robot-dreams

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Open Thread, Jun. 22 - Jun. 28, 2015

What do you all think of "General Semantics"? Is it worth e.g. trying to read "Science and Sanity"? Are there insights / benefits there that can't be found in "Rationality: AI to Zombies"?

Lifehack Ideas January 2015

For Linux users (or Mac OS X users that use the Terminal) who want to pick up a journaling habit:

I set up the following aliases to DRAMATICALLY reduce the "activation energy" for writing a journal entry:

alias jcd='cd <journal directory>'
alias today='jcd; vi `date +%Y-%m-%d`; cd -'
alias yesterday='jcd; vi `date -r \`expr \\\`date +%s\\\` - 86400\` +%Y-%m-%d`; cd -'

So if I want to write a journal entry, I just type 'today' and get started. Note that this also has the secondary benefit of keeping journal entries nicely organized by date.

BTW, I am no writer, but this technique has gotten me to write a decent amount over the years:

$ jcd; cat * | wc -w
    92804
Lifehack Ideas January 2015

Here's how I calculate 15% tips in my head. After getting used to this approach, I could consistently beat friends who were fumbling with their smartphones.

BTW, math majors have a reputation for NOT being able to do mental arithmetic, so being a math major who could do this was a fun and ironic way to defy stereotypes.

Preparation. Memorize the product of each digit with 1.5

  • 1 x 1.5 = 1.5
  • 2 x 1.5 = 3.0
  • 3 x 1.5 = 4.5
  • 4 x 1.5 = 6.0
  • 5 x 1.5 = 7.5
  • 6 x 1.5 = 9.0
  • 7 x 1.5 = 10.5
  • 8 x 1.5 = 12.0
  • 9 x 1.5 = 13.5

Step 1. Round your bill to two significant digits (35.76 -> 36)

Step 2. Recall the product of the first digit with 1.5 (3 x 1.5 = 4.5). The tip is going to be pretty close to the product you recalled (4.50)--you just need to adjust it upwards a bit using the second digit.

Step 3. Recall the product of the second digit with 1.5 (6 x 1.5 = 9), divide the product you recalled by 10 (9 / 10 = 0.9), and add it to the result of Step 2 (4.50 + 0.90 = 5.40) to get your final result.

Congratulations! You've just calculated your 15% tip to within an accuracy of 10 cents. If you want more speed, you can round your bill to just the first significant digit and skip Step 3--this will give you a 15% tip to within an accuracy of 1 dollar. Alternatively, if you want to impress your friends with more accuracy, you can keep more significant digits around and continue adjusting.

Lifehack Ideas January 2015

I wanted to stop using Facebook, so I deleted my account and then blocked the domain.

Now I don't have any friends anymore, and I have a lot of free time.

Lifehack Ideas January 2015

I wanted to invest my money, but I didn't want to waste any effort thinking or worrying about it, so I made an account on Wealthfront, set up a monthly recurring transfer, and then put it out of my mind.

Rationality Quotes January 2015

I hope the quote didn't come across as "travel sucks, period". Admittedly, with the opening "Travelling is a fool's paradise", it's hard for the quote to come across any other way. But my interpretation is not so much that Emerson is against travel; it's that Emerson is against yearning for travel as the magic solution to all of your problems. No matter where you go, you bring yourself--so if the problems lie within yourself, no amount of travelling will let you escape them.

You sound like an awesome person who would love life even if you didn't get to travel (perhaps less, but still). When you chose to set out on your adventures, what was your motivation (I would be pretty surprised if it was to "lose your sadness")?

The Importance of Sidekicks

I sometimes wish I could drag various rationalists to my job at the ICU for a while, make them see the kind of teamwork and cooperation that happens in a place where cooperation is a default and a necessity.

Sci-fi plot brewing.

I'd be very interested in a story that goes into detail about the Cyprus experiment (fill an island with all "alphas", instead of the usual "alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon" distribution, and see what happens) from Brave New World.

Better yet, fill an island with all "rationalists" and see what happens.

Programming-like activities?

+1 for probably missing more criteria than any other suggestion given here.

  • You do need expensive equipment
  • You do need to be in a particular location (ninja school)
  • You do need special credentials (what, you think anyone can become a ninja?)
  • Good luck getting reliable information online
  • Good luck learning without a teacher
  • If you make a mistake, you don't get "rapid feedback, leading to rapid growth", you just die
  • How is ninjutsu intellectually stimulating?

Admittedly, I think I'll have to grudgingly give you "unforgiving" and "badass".

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