Open thread, 11-17 March 2014

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.

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With humans like this, we don't need the Unfriendly AI:

Could we condemn criminals to suffer for hundreds of years? Biotechnology could let us extend convicts' lives 'indefinitely'

Last year, a team of scientists led by Rebecca Roache began exploring technologies that could keep prisoners in an artificial hell. Turning to human engineering as a possible solutions, Dr Roache looks at the idea of life span enhancements so that a life sentence in prison could last hundreds of years. Another scenario being explored by the group is uploading the criminal's mind to a digital realm to speed up the 1,000 year sentence.

She teaches ethics, bioethics, and rationality. Perhaps she could write for us a new Sequence on Hell Theory.

Did you know that Rebecca Roache used to work at the FHI and even co-authored a paper with Nick Bostrom? Makes you wonder what the rest of humanity is like, doesn't it?

ETA: Although I don't think "artificial hell" is a fair description of her actual proposal, which just involves extended sentences without making them literally hell-like.

Makes you wonder what the rest of humanity is like, doesn't it?

What do you think are the reasons that humanity has largely started to treat their prisoners and foes in ways that do not involve horrors such as torture? Would it happen again if civilization collapsed, or is there a chance that even an educated civilization like ours could stick to a treatment of people as known from the dark ages?

What do you think are the reasons that humanity has largely started to treat their prisoners and foes in ways that do not involve horrors such as torture?

Assumption not in evidence. The West started to treat prisoners and foes in a kinda-sorta decent manner as long as it doesn't matter. When people thought it's important, torture (e.g. waterboarding) and assassination (e.g. by drone) appeared in a blink of an eye.

Assumption not in evidence. In some of the most egregious cases of torture under the recent administration — Abu Ghraib under Charles Graner and Lynndie England — there was no evidence that "people thought it's important". Therefore, that was not a requirement for the withdrawal of the restriction against torture.

Therefore, the actual practice of torture (as opposed to the legal theory presented by, e.g. John Yoo) under the recent U.S. administration, appears to be better explained in terms of dehumanization of the victims as discussed by Rortynot the "ticking time bomb" scenario of the legal theory.

In gist, the culture or doctrine of the torturers declared that the victims were outside the moral consideration accorded to human beings; or even that their well-being was morally negative — that there was an obligation to cause them suffering. The torturers tortured not because they had weighed the consequences and judged that there was a positive expected outcome, but because they did not assign moral significance (or, indeed, assigned negative significance) to some of the humans involved in the outcome.

They weren't running the Trolley Problem. They were running a variant where you get to push a horrible mockery of humankind in front of the trolley — and who cares if it saves real humans?

(Why some cases of torture were later prosecuted and others have not yet been is a different question.)

appears to be better explained in terms of dehumanization of the victims

Sure, but now ask yourself "why?" Why did dehumanization of the victims suddenly become acceptable?

I'm not talking about a reasoned weighing of pros and cons about the necessity of torture -- that did not happen. What happened was that it was decided (and I am deliberately using the passive voice here) that it's OK to declare some people non-humans and accept that laws, not to mention things like decency, do no apply any more.

Why did dehumanization of the victims suddenly become acceptable?

Why did dehumanization of Bosniaks "suddenly" become acceptable to Bosnian Serbs after the breakup of Yugoslavia? Dehumanization seems to run on tribal, emotional levels — on sentiment, as Rorty puts it — and not on consequentialism.

Compare that with any group besides "The West". They would do much worse things and not even bother angsting about it.

Counterexample: most Buddhists.

Your enemies (and, you know, the rest of humanity) are not innately evil: there are very few people who will willingly torture people. There are quite a lot of people who will torture horrible mockeries of humanity / the Enemy, and an awful lot of people who will torture people because someone in authority told them to, but very few people who feel comfortable with torturing things they consider people. The Chinese governement does some pretty vile things; I nevertheless doubt that every Party bureaucrat would be happy to be involved in them.

