tasks up by removing trivial inconveniences standing between me and the task, and facilitate my future work on them by creating trivial impetuses. Breaking a big monolithic task into smaller chunks also works well.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, Feb. 01 - Feb. 07, 2016 · 2016-02-05T12:29:54.663Z · LW · GW

Procrastination is a more general concept. Idea Debt, as described in the article, is a particular cause / 'method' of procrastination.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Bragging thread, December 2015 · 2015-12-02T08:26:57.085Z · LW · GW

Went to the gym for the first time in my life.

It has been two months since I started (sorry, I missed the previous month's bragging thread, so I'm posting in this one), and I'm already seeing results.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, Oct. 19 - Oct. 25, 2015 · 2015-10-21T10:41:42.886Z · LW · GW

Just a quick dump of what I've been thinking recently:

  • A train of thought is a sequence of thoughts about a particular topic that lasts for some time, which may produce results in the form of decisions and updated beliefs.

  • My work, as a technical co-founder of a software company, essentially consists of riding the right trains of thought and documenting decisions that arise during the ride.

  • Akrasia, in my case, means that I'm riding the wrong train of thougt.

  • Distraction means some outside stimulus that compels my mind to hop to a different train of thought that my mind is currently riding or should be riding. The stimuli can be anything: people talking to me, a news story, a sexually attractive person across the street, an advertisement, etc.

  • Some train rides are long: they last for hours, days or even weeks, while some are short and last for seconds or minutes. Historically, I've done my best work on very long rides.

  • Different trains of thoughts have different 'ticket costs'. Hopping to a sex-related or a politics-related train of thought is extremely cheap. Caching a big chunk of a problem into my mind requires consciois effort, and thus the ticket is more expensive. In my case, the right trains of thought are usually expensive.

  • Interruptions set back the distance traveled, or, in some cases, completely reset the distance to the original departure station. Or they may switch me to a different train of thought completely, while, at the same time, depleting the resource (willpower?) that I need for boarding the correct train of thought.

  • My not-so-recent decision to stop reading peoplenews has greatly reduced the number and severity of unwanted / involuntary train hops.

  • My "superfocus periods", during which I'm able to ride a single right train of thought for multiple days or weeks, are mostly due to the absence of stimuli that compel my mind to jump to different, cheaper trains of thought. These periods happen when I'm away from work and sometimes from my family, which means I can safely drop my everyday duties such as showing up in the office, doing errands, replying emails, meeting people etc.

  • Keeping a detailed work diary is tremendously helpful for re-boarding the right train of thought after severe interruptions / "cache wipes". I use Workflowy.

  • I noticed that I'm reluctant about boarding long rides when I expect interruptions during the ride. Recent examples include reluctance about reading Bostrom's Superintelligence at home, or reluctance about 'loading' a large piece of project into my head at work, because my office iss full of programmers that ask (completely legitimate) questions about their current tasks.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on [Link] Stephen Hawking AMA answers · 2015-10-10T06:19:12.585Z · LW · GW

Here's an article on Engadget about the AMA:

A 5K+ karma AMA on Reddit, and an article on a mainstream gadget website, discussing AI safety and even citing Steve Omohundro, right in the article. This is a huge success. Properly discussed AI risk is now officially mainstream. It makes me proud that I was a part of this success as a SIAI donor.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, Sep. 14 - Sep. 20, 2015 · 2015-09-18T07:06:20.001Z · LW · GW

I do about 3 hours of legit work when I'm in my usual situation (family, work), but I do way more when I'm alone, both on- and off-the-grid: 12 hours or even more (of course assuming that the problem I'm working on is workable and I don't hit any serious brick walls). My last superfocus period lasted for about two weeks, it happened when my family went on vacation, and I took a mini-vacation from work myself (though the task I was working on was pretty trivial). My longest superfocus period was about 45 days, it happened on a long off-the-grid vacation.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread 7th september - 13th september · 2015-09-10T06:14:18.820Z · LW · GW

I stopped reading political news 2.5 years ago, and haven't looked back since. I now view news as an addiction, similar to fast food, alcohol or gambling. I occasionally consume a bit of political news here and there, and it always leaves a bad taste in my "mental mouth", almost physically, as if I've eaten something too big and sugary to be healthy.

