Mercurial

Mercurial's Comments

SotW: Avoid Motivated Cognition

To clarify, I actually think of it with two upside-down 'V' shapes. I imagine one off to my left in the world where X is true and observe the two possible outcomes based on what I believe is true in that world, and then I look off to my right to see the upside-down 'V' in the world where X is not true and consider the alternatives.

I should also add that I have to put all four representations in near-mode. I view this whole process as a way of getting my brain to emotionally get that yes, it's better to have true beliefs even if they describe a world I'd rather not be in.

(To clarify, in case this isn't obvious: I'm Valentine.)

Group rationality diary, 5/21/12

Continuing from here, I've found the self-modification stuff Critch talked about to be an absolutely amazing tool. I now find myself wanting to take every spare few minutes to work on my dissertation, which is quite novel. It felt just like tedium before. I've also found my applications of CBT to be fantastically more effective because (a) rewarding myself for noticing distorted thoughts makes it a lot easier to notice them later (especially with TDT supplementation) and (b) rewarding small improvements from a rational response had made the rational responses vastly better at causing emotional improvement. I've also been rewarding self-change to make that more automatic, though I have as yet to determine if that's too meta to actually work.

Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI)

Thank you!

Do you happen to know anything about the claim that we're running out of the supplies we need to build solar panels needed to tap into all that wonderful sunlight?

Group rationality diary, 5/21/12

Being Specific. Holy crap! Once you start noticing this, it is everywhere. Still not super good at automatically being specific, but I'm quite good at noticing unspecific things now.

Such as...?

(Sorry, it just begged to be said, and no one else took the bait!)

Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI)

Can you pretty, pretty please tell me where this graph gets its information from? I've seen similar graphs that basically permute the cubes' labels. It would also be wonderful to unpack what they mean by "solar" since the raw amount of sunlight power hitting the Earth's surface is a very different amount than the energy we can actually harness as an engineering feat over the next, say, five years (due to materials needed to build solar panels, efficiency of solar panels, etc.).

And just to reiterate, I'm really not arguing here. I'm honestly confused. I look at things like this video and books like this one and am left scratching my head. Someone is deluded. And if I guess wrong I could end up wasting a lot of resources and time on projects that are doomed to total irrelevance from the start. So, having some good, solid Bayesian entanglement would be absolutely wonderful right about now!

Group rationality diary, 5/14/12

Possibly! We considered it before but decided against it for a number of reasons. One was that CBT is its own thing, and none of us are formally trained in its use or in teaching it. Another is the unfortunate context of it being therapy, which tends to turn a lot of people off.

However, the latter effect didn't seem to be relevant this last minicamp. That has caused me to update in favor of at least suggesting an overview of the process. And I think I'd be quite comfortable providing an overview. So we might bring it up - but I'd guess only in the July camp due to time considerations, if at all.

Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI)

Okay, this has been driving me bonkers for years now. I keep encountering blatantly contradictory claims about what is "obviously" true about the territory. taw, you said:

Renewable energy available annually is many orders of magnitude greater than all fossil fuels we're using[...]

And you might well be right. But the people involved in transition towns insist quite the opposite: I've been explicitly told, for one example, that it would take the equivalent of building five Three Gorges Dams every year for the next 50 years to keep up with the energy requirements provided by fossil fuels. By my reading, these two facts cannot both be correct. One of them says that civilization can rebuild just fine if we run out of fossil fuels, and the other says that we may well hit something dangerously close to a whimper.

I'm not asking for a historical analysis here about whether we needed fossil fuels to get to where we are. I'd like clarification on a fact about the territory: is it the case that renewable forms of energy can replace fossil fuels without modern civilization having to power down? I'm asking this as an engineering question, not a political one.

Developing Empathy

I can see where you think that. When I'm being akrasic, though, I'm still doing it for some reason. I'm motivated to do what I'm doing for some reason, not for no reason. For instance, someone who is akrasic about getting their bills paid isn't just insane; they have an aversion and get some slight relief from distracting themselves with non-bill activities. Understanding that in first-person near-mode (rather than just seeing them as a machine to be trouble-shot) seems to help a lot with empathy. In my experience!

Group rationality diary, 5/14/12

Hello everyone! This is Valentine.

I spent my first day back from minicamp... sleeping! And spending time with my wonderful wife. I was optimizing for recovery there after getting a total of something like 12 hours of sleep over the weekend. Totally worth it for all those amazing conversations and connections, though!

But after that, starting this morning I used a number of Critch's techniques to help deal with some aversions and emotional distaste surrounding writing my dissertation. I've been using the trick Anna & Critch told me independently (I think!) of rewarding the noticing of something that I want to change; that was the one key piece of habit-changing that I had totally missed.

I noticed rather quickly that there's always a sufficiently meta-level that can be modified in order to deal with the difficulty at hand. For instance, this morning when it came time to start working on my dissertation, I noticed some disquiet inside about that. It wasn't immediately obvious that I could just make myself want to write. But I wanted to want to write, and I could use the why behind that in near-mode to create a slight increase in my wanting to write - which I immediately rewarded. And then that snowballed.

I found I had to add an odd loop I hadn't initially expected: I had to (a) reward noticing feelings of guilt or anxiety associated with the writing and (b) reward any small improvements from a CBT blow against the distorted thinking underlying the feelings. I've known CBT to work pretty well in the past, but adding this bit with conditioning via rewarding small improvements made it much more rapid to turn into relatively automatic habit.

I also spent a good chunk of time journaling the whole weekend since that's what I've found to be effective for reinforcing episodic memory.

Much of this happened via the Pomodoro technique. I've used it before, but I weaved conditioning stuff into it (rewarding myself for starting one & rewarding myself for having completed one, and rewarding noticing a desire to do something distracting and also for returning attention to the task at hand).

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