Counterexample: most Buddhists.

Look at what warfare was like in China or Japan before major Western influences (not that is was much better after Western influences).

Look at what warfare was like in China or Japan before major Western influences (not that is was much better after Western influences).

Vastly inferior to, say, warfare as practiced by 14th-century England, I'm sure. I also point you towards the Rape of Nanking.

Compare that with any group besides "The West". They would do much worse things and not even bother angsting about it.

You are comparing modern westerners with historical Buddhists. Try considering contemporary Buddhists (the group it is blindingly obvious I was referring to, given that the discussion was about the present and whether contempary non-western groups all lack moral qualms about torture).

I observe that you are being defensive.

Vastly inferior to, say, warfare as practiced by 14th-century England, I'm sure.

I meant the modern west. However,

I also point you towards the Rape of Nanking.

Which was committed by people who were (at least theoretically) Buddhists.

given that the discussion was about the present and whether contempary non-western groups all lack moral qualms about torture

We were? In the comment of mine that started this discussion I wasn't just referring to contemporary groups.

However, let's restrict to contemporary states. I take it you count the historically Buddhist countries that are currently under communist regimes as "not really Buddhist" since communism is officially atheist. That leaves, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka.

Japan was rather nasty until being beaten by the West, and there are signs it'll become nasty again given the chance to the extent it doesn't that's clearly due to western influences. South Korea and Taiwan are too weak to do much externally, but are admittedly nice places to live, also highly westernized. Dido for Singapore, although it has very strict laws (I approve of them but suspect you might not). Cambodia is somewhat of a mess even if you discount the Khmer Rouge as not Buddhist. Thailand is ok although not powerful enough to do much externally, also rather westernized. Burma is in the running for most oppressive government on the planet. Sri Lanka is dealing with its Tamil minority in a somewhat nasty manner.

There are quite a lot of people who will torture horrible mockeries of humanity / the Enemy, and an awful lot of people who will torture people because someone in authority told them to, but very few people who feel comfortable with torturing things they consider people.

Quite a few adults in the West still advocate corporal punishment to educate their own children.

If we define all deliberate infliction of pain as torture then we lose the use of a useful concept. You are not cutting reality at the joint.

If we define all deliberate infliction of pain as torture then we lose the use of a useful concept.

I'm not. I'm defining using physical pain as a means of punishment as torture.

That's even fairly conservative. Plenty of people also consider activities such as female circumcision for religious purposes torture.

I'm defining using physical pain as a means of punishment as torture.

That's at the very least non-central fallacy.

Plenty of people also consider activities such as female circumcision for religious purposes torture.

Ok, that's just expanding the definition of torture to "anything I disapprove of".

What do you think are the reasons that humanity has largely started to treat their prisoners and foes in ways that do not involve horrors such as torture?

Our current relationship to a concept like torture comes out of dualism. It's not cruel to put someone decades into prison for a nonviolent drug offense but it is cruel to inflict physical pain because that violates the sanctity of the body.

It's also bad to practice euthanasia for terminally ill patients that are in a lot of pain and suffer a lot.

Depending on what memes are around when civilization get's rebuild it not clear that we will get the same position and the same social consensus will arise. It also possible that over time the use of capital punishment of a country like Singapore will spread even without straight collapse.

I've heard tortue has inconsistent results. It will work fine for some people, but won't have much of an effect on others.

It might be more simple. If torture doesn't work, you're back to where you were before. If prison doesn't work, at least they're off the streets for a while.

I don't see why imprisonment is considered less horrifying than torture. It doesn't suck nearly as bad per unit of time, but it lasts longer. It's just a less dense version of torture.

What do you think are the reasons that humanity has largely started to treat their prisoners and foes in ways that do not involve horrors such as torture?

