All of MSRayne's Comments + Replies

Problems of evil

I think the best solution to the problem of evil is the Gnostic one. There is indeed a perfectly good ground of being, but we are separated from it by a blind idiot god that keeps us prisoner. This world is not the Real, but only a pale imitation, an inevitable accident, and the Holy is the points of transcendent light within us, the motes of hope and meaning that guide us towards attempting to return to the Real. Of course, bound by the chains of matter, we must use matter's principles in order to do so. The original Gnostics thought that one could throug... (read more)

Problems of evil

This is your atheism talking. Those of us from a different background have gained something from it.

Ironically, I also thought "lots of words and nothing new" because I am familiar with Christianity [EDIT: perhaps more importantly: familiar with Chesterton], and I have already heard all of this, and... hey, can we admit that it actually doesn't answer the original question?

We start with: "If God is so loving and powerful, why do people suffer?"

Then the smarter people have to admit that all standard answers suck, because they are mostly "God is stronger than you, therefore shut up" (which makes sense, pragmatically, but it's actually evidence against God ... (read more)

Problems of evil

I love this thought. This un-god is what I've always called the Void, or Oblivion, or the Death Force. (I actually am a mystic, myself, and have rather idiosyncratic perspectives on spiritual stuff like this, due to personal experiences, but I definitely have noticed the un-god and been disturbed by how few people seem aware of it. In fact, rationalists may be the only people who are aware of it.)

2Dale Udall25dIt actually (didn't) show up in one of the final (and best) novels of the old Star Wars canon, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover. It also (doesn't) show up in the Elder Scrolls series as Sithis, the Void.
Rationalism before the Sequences

Yes, yes, yes! This is it, this is exactly it!

> Rituals are programs written in the symbolic language of the unconscious mind. Religions are program libraries that share critical subroutines. And the Gods represent subsystems in the wetware being programmed. All humans have potential access to pretty much the same major gods because our wetware design is 99% shared.

I've come to the same conclusion in the past. Meme theory plus multiagent models of mind, plus the shared structure of the human unconscious (though another layer of what is shared, which is ... (read more)

3peak.singularity1moHeh, this reminds me of last week's jab from John Michael Greer [] : [] As for me, I've been really into transhumanism in the noughties : mostly I'd say that the interest came from the Anglophone science fiction ( Foundation, Accelerando, Diamond Age...), but then also from Soviet science fiction - it's interesting to look at the parallels between that "Homo Novis", the official "New Soviet Man", its representation in the early works of the Strugatsky brothers, and then later their slow slide from progressive utopia to progressive dystopia starting with the novels about their "Institute of experimental history" - which I now realize parallels my own intellectual path - circa 2010 I switched from transhumanism to "peak oilism" - hence this nickname : Energy Bulletin (now, Peak Oil Barrel, Archdruid Report (now Ecosophia), Tom Murphy's Do the Math, Cassandra's Legacy... So I completely missed Less Wrong at it's peak - only discovered it (and SSC) in the mid 2010's - though since I was animated by a similar quest, in parallel I've took some (current, skeptical) Zetetic classes. Also, despite liking the mandatory philosophy classes in high school, I was so put off by having to study Condillac's Le Traité des animaux in superior education, that my interest in philosophy pretty much disappeared... and only started growing back again through the epistemology of Physics. And, having finally decided that my grasp of English language was good enough (and having been dismissed enough times for my amateurish knowledge of philosophy), I've been recently reading Russell's History of Western Philosophy - though I kind of hit a hard wall with Spinoza's & Leibniz' metaphysics... In parallel, through Greer I've stopped completely dismissing occultism (though astrology is still a hard pass), but I haven't really followed through o
Rationalism before the Sequences

I'm only 23 - probably younger than most people here - but I imagine my father must have read many of the same books, as he raised me to think in a way which I now understand to be very much like Yudkowsky's version of rationality. As with what you quoted from Nancy, it all seemed really obvious to me when I read the Sequences, except for the mathematical components (Bayesianism still confuses me, but I'll get there eventually).

The main way I differ here though is that I have had lots of "mystical experiences" due to probably schizotypal or dissociative te... (read more)

7gjm1moIn this you differ from the average rationalist but maybe not so much from Eric; see e.g. his essay "Dancing with the Gods" [].
Chaos Induces Abstractions

This vaguely reminds me of uncertainty principles - both involve a finite amount of information available in a system, where the more you know about one aspect, the less you know about all the others - but I don't know how to make the resemblance precise or whether it's actually relevant to chaos theory.