(This is despite the fact that I live in Russia, a country in which news seemingly have higher survival value than in developed countries. Plus, I live in a region bordering eastern Ukraine, which now flickers between a failed gangster state and an active war zone -- and I have relatives living there, right on the front line between the Ukrainian army and the rebels! Instead of reading the news, I just call them and check up on them directly.)

My strategy for getting important news is:

  • Have friends and talk to them occasionally.
  • Have relatives and talk to them occasionally.
  • Have coworkers and talk to them occasionally.
  • Ride in taxicabs and talk to the drivers occasionally.

Or, if you are not a social person:

  • Don't be a hikikomori and go out occasionally.
  • Browse the Internet occasionally.

If there's a high-impact event happening around you, you just won't miss it, even you don't talk to anyone. You'll overhear people talking about the event, you'll see threads with huge karma on the front pages of Hacker News and Reddit, you'll have your aunt calling you about that. I don't think you'd be able to miss 9/11 or Katrina during the days they were happening.

Edit: I just noticed that my strategy for getting meaningful news boils down to this:

  • Talk to people, or
  • Observe people talking.

This applies to any news domain: general news, professional news etc. Personally, I think it is safe to disengage from general-life communities (e.g. Facebook) but not from professional communities (e.g. Hacker News, CGTalk etc.). This way you'd get ultra-high-impact general news, and all high-impact professional news. If you're in science, I don't think that you had any chance of not seeing CRISPR on the front page of your community. If you're in tech, you certainly couldn't miss the Snowden story. And you wouldn't miss 9/11 in both these communities.

Edit2: Here's an even simpler strategy:

  • Be available to people.

If a news item is of any importance, it will hit you from multiple directions. My personal recent example is the european refugee problem. I heard about it from three separate sources: Reddit, a friend in Germany and a local friend addicted to news.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-26T15:15:08.169Z · LW · GW

Buy and read this book right now: "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Robert Glover

(I can't tell from your post whether you are male or female, but it doesn't matter. The book is equally good for either.)

In essence, this book may help you learn how to stop being a victim, how to set your own limits, and how to get your own needs met. It also may inoculate you against getting into future relationships like this.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on A list of apps that are useful to me. (And other phone details) · 2015-08-26T13:06:10.085Z · LW · GW

I don't have a blog or even Twitter for it yet, and I guess I need to set these up, but I still haven't came up with the final product name. (Am I yak-shaving? Maybe it would be better to just start blogging and worry about the name later?)

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on A list of apps that are useful to me. (And other phone details) · 2015-08-26T12:59:32.059Z · LW · GW

Just checked out Google Calendar and indeed, it handles recurring tasks much better than most todo apps I've seen. When I enter a recurring task, it fills it into my future schedule, and lets me edit a concrete instance of that task, as opposed to editing the entire future schedule. Thanks for the tip!

As for Todoist and other features: does it allow to dismiss a dateless task temporarily without making it dateful? I have Todoist installed on my phone but haven't found how to do that.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on A list of apps that are useful to me. (And other phone details) · 2015-08-24T07:27:42.617Z · LW · GW

Haha, thanks, but I already specced out and outsourced Stage 1 of the MVP :)))

Anyway, here's what I find lacking in other personal Todo apps:

1. Recurring Task Fragility

I rely on recurring / repeating tasks a lot, I use them to automate my life. The problem is, in most todo apps recurring tasks are too brittle.

For example, I have a task on 15th of each month. One month I decide to do it earlier, on 12th of the month. The natural way would be to just reassign the due date from 15th to 12th, but doing that would change the recurrence condition of the task: it will now recur on 12th of each month! And God forbid I delete the task because I don’t need it this month -- this would delete all future recurrences!