The history of this is relatively tangled. In medieval European warfare, knights were routinely taken prisoner, and were treated well. Often they could go home under parole -- basically a promise not to take up arms again until formally exchanged. (Barbara Tuchman has a long discussion of this in A Distant Mirror). Upper-class combatants were basically a transnational military caste who extended professional courtesy to each other.This only applies to nobility of course. Peasant combatants could be slaughtered out of hand.

Likewise today, different prisoners are treated differently. We have some pretty dreadful prisons in the United States.

In summary, there's an incredible diversity of how prisoners are treated and there always has been. There may have been a general rise in standards, but it hasn't been systematic and I don't think it's been monotonic.

I initially doubted that the cited individual was actually advocating this atrocity, but from this post on her blog, it sounds like she's at least seriously considering doing so:

As I say at the end of the blog, it is debatable what constitutes humane treatment in relation to such technologies: perhaps it will turn out that, on reflection, some of the techniques I have suggested are inhumane, in which case I do not advocate their implementation. (But I do advocate the debate about them.)

Shades of Banks' Surface Detail ...

This seems to be just another case of journalists exaggerating and misrepresenting a scientists point in order to create attention-grabbing headlines, at least according to Anders Sandbergs blog post about the issue.

Here's a marvellous memetic hazard that you should avoid clicking on. The 2048 game. Just in case you thought you were getting any work done today. HN discussion. (And HN on its memetically hazardous nature. Creator: "I've been playing this all day today. I basically created my own demise.")

(Someone has, of course, written an AI to try to beat it. HN discussion, though try to figure it out yourself first.)

I beat it the other day after seeing it on HN. It was really fun and it was incredibly easy to get into flow. Fortunately, it was time I could afford to burn, but I did spend a solid 2 hours on it.

Definitely fascinating. It's a shame it doesn't keep track of number of moves-- the fewest number of moves needed to clog up the board might also be interesting.

The total of all the numbers on the board goes up by 2 on every move and starts at 4. Therefore the number of moves you've made is (current total - 4)/2. To reach 2048 requires at least 1022 moves. As a rough rule of thumb, look at the biggest number on the board: that's a ballpark estimate of how many moves you've played.

I realised this shortly after getting into the flow of my first game, and it entirely extinguished my desire to play a second. My memetic immune system is strong.

Actually, I think 90% of the time it adds a 2, 10% it adds a 4.

Set a time/alarm. I set mine to 5min. That time was enough to get a feel for how to win (I played up to 512).

Initial strategy:

  1. Xrrc n ynetre ahzore zber va gur pbearef guna fznyyre ahzoref.
  2. Xrrc n ynetre ahzore zber ba gur fvqr guna fznyyre ahzoref.
  3. Oevat gur fnzr ahzoref arkg gb rnpu bgure. Xrrcvat zrnaf qba'g zbir njnl sbe n fnsr cynpr hagvy arrqrq.

I tried the whole Up-Goer Five thing. Here is my attempt at explaining the idea behind spaced repetition. Do you think it comes through clearly?

Is http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/new/ doing something strange for anyone else? As of today, every time I go there, the page changes automatically to http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/top/ after a few seconds.

This was an A/B test gone awry. It has since been turned off.

This is now a problem on my end, not the site end, I assume, but it still hasn't gone away for me on Firefox. Clearing the cache has stopped it on Chromium but didn't work on Firefox. :(

Can you additionally try clearing cookies and see if that helps?

Since that last comment it stopped by itself... I guess something was still cached somewhere. Thanks for the suggestions!

Yes! I was just going to post the same thing!

I saw that as well, but it seems to have stopped now.

Still doing it for me too - on both Firefox and Chromium. OK on Chrome on my phone though. shrug

I have a medical issue I'm hoping I can self-medicate with and not have to go to a doctor and get prescribed pills to treat.

