Here is an interesting thing. EY often warns people not try long chains of reasoning as probability drops with every step, or don't try to think too far ahead. But things like choosing a career or partner are precise those things where you cannot just think one or two steps ahead i.e. where you can predict with some reasonably high probabilty, you have to think far ahead while you know you don't really have much a chance predicting how things will work out.

This is one of the cases where I think Taleb's anti-fragility shines, it is hard to filter out the good stuff from all the overly brilliant showing-off from his books but this is the good stuff part. That the idea is not so much to plan ahead but to make the kinds of choices that are resilient or even gain from surprises that you did not foresee at all.

ESR calls it maximizing the breadth of your option tree as in, not choosing narrow paths. Choosing so that in the future you have many choices, many options available. So when the unforeseen, unpredicted happens, you have many options to deal with it. This is probably what anti-fragility is. Basically avoiding commitment to a narrow path as long as possible.

But alas, this also have huge drawbacks! Avoing commitment to narrow paths can often mean languishing in lukewarm tepidity, as highly achieving people have always chose narrow paths and worked their butts off to go ahead on them as narrow paths concentrate the effort more. And avoiding commitment is means you are a generalist and if you want to live in a city, that sucks, cities, high pop densites want specialists. Usually. And having options can very well be a bad thing, psychologically, paradox of choice, akrasia and all that. I know a guy who never rented his apartments, always bought them on mortage and the idea being that he does not have the willpower to save up voluntarily, but if he is committed to paying a mortgage then he will do it, and that builds equity better than voluntary saving, and it pushes him to get better jobs and negotiate harder. Precommitment.

So maximizing future options is both a very good and very bad idea.

l habits that give you a multiplier on what you were already doing, such as using space repetiton or pomodoros, avoiding planning fallacy or other biases

This always confuses me. Are most people entrepreneurs here or what? I don't need better time management because I don't have enough tasks to fill out my workday and if I could I wouldn't as it would not result in a raise or promotion as they are generally not visible ones. I don't need to memorize anything, I can just look things up as I need them. I speak two foreign languages (English is foreign to me) and I never memorized words, I just read books with dictionaries until it sticked. The planning fallacy happens to people who plan aggressively, but why the hell would people want to do that, really, why do Silicon Valley programmers do that, why is their environment so competitive or why is mine not? I just make a comfortable guess and multiply it by three to six, based on how many other tasks there seem to be or how my holiday planning looks like. Works all the time. You don't need complicated planning if your planning is already lazy as fsck. Why do I see most methods here are all about avoiding being cocksure while I rarely had that problem because being undecided about everything was far more comfy and lazy? I feel like somehow the methods are optimized for a very competitive, confident, driven, accomplishment-oriented approach. Probably it requires that you feel that you get rewarded for things you do. This was always missing for me, in my life experience in what you and what you get is really loosely related. Or a goal-rich, target-rich environment.

The eternal conflict between exploration and exploitation. Keeping your options is what keeps the good options within your reach, and prevents you from going too far in the blind alleys. But at the end, if you have walked through the whole shop and didn't buy anything, you leave empty-handed. At some point you gotta have a job (or other source of income) and people are going to pay you for something specific.

I think this is even more complicated when people are not explicitly aware of the skills they really have. They may feel like they don't specialize in... (read more)

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?