Sequences

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A sequence is a series of multiple posts on Less Wrong on the same topic, to coherently and fully explore a particular thesis. See the Library page for a list of LessWrong sequences in their modern form.

  __TOC__  

Rationality: From AI to Zombies
cover image.

Rationality: From AI to Zombies is an ebook collecting six books worth of essays on the science and philosophy of human rationality. It's one of the best places to start for people who want to better understand topics that crop up on Less Wrong, such as cognitive bias, the map-territory distinction, meta-ethics, and existential risk.

Audio

Castify makes certain content of Less Wrong available as a podcast for a small fee (they're recorded by a professional voice actor). Currently they offer:

Promoted Posts:

Major Sequences:

Minor Sequences:

Essay:

The ebook can be downloaded on a "pay-what-you-want" basis from intelligence.org. There is also an audiobook version of the book available from Castify. Its six books in turn break down into twenty-six sections:

Rationality: From AI to Zombies is an ebook collecting six books worth of essays on the science and philosophy of human rationality. It's one of the best places to start for people who want to better understand topics that crop up on Less Wrong, such as cognitive bias, the map-territory distinction, meta-ethics, and existential risk. The six books are:

The ebook can be downloaded on a "pay-what-you-want" basis from intelligence.org. There is also an audiobook version of the book available from Castify. Its six books in turn break down into twenty-six sections:

Reading throughThe original sequences were written by Eliezer Yudkowsky with the goal of creating a book on rationality. MIRI has since collated and edited the sequences into Rationality: From AI to Zombies. If you are new to Less Wrong, this book is the most systematic waybest place to approachstart.

  __TOC__  

Rationality: From AI to Zombies

Rationality: From AI to Zombies is an ebook collecting six books worth of essays on the science and philosophy of human rationality. It's one of the best places to start for people who want to better understand topics that crop up on Less Wrong archives., such as cognitive bias, the map-territory distinction, meta-ethics, and existential risk. The six books are:

Core Sequences

The ebook can be downloaded on a "pay-what-you-want" basis from intelligence.org. Its six books in turn break down into twenty-six sections:

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

The most important method that Less Wrong can offer you is

Major Sequences

Long sequences that have been completed A guide to noticing motivated reasoning and organized into a guide.overcoming confirmation bias.

  • E. Overly Convenient Excuses
  • F. Politics and Rationality
  • G. Against Rationalization
  • H. Against Doublethink
  • I. Seeing with Fresh Eyes
  • J. Death Spirals
  • K. Letting Go

__________________________________________________________________

How to see throughThe Machine in the many disguisesGhost. Essays on the general topic of answers or beliefs or statements, that don't answer or say or mean anything.minds, goals, and concepts.

  • L. The first (and probably most important) core sequence on Less Wrong.

Simple Math of Evolution
  • M. Fragile Purposes
  • N. A Human's Guide to Words
  • __________________________________________________________________

    A series. Essays on the use and abuse of words; why you often can't define a word any way you like; how human brains seem to process definitions. First introduces the Mind Projection Fallacyscience and the conceptphysical world.

    • O. Lawful Truth
    • P. Reductionism 101
    • Q. Joy in the Merely Real
    • R. Physicalism 201
    • S. Quantum Physics and Many Worlds
    • T. Science and Rationality

    __________________________________________________________________

    • Book V: Mere Goodness. A discussion of howethics, and of things people value in general.
      • U. Fake Preferences
      • V. Value Theory
      • W. Quantified Humanism

    __________________________________________________________________

    • Book VI: Becoming Stronger. Essays on self-improvement, group rationality, and rationality groups.
      • X. Yudkowsky's Coming of Age
      • Y. Challenging the Difficult
      • Z. The Craft and the Community

    __________________________________________________________________

    Other sequences by Eliezer Yudkowsky

    The following collections of essays come from the original sequences, an algorithm feels from inside, which makes it a basic intro to key elementsearlier version of much of the LW zeitgeist.material from Rationality: From AI to Zombies:

    : A mega-sequence scattered over almost alldiscussion of Less Wrong on the ultra-high-level penultimate techniqueprohibitions you may want to follow even when you've thought of rationality: actually updating on the evidence.

    Organized into eight subsequences.

    Reductionism

    The second core sequence of Less Wrong. Howa clever reason to take reality apart into pieces... and live in that universe, where we have always lived, without feeling disappointed about the fact that complicated things are made of simpler things.

    think they don't apply.
  • The Quantum Physics Sequence
  • A non-mysterious introduction to quantum mechanics, intended to be accessible to anyone who can grok algebra and complex numbers. Cleaning up the old confusion about QM is used to introduce basic issues in rationality (such as the technical version of Occam's Razor), epistemology, reductionism, naturalism, and philosophy of science. Not dispensable reading, even though the exact reasons for the digression are hard to explain in advance of reading.