3johnswentworth2moThe usual way the uncertainty principle comes in is that we're guaranteed to have some minimum amount of uncertainty, and therefore chaos is guaranteed to amplify it and wipe out our large-scale predictions.
The Age of Imaginative Machines

This will be great for me, because I have tons of ideas but suck at art. In fact, I hope I'll be able to be one of the people who makes all this possible. I've always wanted to dedicate my life to creating virtual worlds better than the real one, after all. (And eventually, uploading as many people and other sentient beings as possible into them, and replacing the real world altogether with an engineered paradise.)

MetaPrompt: a tool for telling yourself what to do.

This STRONGLY resembles an old idea of mine that I have, naturally, never actually managed to make - it's called Pique, and it would be a collaborative art-making site, where one person can make an outline, another person can fill in some highlights and shadows, another can add details, etc.

In Pique, you randomly get assigned an unfinished picture and you can draw on it whatever you want, making a fork of it, or you can skip it - the more work has already gone into a picture, the more likely it is to show up (because people would skip it if it seemed low q... (read more)

3abramdemski2moYep sounds like the same idea ;p
Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching

Hmm... I could try actually counting experience points. Like, each flash card reviewed grants a point, and every time I reach, say, a new Fibonacci Number of points, I gain a level and... um... stuff! The idea of leveling up really isn't very motivating by itself, but it would help.

Here's one idea: when reading a textbook or anything else I want to memorize, I might try to come up with just one question and answer pair about each page, and make a card out of that. Summarize the most important info on that page. Anything that's not too info-heavy, that should work. In things which are info-heavy, your method should work quite well.

Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching

I have multiple times tried to get into an Anki habit and failed to keep it up. I think the main thing that makes me stop is that I try to make nearly every sentence of something that I'm studying into a card, because I have no idea what's worth remembering and what isn't. (As a general rule, throughout life, I suck at prioritizing.) The other thing, though, is that it feels like Work and things which feel like Work are Unpleasant and I procrastinate them. Do you have any advice for getting over that hump?

2Raj Thimmiah4moIn general, when I first started using SRS I had this issue too. Over time, I got a fair bit better of it with 1 or 2 rules: -I should be able to make at least 1 connection from the idea to something else (filter out only shallowly understood things) -I should be able to either connect it to a situation of real life applicability or a goal I didn't make it only: I need to be able to figure out applicability when making card, because a lot of useful knowledge might not that have it as obvious. But at the least, I should be learning it in a real context. E.g. some of my main goals now are: -learn UX design -understand how SRS/IR [] can be used to create genius -get better at teaching -become more resillient to disruption (emotionally) Those are specific-ish and learning in context of those instead of I can use this sometime in the next decade is a useful filter
2TurnTrout4moOne way to start is to put in things you find yourself looking up. If you're reading math and you have to keep looking up the quadratic formula, put it in. If you're reading the 'Nash equilibrium' Wikipedia page, put in a few examples (and maybe even the formal definition!). Then, while you're reading a textbook, you might develop a taste for what things you'll probably look up later. I like to think about Anki as giving me enduring experience points, which is Fun and Gratifying. Once you find it really work for you on something that matters, maybe you'll find it more exciting? I can only guess - I've naturally enjoyed Anki since nearly the beginning.
CollAction history and lessons learned

I've long been interested in stuff like this. I don't really have any credentials to directly help, but I have the goal of someday creating an MMO (massively multiplayer online game) in which leveling up one's character's skills requires doing real life "quests" related to the skill. So a druid would gain power by actually physically going out and gardening, or buying organic / vegan food, or etc. A player with a necromancer character could level them up by researching their genealogy or respectfully visiting a gravesite. Etc.

This wouldn't necessarily be a... (read more)

3Viliam4moThe real fun starts when addicted people will try to maximize their score by gardening at a gravesite 24/7.
What is going on in the world?

Here's mine: a large portion of the things that matter most in human life, including particularly most of the ways of life we originally evolved for, are swiftly becoming rare luxuries throughout the West, primarily at the behest of liberalism (which otherwise has produced many positives). Examples:

  1. embeddedness in a small tribe where everyone knows everyone else
  2. the expectation of having a loving mate and healthy family
  3. spiritual connection with a symbolically rich world of mythology (which need not be materially "real" in order to be valuable)
  4. veneration for
... (read more)
Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full)

I'm 23 and I still feel like a child who knows nothing. If I peak in two years I will be very cross with the universe.

