silentbob

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Hammertime Postmortem

As mentioned in the final exam, here's my personal summary of how I experienced hammertime.

I feel like following the sequence was a very good use of my time, even though it turned out a bit different from what I had initially expected. I thought it would focus much more on "hammering in" the techniques (even after reading Hammers & Nails and realizing the metaphor worked in a different way), but it was more about trying everything out rather briefly, as well as some degree of obtaining new perspectives on things. This was fine, too, but I still feel like I haven't got a real idea about whether things such as goal/aversion factoring, mantras, internal double crux, focusing or timeless decision making actually do anything for me. I applied some of the techniques once, but it didn't really lead to any tangible results. I may have done them incorrectly, or I may need to practice more, or maybe they just don't work for me, and it's now up to me to figure this out in detail.

I derived a lot of value from creating and frequently updating the bug list. TAPs are a neat concept, and those that work are really helpful, but many fail for me. Maybe I'll get a better feeling for which triggers work for me so I can tell beforehand instead of going through days and weeks of consistent failure with a trigger. Design surely works, but I've got some aversions to applying it which I'll have to unravel. CoZE is something I never really doubted, and I like the new framing of basically just becoming the kind of person who's open to new things, as opposed to forcing oneself to do scary things. I've been following the "all else being equal expanding my comfort zone is good" heuristic for a few years already, and will continue to do so, as my natural instinct otherwise is usually to exploit rather than to explore.

Yoda timers/resolve cycles and murphyjitsu probably had the greatest effect on me. On day 10 I murphyjitsued three of my major quarter goals and increased my expected value of how many of them I'd achieve from 1.24 to 2.08 in the process. At the time these were merely predictions and would be worthless if they were not correlated with reality - now however I can say that I'm on track to reach 2.5/3, and I'm highly confident that murphyjitsu made a huge counterfactual difference and I hadn't simply been underconfident before.

I followed the sequence with a group of other people, sharing our progress in a slack channel, which kept up my motivation and probably made it a lot more interesting than "merely" following a year old sequence on my own, so that's certainly something I recommend to others who are interested in giving it a try.

To provide some numbers, I've identified 175 bugs by now, 35 of which I consider solved, and around half of which I expect to solve within the next year, which isn't overly ambitious but still in the order of "life-changing" if things work out, which sounds good enough for me.

So, overall: Thanks a lot alkjash!

[Hammertime Final Exam] Quantum Walk, Oracles and Sunk Meaning

Quantum Walk: That's pretty much it.

Oracle: Possibly, didn't get around to reading it all so far. As far as I understand from just skimming, I guess a difference may be that the term deconfusion is used with regards to a domain where people are at risk of thinking they understand and aren't aware of any remaining confusion. I was more referring to situations where the presence of confusion is clear, but one struggles to identify a strategy to reduce it. In that case it may be helpful to focus on the origin of one's own confusion first as opposed to the thing one is trying to understand.

Sunk Meaning: Yes, plus there may be times when we are talking about meaning / interpretation without realizing so, falsely assuming we're referring to actual properties of the real world. In the above example, people may feel like "we should use the cow's skin as otherwise it is wasted" is a real argument, that reality would in some way be better when acting that way, because "wasting things = bad". That's a (usually useful but still at times) flawed heuristic though. I wonder if there are more ways where we intuitively think we're talking about properties of the real world, when in actuality we're only referring to states of our own mind.

How Much is Your Time Worth?

I strongly agree with the essence of this post, considering I've spent quite some time recently thinking about the value of my time and trying to somehow put it into reasonable numbers in order to make everyday decisions easier and more well informed.

About a year ago I took the clearerthinking test and ended up with ~32€, which seemed high, and looking back I think it wasn't particularly accurate. I'm thus not a great fan of that test personally and think getting a correct value requires much deeper thought than this small questionnaire prompts you to do (although thinking about the issue at all is of course already useful). One benefit it has though is that it clearly shows the asymmetry in our intuitions (aka loss aversion), so that was very helpful at the time, yet the number that came out provided me with a false sense of certainty.

