[LINK] Gödel, Escher, Bach read through starting on Reddit

by Karmakaiser1 min read28th Dec 201114 comments


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[Context: [1] waingro and I want to start a Reddit read-through of GEB.

I've done an [2] in-person MIT seminar where we read through the book twice before. I think a subreddit would be a great way to make the same experience available to anyone on the Internet!

My plan for when to start would be around January 17. Yes, that's almost a month from now, but it allows time for:

  • Publicizing this subreddit
  • Allowing people to find copies of the book if they don't own it
  • Most importantly, it's after the [3] MIT Mystery Hunt which will be consuming all of my recreational brainpower until then.]

The read through is organized and run by Rob Speer who taught a seminar on GEB once as a senior and once as a grad student at MIT [1](http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/special-programs/sp-258-goedel-escher-bach-spring-2007/). GEB is occasionally referenced on LessWrong and is considered and influential book by Eliezer Yudkowsky, the subject of a short review by LukeProg who recently claimed that it "[...] defied summary more than all the other books I had previously said "defied summary." If you are interested in reading GEB but have not taken the time to do so, I do not need to cite the research on how mechanisms such as commitment contracts are helpful to reaching goals. Joining this group would make the goal read Gödel, Escher, Bach more reachable than it otherwise would have been. 


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FWIW having read Goedel, Escher, Bach is the biggest common factor I've found among top-tier rationalists, much moreso than having read the heuristics and biases literature for example. E.g. Eliezer only read the heuristics and biases lit a long time after he'd already become Eliezer.

[-][anonymous]9y 4

Adding to this, one of the things LWers are abnormally good at is going meta and switching between levels of abstraction without making type errors. Being able to distinguish levels of abstraction is clearly an important rationality skill, but we don't talk about it much, perhaps because we are already above-average at doing it. GEB discusses this skill at length, so the book may be both a symptom and a cause of our ability to go meta.

Hofstadterian thinking also makes you a much more competent AGI programmer if you're into that kinda thing. In fact Hofstadter's team's Copycat is an example. ETA: Apparently pre-optimization-enlightenment Eliezer agrees.

I KNEW I was cool for having read GEB.

I am considering this and am wondering if it would be worth it to do a separate Less Wrong read through or if I should just go along with the Redditors. Any thoughts?

Go along with redditors, infect them with rationality and x-risk memes. That's worth creating a reddit account if you don't have one already.

infect them

PSA: If someone wrote up a LW article summarizing interesting results from the psychology of contamination I'd totally upvote it at least once. On a related note LW should totally all get baptized before they make a desperate effort to become better rationalists! Or at least take a very serious bath. (ETA: E.g. Nick Tarleton showed me a study about how hand-washing changes people's risk aversion/seeking. As someone who takes a totally insane number of baths this wouldn't surprise me.)

The record of Less Wrong reading groups is pretty poor.

l'd like a separate Less Wrong readthrough because I don't have a Reddit account and don't want to acquire one for the sole purpose of the readthrough (because then I'll comment on Reddit, and I have quite enough time-wasting things to do on the Internet already :) ).

It is posted to /r/cogsci and /r/math, both good communities for their fields (the average commenter seems to be at least at a junior's level by my own subjective judgment) . Due to the the drop off effect experienced in people trying to lose weight, watch open source lectures (look at the total views from beginning to end in this Harvard course for instance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBdfcR-8hEY), or generally do things that aren't easy I expect to see high quality redditors commenting rather than the memes common on the front page.

I'll be joining if that helps your decision, my username there is the same as it is here.

Hopefully they'll get much further than my discarded review of the book.

I'll be joining this.

I signed up.

I am mostly interested in this part: links to recordings and analysis of the relevant Bach pieces.

(My music skills are poor and that part of the book was a little over my head.)