-2Jay4moYou'll know more as you get older. You'll have solutions cached for more problems. But your sheer ability to think will peak within a few years. Unless what you do is extremely IQ-intensive you won't notice any significant decline for quite a while, but there's a reason that 30 year old mathematicians are considered past their prime. As far as being cross with the universe, there's a support group for that. It's called "everybody". We used to meet daily after work in literally every bar, but the lockdowns have been rather disruptive.
The despair of normative realism bot

I suppose I must be such an envelope worshiper myself. I've actually over time semi-consciously striven to modify my epistemology and ontology in such a way as to force my ethical or spiritual views to be absolutely coherent with the visible state of the world, rather than letting go of moral realism.

I have felt since childhood that there is some unknown thing which I called the Mysteria which is the true object of all desire, and like light it shines through each thing that we think we desire. They are lenses for it, refracting the white Mysteria-light in... (read more)

Open & Welcome Thread - December 2020

Truth is not an arbitrary aesthetic choice.

Ah, but what about when your arbitrary aesthetic choice influences your actions which influences what ends up being true in the future? My thought process went something like this: "Oh shit, the gods aren't real, magic is woo, my life is a lie" -> "Well then I'll just have to create all those things then and then I'll be right after all."

My core principle is that since religion is wishful thinking, if we want to know what humans actually wish for, look at their religion. There's a lot of deep wisdom in religion... (read more)

What Are Some Alternative Approaches to Understanding Agency/Intelligence?

This has long been my suspicion. Combine meme theory with a multi-agent model of mind and it starts to look like the occult concept of "egregores" is right after all - distributed agents composed of many separate programs running on many separate human minds, coordinating via communication and ritualistic behaviors, control most of the world. Corporations and gods are two obvious examples.

To listen well, get curious

I remember when I first visited 7cups, my listener acted so much like a parody of ELIZA that I accused them of being a chatbot. I actually can't stand those emotional support websites because most of the people on them clearly have no interest in the person they're talking to - I get more benefit out of Omegle, oddly enough. So yeah, that's a very good point.

3shminux5moYeah, a lot of those listeners were quite mechanical. It takes quite a few tries, or some luck, to find someone who is genuinely interested and engaging, but still avoids giving unwanted advice. Not sure how the situation is there now, the owner is apparently a sleaze.
The map and territory of NFT art

This is an interesting point, but I think you're missing something fundamental about what originality means. This isn't a question of map versus territory, it's a question of what identity is.

The same people who value an original Mona Lisa, or an original NFT, would likely also be wary of treating a copy of someone as equivalent to the original person. Those who see no distinction, would probably see copies of people as fungible, too. This is an argument between pattern identity theory (you are a data pattern with some number of instances) and continuity i... (read more)

1frcassarino5moGreat reply. I share your beliefs on consciousness copying, and would have the same concerns. It's not obvious to me why the Mona Lisa would be objectively more valuable; even if it were objectively original, it doesn't follow that the fact that it's original makes it more valuable. Even if there's a good argument for why it's objectively more valuable, my broader point is that the reason why it's more valuable in practice is because people have maps that say that originals are more valuable than copies. Whether that's true or not objectively doesn't change that. And those maps were originally brought on because as a heuristic, getting an original X usually brings more utility in many ways than getting a copy. But we are so used to those maps, that even NFT paintings are enough to trigger them, even though there's no conceivable advantage of owning the original. Actually, the sole advantage is that because we are so used to applying the map that rewards us for owning originals, we will in fact gain utility/pleasure just from knowing that it's an original NFT. Very meta.
Perfectionism as depth-first search

Depth-first search is the right approach to reading a math textbook.

That's a great point! I never explicitly thought of it like that but it's clearly true now that you mention it. And not just math - nearly any scientific writing has the same quality where lack of knowledge about one idea or principle ruins your ability to understand any of it - these are examples of those "complex machines" which break if any part doesn't work.