Because of all this, I’m forced to walk on eggshells around recurring tasks. I’m afraid to treat them as normal tasks. I can’t rename them, can’t delete them, can’t move them to another list, can’t change the due date.

This happens because most todo apps conflate the recurring task instance with the definition of recurring task. I want to de-conflate these concepts. In my app, the recurrence logic is defined by a Schedule Item, which ‘spawns’ recurring task instances that can be deleted, modified, renamed etc. You won’t accidentally change the recurrence settings of a task by editing it in the task list. If you want to modify the recurrence settings, go to Schedule and do that explicitly.

(As a bonus, in the above system all recurring tasks will be visible in one place, the Schedule. This is essentially my life program, my human crontab. I like the ability to edit my life in one place.)

(And there’s another bonus to this system: forward visibility of recurring tasks. Most todo apps don’t display recurring tasks in forecast views. My app will. When you define a Schedule Item in Schedule, the recurring tasks ‘spawned’ by it will be visible across the entire future timeline. That is, you can literally look at the day Sep 1st 3215 and see that you have to walk the dog, buy the groceries and arrange a check up with the doctor.)

2. Due Date Pollution

My personal productivity system is closer to Autofocus than to GTD, so when I have a task in my list, and don’t want or cannot do it at the moment, I want it to temporarily disappear from my list until I’m ready to do it.

The only way to “disappear” a task in most todo apps is to set its Due Date to Tomorrow or such, but if I do this to a dateless task, it would become dateful! Why the hell must I make my dateless tasks dateful just to dismiss them for a while?

A Due Date should only be used on tasks that must be done on that specific date, so it doesn’t make any sense on dateless tasks. Which brings us to the next topic, Dismiss:

3. Proper Dismiss.

So, to combat Due Date Pollution, I need a proper Dismiss Until command that hides the task until some condition is met without making the task dateful. For example, Dismiss Until Tomorrow Morning, or Dismiss Until September 1st, 2015. I would like this function to be easily accessible, for example via the swipe-away gesture on list items.

Now, Dismiss Until Tomorrow is nice, and Dismiss Until Evening is great, but I also want Dismiss until I’m at Work, Dismiss until I’m in Boston, Dismiss until I’m near Bob Smith, or even Dismiss Until (NASDAQ:AAPL < 100) AND (Weather in Moscow is Good). Which brings us to our next topic, Contexts and Triggers:

4. Contexts and Triggers

For example, I have a task which I want to do only on workdays, in the evening and outside of work. When these conditions are met, I want the task to be visible in my list, and otherwise it should stay hidden.

To implement this, my app will have an Active When field, which can specify activation conditions for the task. For the above task, that would be something along the lines of @workday AND @evening AND (NOT @work).

@work, @evening and @workday are Triggers. The terminology is not final, and I don’t yet know how to call them, but essentially Triggers are boolean functions that can be incorporated into tasks in order to activate them when certain events happen.

Triggers can also be used in Dismiss Until command, and I plan a version of Schedule based on Triggers. That is, you can specify conditions, and when these conditions are met, a specified task will appear in your task list.

5. Multi-line Todo Items.

I need multi-line todo items in order to word my tasks properly. A task titled “Widgets!” is much less meaningful than a task “Decide which Widget to buy. Ask Bob, he’s the expert on Widgets.” This may sound trivial, but many popular todo apps display todo items as single-line -- and Wunderlist is among them!

I’m not worried about the screen real estate occupied by multiline items. The primary way to consume a todo app these days is mobile, and scrolling on mobile is effortless.

