All of ryjm's Comments + Replies

I re-read Atlas Shrugged once or twice a year. One of my first posts on LW was this (and you even commented on it!):


Not necessarily proud of it, but it's interesting to re-read it after fully reconciling the book with my own internal principles. I can see how much I struggled with the fact that I really resonated with the idea of hero-worship, while also feeling so fragile in my own judgments, simultaneously. It really is a wonderful book, and I no longer feel the need to d... (read more)

Also discovered bone conduction headphones and I am impressed with the quality.

Do you have a recommendation? Constantly on the look out for new headphone styles, I have weird ear holes that nothing fits in.

Ebay is where I got mine. They are "aftershockz bluez 2s". I would buy them again now in a heartbeat. Have to wait a month before I decide they are worth it or I'd the upgrade was worth it. But I suspect the answer is yes.
Curious about this as well since neither [] of these [] recently-updated articles from the NYTimes-owned (meta)review site The Wirecutter mention being able to find any bone-conduction headphones they liked.

Taking my place in history - one of my first tasks as an intern at MIRI was to write some ruby scripts that dealt with some aspects of that donation.

Not only did that experience land me my first programming job, but just realizing now that it was also the impetus that led me to grab more bitcoin (I had sold mine at the first peak in 2013) AND look into Stellar. Probably the most lucrative internship ever.

(Shoutout to Malo/Alex if you guys are still lurking LW)

I'm feeling nostalgic.

Is there any interest in having a monthly thread where we re-post links to old posts/comments from LW? Possibly scoped to that month in previous years? i.e, each comment would look like

(2013) link
brief description / thoughts

or something.

It's pretty easy to go back and look through some of the older, more popular posts - but I think there were many open thread comments or frontpage posts not by Yvain / Eliezer that are starting to slip through the cracks of time. Would be nice to see what we all remember.

I think it would be great! Also, a lot of work. I wonder what would be the optimal number of links per post. Probably more than a dozen, but less than one hundred. It would be even greater if the links in the same post would have something in common, for example "all historical highly upvoted LW posts about decision theory". But that would be even more work. I think it would be nice to have something like this in wiki, but "do it as an article first, wikify later" seems like a good strategy; it would also allow debate by focusing everyone's attention on the topic at the same time.

This is the kind of content I've missed from LW in the past couple of years. Reminded me of something on old LW a while back that is a nice object level complement to this post. I saved it and look at it occasionally for inspiration (I don't really think it's a definitive list of 'things to do as a superhuman', or even a good list of things to do at all, but just as a nice reminder that ambitious people are interesting and fun):

  • Become awesome at mental math
  • Learn mnemonics. Practise by memorizing and rehearsing something, like
... (read more)
I exhaled shortly through my nose at the irony in this one: * Learn wilderness survival. Plently of books on the net about this. I do strongly recommend at least visiting the wilderness, and spending time moving around in it. Particularly at night. Walking around in the woods is one of the most impactful experiences I have had of noticing new details, while having a clear memory of not noticing those details before, in a way which was immediately useful.
Looks like it's from here: I also distinctly remember that post.

For anyone interested in vipassana meditation, I would recommend checking out Shinzen Young. He takes a much more technical approach to the practice. This pdf by him is pretty good.

Oh my god if we can get this working with org-mode and habitrpg it will be the ultimate trifecta. And I've already got the first two (here).

Seriously this could be amazing. Org-mode and habitrpg are great, but they don't really solve the problem of what to do next. But with this, you get the data collection power of org mode with the motivational power of habitrpg - then Familiar comes in, looks at your history (clock data, tags, agendas, all of the org mode stuff will be a huge pool of information that it can interact with easily because emacs) and does i... (read more)

My sentiment exactly! This seems like the sort of thing that would enable people to seriously improve their lives in a lot of different ways, but there are also many more ways to use it that probably wouldn't help much or at all. That's why I'm trying to focus on ease of use--the more people out there experimenting with measuring different things in combination, the sooner everyone gets to benefit from those methods and combinations of measurements that actually do help.