When I was in the military, I had my gall bladder removed. It turned out that I actually didn't need my gall bladder removed because the pain that caused me to go to the doctor in the first place persisted after its removal. Since it was during the military there's nothing I can do about this misdiagnosis and now not having a gall bladder has led to another inconvenience: If I'm hungry for too long I get really bad stomach cramps and/or "the runs". I've tried to prevent this by self-medicating with ginger ale or Tums but those don't seem to work; the only thing that does seem to work consistently is drinking liquor before I eat if I've been hungry for an extended period of time.

I don't want to have to drink in order to not get these stomach aches, and I have no clue why drinking liquor would work. Is there something else I could use that would have the same calming effect on my stomach?

Since it was during the military there's nothing I can do about this misdiagnosis

Even if the VA didn't want to give you partial disability, have you talked with veterans' advocates? They might be able to help you get compensation.

If ginger-ale doesn't work, maybe try a teaspoon of dried ginger root powder dissolved in hot water. Tastes pretty good, but its more effective for nausea than cramps.

For the runs, try immodium over tums. Tums will only help with acid reflux, and they don't even do that very well. Immodium will harden your stool.

I'd bet that the liquor helps for its muscle relaxant properties. It doesn't meet the no doctor requirement, but a good friend of mine with the same problem of horrible stomach cramps if he doesn't eat for too long was solved really well with a drug called "Donnatal". It's very low-dose phenobarbital with belladonna alkaloids. It's like a miracle cure for him. He takes it when he feels like it might be starting and it goes away. No side effects for him except slight dry mouth. Also makes it stop after it's started. Might want to try it out.

When does he take the Donnatal? Is it with meals or any time he is getting hungry?

He's had it for so long, he's typically able to tell when its starting, but before it gets very bad. He'll just take it at that point and it stops it from happening. I suppose it would be possible to take it if you were just hungry, but it seems to me like a better option in that case would be just to carry a snack bar or a protein bar around and just use the Donnatal if you feel like your cramps are coming on.

A doctor will of course be able to give you real medical advice. This is just anecdotal, but the no eating causing stomach/intestinal cramps sounds very similar.

Any thoughts about arranging things so that you can eat often enough?

The problem consistently happens at breakfast, since sleeping 8 hours is 8 hours of me not eating. The only way this would work is if I wake up in the middle of the night and eat a full meal.

It might be worth doing some research at Chris Kresser's blog-- he's got respect for science and for individual variation, and a huge commenter base-- that last increases the odds of someone with the same or a similar problem.

My wife has this exact symptom set with her removed gallbladder. She has not found any reliable treatments/habits. Not helpful but FYI.

Question: what are the good ways to help a person in a stressful situation (work/relationships/life in general) ? What help would rationalist prefer, and how does that differ from someone who may be less rational in times of emotional turmoil? Thanks!

Letting someone know you like them and that they're cared for is a surprisingly powerful gesture. It's also something people are inclined to lose sight of when they're going through a tough time.

It probably needs tweaking to the specific social circumstances, but simply saying something to the effect of "you are awesome and people care about you; don't forget that" goes a lot further than you might expect.

There might be a "five love languages" thing going on. Words of appreciation don't do anything for me and can even make me more sad, but any kind of surprise gifts make me happy for a long time, even if they're really crappy. Maybe it's a good idea to ask the person "what kind of caring do you appreciate the most?" (words, gifts, time together, helpful actions, physical contact, what else?) and then try to give them that.

Have you tried asking them if there's any way you can help, and/or expressing generic sympathy?

"Hey, you seem to be going through a lot lately, are you holding up okay? Anything I can do?"

Active listening is by far the best skill you can learn to help someone through a stressful or highly emotional period.. A "rationalist" might be more receptive to solutions than others, but will probably still appreciate the emotional catharsis of a good listener.

One important thing to remember when being a listener: it's very easy to make the mistake that you're supposed to solve the other person's problems. It might be that the other person isn't actually looking for advice, but rather just sympathy and a reassurance that there's someone who will listen to them. Try to figure out which one they are after, and remember that they may shift from one mode to another and not be fully aware of which one they want, themselves. (I wouldn't recommend explicitly asking them unless they are very, very Tell, for the above reasons as well as for some other reasons of which I have an intuitive hunch but am having difficulty formulating explicitly.)