So, to sum up, this is a hybrid of a todo app and IFTTT / Tasker for humans. I don’t think that there’s currently anything on the market that offers that. Anyway, the work is already underway, and the MVP should be ready by the end of the year. I’ll announce it here on Lesswrong.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on A list of apps that are useful to me. (And other phone details) · 2015-08-23T15:36:52.411Z · LW · GW

I think Evernote should integrate with Google Now perfectly well. If Wunderlist does that, Evernote must do that as well. Here's an article that implies that this is possible: (and here's another one:

As for the text skills, try to use gesture typing or Fleksy. I prefer gesture typing on the stock Android keyboard on Nexus 5. If I remember correctly, Swype (the original gesture typing keyboard) is included with Samsung version of Android.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on A list of apps that are useful to me. (And other phone details) · 2015-08-23T08:32:15.488Z · LW · GW

Here's the homescreen of my main Android phone (with some obvious apps omitted, e.g. Phone, Flashlight etc):

  • Google Voice Search - I use it all the time for setting alarms and adding tasks to Wunderlist inbox.
  • Google Fit - mostly for making sure I walk my 12000 steps every day.
  • Opera - I use it instead of Chrome because it's the only browser that reflows text when zooming in.
  • Wunderlist - an essential GTD app which I hate. I'm working on my own todo app to replace it.
  • Barcode Scanner - to grab articles from the desktop PC to the phone via the QRCode Chrome addon.
  • Google Docs - for work, use it all the time.
  • Kindle - I read all my books via the Android Kindle app. I stopped byuing paper books years ago.
  • Dropbox - I like to have all my files accessible to me at any moment.
  • Trello - I use it a lot, for work projects, hobby projects, self-improvement and Internet bookmarks.
  • Workflowy - Was on hiatus, but I came back to it recently. It's an excellent thought capture tool.
  • Evernote - for note-taking (all non-actionable reference stuff goes here). I use premium, PIN-protected.
  • Slack - an excellent chat for work.

Some of the apps I use (Trello, Workflowy, Google Docs) are in your "not used" or "second-tier" bins, but I find them absolutely indispensable.

Another point is that I use mostly cloud-based apps, so if my phone gets lost or stolen, I still have access to my data. The phone is essentially disposable.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Intrinsic motivation is crucial for overcoming akrasia · 2015-06-18T13:28:58.736Z · LW · GW

I fully agree with this. Here's a good quote I found on the web:

If you really deeply care about something, you will do it. You will do it without needing a list or a system or a reminder.


Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-17T19:08:18.046Z · LW · GW

I prefer stronger alcohol in very small doses (20-30g or so), just for the taste and for unwinding after a hard day. I don't like feeling 'buzzed', let alone drunk, so I don't usually drink more than that: a normal-sized bottle of good scotch can last for several months.

Taste-wise, I like higher-end scotch whisky (mostly various single malts, peated or otherwise, including cask strength ones) and plain simple bourbon, but I can't stomach any dose of vodka - I find its taste disgusting. I also enjoy good wine, no matter white or red. I don't drink beer, though I can definitely enjoy it.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war continued by other means · 2014-10-29T18:01:33.281Z · LW · GW

Yes. Another example that comes to mind is conflict between rival groups of hardcore football / soccer ultras.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war continued by other means · 2014-10-28T10:21:00.423Z · LW · GW

They are usually called "war".

Doh. Yes. How could I miss that? War is team PVP with permadeath, but I think we can call it a 'game' only when participation is voluntary, where players join as mercenaries, professional soldiers or militia, not as unwilling conscripts.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war continued by other means · 2014-10-23T09:12:47.476Z · LW · GW

Some assorted thoughts:

  • Virtual PVP games with permadeath (or even progress permaloss) are relatively rare.

  • There's currently no virtual PVP game that allows destruction of the game world, e.g. restarting and wiping a server triggered by an in-game event.

  • Some real-world PVP games (e.g. racing or MMA fighting) have their risks, but injury or death are relatively rare because these games are regulated. The percentage of the population willing to compete in such games is tiny. There must be unregulated PVP games with permadeath, but I'm struggling to imagine them taking place anywhere outside a Colombian prison - and I don't think the participation there is fully voluntary.