I've been surprised by people's ability to avert bad outcomes. Only two nuclear weapons have been used since nuclear weapons were developed, despite the fact that there are 10,000+ nuclear weapons around the world. Political leaders are assassinated very infrequently relative to how often one might expect a priori.

Why would a good AI policy be one which takes as a model a universe where world destroying weapons in the hands of incredibly unstable governments controlled by glorified tribal chieftains is not that bad of a situation? Almost but not quite d... (read more)

Thanks for engaging. The point is that I would have expected things to be worse, and that I imagine that a lot of others would have as well. I think that people will understand what makes AI dangerous. The arguments aren't difficult to understand. Broadly, the most powerful countries are the ones with the most rational leadership (where here I mean "rational with respect to being able to run a country," which is relevant), and I expect this trend to continue. Also, wealth is skewing toward more rational people over time, and wealthy people have political bargaining power. Political leaders have policy advisors, and policy advisors listen to scientists. I expect that AI safety issues will percolate through the scientific community before long. I agree that AI safety requires a substantial shift in perspective — what I'm claiming is that this change in perspective will occur organically substantially before the creation of AI is imminent. You don't need "most people" to work on AI safety. It might suffice for 10% or fewer of the people who are working on AI to work on safety. There are lots of people who like to be big fish in a small pond, and this will motivate some AI researchers to work on safety even if safety isn't the most prestigious field. If political leaders are sufficiently rational (as I expect them to be), they'll give research grants and prestige to people who work on AI safety.

focus@will is pretty useful for me - I've never been into movie music, but the cinematic option was very inspiring for me. There is some science behind the project too.

For the GTD stuff, I use emacs + org-mode + .emacs based on this configuration + mobile org.

Since I try to work exclusively in emacs, I can quickly capture notes and "things that need to get done" in their proper context, all of which is aggregated under an Agenda window. The Agenda window manages a collection of ".org" files which store the specific details of everything. MobileOrg syncs all these .org files to my phone. Combined with the GTD philosophy of never having anything uncategorized bouncing around in my mind, this system work... (read more)

Whether it is meant for entertainment or not I think the usefulness of these hypothetical scenarios (in the context of a community blog) is directly proportional to the precision of their construction.

I understand, and I do think you gave good advice (I love pg's writing).

On a related note, I just get a little worried when these threads come up. We like to hide behind computing jargon and Spock-like introspection; this does help with efficient communication, but probably makes us look more resilient than we really are. These kind of LW discussion posts are probably of very high social value to the OP and the tone of the responses have more of an effect than we would like to admit.

So helping the OP to see hard truths is all well and good, but it seems ... (read more)

He is older than 23 per this comment. But reading his posts, either you have some extremely high standards for high school students or I am terrible at estimating someone's level of education. (Unless you were measuring emotional maturity somehow).

In any case, I would find it pretty disheartening if someone asked me if I was in high school in a post about my own mental health. I'm sure you didn't mean to be rude, but I find it hard to believe that this response would be anything but patronizing or insulting to anyone who isn't a high school student.

I did consider that the post was very well written, but then, it is precisely the child prodigies who have the greatest difficulty in high school. The language is not out of reach for a high-intelligence teenager who both reads and writes a lot. In any case I sit corrected on the OP's age.
High school is a formative experience, socially speaking. When I was 23, my social skill were heavily effected by routines I'd learned in high school that I hadn't yet realized with dysfunctional given my goals. I found Graham's essay very insightful, and I might have found it even more helpful before I put all that effort into improving my social skills.

Someone who doesn't want to read science-y stuff because they have that kind of mindset is not going to suddenly become curious when someone tells them it's based on science-y stuff from less than 30 years ago.

I like to think of it temporally; that religion is much like rationalists facing the wrong direction. Both occasionally look over their shoulders to confirm their beliefs (although with theists it's more like throwing a homunculus into the distant past and using that for eyes), while most of the time the things we really care about and find exciting... (read more)

I think I just imagined HPMOR in the My Little Pony universe, which does not sound appealing at all (to me). This is much better.