Some caution is warranted even if they are looking for advice - typical mind fallacy means that it's easy to come up with a theory of what's wrong with them and how they should fix it that's vastly overconfident. If you suggest something that you think might help them and they disagree, then even if you were right, getting into an argument over it isn't the way you want to proceed.

Instead of trying to come up with a perfect solution, it can be better to just make lots of sympathetic comments and ask clarifying questions that are aimed both at giving you a better understanding of the problem, as well as helping them to think more clearly about it and resolve things where they've gotten stuck. Do offer suggestions, but offer most of them in the spirit of "here's an idea for you to evaluate and think about, that might or might not be useful".

I often figure that even if I can't say anything that would help directly, just helping them dissect the problem better and offering them new ways to think about their issue can be just as useful. Recently I had a phone call with my friend where we talked about my problems in general, and afterwards I knew exactly what it was that was the main cause of many of my problems, even though we never said anything about that cause during the conversation. But just talking about the problems on a general level was enough to get me thinking about them in the right way.

One important thing to remember when being a listener: it's very easy to make the mistake that you're supposed to solve the other person's problems. It might be that the other person isn't actually looking for advice, but rather just sympathy and a reassurance that there's someone who will listen to them.

I would add that even if the other person is looking for advice, leading them to a place where they themselves come up with an idea about how to change can often be more effective than giving them a solution from the outside.

If you are talking to a depressed person who would probably benefit from going to the gym, telling him to the gym might not be effective because he can't see himself following through.

Asking him about his relationship to sport and to his own body might bring him further.

Yes, the main idea of active listening is to echo back the content, emotions, intent, or identity of the person that they're revealing through the conversation. It's definitely not to try and solve their problems for them... although often times it can help them solve their own problems by giving their thoughts and emotions clarity.

A key distinction I would make here in terms of language is that you're not trying to be sympathetic when you are active listening. Sympathy is showing that yes, you do indeed feel sorry for them/their circumstances.

Rather, I'd say that truly great active listening is about empathy. That is, showing that you can understand and feel their emotions as they do.

A rationalist would realize that emotions don't necessarily have any deeper meaning, and are often best fixed through mundane non-emotional interventions. For instance, if you're constantly in stressful situations, you might want to try an adaptogen such as rhodiola rosea. You can fix mild depression by taking cold showers. Cut back on the caffeine, get better sleep, get more exercise. And so on.

Personally, I suspect, based on armchair evopsych speculation, that softer interventions (e.g. showing people that you care and are sympathetic) are counterproductive, if your goal is for the other person to stop being in "emotional turmoil".

Personally, I suspect, based on armchair evopsych speculation, that softer interventions (e.g. showing people that you care and are sympathetic) are counterproductive, if your goal is for the other person to stop being in "emotional turmoil".

On of the things that separates good therapists from one's that don't achieve results is their level of empathy.

Is there an explanation of why games like 2048 are so addictive? I want to say superstimulus but its not obviously substituting for something in the ancestral environment, its not quite a classical skinner box setup either

I was wondering about that myself after I lost a couple of hours to the damn thing. I think it's mostly that it hits exactly the right balance of complication/reward to get people into a flow state and keep them there, although its exceptional interface qualities probably help: simple, intuitive moves, immediate feedback, no menus or other abstraction layers to get between you and the game.

Genome sequencing for the masses is not quite here yet :-(

A Stanford study reported that at the moment a full sequencing costs about $17,000, requires more than 100 man-hours of analysis per genome and still is "associated with incomplete coverage of inherited disease genes, low reproducibility of detection of genetic variation with the highest potential clinical effects, and uncertainty about clinically reportable findings."

