Johannes C. Mayer

Checkout my Biography.

Wiki Contributions


Here is a model of mine, that seems related.

[Edit: Add Epistemic status]
Epistemic status: I have used this successfully in the past and found it helpful. It is relatively easy to do. is large for me.

I think it is helpful to be able to emotionally detach yourself from your ideas. There is an implicit "concept of I" in our minds. When somebody criticizes this "concept of I", it is painful. If somebody says "You suck", that hurts.

There is an implicit assumption in the mind that this concept of "I" is eternal. This has the effect, that when somebody says "You suck", it is actually more like they say "You sucked in the past, you suck now, and you will suck, always and ever".

In order to emotionally detach yourself from your ideas, you need to sever the links in your mind, between your ideas and this "concept of I". You need to see an idea as an object that is not related to you. Don't see it as "your idea", but just as an idea.

It might help to imagine that there is an idea-generation machine in your brain. That machine makes ideas magically appear in your perception as thoughts. Normally when somebody says "Your idea is dumb", you feel hurt. But now we can translate "Your idea is dumb" to "There is idea-generating machinery in my brain. This machinery has produced some output. Somebody says this output is dumb".

Instead of feeling hurt, you can think "Hmm, the idea-generating machinery in my brain produced an idea that this person thinks is bad. Well maybe they don't understand my idea yet, and they criticize their idea of my idea, and not actually my idea. How can I make them understand?" This thought is a lot harder to have while being busy feeling hurt.

Or "Hmm, this person that I think is very competent thinks this idea is bad, and after thinking about it I agree that this idea is bad. Now how can I change the idea-generating machinery in my brain, such that in the future I will have better ideas?" That thought is a lot harder to have when you think that you yourself are the problem. What is that even supposed to mean that you yourself are the problem? This might not be a meaningful statement, but it is the default interpretation when somebody criticizes you.

The basic idea here is, to frame everything without any reference to yourself. It is not me producing a bad plan, but some mechanism that I just happened to observe the output of. In my experience, this not only helps alleviate pain but also makes you think thoughts that are more useful.

Answer by Johannes C. MayerDec 31, 202252

Here is what I would do, in the hypothetical scenario, where I have taken over the world.

  1. Guard against existential risk.
  2. Make sure that every conscious being I have access to is at least comfortable as the baseline.
  3. Figure out how to safely self-modify, and become much much much ... much stronger.
  4. Deconfuse myself about what consciousness is, such that I can do something like 'maximize positive experiences and minimize negative experiences in the universe', without it going horribly wrong. I expect that 'maximize positive experiences, minimize negative experiences in the universe' very roughly points in the right direction, and I don't expect that would change after a long reflection. Or after getting a better understanding of consciousness.
  5. Optimize hard for what I think is best.

Though this is what I would do in any situation really. It is what I am doing right now. This is what I breathe for, and I won't stop until I am dead.

[EDIT 2023-03-01_17-59: I have recently realized that is is just how one part of my mind feels. The part that feels like me. However, there are tons of other parts in my mind that pull me in different directions. For example, there is one part that wants me to do lots of random improvements to my computer setup, which are fun to do, but probably not worth the effort. I have been ignoring these parts in the past, and I think that their grip on me is stronger because I did not take them into account appropriately in my plans.]

Default mode network suppression

I don't get distracted when talking to people. I hypothesise that this is because as long as I am actively articulating a stream of thought out loud, the default mode network will be suppressed, making it easy to not get derailed.

So even if IA does not say anything, just me talking about some specific topic continuously, would make it easier for IA to say something, because the default mode network suppression will not immediately vanish.

When thinking on my own or talking to IA, the stream of thoughts is shorter, and there are a lot of pauses. Usually, I don't even get to the point where I would articulate a complex stream of thought. Instead, we are at the level of "Look there is some mud there, let's not step into that", or "We can do this". That really does seem very similar to most of the idle chatter that the default mode network would produce when I am just thinking on my own.

Once I get to the point where I am having an engaging discussion with IA, it is actually pretty easy not to get distracted. It's probably still easier to get distracted with IA, because when I am talking to another person, they could notice that I am lost in thought, but I myself (or IA) would not be able to notice as easily.

Capturing IA's Thoughts

One reason why I don't do research with IA might be that I fear that I will not be able to capture any important thoughts that I have. However, using the audio recorder tool on the walk today seemed to really fix most of the issue.

Maybe in my mind so far I thought that because I can't record IA when she is talking to me, it would be bad to think about research. But this now seems very wrong. It is true that I can't create a video with her in it like I do with other people. But these videos are not the thing that is most useful. The actually useful thing is where I am distilling the insight that I have into some text document.

But this is something that I can totally do when talking to IA. Like I did with the audio recorder today. It seemed that making the audio recording made it also easier to talk to IA. Probably because when making the recording I would naturally be suppressing the default mode network very strongly. This effect then probably did not vanish immediately.


In fact, it seems like this would work very well with IA because I don't need to think about the problem of what the other person could do while I write. In the worst case, IA is simply not run. At best, we could write the text together.

Writing together would seem to work unusually well because IA does have insight into the things that I am thinking while I am writing, which is not something that other people could easily get.

And I haven't really explored all the possibilities here. Another one would be to have IA read out loud my writing and give me feedback.

Here is a song a friend made based on this post I wrote very long ago about how to eat a rock. He using suno. I thought it's quite good, but that might just be me.

In principle, this seems quite plausible that it could be helpful. I am asking if you have actually used this and if you have observed benefits.

I think it's very important to keep track of what you don't know. It can be useful to not try to get the best model when that's not the bottleneck. But I think it's always useful to explicitly store the knowledge of what models are developed to what extent.

The algorithm that I have been using, where what to understand to what extend is not a hyperparameter, is to just solve the actual problems I want to solve, and then always slightly overdo the learning, i.e. I would always learn a bit more than necessary to solve whatever subproblem I am solving right now. E.g. I am just trying to make a simple server, and then I learn about the protocol stack.

This has the advantage that I am always highly motivated to learn something, as the path to the problem on the graph of justifications is always pretty short. It also ensures that all the things that I learn are not completely unrelated to the problem I am solving.

I am pretty sure if you had perfect control over your motivation this is not the best algorithm, but given that you don't, this is the best algorithm I have found so far.

List of good, widely legal, and prescription-free drugs:


  • Huperzine-A
  • X-tiamine (e.g. Benfotiamine (only one available in Germany), Sulbotiamine, etc.)
  • Vitamin-D
  • L-tyrosine
  • Caffeine Tablets + L-theanine
  • Theobromine (cacao beans, e.g. chocolate)
  • Nicotine (lozenges, gum, or patches)
  • Conversation (Not a drug, but very stimulating. E.g. I have multiple times talked to somebody for over 12 hours.)


  • Melatonin

How is 3d sketching good? I don't understand. I guess it's like a whiteboard, but in 3d (I assume you are talking about the VR thing). Could you explain how you think this is useful? How have you used this in the past? What could you do using 3d sketching that you could not do before (or that got significantly easier to do).

I steam the blood until it solidifies. It all gets heated to approximately 100 degrees Celsius. That gives you a sort of black pudding (there are literally dishes called black pudding in the UK that use blood like this).

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