Raghu Veer S

📕Read ✍🏽Write 👨🏼‍💻Code 🚶‍♂️Flâneuring Interests:- Philosophy & Mathematics. Go here to know more about me and what I do: raghuveer.net

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How to end stagnation?

Not necessarily. Globalization has had many negative second-order effects. For example: As much as air connectivity has helped us travel across the world, it has also increased the risk of infections travelling longer distances quicker than if we had a localism-based model. If we are epistemically humble enough, it is not difficult to see how many COVID-like events might have happened in the past in various isolated parts of the world, that we do not know of, but never ravaged the entire world.

Globalization has benefits, not saying that it is not useful, but describing progress as a function of globalization is what I take issue with. Progress is a multiscale phenomenon. You need a strong localism-based core for innovation and you also need decentralization to accentuate the process, and then you can use globalization to scale. And then there is also the part where you need a lot of wisdom to know what should be scaled and what shouldn't be.

Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching

Neat article. Few things I myself have been struggling with and would like some insight into are:

  1. Were you able to address the issue of ankifying the algorithms? If yes, how?
  2. How do you handle the Anki burnout(or for that matter Anki inertia)? I am guessing with multiple subjects at a time, you at least have to review 100-200 odd cards per day(maybe more), and based on the non-atomic nature of your example cards, it seems to me that getting yourself to review that many cards every day is not a sustainable activity?
  3. How do you preserve your sanity between learning new things and practicing new cards? It seems to me that it can be taxing to spend time revising on your own while also learning new things.
  4. How do you handle the inertia that comes with creating new cards or editing cards for so many concepts and subjects?
  5. Does the SM-2 algorithm suffice your needs in terms of frequency, priority, scheduling, etc?
  6. Finally, have you found ways to avoid things like wrist issues, back issues, cognitive exhaustion, etc? Like maybe good computer etiquettes or something?

Sorry for the long list of questions. I am curious to know more because I have been struggling with getting my way into auto-didacting for more than 2 years now due to issues like being unable to differentiate between wanting-to-want and really want, burnout, haphazardness of it all etc. Any pointers on it would be really appreciated.

A different dictionary

One reason I can think of is the intersection of the English speaking populations of the world. India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philipines, and Bangladesh constitute over 25% of the world population. And these are also some of the largest English-speaking nations. It seems to me that the only way to cater to their needs given that only a fraction of the population can speak fluently would be through reducing the number of redirections. This is to say that it would be surprising if the incentives of one of the largest dictionary manufacturers in the world were not affected by a customer base that large.

Linguistic Freedom

If I am understanding this correctly, I feel the map is multilayered.

First, you have the territory and the map within language itself, a few of the aspects of "linguistic freedom" in this context I feel can be addressed right away using existing linguistic tools like Polysemy, Metonymy, Metaphor, etc. They clearly tell you that the freedom that you are enjoying is due to the categorical representations(the map), which holds true even for non-existent and newly formed words with tools like aureation, retronym, portmanteau, etc. The only place I feel where the existing tools fail is in addressing the emergent aspects of these phenomena like the potentialities of a word, possible use cases, etc, but if you leave the emergent aspects out, it seems to me that it is less about freedom or the awareness of freedom, and more about the mapping between the two, that is, people realize they are free-running, they also realize that they have this freedom as in they are walking on a map, but what they never realize is the weight on the edge between the two nodes. This is to say that their memory of why they chose to exercise this freedom in the place always eludes them. I think it is the cataloguing of that weight that we are missing and not the awareness itself.

Second, you have the entire domain of linguistics inside the map, and then there is the "structure of reality" as you mention elsewhere, which could be thought of as territory. And I feel this fails to present itself to anything beyond a heuristic. You can guide them linguistically but the realization is largely contingent on their umwelt. So at least, in my opinion, the issue is still with the weight on the edge and less on the freedom or the awareness of it.

I am sorry if I am missing something here or misinterpreting your point. I am just trying to understand the core theme.

Ways to be more agenty?

Mental model that works for me is that of Self-Organization (from cybernetics and complexity theory). Use interactions to enforce redundancy of potential command(See McCulloch). This way you still retain the agency as the command is initiated by you, but the emergence of order(i.e., the execution of that task in our case) can be orchestrated by changing the nature of interaction. One example would be to decentralise the decision making process when you sense the beginning of dissolution of willpower: commitment contracts(eg. beeminder), substitute activity(eg. using stairs to compensate for lack of exercise), automating tasks that can be automated, fractal attention(eg. picking up a different book when you are bored with the book, instead of stopping reading altogether) etc.