Yeah, sequencing is tough, especially for creatures such as we with 3 billion mostly-repetitive nucleotides. The high-throughput methods basically throw the genome into a blender and read out billions of individual ~50-100 base pair reads in one reaction with a high enough error rate such that you need about 10x coverage of the genome before you are sure you catch most sites with enough reads to make sure you aren't making a couple million mistakes. The short read length means that repetitive sequences are particularly hard to sequence because if the read is shorter than the size of the repeat you don't know where to map your read to. Hence why in our lab (and most labs that are doing something other than cataloguing natural variation and only deal with a few kilobases at a time) we still use the old-school Sanger sequencing, because it produces 800 base pair reads one at a time for on the order of $2 each. The highest-throughput method, Illumina, also produces many terabytes of image data per run from tiny CCDs inside the sequencer that needs to go through some epic processing into the actual sequence data.

More importantly, finding a rare or unique variant via sequencing that is something other than 'this vital gene is broken and won't make a protein at all' doesn't necessarily tell you all that much. Every one of us has about 100 new mutations that were not in our parents and a mutation is likely to have many small impacts rather than one large impact. While we know that, say, height is something like 80% heritable, the best genetic screens so far have found several hundred loci that collectively account for something like 15% of the variation. There is a LOT going on, most individual differences have tiny effects, and our methods thus far only really can find common variants with relatively large impacts. Hence 23andme using microarrays that specifically find known variants rather than actually sequencing.

Thanks for the details-- very helpful in keeping the goshwow under control.

Request for some career advice:

I am planning on pursuing computer science as a double major (along with art). I'm doing this mainly for practical reasons - right now I feel like I don't really care about money and would rather enjoy my life than be upper-class, but I want to have an option available in case these preferences change. I enjoyed CS classes in high school, but since coming to college, I have found CS classes, while not profoundly unpleasant, to basically be a chore. In addition to this, my university is making it needlessly difficult for me to choose CS as a second major. This has lead me to rethink - is CS really worth it? After researching it a bit, it seems like CS genuinely is worth it. From what I hear, programming jobs pay very well, are easy to find, have good working conditions, and seem to relatively easily facilitate a 4-hour-workweek lifestyle, should one choose to pursue it. No other career path seems to be able to boast this.

Am I correct in thinking this? Is a computer science degree worth it even if it means a lot of drudgery during college? Conventional wisdom seems to be no - "don't try to major in something you don't enjoy" is something I've heard a few times. But that seems kind of idealistic.

The alternatives would be econ or math, both of which I am fairly unfamiliar with and find sort of interesting but don't exactly have a passion for.

For reference, my current preferred careers are, in order:

  1. something with video games (Lifelong Dream is to be in that hideo kojima or satoshi tajiri role where I am the man with the vision in charge but I don't even really know how you work your way up to that position?)
  2. something with art or illustration where i can be creative
  3. something with graphic design where i am less creative and am doing something boring like designing logos for people or whatever
  4. some sort of programming thing

Your list of preferred careers reminds me of something, maybe relevant for you.

I used to teach in a high school for gifted children, when there were children with high intelligence but different skills. (As opposed to e.g. math-specialized high schools, where even without the IQ test you also get children with high intelligence, but their skills are very similar.) In this school a new computer game programming competition was started, with rules different than usual. In a typical programming competition, the emphasis is completely on the algorithm. It is a competition of students good at writing algorithms. But this competition, called Špongia, was different in two aspects: (1) it was a competition of teams, not individuals, and (2) the games were rated not only by their algorithm, but also by playability, easthetics, etc. Which in my opinion better corresponds to a possible success in the market.

I mention this, because there was an opportunity for people with various skills to participate in creating the computer game; and they did. Some of them even didn't know programming, but they composed the game music, painted pictures, writed texts, or invented the ideas. Sometimes the most important member of the teams was the one able to invent a cool idea, and motivate other people to do the technical parts of the game.