We do have that-- it's called Myouve Gotta Be Kidding Me

With regard to the piracetam combo, yes I still use that regularly. With modafinil, I wouldn't say regularly, since it's a little expensive to keep that up. But I didn't actively stop using it. I pretty much use the same amount as I did when I was monophasic - i.e when I have it, I take it on a semi-regular basis.

I'm still on the Everyman-3, and have been for about 7 months now.

Do you still regularly use nootropics and/or stimulants or was that just to get you through the adaptation period?

The first couple times I tried it, I had the exact same experience, though it took me a little longer to give up. What really helped me finally adjust was using nootropics. I had a lot of success with piracetam + choline + l-theanine after each nap, sometimes adding coffee when I needed it. I also used modafinil every other day for the first two weeks (I wouldn't recommend this though, since most people can't sleep on it).

The coolest thing about the modafinil (and to a lesser extent piracetam, etc) use during this period was that I could really see the di... (read more)

Thanks for sharing your experience, it is valuable data to have. From what I've read most people recommend NOT using stimulants & nootropics because they can damage sleep. Interesting that you were successful with it. Just out of curiosity, what sleep schedule are you on now & how long have you been doing it?

I wish I had that schedule calculator earlier - I must have spent a couple of hours googling (#1 failure of my rationality skills) for one because I was sure someone had to have made it, given that all these polyphasic sleepers have oodles of free time.

I think Wozniak is only evangelical about the Uberman schedule being a horrible idea. He states in his 2010 update that the Everyman 3-hour core sounds "pretty sustainable".

I tried the Everyman-3 for 1 day & found it completely intolerable. I slept for 3 hours late at night, took a nap before work, at lunch, & when I returned home. All day I was basically useless. I felt as if I had the Flu. My mood was severely depressed, my head felt as if it were in a vice, & I was "zoning out" continuously. If this only lasts a few days, I think I could push through it, but my main consideration is that if I make a mistake at my job or miss some minor detail, someone could have a serious reaction or die. For this reason I feel like this is an unacceptable price to pay. Is there something I'm missing or is this only viable for people who are either unemployed or have work that is not cognitively demanding?

Unless being on "the streets" means running with gangs and/or living in a slum. I'd rather spend those years in jail rather than watch my friends get shot (assuming that I'm stuck in this environment and have come to the conclusion that murdering is bad, revenge is unsatisfactory, etc).

Though I can't imagine a situation where a person is rational enough to choose jail over the streets but not rational enough to find another way out of his current situation.

I've heard anecdotes from most of my friends in Alaska: Outside of major cities like Juneau, it's common for anyone on the streets to spend the winter in jail. Since they can't be jailed without having first committed a crime, they just keep committing some trivial crime that will require their arrest but is otherwise fairly harmless (blatantly stealing a single loaf of bread, urinating in public, etc.)
Spending time in jail is worse than any "streets" I've ever heard of, and I'm from Detroit. If its about the trauma of watching people you know get harmed, that happens pretty constantly in jail, and less often even the worst neighborhoods.
One of the main points of the article is that you are underestimating the cruelty of prison as a punishment.

The gen eds are tricky to deal with. You can't usually get out of them, but some schools are pretty good with what classes satisfy them. I would suggest ignoring the recommended gen ed courses (though try to get specific advice from fellow students and listen to them if it contradicts this) and going straight to the department which is related to the requirement. Look around and see what courses they offer, and then ask if it will satisfy a gen ed. I've found that taking department specific introductory courses is WAY more interesting than trying to slog t... (read more)

If you understand that you have to work very hard and you are able to judge how much you can handle, you'll probably be okay. I've just seen a lot of people doing a math degree because they were always good at math and they thought they could breeze through it. That won't happen.

I use SRS daily for math stuff, and the best thing you can do is get one of those cheap graphics tablets. I think mine was about $60. Then you can just write out all your question answer pairs. I did the LaTeX route for a while, but the amount of time you have to spend inputting e... (read more)

Wow, I hadn't thought of using a graphics tablet before. I'll definitely look into that, as well as the incremental learning technique you linked to. I had tentatively placed Differential Eq. before Calc III on a whim. I had no idea it drew on LA and Calc III. According to a prereq. flow chart I have, the only requirement for Calc III, Differential Eq., Discrete Math, and LA is Calc II. This very well may be a case of prerequisites being too lenient. I've penciled in the appropriate swap. I'm looking to take some computer science courses. If nothing else, at least Foundations of Computer Science. Hopefully this summer. I'll have to look into precisely what the major/minor requirements are for CS. In the mean time, I'm trying to navigate the minefields of general education requirements.

