What are you reading?

by eigen1 min read24th Dec 201912 comments



In my short-form, I write:

[...] This is way more obvious and way more clear in Inadequate Equilibria. Take a problem, a question and deconstruct it completely. It was concise and to the point, I think it's one of the best things Eliezer has written; I cannot recommend it enough.

Just finished Inadequate Equilibria. Now, I'm reading:

  • The Big Picture from Sean Carroll (which seems a really, really good companion to The Sequences.) I'm at chapter 17/50, and I'm really enjoying it so far; it's an ambitious book though!
  • In fiction I picked up UNSONG from Scott Alexander; I am almost finished with the first book, and I love it (I liked most of his fiction, already.)

What are you reading?

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Just finished Elephant in the Brain and Friendship is Optimal. Currently working on The Charisma Myth and the 48 Laws of Power.

Inadequate Equilibria was really good.

Paul R. Cohen: Empirical Methods for Artificial Intelligence (non-fiction) – Great if you want to experiment with ML, but don't have a supervisor to tell you how to do it.

Svend Åge Madsen: Sæt verden er til (fiction) – To keep my Danish alive. It's the third Madsen book I'm reading and I like all of them.

The Wall Street Journal (news)

(Added 2019-12-30) Dan Carlin: The End Is Always Near. Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses (audiobook, non-fiction) – Dan Carlin makes Hardcore History, my favourite podcast. In this book he gives illustrates perspectives on existential risk in his usual style of telling stories of history.

The Listening Society by Hanzi Freinacht

What is your verdict?

I'm currently reading through his blog Metamoderna and feel like there are some similarities to rationalist thoughts on there (e.g. this post on what he calls "game change" and this post on what he calls proto-synthesis).

I'm halfway through, so far it's good, I'm glad I picked it up.

First half is about his general vision of transforming politics/governance from current industrial-era party politics to post-industrial, the main point being about the relationship between government and citizen. Currently there is pervasive individualism: you get a welfare check, but nobody has the job of giving a shit about your mental health, development, emotional wellbeing, needs, etc. He proposes overturning the individualist ethos and having society get involved with the wellbeing of its members.

In the second part, he introduces four lines of developmental stages: cognitive (kinda like Piaget but more stages extending into adulthood), cultural (traditional, modern, post-modern, meta-modern etc. cultural codes), and two more, but I haven't gotten that far.

He foreshadows that the fact that adults exist on different developmental stages will be important for his vision of how exactly governance should work, which is in the next book, Nordic Ideology.

Interesting! Sounds quite similar to the contents on the blog.

I'm an ethics PhD student, so unsurprisingly lots of that. Currently reading Consequentialism and its Critics (ed. Samuel Scheffler), Nagel's The Possibility of Altruism, Sidgwick's The Methods of Ethics , and Enoch's Taking Morality Seriously, with various levels of commitment. Also reading Joseph Romm's Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, and just started The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandanavian Utopia.

In fiction, I just finished Neal Shusterman's Arc of a Scythe trilogy, which I highly recommend for rationalists. Deals with a lot of issues we tend to think about, mostly immortality and friendly-AI-run utopia.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/17754535-christian-kleineidam gives you information about a lot I have read. Plenty of other rationalists also have GoodReads accounts.

Borrowed time. Sue Armstrong. The Science of Why and How we Age

On aging. Very readable. Pretty throughout.

I would have loved Einstein to have written it etc. But it's very much good enough

Goodreads reveals many books with the title "borrowed time." Who's the author?

Edited above comment with fuller details :)

Just started two books as a research endeavor into information communication:

  • Weapons of Math Destruction, Kathy O'Neil
  • Skin in the Game, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (seems to be a popularization of his technical paper by the same name)