    What words like "right" and "should" mean; how to integrate moral concepts into a naturalistic universe.

    The dependencies on this sequence may not be fully organized, and: A longer version of "Value Theory", discussing the post list does not have summaries. Yudkowsky considers this oneapparent "arbitrariness" of his less successful attempts at explanation.

    human morality.
  • The Fun Theory Sequence
  • : A concretediscussion of the complexity of human value, and what the universe might look like if everything were much, much better. Fun theory is the optimistic, far-future-oriented part of transhuman values.value theory, asking: How much fun is there in the universe; will we ever run out of fun; are we having fun yet; could we be having more fun. Partfun?

  • The Quantum Physics Sequence: A much longer version of the complexity"Quantum Physics and Many Worlds", delving more into the implications of valuephysics for our concepts of personal identity and time.
  • Other collections from the same time period (2006-2009) include:

    • The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate: A blog conversation between Eliezer Yudkowsky and Robin Hanson on the topic of intelligence explosion thesis. Also forms partand how concerned we should be about superintelligent AI.
    • Free Will: Yudkowsky's answer to a challenge he raises in Rationality: From AI to Zombies to come up with an explanation for the human feeling that we have free will.

    Yudkowsky has also written a more recent sequence:

    Sequences by others

    Sequences of essays by Scott Alexander include:

    Sequences by Luke Muehlhauser:

    • The Science of Winning at Life. This sequence summarizes scientifically-backed advice for "winning" at everyday life: in one's productivity, in one's relationships, in one's emotions, etc. Each post concludes with footnotes and a long list of references from the academic literature.
    • Rationality and Philosophy. This sequence explains how intuitions are used in mainstream philosophy and what the science of intuitions suggests about how intuitions should be used in philosophy.
    • No-Nonsense Metaethics. This sequence explains and defends a naturalistic approach to metaethics.

    By Anna Salamon:

    • Decision Theory of Newcomblike Problems. Decisions need to be modeled with some structure in order to be scrutinized and systematically improved; simply "intuiting" the answers to decision problems by ad-hoc methods is not conducive to thorough analysis. For this, we formulate decision theories. This sequence, themed with an analysis of Newcomb's problem, is a consolidated summary and context for the many decision theory discussions found on LessWrong at the time of writing.

    By Alicorn:

    • Living Luminously. Luminosity, as used here, is self-awareness. A luminous mental state is one that you have and know that you have. It could be an emotion, a belief or alief, a disposition, a quale, a memory - anything that might happen or be stored in your brain. What's going on in your head?

    And by Kaj Sotala:

    Other resources

    Benito's Guide aims to systematically fill the reader in on the most important ideas discussed on LessWrong (not just in the sequences). It also begins with a series of videos, which are a friendly introduction, and useful if you enjoy talks and interviews.

    Thinking and Deciding by Jonathan Baron and Good and Real by Gary Drescher have been mentioned as books that overlap significantly with the sequences. More about how the sequences fit in with work done by others.

    Audio

    Castify makes certain content of Less Wrong available as a podcast for a small fee (they're recorded by a professional voice actor). Currently they offer:

    Promoted Posts:

    Major Sequences:

    • Mysterious Answers to religious theodicy.

      Mysterious Questions

      (about 2h 30m)
    • The Craft and the Community

      The final sequence of Eliezer Yudkowsky'A Human's two-year-long string of daily postsGuide to Less Wrong, on improving the art of rationality and building communities of rationalists.

      Minor Sequences

      Smaller collections of posts. Usually parts of major sequences which depend on some-but-not-all of the points introduced.

      Map and TerritoryWords

      A collection of introductory posts dealing with the fundamentals of rationality: the difference between the map and the territory, Bayes's Theorem and the nature of evidence, why anyone should care about truth, minds as reflective cognitive engines...

      Seeing with Fresh Eyes

      Some notes on the incredibly difficult feat of actually getting your brain to think about something (a key step in actually changing your mind). Whenever someone exhorts you to "think outside the box", they usually, for your convenience, point out exactly where "outside the box" is located. Isn't it funny how nonconformists all dress the same...

      Subsequence of (3h 40m)

    • How to Actually Change Your Mind.