Mindfulness meditation seems like another good example, especially since the required time investment for you to start seeing benefits seems to be pretty large.

My experience with mindfulness meditation differs from the standard narrative. Once I had practiced long enough to be able to meditate for 15 min. with no problems, I found meditation much more useful for inducing a concentrated state or taming bouts of internal turbulence than any longer-term effects.

As a data point, I was always horrible at visualization. My friends used to make fun of me for not being able to navigate my hometown.

That is interesting though, I hadn't heard of this method. Thanks!

As someone who just finished my sophomore year as a math major, I think I can give some useful advice in the vale of tears that is a mathematics degree.

All in all, it comes down to how much your GPA matters to you versus how much math matters to you when choosing courses. Even if you are ridiculously smart, most of the stuff you see after calculus and linear algebra is going to be pretty damn hard, and in order to get something substantial out of those courses you'll have to spend a large amount of time staring at symbols.

So if you want to maintain a good... (read more)

Hey ryjm, thanks for taking the time to give me advice. I found it helpful. I appreciate when older students take the time to send some words of advice down the ladder. These are my thoughts, in no particular order. There are some subjects that I find it easy to excel in. But math certainly isn't one of them. For me, math takes some serious work to understand and master. And it's only been recently that I've gained an interest in really understanding it. In high school, I was definitely not in the top of my class when it came to math, never mind anything like Gauss. While I think my OP gives off a different vibe, I fear precisely what you described: that I'll get in over my head, that I'm just not cut out for a math major, or that I'll have no fucking clue what's going on. A part of my brain says to just do a philosophy degree. Because philosophy is something I've been studying almost non-stop since I was 11. It's something I won't struggle at. At least for me, a philosophy major would be orders of magnitude less difficult than a math major. Heck, I don't think I really comprehend at a gut level how hard a math major will be. All of that scares me. But while I think I'd enjoy taking a philosophy of science class than Linear Algebra, I think I have very good instrumental reasons for taking the math route. Rather than seeing math as something I value in and of itself, I see math as a gateway to other things I want to do in life. Don't get me wrong, I do find a lot of math fascinating. But I'm more attracted to it because it allows me more financial opportunities than, say, philosophy. I'm making an investment with my college education. I want an optimal rate of return. So while I really do want to understand the mathematics of linear algebra, I am more so concerned about keeping a high GPA. I need the scholarships, the internships, and the job opportunities for when I get out of school. But I don't quite see where the two goals diverge. My line of think is this: i

Memory skills and the ability to do quick arithmetic in your head (the two go hand in hand). I would suggest reading some of Dominic O'Brian's books, and then visit the various mnemotechnic forums. Most of the techniques you will find are geared towards memorizing for competitions, but with slight adjustments they can be used anywhere.

It seems a little silly at first, but it has probably been the biggest return on investment I have ever made. I started practicing these techniques last summer, and when school started I used them (Method of Loci especially ... (read more)

Do you every worry about running out of space? Or, conversely, of having so much memorized that you can't find what you need when you need it?
I wonder how many brain hacks become awesome if you just lean on them hard enough. Could we all increase our effective waking hours by a factor of 1.2 by learning to lucid dream consistently, for instance?
Let me add to your description of the "Loci method" (also the basis of ancient Ars Memoria). You are using spatial memory (which is probably the evolutionarily oldest/most optimized) to piggyback the data you want to memorize. There is an easier way for people who don't do that well in visualization. Divide a sheet of paper into areas, then write down notes on what you are trying to remember. Make areas somewhat irregular, and connect them with lines, squiggles, or other unique markers. When you write them, and when you look them over, make note of their relative position - formula A is in the left top corner, while formula Z is down and to the right of it, just beyond the spiral squiggle. For a lot of people, this works just as well as Ars Memoria, and is a lot easier to learn and execute on the fly.

