Neel Nanda


Mentorship, Management, and Mysterious Old Wizards

+1 I went a CFAR camp for high schoolers a few years ago, and the idea that I can be ambitious and actually fix problems in my life was BY FAR the biggest takeaway I got (and one of the most valuable life lessons I ever learned)

When you already know the answer - Using your Inner Simulator

As a single point of anecdata, I personally am fairly prone to negative thoughts and self-blame, and find this super helpful for overcoming that. My Inner Simulator seems to be much better grounded than my spirals of anxiety, and not prone to the same biases.

Some examples:

I'm stressing out about a tiny mistake I made, and am afraid that a friend of mine will blame me for it. So I simulate having the friend find out and get angry with me about it, and ask myself 'am I surprised at this outcome'. And discover that yes, I am very surprised by this outcome - that would be completely out of character and would feel unreasonable to me in the moment.

I have an upcoming conversation with someone new and interesting, and I'm feeling insecure about my ability to make good first impressions. I simulate the conversation happening, and leaving feeling like it went super well, and check how surprised I feel. And discover that I don't feel surprised, that in fact that this happens reasonably often.

Such a person could also come up with a way they could improve their life, fail to implement it, and then feel guilty when their reality fails to measure up to their imagined future. 

This seems like a potentially fair point. I sometimes encounter this problem. Though I find that my Inner Sim is a fair bit better calibrated about what solutions might actually work. Eg it has a much better sense for 'I'll just procrastinate and forget about this'. On balance, I find that the benefits of 'sometimes having a great idea that works' + the motivation to implement it far outweighs this failure mode, but your mileage may vary.

When you already know the answer - Using your Inner Simulator

Nice, I really like the approach of 'write up a concrete question -> assume I received a helpful answer -> let my inner sim fill in the blanks about what it says'

Anti-Aging: State of the Art

Ooh, no. That's super interesting, thanks!

Anti-Aging: State of the Art
How would writing the question help to convince people? Would it not only be convincing in 5-10 years' time if some of the predictions turn out to be accurate? Or, do you think if consensus on a Metaculus question that prediction X will occur is in and of itself convincing for rationalists? 

I would personally find a consensus on Metaculus pretty convincing (at least, conditional on there being a significant amount of predictions for the question). I find it hard to gauge other people's expertise and how much to defer to them, especially when I just see their point of view. Aggregating many people's predictions is much more persuasive to me, and many of the top Metaculus predictors seem to have good epistemics.

DALL-E by OpenAI

Interesting! I didn't feel that all, I thought things were pretty artsy/aesthetically pleasing on the whole. Any examples of things that felt nauseating?

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over
But indeed, I don't understand why the number of infected people suddenly decreases at the end of November. An explanation would be helpful.

As henryaj says above, the UK was in a national lockdown Nov 5 - Dec 2. Accounting for a lag in catching it -> positive test, that matches the graph reasonably well

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

A really key difference between March and November is that schools were open in November but not March. Though the UK is now in a third lockdown, and it looks like schools won't be re-opening

Ways to be more agenty?

I think this is a really important question, and something I think a lot about. This is a pretty consistent theme of my blog. Some posts I've written that might help (If you'll forgive the blatant self-promotion):

My favourite: Become a person who actually does things - make 'being an agent' part of your identity, and something to aim for for its own sake. Do something because it feels agenty, not necessarily because it's obviously the best thing to do. It's much easier to get good at being agenty about the right things once you've built the habit in the first place

Notice when you're procrastinating on something, and develop a toolkit for things to do in the moment to ensure you take action

A lot of my failure to be agenty comes from being risk-averse and fearing downsides. Learn to look past the safety of the "default" action of doing nothing, and to get excited about small chances of massive upsides

Have a regular time in your life to reflect on things, and give yourself prompts to notice what you could be being more agenty about. Make sure that noticing and correcting this kind of thing is a default part of your life, rather than something that needs effort and inspiration. Make agency the path of least resistance

If you feel bottlenecked by creativity or ideas, set a 5 minute timer and use the time pressure and urgency to spur yourself into doing things

Dario Amodei leaves OpenAI

Jack Clark and Chris Olah announced on Twitter that they're also leaving

Load More