Wiki Contributions


Very much! Apart from enjoying it myself, I usually pick some things out and share them with friends and family as a way to offset some of the unagentic doom and gloom present in mainstream media :)

Thanks! It seems I've been practicing most of these, but:

  • "why do we care" - this has always been implied. I found it valuable to actually state this explicitly.
  • "5 whys" - I've done this before, but something prompted me to revisit my understanding, so I ended up on a LessWrong post about Five Whys, where I bumped into Ben Pace's comment about how it's valuable to solve the problem(s) at each level of Why, not just the root cause.

I came here to say exactly this! It's one thing to build an app, but quite another to built the institution that makes it work.

So apart from having members exchange physical goods, and someone to take care of the technical machine, someone has to invest time to tackle all the moderation work to limit bad actors' effects on the series of trades.

There was a flourishing of apps like this around the '10s with stuff like couch surfing and tool trading apps etc but most have died off, leaving bigger players like Facebook marketplace or Craigslist precisely because, as I believe, they didn't have a plan to tackle the institutional work--instead just believing strangers will sort things out between themselves.

Some really good stuff here.

I've been reading these digests for about a year now. I look forward to each one. Thanks Jason!

Excellent post. I wholeheartedly agree that progress should be driven by humanistic values as that appears to be the only viable way of steering it toward a future in which humanity can flourish.

I'm somewhat confused though. The techno-optimist space seems to be largely and strongly already permeated with humanist values. For example, Jason Crawford's Roots of Progress regularly posts/links things like a startup using technology to decrease the costs of beautiful sculpture, a venture to use bacteria to eradicate cavities, or a newsletter about producing high quality policy (amongst other things like small scale nuclear energy, vaccine technology, and interesting histories of technology). Even Andreessen's manifesto cites people like Percy, Fuller, Nietzsche, all of who had rather humanistic and positive visions of humanity.

I think that a rather stark contrast to transhumanism or accelerationism, which I've never found alluring precisely because they seemed to lack a grounded focus on humans and humanity.

I do find Andreessen's mention of Nick Land troubling for precisely that reasons you wrote about, but I wonder how much of that is him making use of Land's idea to explain the economics, rather then subscribing to Land's human-less vision.

I'm not trying to argue about definitions. I guess what I'm trying to say is that techno-optimism seems and has for a long time to already possess a strong humanistic spirit, marking it very different from competing technology-focused communities of thought. Perhaps it makes more sense to fuel the humanist side of techno-optimism rather than forking it into its own thing?

Either way, looking forward to more posts! Especially curious about deeper takes on AI.

What's different there compared to the first book?

I read the first one and found it to resonate strongly, but also found my mental models to not fit well with the general thrust. Since then I've been studying stats and thinking more about measurement with the intent to reread the first book. Curious if the cybersecurity one adds something more though

Thank you for sharing that. Parts of it resonate very strongly, like being unable to know how much fuel I have left, or practicing making choices, or the need for strategy (which is just dawning on me). It's helpful to know that someone else has walked this path, at least the common part of it, and made it farther along.

Funny/uncanny to read this. This is something I've just started working on (+improving sleep) maybe two weeks ago.

How does this work for you if you don't mind me asking?

The pots theory reminded of this bit about creativity:

In the mid-1960s, researchers Jacob Getzels and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to discover what led to successful creative careers. Giving them a variety of objects and asking them to compose a still life drawing, two distinct groups emerged: those who hastily chose an object and proceeded straight to drawing, and those that took much more time, carefully considering different arrangements.

In their view, the first group was trying to solve the problem that had been given to them: “How can I produce a good drawing?” The second group was trying to find a problem in the situation they were presented with: “What good drawing can I produce?” A panel of art experts reviewed the drawings and rated the latter group of “problem finders” works as much more creative than the “problem solvers.” Following up on the students 18 years later, they found that the problem finders “were 18 years later significantly more successful–by the standards of the artistic community–than their peers who had approached their still-life drawings as more craftsman-like problem solvers.

It struck me that, to extend the pots example, if you're setting out to produce a god-tier pot, it entails massive resources and risk. It behooves you thus to avoid taking up such quests as much as possible, which in reality translates to creating pots when directed by an outside source, like a teacher or social pressure or whatever.

But if you're out to churn out 50 pots a semester, it's a cheap and risk-free endeavor. After all, you could probably make 42 or 52 or exactly 50 meh pots in a couple of days and still get an A. But that's kind of boring, why not find something cool or fun to do with those pots? Make really slim ones that beg the question if they're pots or pipes. Make a clay klein bottle. Make personalized pots that you will gift to your friends later. Make cube pots. Make a clay Rube Goldberg pot-device. Sky's the limit.

I can see how this can look like procrastination from the outside. But I think in my case, it really is some weird jedi trickery where meta-level replaced the object-level (at much less energy cost--so why would I ever do object level?)

I've written more this week than in a long time just by clearly asking myself whether I'm doing something meta (fun, leisure) or object-level (building stuff) and there's no ugh-field at all!

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