Richard Horvath


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Less Wrong Budapest May 7th Meetup

We are currently at this spot: 47,5214910, 19,0456420

We have a blue and a red umbrella.

Three Miniatures

Thinking through my history of improvements, what seems to have worked for me:

1. Realizing I am dissatisfied with something.
2. Describe the problem and the desired outcome.
3. Search for solutions, compare multiple options.
Most techniques might require some tinkering/experimenting before they actually become useful. The longer feedback loop makes it is easier for snake oil salesman to enter such fields. To avoid these, check if the people promoting the solution are actually far above average in the ability the solution is supposed to grant, and if it is actually coming from the system and not from other factors. (e.g., if someone is selling you a way of making money, but the majority of his income is from selling seminars or running podcasts about it, that's a red flag)
4. Try implementing several versions, and keep using the one that seems to work best for my situation.
5. Practice the method, it should be running mostly on system one if you want to apply it effectively.


1. There was a period when I was dissatisfied with my grades during uni.
2. I thought about the issue and realized most of it was due to having started a second major and additional outside activities, so I had less time and more material to learn. I realized I needed to get more efficient at studying.
3. I searched for solutions on the net, and came across multiple memory enhancing tricks, mostly based on association and/or visualization of spatial environments. As these were usually promoted by memory world champions, whose records were verified and recorded (and who claimed to have been average before they started using the promoted material, for which there was no counter evidence), the techniques looked plausible enough to put in the required effort.
4. I tried two main versions: one using simply associations and one using mainly spatial locations (memory palace). At the start the first one seemed to work better, but with a bit more practice I realized the second one is the stronger technique that I need.
5. Through the rest of uni I kept practicing it even when it was not needed, making it an always ready to use skill of mine, cutting time required for cramming drastically while also improving the results.

Another important aspect is that may happen when searching for solutions, is realizing that it is possible to have it better, you can (and could already have) create a world, counterfactual to the current one, where you are way more satisfied. 

Why maximize human life?

Kaj_Sotala provided a good answer, but I want to give an intuitive example:

If you could decide whether:
A: a single person lives on Earth, supported by aligned AGI, its knowledge and all resources of the planet in service of nothing but his welfare, living in abundance not even the greatest emperors ever dreamed of.
B: a civilization of tens of billions living on Earth, supported by aligned AGI, thanks to which all of them have at least the living standard of a current upper-middle class American.

I believe most people would choose option B. Of course, this is not independent of living conditions (greatly influenced by anchoring), but for me covers the general "feeling" of the idea. I would formulate it along the lines of "due to diminishing returns, spending resources on increasing living standards above a certain level is wasteful, more goodness/utility is created if other humans are included".

I would like to also suggest for reading a sci-fi short story by one of the LessWrongers, which deals a lot with this question (among other things that are also memeworthy), especially in chapter 3:

Hammertime Day 1: Bug Hunt

Probably my strangest bugfix was realizing that sometimes I get too immersed in an activity and go to bed hours after I planned to. This still happened even after I setup alarms/reminders for specific hours. I would just turn them off and continue browsing/playing/watching "just for another 15 minutes", which would sometimes turn to hours.

The solution was to set an alarm with a title and decision that I am not allowed to turn it off, unless I temporarily stop what I am doing for a minute, during which I change my location to another room, and talk to one of my shoulder advisors ( ).

This had the desired effect of changing my frame of mind to one that can stop the activity for the day and start doing the night routine I planned for that day.

TAPs for Tutoring


Paraphrasing is useful because it forces you to check the parts of the concept (elements and their relations) you are about to explain. While just giving something back word-by-word could hide the lack of understanding, if you understand the concept, you should be able to give back the details in a different order/point of view. If you understood the main parts, and how they are connected, you can give a different explanation (changing the order/showing different sides, replace parts etc), while also retaining the meaning of the content. While trying to do this, you have to make sure all details are connected properly (and are actually observed, as a lot of them may be be assumed to be known implicitly), otherwise you will not be able to follow through with the exercise.

A good analogy could be building a lego object: if I show you how to do it, and then you have to assemble it again from scratch, you should be able to succeed in this while starting at a different part and adding the blocks in a different order than I did. This requires a much better understanding than just copying the very moves I made in the same order.


Example: I explain to you, how to make an omelette (heat up pan, put on oil to avoid the eggs sticking to it, pour scrambled eggs into the pan, use the spatula to optimize form/density, add grated cheese then fold the sides on top). To paraphrase the process back to me, you should understand how the steps are connected, so even if your circumstances are different, you can replace/move around object to fulfill the meaning: the point is to scramble and fry eggs on an open surface without burning them.* If you do not have a pan, a pot may suffice, you can use butter instead of oil, and so on.



*a valid point could be made that omelette is more than that, please excuse the simplification I made for demonstration.

Come for the productivity, stay for the philosophy

It would be nice to collect examples on such things (e.g., studying X in the long term helped me with Y problem through concept Z). It could help people decide what to study and insipre them to keep doing it.

In Defence of Optimizing Routine Tasks

I would add that often automating the task is way more fun than doing the task itself. Once I spent a lot of time automating something that was so mind numbing (simple, boring, but required constant focus as a small mistake would have had negative consequences) that I thought I rather shoot myself than do it again.

Although it turned out to also have saved a lot of time in the long run (it was not clear during that time how many times I would have had to do the task), I would have still chosen automation for the mental health benefits.

There Meat Come A Scandal...

I agree. I think it is more likely that "real" meat will be mixed into lab-grown, to dilute the cost/keep up with the demand.

I think it is more likely that some wholesalers and retailers will be faking the lab-grown meat without the knowledge of the original producer, selling in similar boxes.

Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts

"An AI programmed to maximize utility will tile the Universe with tiny copies of Eliezer Yudkowksy."

This one aged well:

Training Regime Day 8: Noticing

Reporting on the exercise:

First the exercise itself caused me to have thoughts on what "reflection" actually is. Would a shiny metal metal roof, reflecting a lot more sunlight than its neighbours be "reflection"? In the end, I focused mostly on surfaces that reflect enough light to enable the identification of a non-light-emitting object that is being reflected (mostly windows). There were many of these, but the point of view influenced the outcome: if you walk a bit further, you may see a reflection on a surface you did not see before.

But what is more important for this exercise: after I stopped consciously noticing these and had a half an hour break, my mind was still prone to pick up reflections and pull these into my consciousness. In the end it subsided, but it seems plausible to me that you can train yourself to notice small specific things/feelings without too much of an effort.

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