"We take almost all of the decisive steps in our lives as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious."
        -- Austerlitz

"In both poker and life, you can't read people any better than they can read themselves. You can, if you’re good, very accurately determine if they think their hand is good, or if they think they know the answer to your legal question. But you can't be sure if reality differs from their perception."
        -- Matt Maroon

"We should not complain about impermanence, because without impermanence, nothing is possible."
        -- Thich Nhat Hanh

"I've never been happy. I have a few memories, early in life, and it sounds dramatic to say, but when I reflect on my life, the best I've ever had were brief periods when things were simply less painful."
        -- [Anonymous]

Q: What are the "intuitive and metaphyscal arts"?
A: The gods alone know. Probably the old tired con-acts of fortune-telling and putting the hex on your neighbor's goat, glossed up with gibberish borrowed from pop science tracts in the last two centuries.
        -- The Aleph Anti-FAQ

"If you build a snazzy alife sim ... you'd be a kind of bridging `first cause', and might even have the power to intervene in their lives - even obliterate their entire experienced cosmos - but that wouldn't make you a god in any interesting sense.  Gods are ontologically distinct from creatures, or they're not worth the paper they're written on."
        -- Damien Broderick

"NORMAL is a setting on a washing-machine."
        -- Nikolai Kingsley

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The archive version still exists here:


Thanks for all of your hard work. I'll be spending many years sifting through it later I am sure.

Wow, it came as a huge shock to see myself quoted here. Wasn't even aware that any authors of this esteemed site read my work. However, I don't think it's fair to quote me alongside those much more intelligent thinkers.

I generally don't feel qualified enough to comment on any posts on this blog, but while I'm commenting now I want to say that this blog and its comments continue to be my favorite reading. Thanks for the consistently stimulating thought.

Do you think the Matt Maroon quote is correct? I'm not even quite sure what he's trying to say, because he equivocates between denying that you can accurately read the world through the lens of other people's behavior or affect (you can't know if their poker hand is actually good), and denying that you can accurately read other people's minds through the lens of their behavior or affect (you can't know if they actually know the answer to your legal question). Or maybe both?

Anyway, I'm not even sure how accurately you can tell if they think their hand is good. But putting that aside, surely there are some things you can learn about people -- and even, by implication, about the external world -- from their behavior, even when they themselves do not know (do not "perceive") these things?

you should keep track of click-throughs on this sort of post and use the data to select epigraphs for your book

Incidentally, that quote by "Austerlitz" is a quote from no such man. It's from the book "Austerlitz," by W. G. Sebald. The name of the character speaking the line, as paraphrased by the narrator, is Austerlitz.

But it's a bloody good book, and I'm happy to see you quoted it.

Actually checked my washing machine on this one. There it is, in big letters, "Normal". Good to post here, and I'll see all at the Singularity Summit. My wife tells me not to come back as a robot.

you can't draw firm conclusions from shaky knowledge. the best you can ever do is draw shaky conclusions from firm knowledge.



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