I think I am in the same position as you are (uninitiated but curious) and I had the same immediate reaction that Pei was more convincing. However, for me, I think this was the result of two factors

  1. Pei is a Professor
  2. Pei treated the interview like a conversation with someone who has read a couple books and that's about it.

Maybe the 2nd point isn't entirely true, but that was what immediately stuck out after thinking about why I was drawn to Pei's arguments. Once I eliminated his status as a barometer for his arguments... it just became (1) an issue of... (read more)

What? This was a dialog between Pei and lukeprog, right? I'm curious about what you mean by the appellation "prominent AI researcher" that you would apply it to lukeprog, and whether he considers himself as a member of that category.
And he thought the undergrad terribly naive for not understanding that all sorting algorithms are actually just bubble sort. This is why I find that unless the individual is remarkably open - to the point of being peculiar - it is usually pointless to try to communicate across status barriers. Status makes people (have the tendency and social incentives that make them act) stupid when it comes to comprehending others.

Sure. But is the interpretation of EY significantly different if instead of AR the woman that's AR the myth? I know a number of Objectivists who really do believe that AR was the most important person in history. It's very different from reading the Analects, in which Confucius, mourning a gifted pupil, tells another pupil that the dead pupil was five times as clever as Confucius was. Regardless of whether or not Rand had the properly calibrated humility of science, she definitely failed to inculcate it in her friends and students.

Isn't that a subtle po... (read more)

The vibrance that Rand admired in science, in commerce, in every railroad that replaced a horse-and-buggy route, in every skyscraper built with new architecture—it all comes from the principle of surpassing the ancient masters. How can there be science, if the most knowledgeable scientist there will ever be, has already lived? Who would raise the New York skyline that Rand admired so, if the tallest building that would ever exist, had already been built? And yet Ayn Rand acknowledged no superior, in the past, or in the future yet to come.

This seems to ... (read more)

Sure. But is the interpretation of EY significantly different if instead of AR the woman that's AR the myth? I know a number of Objectivists who really do believe that AR was the most important person in history. It's very different from reading the Analects, in which Confucius, mourning a gifted pupil, tells another pupil that the dead pupil was five times as clever as Confucius was. Regardless of whether or not Rand had the properly calibrated humility of science, she definitely failed to inculcate it in her friends and students. Sure. "Particularly good at math" may mean very different things to you and EY. Math was Rand's favorite subject, but if EY means "Math Olympiad winner" by "particularly good" then those are different standards. Compare to Asimov, who was a professor of biochemistry. Compare these statements. Are there criticisms out there that you think are fair? I think Rand is an important person, and I suspect I've read more Rand and know more Objectivists than EY. But I don't think EY is obligated to invest very much before criticizing Rand, especially because his primary criticisms are of the Objectivist movement, and only indirectly criticisms of Rand. We know that Objectivism is not the rationalist movement it could be. (Many of the Objectivists I've introduced to LW have taken an instant liking to it, seeing all the places where LW-style rationality connects to or supersedes Objectivist thought.) Because the Objectivist movement revolves around Ayn Rand, it's probable that she had a big part to play in the creation of their culture. Maybe Branden was the main pusher of hero-worship- but Rand had an affair with him, rather than warning against hero-worship and cultivating dissent. But taking a step back, it's hard to see why Rand's treatment in EY's post is significant. Is it because you think people on LW ought to have a higher opinion of Rand than they currently do? Because you think the story would be more effective at showing how to not be

I don't think I missed the point of the essay. I clearly state at the end of the post that the ideas presented were incredibly interesting. I even posted an essay about Peikoff's defense of the closed system of objectivism, which I thought was more representative of the cultish nature of the group. I was responding to what I saw as a misrepresentation of Ayn Rand that I thought was unnecessary with respect to the goals of the essay.

