Solved Problems Repository

At least for me, getting up when the alarm clock rings used to be almost impossible and I kept staying in bed for 12 hours a day unless there was something that I absolutely had to get up in time for. Anders Sandberg's caffeine pill trick solved that problem for me, and it has worked for over five years now:

This week I have experimented with a new way of getting up in the morning. My problem is that Anders-Sleepy has different goals than Anders-Awake, and is quite adept at resetting the alarm clock. Now I, Anders-Awake, has found a way around this self:


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What works for me in addition to my equivalent of the caffeine pill is:

  • An alarm that gradually gets louder. It's not even one of the traditional annoying tones, just kind of a gentle new-agey song. The key features seems to be the getting louder with time.

  • Putting my underwear, clothing, glasses, and the alarm at my desk, away from the bed, so that I have to get up to turn off the alarm and by then it's not that much extra trouble to also get dressed, and I tell myself that if I'm still tired after that I can sit down at my desk, which is still better than rolling back into bed.

1gwillen7yFor me, the problem of waking up when my alarm goes off has been totally solved by using an alarm (Alarm Clock Plus for Android) which requires me to do complex mental math before it will shut off. This doesn't solve the related problem of getting out of bed when the alarm goes off; only waking up and not going back to sleep.
0drethelin7yone thing that helps me with this is having set up a thing I do semi-automatically whenever I get up. Go to bathroom, check weight, go make coffee usually means I actually get up unless I'm crazy tired and don't actually get as far as coffee making

Solved Problems Repository

by Qiaochu_Yuan 1 min read27th Mar 2013272 comments


Follow-up to: Boring Advice Repository

Many practical problems in instrumental rationality appear to be wide open. Two I've been annoyed by recently are "what should I eat?" and "how should I exercise?" However, some appear to be more or less solved. For example, various mnemonic techniques like memory palaces, along with spaced repetition, seem to more or less solve the problem of memorization.

I would like people to use this thread to post other examples of solved problems in instrumental rationality. I'm pretty sure you all collectively know good examples; there's a comment I can't find from a user who said something like "taking a flattering photograph of yourself is a solved problem," and it's likely that there are other useful examples like this that aren't common knowledge. Err on the side of posting solutions which may not be universal but are still likely to be helpful to many people. 

(This thread is allowed to not be boring! Go wild!)