Thomas Kwa's Bounty List

by Thomas Kwa1 min read13th Jun 20209 comments


Bounties (active)Practical
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Recently I noticed three things:

  • About once a week, I have questions no one I know personally can answer; maybe Stack Exchange or LW could, but I don't have time to write them up properly. Other times they're too difficult to be answered on SE/LW without some incentive.

  • There are theoretically life improvements that I can make, but reading about lifehacks all day to find them would be net-negative.

  • Often I want something to exist, but don't have the time or desire to create it myself.

So, inspired by this, and this, I've decided to create a list of bounties on things I want. To be eligible for a bounty, reply to an answer.

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$5 for any productivity intervention (mental technique, habit, reasonably priced physical item, etc.) that I think is worth trying. An additional $50*X if it leads to an estimated X% increase in my productivity in the year after trying it.

My current bottleneck areas are sleep, focus/energy, consistency, and self-image in that order, with food and infohazards as additional issues. I have a comprehensive writeup available upon request.

I've already read the LW threads on physical objects and one-shot life improvements, as well as a few others. A list of the physical items I use is here.

Edit 7/2020: This is still in effect, but it may be hard to judge, so I'm planning on supplementing with more specific bounties in the future.

Curious, what do you consider your bottlenecks?

I just wrote up a quarterly life review and will edit in relevant information soon. For now, I can say that I spend much more of my time feeling busy (e.g. reading LW, writing quarterly life reviews, checking emails) but the vast majority of this time is not highly productive. I want a more regular sleep schedule (already take melatonin at 9:30pm daily), and a way to get exercise that is pleasant, I can do every day, and takes less than an hour (baseline is walking on hilly streets). I occasionally miss important administrative things, but my system is improving fast enough that I might not benefit from suggestions.

You may want to try posting bounties to the Bountied Rationality Facebook group for higher visibility among people who like to fulfil bounties.

$20 for writing a Spacechem puzzle that remains unsolved for 14 days when posted publicly and publicized on the Spacechem forums. Add another $20 if you write a detailed post on LW or crossposted from elsewhere explaining how you designed the puzzle and how one would go about solving it. Partial award for impressive attempts.

Some possible approaches:

  • If you're extremely good at space optimization, write a single-reactor puzzle on the edge of your ability. Cram everything into the reactor and hope no one else can.
  • Encode some kind of public-key cryptography in Spacechem. Might be impossible.
  • More inspiration here.

$800 for a gömböc made of a tungsten alloy with a density greater than 16 g/cm^3 that weighs at least 1000 g. As far as I know, this would be the first such item in the world; if I become aware of others this will decrease. Knowledge of how to create one gets partial award if I decide to create one, depending on how useful it is.

$50 for a 3D model of non-gömböc mono-monostatic shape which has been verified to work. There's a design patent on the gömböc; the European patent may be overturned in court and the American one expires in 2024, but this would be nice anyway.

Edit: fixed typo in weight

At this price point this seems potentially doable. Some ideas in the order I'd try them:

  1. There is a person that has Kickstarted similar projects and you could contact him to see if they are willing to do a custom one-off. They'd probably be willing to just give you advice if you asked, too. Given that their entire Kickstarter was only $7000, at your price point this seems pretty likely.
  2. You can download a 3D model online and find a local machine shop to CNC you one. For example, just googling "tungsten machine shop san francisco" turned up which will probably mill tungsten from CAD.
  3. Same, but find a 3D printing company that can make one for you. There are a few online ( e.g.), and you'd have to request a quote, but it may be a better option if the feedstock for CNC ends up being cost prohibitive. I'm not sure if this kind of place will do individual retail orders.

This is a pretty fun format. Actually, I really like this gomboc idea and briefly considered doing a Kickstarter on it after reading your post. But then I realized that Kickstarter would only really make sense if everyone were willing to pay $800. The market is so niche, that it would have to be a passion project to be worth the hassle I think.

It isn't perfect, and it probably won't actually work as a Gömböc either, because the shape is reported to be very sensitive to dimensional tolerances. But I spent quite a bit of time and energy on this and thought somebody might use it as a starting point for improvements. Or better yet, that it would persuade the Gömböc discoverers that it is time to finally publish the details of the commercial Gömböc shape in the open literature.

Thingiverse doesn't appear to have a working 3D model, nor does there appear to be one elsewhere. See this link:

There's a design patent on the particular Gomboc shape, but that doesn't apply to mono-monostatic shapes in general, and it expires in a few years anyway. I've added a bounty on creating/finding a working 3d model of a mono-monostatic shape.

Whew, glad I didn't invest more time in this. Seems there is lurking complexity everywhere.