So my advice for you is: if you don't want to specialize in something, find someone who does, and cooperate with them. Find someone who can write algorithms, but doesn't have very good ideas or is bad at painting graphics, and who also has a dream of participating in creating a computer game. Then find someone who can paint, who can compose music, etc. Create the team, start with very simple projects (beware the planning fallacy) and if everything goes well, progress to more difficult ones.

If the coder asks you about why would they want to cooperate with you, if the most difficult part of work (in their opinion) will be done by them, show them Knytt -- a game with rather simple algorithm, and yet great artistic impression, because of the other components. This is your added value; to organize a team that changes an algorithm to an enjoyable game.

You can start today. Get together someone to code, someone to paint pictures, someone to compose music. If you don't know anyone with these skills who would be interested, make a poster with your e-mail address and put it somewhere in the school. Make the people meet in the same room and together plan your first game. Insist that your first game (where the team will test their skills and cooperation) should be completed in two weeks at most -- the planning fallacy will make it a few months anyway. This way you also won't have to deal with the topic of money, etc., because no one will expect a big profit from the first simple game. For inspiration you can look at the smartphone games, which are usually very simple; or make a list of random ideas (e.g. "cars", "flying", "puzzle", "Santa Claus", "elephant", whatever) and pick a random one or two of them and think about what you could do with it in two weeks. (Maybe it would be a good idea to use an existing engine, such as Unity, instead of writing the code from scratch.)

This is sort of what I am doing right now, I'm working with two people who are focusing on the programming side of a game while I'm essentially designing it, only it's an unrealistically big project and the other two people don't seem to grasp the idea that if you want to make something it won't magically make itself and you actually have to push yourself to work on it.

I realize that I could make a dumb two-week iPhone game if I wanted, only this doesn't really appeal to me at all, to the point where I don't think I could find the motivation to do it. I think what I will do is I will probably wait for the current big project to eventually fall apart, work on a medium sized one until it falls apart, at which point my brain will realize that I actually need to start small.

I will probably wait for the current big project to eventually fall apart

That sounds exactly like akrasia and this forum is chock-full of techniques and tools to deal with it.

Consider reading some of Cal Newport's writing on careers. Here's a possible starting point.

A lot of what he writes boils down to: "Do what you love to do" is a bit of a fallacy. Getting really good at something pretty much always involves putting in a ton of work, not all of which will be pleasant. But if you do that and get extremely good at what you do, then you'll get lots of jobs you'll enjoy, because 1) being good at what you do is fun and 2) if you provide lots of value to other people, they will provide it back.

IOW, just going after what is the most "fun" when you start doing it probably isn't the best idea. I wouldn't take the fact that your CS courses are a bit drudge-y as a slamdunk indicator that you shouldn't do CS by a long shot.

Also, you may have heard this before, but the video game industry for programmers is kind of a shitshow, because lots of people want to do it, enough so that they're willing to be paid less and endure crappy conditions. Being an indie developer might be a better bet, if you can make it work; I have no idea what the odds of success there are.

Also, you may have heard this before, but the video game industry for programmers is kind of a shitshow, because lots of people want to do it, enough so that they're willing to be paid less and endure crappy conditions. Being an indie developer might be a better bet, if you can make it work; I have no idea what the odds of success there are.

I did not know that, thanks.

Anyway, I would rather be involved on the artistic side, but I don't really know anything about that career path either, so.... ¯|_(ツ)_/¯

It's no better in the art department. In fact it's worse because there are fewer career paths out of the industry.

It works out for some people, but you have to be willing to accept relatively low pay and work a TON at the expense of pretty much every other part of your life - exercise, social time, proper sleep, hobbies, meals away from your desk...

I was a programmer in the game industry for 3.5 years and quit just over a year ago. It was exciting, but it wasn't worth it. I'm much happier now. Let me know if you have questions about my experience.

The iconic "working in video games is awful" story: EA Spouse