Suppose Eleizer decided to collect all of his writings and found his own philosophy called Yudkowism of which he was the final... (read more)

What attacks on Rand's character did EY make? I went back and reread Shermer's article, that EY links, and EY's post, and when comparing the two of them EY's post is a defense of Rand. "This could have happened to anybody; it might even happen to us! Let's try to learn from their example so that it doesn't." Shermer goes into the details of the nasty breakup between Rand and Branden- EY takes at face value that the spouses were okay with it, and labels it a private matter. What am I missing, here? Quotes from EY's post will help.

By "justify" I meant "show that her actions were not a contradiction of her philosophy", which is what I think you said in your third question.

However, I was not trying to provide a justification for objectivism, and I was not attempting to use the tenets of objectivism in any clever sort of way.

I also was not trying to give strong justifications of her actions, only to show that if one were to give her main ideas a charitable reading, one would find a significant amount of evidence showing that her portrayal in Guardians of Ayn Rand ... (read more)


Agreed. I was lugging around her specs only to justify her actions, not to justify her philosophy.

How are you using "justify" here? Do you mean "show to be morally permissible?" In that case sure, free country, etc. Do you mean "show to be good role model behavior?" Not so much. Do you mean "show to be in strict accordance with objectivism, which is a source of justification?" This is quite possibly Rand's own intent with the whole "what I say is objectivism" route, but if objectivism is to have any hope of meeting mild standards for good philosophy, said route cannot work. From this side of the author/audience divide, what I feel like you are doing when justifying is repeating things that others said that made you feel okay about the thing being justified. But we, your audience, are not you, and so repeating things that worked for you probably won't work for us. You have to break things down and then build them up again to try and find the truth about a specific question.

Ah, I see. The mind killing bit makes sense, but wouldn't you want to combat it by confronting it head on and refusing to succumb to the polarization? I don't find it to be particularly hard to do, and I'm fairly certain I haven't been mind killed. But I very much respect this position, and I accept the consequences of publishing material that enables these tendencies.

The factual inaccuracies were primarily in the presentation of her actions as being discordant with her philosophy. I have attempted to show her actions were not so incongruous. Also, the pre... (read more)

Discussing mindkilling is difficult. I also wish there was a way to discuss politically heated topic safely (even at the cost that I would be forbidded to participate, just allowed to read a discussion on topic of my interest written by people I consider rational), but seems to me that experiments don't give us much hope. Even on LW when the discussion starts to approach something political, I feel it becomes worse that usual, though still rather good compared with the rest of Internet. It is difficult to argue why and how exactly this happens, because saying "a person being mindkilled usually does not feel like being mindkilled" seems like a fully general counterargument []. But in my experience, someone saying they are able to discuss topic X without being mindkilled means almost nothing. I believe some people are able to discuss some sensitive topics without getting mindkilled, but I also believe there are much more people who think they are able to discuss the same topic without getting mindkilled and they are completely wrong. Trying to invite to discussion only people self-diagnosed as resistant for mindkilling does not work. If such discussion ever becomes possible, it will need to have very strict rules set in advance, much higher than an ordinary LW discussion.
In short, no. Because this site isn't about Rand, or politics, or religion, or whatever. It's a site about rationality, and discussion thereof is tremendously hindered by mindkilling topics. * Politics is the Mindkiller []

I'm sincerely confused as to why this is getting downvoted so heavily (and it seems to have disappeared... is this a feature?). Is it just the nature of the topic? Honestly, it's not a well structured critique or whatever, but this is the discussion page, is it not? I'm not arguing some logically indefensible position, and I can't seem to find any errors in my logic (my logic consisting of my use of Rand's philosophy and not of the logical positioning of her ideas).

Is it not encouraging valid discussion? I don't see why not, as there are many things to ta... (read more)

Articles with a certain number of downvotes (4? 5?) disappear automatically from the list of posts, regardless of content. I wish this number of downvotes were set higher, say to 10 or 15. The only thing I want to go away fast are spam posts and truly horrendous articles; things that are overall disapproved by the community to the point of just 5-10 downvotes, like this article, can still spark interesting discussions I don't want to miss.
8Paul Crowley11y
Re-reading (skimming) "Guardians of Ayn Rand", the "closed system" point seems to me central and not addressed as such in your post.