The Haters Gonna Hate Fallacy

I can understand the sentiment of being subtle, articulate, and precise as long as it remains within the bounds of "nitpickers gonna nitpick" or "dislikers gonna dislike" stage, but if you are treading in the realm where you have (or can possibly cultivate) haters, I don't think focusing on presentation works. Also, IMO, if the emotions have already gotten to the stage of being hateful, you might as well stand your ground and say what you have to say instead of selling nuance and subtlety as a point. The reason I say this is because it is a great heuristic to follow when you are already aware of the theme driving your writings; and more often than not the untrue cases(5%) that you mention are not going to change, while the ones who are already well accustomed to the topics and your style are probably only going to be more interested if you stand your ground. The classic example of this would be someone like NNTaleb, whose cult has only grown since he started being more unabashed about his ideas. Not to mention the number of death threats he gets on mainstream twitter alone and who knows how many via other sources. I think the best solution is to follow the heuristic(I mean haters gonna hate heuristic) and be courageous in your writing style, helps offset a lot of other issues such as stress, anxiety, and what not.

Why haven't we celebrated any major achievements lately?

I feel that framing matters here. For eg. Look at how the words tradition and celebration complement one another in some of these situations. In the case of Olympic fireworks or Times Square gathering, how much effect does the instinct to preserve a long-standing tradition come into play? but when you look at scientific accomplishments it is too disparate and of varying significance to even be equated with the likes of Olympics or a New Year’s Eve. I have a strong feeling that to be celebrated, an event must either form a part of an existing (celebratory) tradition or create a new one, which is also why I feel Nobel(Old) and Twitter trends(New) are an equally interesting celebratory methods unless one wishes to restrict the definition of celebrations to rallies and fireworks. In this case the former being traditional/ceremonial, and the latter unconventional/momentous like the railroad project or light bulb of modern times, which is seen through the occasional burst of congratulatory enthusiasm in the form of a hash tag or likes.

If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach?

Have you used Syntorial, the synth-learning/tutoring software? I think it makes great use of adaptive interactivity(learning), which I feel tools like brilliant or explorable explanations, although great in terms of UX, lack severely. In fact, I have also found Syntorial to be very effective in terms of memory-related things like remembering patches etc. I think it has that neat quality of helping with both learning/doing and remembering what you learn. Maybe you could look into that too for some inspiration.

My guide to lifelogging

Neat. I too have been logging for quite sometime now, the biggest cost initially for me was with Storage, but I've found some neat ways to handle the storage issues: 1) If you are on your desktop, create a private stream on YouTube using OBS --- obviously helps you save diskspace while also helping you maintain privacy and providing unlimited storage as these are basically just youtube videos that are kept private. 2) If you own a tripod, you can record your sleep patterns and do the same by mounting your smartphone on it and hooking it up to your PC and streaming it to YouTube privately. 3) Obviously Go Pro is the best all-purpose recording device as Mati says, but I am not much of an underwater person, so I use my smartphone for everything, which I feel is the second best as you can use the YouTube's go live feature to record yourself with private mode on.

Apart from that I would say, always carry a small pocket notebook and a pen incase your phone's battery dies on you or something like that. Also write everyday, blog! (Not Twitter), because reconstructing the thought process from an elaborate medium is much much easier than Twitter. If it is you who is going to revisit it later, you don't just want to sympathize, you want to empathize; and pithy sentences(280 chars) are bad for that. I've tried. I realized it after reading Montaigne's Essays and a nice little book called the Diary of a Nobody by guy named George Grossmith. There is so much that can be extracted from that as opposed to Meditations where you can feel for Marcus but forget it so easily that you never get to ponder about what would Marcus be doing right now, which can be done with Montaigne or the other guy.

Why don't countries, like companies, more often merge?

Scale and Complexity? — Thinking in terms of variables and states works fine to some extent, but I think that it is always in the interactions between those variables that the states get screwed up(to a point of complete unrecognizability). And when you scale the number of variables, the interactions become too non-linear for effective management/monitoring of states. Cliched, but I feel disintegration of large is a more plausible event than coalescence of small, for with scale comes uncertainty and complexity.

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