      (8h 20m)

    • Politics is the Mind-Killer

      Some of the various ways that politics damages our sanity - including, of course, making it harder to change our mindsReductionism on political issues.(5h 20m)

    • Metaethics (7h 30m)

    Minor Sequences:

    Subsequence of

    Death SpiralsMap and the Cult AttractorTerritory

  • Ethical Injunctions (1h 30m)
  • Affective death spirals are positive feedback loop caused by the halo effect: Positive characteristics perceptually correlate, so the more nice things we say about X, the more additional nice things we're likely to believe about X.Essay:

    Cultishness is an empirical attractor in human groups: roughly an affective death spiral; plus peer pressure and outcasting behavior; plus (often) defensiveness around something believed to be un-improvable.

    Yet another subsequence of

    Joy in the Merely Real

    If dragons were common, and you could look at one in the zoo - but zebras were a rare legendary creature that had finally been decided to be mythical - then there's a certain sort of person who would ignore dragons, who would never bother to look at dragons, and chase after rumors of zebras. The grass is always greener on the other side of reality.

    Which is rather setting ourselves up for eternal disappointment, eh? If we cannot take joy in the merely real, our lives shall be empty indeed.

    Subsequence of Reductionism.

    Zombies Sequence

    On the putative "possibility" of beings who are just like us in every sense, but not conscious - that is, lacking inner subjective experience.

    Subsequence of Reductionism.

    The Simple Math of EvolutionTruth

    Learning the very basic math of evolutionary biology costs relatively little if you understand algebra, but gives you a surprisingly different perspective from what you'll find Eliezer's introductory essay (40 minutes, also included in strictly nonmathematical texts.

    Challenging the Difficult

    How to do things that are difficult or "impossible".

    Coming of Age

    How Yudkowsky made epic errors of reasoning as a teenage "rationalist"Map and recovered from them starting at around age 23, the period that he refers to as his Bayesian Enlightenment.Territory)

    Translations

    The originalReading through sequences were written by Eliezer Yudkowsky with the goal of creating a book on rationality. MIRI has since collated and edited the sequences into Rationality: From AI to Zombies. If you are new to Less Wrong, this book is the best placemost systematic way to start.

      __TOC__  

    Rationality: From AI to Zombies

    Rationality: From AI to Zombies is an ebook collecting six books worth of essays onapproach the science and philosophy of human rationality. It's one of the best places to start for people who want to better understand topics that crop up on Less Wrong, such as cognitive bias, the map-territory distinction, meta-ethics, and existential risk. The six books are: archives.

    Core Sequences

    The ebook can be downloaded on a "pay-what-you-want" basis from intelligence.org. Its six books in turn break down into twenty-six sections:

    __________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________

    • Book IV: Mere Reality. EssaysA series on sciencethe use and abuse of words; why you often can't define a word any way you like; how human brains seem to process definitions. First introduces the Mind Projection Fallacy and the physical world.
      • O. Lawful Truth
      • P.concept of how an algorithm feels from inside, which makes it a basic intro to key elements of the LW zeitgeist.

        How To Actually Change Your Mind

        A mega-sequence scattered over almost all of Less Wrong on the ultra-high-level penultimate technique of rationality: actually updating on the evidence.

        Organized into eight subsequences.

        Reductionism 101

      • Q. Joy

        The second core sequence of Less Wrong. How to take reality apart into pieces... and live in that universe, where we have always lived, without feeling disappointed about the Merely Real

      • R. Physicalism 201
      • S.fact that complicated things are made of simpler things.

        The Quantum Physics Sequence

        A non-mysterious introduction to quantum mechanics, intended to be accessible to anyone who can grok algebra and Many Worlds

      • T. Science and Rationality

    __________________________________________________________________

    • Book V: Mere Goodness. A discussion of ethics, and of things people valuecomplex numbers. Cleaning up the old confusion about QM is used to introduce basic issues in general.
      • U. Fake Preferences
      • V. Value Theory
      • W. Quantified Humanism

    __________________________________________________________________

    • Book VI: Becoming Stronger. Essays on self-improvement, group rationality, and rationality groups.
      • X. Yudkowsky's Coming of Age
      • Y. Challenging(such as the Difficult
      • Z. The Craft and the Community

    __________________________________________________________________

    Other sequences by Eliezer Yudkowsky

    The following collections of essays come from the original sequences, an earliertechnical version of muchOccam's Razor), epistemology, reductionism, naturalism, and philosophy of science. Not dispensable reading, even though the material from Rationality: From AIexact reasons for the digression are hard to Zombies:

    • Ethical Injunctions: A discussionexplain in advance of prohibitions you may want to follow even when you've thought of a clever reason to think they don't apply.
    • reading.