Could you explain to me this whole "mind killing" business? I'm not talking politics here, I'm talking rhetoric. All I did was take Rand's actions as mentioned in the original essay and gave a justification by Rand's philosophy. This wasn't used to justify her philosophy, only to show that her actions were consistent with it. I agree with Eliezer's final points, but I don't agree with the way they were represented, and that's all I sought to show here.

I don't see how the nature of the criticism is changed by the fact that worse criticism exists. If the facts are incorrect, they are incorrect and that's it.

The only factual inaccuracy (and you've spent more time looking at this post than I care to, evidently, so maybe I've missed something) I see is the math bit. And that's even a stretch. I'd say it's a reasonable interpretation that Rand didn't meet the "particularly good" standard. I've certainly never seen any of evidence that it is beside the third hand account (Professor > Rand > Barbra) presented in the post. And even if she was unusually talented, she didn't really use any significant math in her philosophy or writing, which probably lead to the decay of the talent. But basically, anything that divides humans into tribes is "mind killing". It doesn't have to be politics - any polarizing issue will do. Religion is the other prototypical example. But even inane things like Mac vs. PC can be mindkilling to an extent - anything that's polarizing. And Rand was one of the most polarizing figures of the 20th century.

I don't think this is done. The bad things about Rand are emphasized, yes, but that is because that is what we can learn from.

Most people commenting did not seem like they were very familiar with the philosophy, and I think the presentation of 1. the ideas behind the philosophy and 2. the founder of the philosophy were incredibly misleading. If someone (like me) were relatively new the site were to read this, they would have an incredibly biased view of her philosophy. I don't see how justifying that point by saying people already know her philosophy gi... (read more)

Apologies, I should have thought about the about possible interpretations of such a dialogue; I meant it more as a "feel good" kind of thing rather than a factual assessment about the nature of mentally unstable people. Thinking about it, "crazy" definitely does not map easily into "moron", and my usage of the above dialogue was intended to convey the notion that logically thinking about whether or not you are a moron is a good sign that you are probably not a moron.

But I think your comment brings up another interesting point.... (read more)

No. Each emotional state has it's own separate definition of "crazy", which doesn't seem very prone to change (i.e. much as calm-self would love to rewrite manic-self to view traffic as dangerous, my manic self still feels it is invincible) However, I can pass along information and algorithms between selves. My calm self has an algorithm that says "If you are tempted to walk in to traffic for any reason, you are probably not sane." My manic self can run this algorithm, and she will go "huh, calm self views this as a crazy idea, even though I am invincible. There's a small chance calm self is right, so I'll avoid traffic. Plus, it will make calm-self happier with me, and I like it when calm-self can relax and not try to kill me with drugs."

What is the recommended literature related to the ideas both you and wedrifid have been discussing in this thread? I googled but I figure it wouldn't hurt to ask either. Thanks.

Which aspects? I think the only field relevant to what we were discussing is information theory. The stuff about superintelligences coordinating doesn't have any existent literature, but similar ideas are discussed on LessWrong in the context of decision theory [].
We should be winning []. Less Weird is a good heuristic for winning (though a bad heuristic for a site name []).

I think the subtlety here is that intelligence is used in place of domain specific aptitude, when much more information can be obtained through an enumeration of the latter. Given the sixteen equally competent generals with one who successfully wins four even battles in a row, saying "he won because he was intelligent" gives us limited information in that it does reveal the reason why he won to the majority of people who don't care for specifics, but does not tell us what this specific general did differently when compared to his equally skilled ... (read more)

If you can't trust your evaluation of the moron argument, how can you trust your evaluation of the argument that your moron argument is logically insoluble; or, for that matter, any argument at all?

I agree that it would be better to realize the low utility in thinking about these types of arguments and file them away to a dusty box in a tiny little nook in the back of your mind. However, I wouldn't go as far as dusting it off and smacking a "logically insoluble" tag on it; it just seems like an attempt to rationalize with a pseudo logical hack.