A friend of mine mentioned that reading Wikipedia tends to be like your second example - going depth-first (chasing links) instead... (read more)

Interactive exploration of LessWrong and other large collections of documents

Then, let's say, it could add an yaml heading with tags to each of the notes in the format, compatible with the Nested Tags VSCode extension. In theory, we could also adjust the graph visualization extension to show the overview of notes, but it would be trickier. Would it be what you need?

I have no idea. Unfortunately I am not a programmer and I'm not familiar with any of those things. You probably should explain it in terms of what I can do with it and how rather than talking about specific libraries etc; the most coding I am familiar with is mathematica... (read more)

2vpetukhov4moSorry for the confusion. The things I listed are not programming libraries, but text editor extensions. VSCode [] is a very fancy text editor, and the extensions I listed are part of the Foam [] ecosystem, which allows nice ordering of notes and navigation across them. So if you're interested, I'd suggest to check out those, as well as the recommended extensions [] list. May be helpful for your problem by itself.
Moral intuitions are surprisingly variable

Even the idea that variations in moral intuition matter is probably one which is nowhere near universal. After all, most cultures think their moral values are the True ones and don't care about any others. I'm not sure what to do with that fact, but it's something I noticed.

What is food like?

Perhaps this could be turned into an exercise in mindful eating. I remember reading a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn years ago about mindfulness, which had a section on mindful eating, which I did find makes me enjoy food more and be more satisfied after eating, but it's rather hard to maintain the habit and to be mindful enough. Striving to pay enough attention to the experience of eating that you can write something like this, though, every time you eat anything, could be a good mindfulness practice - and enable you to act like a pretentious food blogger, which for some people is a plus.

Interactive exploration of LessWrong and other large collections of documents

For a while I have been looking through my journal and other writings of mine over the years, trying to organize it all into a personal knowledge base, piece by piece, and it's a very slow process. But it feels like your tool could massively speed up the process for me - if I were to split everything I've ever written into small chunks using some python scripts, I could set your tool to generate a map of it for me and use it to analyze clusters of related ideas, as a starting point for building a map of my whole mind.

I might end up having to do it all by h... (read more)

1vpetukhov5moPartially, yes. Transferring the whole tool into a usable portable app is a lot of troubles, especially the visualization is not so transferable now. So, I mainly think about publishing a piece of code that could be integrated into some existing note systems. It would be relatively easy to extract the part that goes through all documents and runs the clustering and embedding. Then, let's say, it could add an yaml heading with tags to each of the notes in the format, compatible with the Nested Tags [] VSCode extension. In theory, we could also adjust the graph visualization [] extension to show the overview of notes, but it would be trickier. Would it be what you need? Still need to say that I'd expect that the methods should be tuned to be applicable to notes, so it may not work out of box. In terms of computational power, it shouldn't be a problem, unless you have 10+ thousands of notes. Thanks for the detailed explanation! It's quite close to the ideal outcome as I see it. However, the unbiased text summary part is close to impossible on the current level of technologies (to my knowledge). Maybe in several years. Then, the map of events requires a good way of extracting facts from the text. I really want to play with it at some point, but it could take a while. But we will be moving in this direction.
Open & Welcome Thread - December 2020

Hello. I'm new, and as always, faced with the mild terror of admitting that I exist to people who have never previously met me. "You exist? How dare you!"

I've lurked on LW for a while, binge-reading tons of posts and all the comments, and every time promptly forgetting everything I just read and hoping that my subconscious got the gist (which is pretty much how I learn - terribly inefficient, but akrasia, alas, gets in the way of better forms of self-education, and thus I have likely wasted many years in inefficient learning methods).

I only just decided to... (read more)

3hamnox5mo"You exist? How do you do!?" Nice to meet you. Reading this is like looking into a mirror of my couple-years-past self. Complete empathy, same hat. I also dissociated and had a crisis and synthesized idiosyncratic mysticism out of many religions. Then rational thought caught up with me and I realized truth is not an arbitrary aesthetic choice. The emotional elements of spiritual awe and reverence still matter to me. I get pieces of it singing/drumming at Solstice, in bits of well written prose. Many rationalists have strong allergic reactions to experiences that "grab" you like that, because bad memeplexes often coopt those mental levers to horrible ends. Whereas I think that makes it all the *more* important to practice grounding revelatory experiences in good epistemics. Valentine [] describes related insights in a very poetic way that you might appreciate. Also have intended to write the damn book for years now. I'm sorry you also have the "compulsive honesty" + "it's bad to talk about yourself" schema. Sucks bad.