  • A CEV implementer can set limits to human conflict. For example, status games, Red vs Blue, bickering and insults are OK, but hurting / killing each other or degrading / destroying the environment are not allowed or impossible. Or, players could simply set the limits of acceptable loss in real-world PVP - or even limit themselves to PVE-only. No doubt there would be 'hardcore PVP characters' of various extent, but I think they would be in a minority.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, September 15-21, 2014 · 2014-09-20T05:59:32.919Z · LW · GW

Here's my system for that:

I always carry an LTE-connected smartphone capable of gesture typing, so I'm able to quickly write down anything whenever and wherever it occurs to me, be it in a park, in a forest, at work, on a toilet etc. (My personal preference is a high-end big-screen phone with a stock Android (currently Nexus 5), but as of September 17 2014, you can use iOS 8 with a custom keyboard).

I use several mobile apps intended for capturing different kinds of thoughts: Wunderlist, Trello, Google Docs. I prefer these apps because they all sync to the cloud, which means that 1) I can access the content on any platform, and 2) that the phone is essentially disposable and I won't lose my notes when it gets lost or stolen.

Here's how I capture thoughts:

  1. If the thought is actionable, it goes to Wunderlist (a classic todo list app which I hate but alas, I can't seem to find a better alternative).

  2. If the thought is related to an ongoing project, it goes into an appropriate Google Doc or the Trello board of that project. If the thought is large enough, it may warrant the creation of its own Google Doc.

  3. If the thought is related to self-improvement / self-discovery, it goes to a Trello board dedicated specifically to that.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Ways to improve LessWrong · 2014-09-16T07:31:17.438Z · LW · GW

A mobile-friendly version of the website.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Ways to improve LessWrong · 2014-09-16T07:29:33.497Z · LW · GW

Downvoted because I disagree: I'd prefer a dedicated section. Filtering out open threads is too much work.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Ways to improve LessWrong · 2014-09-16T07:27:24.959Z · LW · GW

Upvoted. I'd participate.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on How do you take notes? · 2014-06-27T12:53:02.554Z · LW · GW

Summary: Evernote + gesture typing, unsorted and untagged.

Do you take any notes on paper? If so do you scan them or otherwise digilatize them?

No. Paper is cumbersome and unsearchable. I need my notes with me at all times, so I use Evernote.

Do you have specific strategies for deciding which information to write down?

Most often, I record details that would likely be lost after a mental context switch. Also, if I feel that I will need this piece of information in the future, I just write it down.

How do you write notes to capture all important information?

Evernote on Android, using gesture typing. (BTW, gesture typing will be introduced in iOS 8 in September, so this strategy will work on Apple devices too).

Do you tag your notes?

No. Basically, I have one dedicated tag, "booze", which I use to tag notes about wine (unlike whisky, there are hundreds of wine brands, so I have to remember which ones I liked). The rest of my notes are an unsorted mess. I rely on search for retrival. When I write notes, I try to include keywords that I'm likely to use when searching.

If you use Evernote, or a similar system how private are your notes? Would you allow friends to read in them? Your spouse?

Fully private. I'm a paid subscriber which lets me protect notes with a pincode.

Edit: Just wanted to add that if a note grows too large, I move it to a separate Google doc (also accessible via mobile).

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, 9-15 June 2014 · 2014-06-11T06:40:12.409Z · LW · GW

For me, having nothing to do is a luxury. When I find myself in this mode, I take long walks, let my mind drift and think about whatever it feels like (usually it chooses to think about one of my ongoing projects, big unsolvable world-scale problems, future, lack of moral progress, or sex), read long-form stuff (mostly Kindle books on my phone) and generally relax and recharge, assuming that I can find a relatively quiet environment.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on AI risk, executive summary · 2014-04-08T14:27:52.356Z · LW · GW

Edison, Bill Clinton, Plato, Oprah, Einstein, Caesar, Bach, Ford, Steve Jobs, Goebbels, Buddha and other humans superlative superlative in their respective skill-sets

Is "superlative superlative" intended?

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, January 25- February 1 · 2014-01-28T08:41:22.797Z · LW · GW

Eating a handful of nuts a day.

"Scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health came to this conclusion after analyzing data on nearly 120,000 people collected over 30 years."

"The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29 percent in deaths from heart disease - the major killer of people in America. But we also saw a significant reduction - 11% - in the risk of dying from cancer."

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on October 2013 Media Thread · 2013-10-06T04:46:58.376Z · LW · GW

Yes, camera is mounted on a smaller robot, and you can even see it in the video. The motion feels natural because it's motion-captured.

As for the real-time rendering of scenes with motion tracking, here's an interesting Star Wars demo:

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on October 2013 Media Thread · 2013-10-02T13:03:24.299Z · LW · GW

My reaction to video art is usually 'meh', but this one is absolutely fantastic. This is easily the best piece of video art I've seen in years. I re-watched it a dozen times already. Over 1,800,000 views on Youtube.


From the Youtube video description:

Box explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping on moving surfaces. The short film documents a live performance, captured entirely in camera.

Bot & Dolly produced this work to serve as both an artistic statement and technical demonstration. It is the culmination of multiple technologies, including large scale robotics, projection mapping, and software engineering. We believe this methodology has tremendous potential to radically transform theatrical presentations, and define new genres of expression.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open thread, September 2-8, 2013 · 2013-09-04T13:46:15.463Z · LW · GW

I was on Astrid too. I switched to Wunderlist mostly because their import from Astrid worked correctly. Wunderlist is OK, though I can't say I'm completely satisfied with it. Its UI is laggy (on a Nexus 4!) and unreliable, for example the auto-sync often destroys the last task I just typed in, or when I accidentally tap outside the task entry box the text I just typed is lost forever.

I'm looking at alternatives, and the one I like the most so far is Remember the Milk. Last time I tried it (probably a year ago) it was rubbish, but the latest version has a clean and fast native Android GUI and some nice extra functionality (e.g. geofencing). I'm thinking about switching, but it doesn't have import from Wunderlist, so I'll have to move about 200 tasks manually.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Akrasia Tactics Review 2: The Akrasia Strikes Back · 2013-07-19T07:47:58.468Z · LW · GW

cutting out something I often turn to to avoid actual work

Mainstream news are a dopamine loop magnified by an intermittent reinforcement schedule. You keep clicking for more and checking the sources every 10 minutes. Plus you can't break out of the loop intellectually because the news content switches you from the 'intellectual mode' into the 'tribal mode' or even the 'imminent danger' mode. In the absence of mainstream news, technical news alone were never that addictive to me.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Akrasia Tactics Review 2: The Akrasia Strikes Back · 2013-07-19T06:46:57.128Z · LW · GW

I don't read mainstream news sources, and I don't participate in social networks, but I do read technical, professional and scientific news.

Here's how I get the news: If a mainstream story is important, I'll hear about it from co-workers or family. Also, high-magnitude stories (e.g. Snowden / NSA, or yesterday's 5 year sentence for AlexeI Navalny) usually appear on non-mainstream news sources.

The point of quitting news is not stopping being aware of what happens around you. The point is to avoid their negative effects (scrambling the mind, incorrectly perceiving the environment as more dangerous than it is / overestimating the probability of dangerous events happening to me, cortisol release, etc).

Here are some good articles on the topic (you may recognize some of the authors):

Also, I don't think quitting news is an anti-akrasia tactic. It's more similar to hygiene, or not eating fast food.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on The Power of Reinforcement · 2013-07-19T06:29:36.220Z · LW · GW

In case of work-like play, I have a resolution: stop playing immediately. It doesn't mean quitting the game for good, but rather "end the session now, if a game permits that". Also, this is why I generally don't play games that punish me for leaving early (e.g. WoW raids, DOTA2).

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Akrasia Tactics Review 2: The Akrasia Strikes Back · 2013-07-18T05:20:23.391Z · LW · GW

Things that worked for me for at least two years:

  • Smartphone GTD app: +10. The track record is 3 years or so. Absolutely indispensable. My primary app used to be Astrid, and when Yahoo killed it, I switched to Wunderlist (mostly because their Astrid import worked on the first try, and they imported all my recurring tasks correctly). I'm also playing with Remember the Milk, and really I like their user interface so far.