      The Metaethics Sequence: A longer version

      What words like "right" and "should" mean; how to integrate moral concepts into a naturalistic universe.

      The dependencies on this sequence may not be fully organized, and the post list does not have summaries. Yudkowsky considers this one of "Value Theory", discussing the apparent "arbitrariness" of human morality.

    • his less successful attempts at explanation.

      The Fun Theory Sequence:

      A discussionconcrete theory of the complexity of human value, and what the universe might look like if everything were much, much better. Fun theory is the optimistic, far-future-oriented part of value theory, asking:transhuman values. How much fun is there in the universe; will we ever run out of fun; are we having fun yet; could we be having more fun?

    • The Quantum Physics Sequence: A much longer versionfun. Part of the "Quantum Physicscomplexity of value thesis. Also forms part of the fully general answer to religious theodicy.

      The Craft and Many Worlds", delving more into the implicationsCommunity

      The final sequence of physics for our conceptsEliezer Yudkowsky's two-year-long string of personal identitydaily posts to Less Wrong, on improving the art of rationality and time.

    Minor Sequences

    OtherSmaller collections fromof posts. Usually parts of major sequences which depend on some-but-not-all of the same time period (2006-2009) include:points introduced.

    • The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate Map and Territory

      :

      A blog conversationcollection of introductory posts dealing with the fundamentals of rationality: the difference between Eliezer Yudkowskythe map and Robin Hansonthe territory, Bayes's Theorem and the nature of evidence, why anyone should care about truth, minds as reflective cognitive engines...

      Seeing with Fresh Eyes

      Some notes on the topicincredibly difficult feat of actually getting your brain to think about something (a key step in intelligence explosion actually changing your mind and). Whenever someone exhorts you to "think outside the box", they usually, for your convenience, point out exactly where "outside the box" is located. Isn't it funny how concerned we should be about superintelligent AI.

    • Free Will: Yudkowsky's answer to a challenge he raises in Rationality: From AI to Zombies to come up with an explanation fornonconformists all dress the human feeling that we have free will.

    Yudkowsky has also written a more recent sequence:

    Sequences by others

    Sequences of essays by Scott Alexander include:

    Sequences by Luke Muehlhauser:

    • The Science of Winning at Life. This sequence summarizes scientifically-backed advice for "winning" at everyday life: in one's productivity, in one's relationships, in one's emotions, etc. Each post concludes with footnotes and a long list of references from the academic literature.
    • Rationality and Philosophy. This sequence explains how intuitions are used in mainstream philosophy and what the science of intuitions suggests about how intuitions should be used in philosophy.
    • No-Nonsense Metaethics. This sequence explains and defends a naturalistic approach to metaethics.

    By Anna Salamon:

    • Decision Theory of Newcomblike Problems. Decisions need to be modeled with some structure in order to be scrutinized and systematically improved; simply "intuiting" the answers to decision problems by ad-hoc methods is not conducive to thorough analysis. For this, we formulate decision theories. This sequence, themed with an analysis of Newcomb's problem, is a consolidated summary and context for the many decision theory discussions found on LessWrong at the time of writing.

    By Alicorn:

    • Living Luminously. Luminosity, as used here, is self-awareness. A luminous mental state is one that you have and know that you have. It could be an emotion, a belief or alief, a disposition, a quale, a memory - anything that might happen or be stored in your brain. What's going on in your head?

    And by Kaj Sotala:

    Other resources

    Benito's Guide aims to systematically fill the reader in on the most important ideas discussed on LessWrong (not just in the sequences). It also begins with a series of videos, which are a friendly introduction, and useful if you enjoy talks and interviews.

    Thinking and Deciding by Jonathan Baron and Good and Real by Gary Drescher have been mentioned as books that overlap significantly with the sequences. More about how the sequences fit in with work done by others.

    Audio

    Castify makes certain content of Less Wrong available as a podcast for a small fee (they're recorded by a professional voice actor). Currently they offer:

    Promoted Posts:

    Major Sequences:

    Minor Sequences:On the putative "possibility" of beings who are just like us in every sense, but not conscious - that is, lacking inner subjective experience.

    Essay:

    • The Simple TruthMath of Evolution Eliezer's introductory essay (40 minutes, also included

      Learning the very basic math of evolutionary biology costs relatively little if you understand algebra, but gives you a surprisingly different perspective from what you'll find in strictly nonmathematical texts.

      MapChallenging the Difficult

      How to do things that are difficult or "impossible".

      Coming of Age

      How Yudkowsky made epic errors of reasoning as a teenage "rationalist" and Territory)

    Translations

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