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I suspect my model of the method used to allocate government funding may be oversimplified/incorrect altogether, but I am under the impression that those serving on the House Science Committee have a significant say in where funds are allocated for scientific research. Given that some members of this committee do not believe in evolution and do not believe in man-made climate change, it seems that the potential social good of becoming a successful politician could be very high.

Politicians have a lot of power in society. How much good could a politician well-acquainted with x-risk do? One way such a politician could do good is by helping direct funds to MIRI. However, this is something an individual with a lot of money (successful in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street) could do as well.

Should one who wants to make a large positive impact on society go into politics over more "conventional" methods of effective altruism (becoming rich somewhere else or working for a high-impact organization)?

I'd suggest putting the least focus on economics unless/until you're sure you want to do something with it.

Thanks. I'll be at an engineering school that requires a focus in a social science/humanities area, so I'm planning on focusing on economics. I don't think I'd major in economics but of course this could change (especially since I know very little about the fields I mentioned).

Hello, I'm E. I'll be entering university in September planning to study some subset of {math, computer science, economics}. I found Less Wrong in April 2012 through HPMoR and started seriously reading here after attending SPARC. I haven't posted because I don't think I can add too much to discussions, but reading here is certainly illuminating.

I'm interested in self-improvement. Right now, I'm trying to develop better social skills, writing skills, and work ethic. I'm also collecting some simple data from my day-to-day activities with the belief that having data will help me later. Some concrete actions I am currently taking:

  • Conditioning myself (focusing on smiling and positive thoughts) to enjoy social interaction. I don't dislike social interaction, but I'm definitely averse to talking to strangers. This aversion seems like it will hurt me long-term, so I'm trying to get rid of it.
  • Writing in a journal every night. Usually this is 200-300 words of my thoughts and summaries of the more important events that happened. I started this after noticing that I repeatedly tried and failed to recall my thoughts from a few months or years ago.
  • Setting daily schedules for myself. When I get sidetracked time seems to fly out the window, though when I'm in a state of flow I seem to be happier. Frequent reminders that I should be working seem to be reducing the amount of time I waste browsing Facebook/Reddit.
  • Data collection. Right now I'm recording my meals, amount of sleep, and severity of acne each day. I'm very open to suggestions about other things that are cheap to record but are not useless.

I've noticed that I hate when something disrupts my daily schedule. I plan out entire days and when a family or other social commitment interrupts this, I find it difficult to focus for the rest of the day. I think this is because I like rigidity. This is another thing I'm trying to de-program, in a less systematic way, by consciously thinking about being spontaneous and then doing more spontaneous things. It's hard to judge if this is working because I've been traveling a lot in the past few months, which naturally leads to more fluid/less planned days.

I've read the sequences "Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions" and "Map and Territory." I found this very encouraging as a lot of the material in those sequences were things I've thought about in the past, presented in a more coherent and logical manner. I read Part I of Gödel, Escher, Bach and also found a lot that aligned with my intuitions. I haven't had much time to read with college visits, school, and MOOCs taking up a lot of my time. Hopefully that will change by June.

I've been taking MOOCs from Coursera and edX since June 2012. My favorites have been Machine Learning, Networked Life, Game Theory, Principles of Economics for Scientists (all Coursera), CS188.1x, and PH207x (edX). These end up being pretty time-consuming but far more interesting and rewarding than my courses at school (an American public high school).

Some things that fall in the category of "things that seem interesting on the surface, but I don't currently have time to look at seriously/I am too lazy to look at seriously": AI, basic linguistics, logic.

Some things that fall in the category of "things that are probably important, but I'm too scared to think about seriously for sufficient time": things to do in college (including selecting classes). There's more in this list but nothing comes to mind right now, maybe because I continually punt them to the back of my mind whenever they come up.

Some things I hate about the world: documents that are not formatted nicely.

I've learned a lot from this community. I think the most important lesson I learned here was to look at things from both an outside view and an inside view. Looking forward to learning more from Less Wrong and contributing in the future.