  • Automating life with recurring tasks in a smartphone GTD app: +9. Again, 3 years or so. I have a lot of recurring tasks in my app, with various recurrence periods, ranging from daily (e.g. pills) to once-in-several-days (usually checking up on important processes) to weekly (usually shopping and household chores) to monthly (administrative duties, banks, taxes and payroll) to yearly (dentist check-ups, important birthdays etc). The problem with this is that not all GTD apps do recurring tasks properly, or at all, and that there's no smartphone GTD app on the market that fully satisfies all my requirements regarding recurring tasks. Because of that, I'm seriously thinking about rolling my own app / service.

  • Trello: +8. I've been using it since the beginning (about two years ago), and it has become essential for my workflow. I use two kinds of board organization, a project-based one (e.g. "Ideas", "Next up", "In development", "Testing", "Done"), and a freeform structure for personal and idea-capture boards. I wish their Android app was more convenient though.

Several promising things that not yet passed the 2 years test:

  • No mainstream news / social media: +10. I've been doing this since the last December, and it worked great so far, so I'm not going back.

  • GTD contexts: +6. I'm just discovering this, so the official track record is less than a month. Essentially, I separate tasks in my GTD app into groups, where a group corresponds to what GTD calls context, for example "Before going to work", "At work", "Shopping", "Before sleep". The implementation of lists / tags / contexts in my previous GTD app, Astrid, was atrocious, so I, without realizing it, was organizing my tasks into makeshift contexts using priorities, e.g. Red = before work, Yellow = at work, Blue = anytime, Gray = before sleep. When I switched to Wunderlist, I liked their approach to lists a lot more, and when I named the lists, I realized that they correspond to contexts.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-12T11:14:18.262Z · LW · GW

Hmm, this is surprising. At first I thought you're providing examples of bonding behaviors that don't raise oxytocin levels, but decided to google anyway, and voila: Oxytocin and the Biopsychology of Performance in Team Sports, Gert-Jan Pepping and Erik J. Timmermans.

The second example, killing others with allies in combat, seems to be similar to team sports. However, the third one, being held in captivity / abused, seems to be different in kind. Do you have any sources on it?

Edit: I wonder if playing a team-based competitive game like Team Fortress 2 has any effect on oxytocin levels, in addition to dopamine effects that are typical for video games?

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-07T14:43:32.437Z · LW · GW

I meant the hack I outlined in the original post: increasing oxytocin via bonding behaviors to dampen amygdala's fear response.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-06T06:20:47.402Z · LW · GW

high-prolactin afterglow

You probably meant high-oxytocin afterglow.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-06T06:20:02.544Z · LW · GW

If an ugh field is indeed a form of an amygdala hijack, one will have a hard time consciously making oneself comfortable with the task, because the amygdala responds faster than the rational brain. A neurochemical hack might work better.

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-05T06:15:48.541Z · LW · GW

Here's the closest one I could find: Specificity of the neuroendocrine response to orgasm during sexual arousal in men. Also, Wikipedia article on oxytocin says that "The relationship between oxytocin and human sexual response is unclear" and cites multiple studies on oxytocin and orgasm, but none of them seem to show any major effect.

So my impression is that oxytocin secretion per se is not heavily affected by orgasm (there is a short-term rise, but that's about it.) However, orgasm significantly affects two other hormones, dopamine and prolactin (also shown in the study I linked above). After an orgasm, dopamine drops and prolactin rises and keeps surging, supposedly for about two weeks (which seems established, but I don't have a source handy.)

Here's a study that shows that prolactin rises after an orgasm in men and women but sex without orgasm doesn't affect prolactin levels: Orgasm-induced prolactin secretion: feedback control of sexual drive?:

This series of studies clearly demonstrated that plasma prolactin (PRL) concentrations are substantially increased for over 1h following orgasm (masturbation and coitus conditions) in both men and women, but unchanged following sexual arousal without orgasm.