A... (read more)

I ask myself if I'm crazy all the time. This trait does not go away when I'm having actual serious impairment. In a manic episode, the answer is "Ahahaha, I'm not crazy, I'm finally seeing everything clearly! It's BEAUTIFUL". During a schizophrenic episode, the question usually doesn't make any sense - "how can you even define crazy? I just say I'm crazy because that OTHER self disagrees with me. Well, what if NOW is when I'm seeing clearly? But what if she really IS my friend, and I'm just hallucinating that she's trying to kill me? I don't want to wake up and find out I killed my best friend in a fit of paranoid schizophrenia O.O" Depressive episodes, the answer is "yep, I'm a horrible insane broken shell that can't do anything right. Might as well give up. World would be better off without me." When I'm actually feeling sane, the answer is a nice, calm "of course I'm sane. I'm calm about the question and not attaching any particular importance to it". One can read a lot in to that last answer, vis-a-vis the above dialogue...

Also, learn to differentiate between genuine curiosity and what I like to call pseudo-curiosity - basically, being satisfied by conclusions rather than concepts. Don't let the two overlap. This is especially hard when conclusions are most of the time readily available and often the first item in a google search. In terms of genuine curiosity, google has been the bane of my existence - I will start off moderately curious, but instead of moving to that higher stage of curiosity, I will be sated by facts and conclusions without actually learning anything (sim... (read more)


There was also a very detailed comment thread on Hacker News - someone claimed to have built one from 30$ in parts.

I see. I wasn't asserting that you are going to do work you hate, however. I was mainly looking at the value of having a seemingly unachievable and incredibly broad goal as one's primary motivation.

I'm sure you have a much more nuanced view of how and why you are undertaking this life change, and I don't want to discourage you. Seeing as how the general consensus is that FAI is the most important thing to be doing, I think it would take a lot of effort to discourage you. I just can't help but think that there should be a primary technical interest in the ... (read more)

I'm also confused as to what I should be working on. That was one of the primary reason it took a while for me to get to this point. I still don't know what to do, but I know I have to do my best to figure it out.

As a relatively new member of this site, I'm having trouble grasping this particular reasoning and motivation for participating in FAI. I've browsed Eleizer's various writings on the subject of FAI itself, so I have a vague understanding of why FAI is important, and such a vague understanding is enough for me to conclude that FAI is one, if not the most, important topic that currently needs to be discussed. This belief may not be entirely my own and is perhaps largely influenced by the amount of comments and posts in support of FAI, in conjunction with my ... (read more)

Even when you understand that FAI is the most important thing to be doing, there are many ways in which you can fail to translate that into action. It seems most people are making the assumption that I'll suddenly start doing really boring work that I hate. That's not the case. I have to maximize my benefit, which means considering all the factors. I can't be productive in something that I'm just bad at, or something that I really hate, so I won't do that. But there are plenty of things that I'm somewhat interested in and somewhat familiar with, that would probably do a lot more to help with FAI than making games. But, again, it's something that has to be carefully determined. That's all I was trying to say in this post. I have an important goal -> I need to really consider what the best way to achieve that goal is.

Funny that you mention music. My experience with practicing guitar all through high school was what led me to believe that natural talent is dwarfed by hard work. This is a oft repeated phrase, but I don't think it does anything for anyone until they experience the results of it themselves.

You can find my instrumental metal project here.

The substantial amount of mathematics related posts has encouraged me to emerge from lurker status and post my own 'project'.

I have spent the last 5 months recording every minute of rigorous mathematical practice here in an attempt to test the limits of my modest intellect. I used a stopwatch and paper for the first couple of months, but I have now graduated to Emacs and org-mode (and to tracking all of my time, out of pure curiosity - I like knowing that every aspect of my life is searchable. It frees a (possibly imagined) mental burden).

A (long) backgrou... (read more)

Don't ever, ever say that. Without the will to act you become akin to a non-person, more like a sentient rock that observes and reacts according to past rules, but cannot move towards a goal.
I'm finding it inspirational that you'll work that hard to try to level up in something you're interested in but not sure you have any talent in. This is pretty much how I'm approaching music ... still haven't learnt to actually play an instrument yet, of course.