To put it bluntly, I think it made me smarter. Not more intelligent in the IQ sense - I remain between 125 and 130 - but quicker to notice confusion, see contradictions and avoid dead-ends. So I waste a little less time on predictably fruitless endeavors, my thinking is much more consistent (after a lot of house-cleaning), and I have clear priorities that help me decide right even when pressed for time. These changes have also made me more aware of mistakes others make, and more certain in rejecting them. I have had to learn to point out the mistakes of others more nicely and effectively, but I'm nowhere near good enough at that yet.

I learned a lot about artificial intelligence and machine learning, and am now introducing machine learning methods into my work environment.

I met a bunch of great people, especially at Secular Solstices.

I got a felt impression of how huge the smarter-than-me population actually is, and how sharply limited my abilities are. This helped me start an earnest search for the best task I can do at my level of ability. Similarly, I got an acute sense of how people at different levels of cognitive ability see the world entirely differently - independently of cultural and economic factors, just depending on the quantity and quality of interpretations and implications they're able to draw from their perception.

I got rid of a lot of false beliefs and a couple of people who continue to hold them. This freed up lots of attentional resources, which I partly reinvested into better beliefs and better people. From the latter I learned more good skills, such as standing up for my needs and empathetic communication.

The rest of the freed-up attention largely went into a huge art project that is incredibly satisfying.

I got better at modeling rational thought processes in other people, which helps in negotiations and got me a quite comfortable salary. I've come to rely on this quite a bit, and like to think it makes me an effective communicator. But at the same time, people where this sense fails (who I cannot model as rational agents) feel unsettling to me, and I more and more try to avoid them.

Perhaps most of all, I appear to make fewer stupid mistakes. The absence of something is always hard to notice, but it feels like I'm paying some kind of stupidity tax all the time, and that tax rate has gone down. Not an effect you notice after a day or two, but over the years, the benefits accumulate.

Thanks for the link. Your poetic version of Richard Dawkins was awesome.

How has lesswrong changed your life?

by mstevens 1 min read31st Mar 201557 comments


I've been wondering what effect joining lesswrong and reading the sequences has on people.

How has lesswrong changed your life?

What have you done differently?

What have you done?