My current crude thinking is as follows:

  1. Orgasm leads to low dopamine and high prolactin (oxytocin release is negligible).
  2. Low dopamine means low motivation (is the Coolidge effect a hard-coded exception?).
  3. High prolactin means satiation.
  4. When confronting an ugh field, one needs oxytocin and dopamine, but not prolactin.
  5. Therefore it's better to avoid the post-orgasmic dopamine and prolactin changes.
Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-04T06:36:51.361Z · LW · GW

I've found a way to copy/paste from Kindle! Their software reader, at least the Windows version, allows copying:

You may wonder how researchers did most of the oxytocin experiments related to bonding. They piped it (or drugs that neutralized it) directly into rodents’ brains— onto spots no larger than peppercorns. However, even if you could pipe it into an unloving mate’s brain, you’d have to squirt it in every time you were together. Bonds are only created when oxytocin is consistently released in response to a particular person.

Next time you read about the wonders of oxytocin, keep in mind that the only feasible way to deliver it to anyone’s brain today is by way of a nasal spray— and that is not such a good idea. Such sprays have been used for a long time to induce milk letdown, but the oxytocin ends up all over the brain and circulating in the blood.

In contrast , your body delivers neurochemicals in just the right amount, precisely to the places they are needed, for as long as they are needed, and then quickly disposes of them. A shotgun approach can cause unintended consequences and alter the brain itself. A rise in oxytocin in a minuscule part of a mother rat’s brain causes her to guard her young fiercely. The same rise one-tenth of an inch away makes her passive. 277 Manipulating humans with oxytocin is also dodgy. When scientists tried to relieve symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder long-term, using oxytocin nasal spray, it caused severe memory disturbances, psychotic symptoms, and marked changes in blood sodium levels. 278 In another experiment it brought on high blood sugar (diabetes). 279

At present researchers only use oxytocin nasal sprays for short-term experiments— to learn the kinds of behaviors it influences. In this way it became evident that oxytocin increases trust— by calming the amygdala. 280 Spraying your brain is a fine tactic if you want to trust everyone, including Wall Street bankers, used car salesmen, and politicians. For example, in one experiment, those who took the placebo did not reinvest

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-03T04:29:16.728Z · LW · GW

Alas, oxytocin supplements (there is a nasal spray, if I remember correctly) don't seem to work. When released naturally, it's released where it matters and in precise amounts, while the shotgun approach of the nasal spray makes it easy to miss the correct dosage and delivery location, which may cause various adverse effects.

Warning: my source on the above is a popular book, Cupid's Poisoned Arrow -- but, to their credit, they do cite their scientific sources. If Kindle had a way of copying / quoting text from its books, I'd look up the relevant paragraph for you.

Edit: The sources (had to type them manually):

  • M. Ansseau, et al., "Intranasal Oxytocin in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder", 1987: 231-236.

  • G. Paolisso, et al., "Pharmacological Doses of Oxytocin Affect Plasma Hormone Levels Modulating Glucose Homeostasis in Normal Man", 1988: 10-16.

Edit 2: Here's the relevant part on the nasal spray (had to post it via a screenshot because Kindle does not allow copy/pasting text):

Comment by Vladimir_Golovin on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-02T07:36:48.632Z · LW · GW

A lifehack idea: using oxytocin to counteract ugh fields:

  1. Ugh fields might be a form of an amygdala hijack.

  2. Oxytocin is known to dampen amygdala's 'fight, flight or freeze' responses.

  3. Oxytocin production is increased during bonding behaviors (e.g. parent-child, pets, snuggling / Karezza).

If 1, 2 and 3 are true, we could reduce the effect of an ugh field by petting a dog, hugging a baby or snuggling (but not orgasming) with a lover -- before confronting the task that induces the ugh field.

Disclaimer: I am not a brain scientist, so the terminology, logic and the entire idea may be wrong.