Hi, all, former CFAR employee here,
I'll be giving a one-day, crash-course introduction to some of the core concepts from CFAR's applied rationality workshops in Berlin on the Monday of the LessWrong Community Weekend. Since we only have one day (CFAR's workshops are usually 4.5d), the goal is to deliver the generators of the content moreso than the content itself—the idea being that memorizing specific techniques does little if you don't have the time and space to practice, but understanding the underlying claims about psychology will let you reconstruct your own versions of CFAR tools like trigger-action planning, goal factoring, Murphyjitsu, and more.
Location: Berlin (exact venue TBD)
Time: 10AM - 7PM (with breaks)
Rough outline of content:
- Orientation/intro to the concept of applied rationality (what it is, what it isn’t)
- Building a bugs’ list (secretly a practical exercise in a particular set of tools for thorough introspection)
- “Pair debugging” (working with a partner to develop traction on problems and goals)
- A (very) brief introduction to Gendlin-esque “Focusing” as viewed through a skeptical lens
- Perspective 1: “Inner simulator” (understanding the cluster of processes/mental “organ” that CFAR calls your inner simulator, and how to more effectively use it in practice)
- Perspective 2: “Factoring” (understanding the concepts of reductionism and currencies and learning how and why to seek opportunities for arbitrage)
- Perspective 3: “Autopilot” (modeling the mind as a series of if-then patterns, and behavior as the interaction between those patterns and the environment)
- Resolve cycles: five-minute rationality
- Concepts-in-brief: a quick tour of 10-12 other important applied rationality concepts
- Pair debugging, round II
Do I need to know a bunch of rationality terms and tools beforehand?
Nope! The whole point here is to be friendly to beginners/newcomers.
Will it be bad if I do already know a bunch of rationality terms and tools?
Nope! Even veteran practitioners should benefit from a day set aside to refresh their bugs lists and revisit the concepts from a birds'-eye perspective. Just note that we'll be covering a lot of ground, so it's not the place to come hash out large disagreements about rationality.
What do participants need to bring?
Energy/enthusiasm/willingness to dive in, and something to take notes with (notebook, computer, phone).
Do we need to do any prework?
Nope! It will help if you spend a little time between now and then sort of passively collecting things-that-bug-you and things-you-want, getting a sense of where you’d like to make changes in your life, but you don’t need anything like a written list (since we’ll be generating one as part of the course).