Thinking through things further these last few days, I revised that value now to very roughly 12€ (varying from around 6€ to 18€ depending on the type of action, although I assume EA work should very likely be rated much higher than that). But just as the earlier value, it still is mostly based on intuitions and inner simulation regarding what price I'd accept for e.g. somebody asking me to simply do nothing at all for a week. So it's still on fairly shaky grounds. Calculating the external value my time has on the world is difficult as so far I'm focusing more on learning and developing than on generating actual output (the latter only making up 1-2 hours per week so far).

One difficulty is that it's not easy to look at the marginal value only, plus the consequences it has on one's behavior could easily shift spending in a way that the marginally value itself changes significantly. If I spend 200€ more per month, money suddenly becomes more scarce and thus valuable. If I reduce my day job work time from 5 to 4 days a week, the same thing happens. So after any major change or decision I have to reevaluate and come up with new numbers.

Despite these difficulties however, thinking deeply about this and reducing one's uncertainty however far possible is certainly time well spent. Thanks for the post!

Hammertime Final Exam

I did it: my final exam.

Thank you for the sequence, had a great time, will leave a few additional thoughts in the post mortem post.

[Hammertime Final Exam] Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future
Their hypothesis was that the child would indeed regret it, even though the decision was clearly correct - which would show that regret is not reliable information about the quality of one’s past decisions.

Food for thought! I guess System 1's tendency to overvalue the present might cause us to discount the future as well as the past. I'm not quite sure to which degree I would consider this likely however. At least I personally usually do not regret decisions from the past that had positive effects on my well being, even if the alternative would be to experience that increased well being now.

But even then, the only purpose regret seems to have is to prevent us from repeating past mistakes. But this is 1) prone to overcorrecting and 2) we'd be much better off learning the lesson without having to suffer from that nagging feeling of regret for basically ever.

The Strategic Level
Share a story of a cure that was worse than the disease.

Not too long ago my girlfriend once said a few things I found hurtful. A few days later I decided to talk things through with her. Unfortunately that day she was in a rather bad mood for different reasons (which I hadn't fully comprehended until that point), which caused the talk to derail a bit and become more hurtful, different from the past when having these meta relationship talks always worked rather well.

My reaction to this initially was to assume she had just changed over time and had somehow "lost her empathy" -- so basically fundamental attribution error, assuming that's apparently how she is now rather than she's having a bad day and maybe we should talk about this some other time. My over-correction was to decide just not to have such talks anymore and keep stuff to myself. Fortunately though she sorted things out later and I quickly made sure to unlearn that lesson.

One meta lesson I learned from this is that I personally tend to over-correct on any kind of negative evidence in relationships and probably social situations in general.

Internal Double Crux

I can relate. The few times when I used IDC in the past, it did feel useful, but still it's not really enjoyable. Maybe it's the fact that with IDC I'm not so much solving a problem but rather figuring out something about myself. There maybe won't be any cool hacks or workarounds to solve it all, but in the end it's more about coming to terms with things. So maybe choosing IDC as the best tool to approach a bug already feels like a small defeat which causes me to rather not choose it and try other, more outward-facing tools instead, or ignore the bug entirely. Something like that.

CoZE 3: Empiricism
Share an experience where you radically underestimated or overestimated your own ability.

Overestimated: being filmed for an interview for a promo video of my company. Didn't think much of it beforehand, but it turned out to be awkward as hell, zero usable footage emerged. Wasting the time of all the ~8 people in the room wasn't great.

Underestimated: Nothing too radical, but giving a speech at a big birthday party. Expected it to be decent as I generally enjoy public speaking, but it went smoother than I thought, people laughed at the jokes and I think most were actually interested in what I said. Some complimented me on the speech afterwards which was nice.

Design 3: Intentionality

Praise: The way you've layed everything out, following the hammertime routine is quite motivating and rewarding. Every new day comes with a bit of a dopamine rush.

Criticism: a few of the days don't have any real action attached, such as this one, where actually implementing design improvements appears somewhat optional and all you really ask us to do is write a comment. This may very well just be me, but more consistent "homework" (e.g. each day requiring at least one yoda timer of some kind) would be helpful to establish some consistency.

Bug Hunt 3
Are you better at achieving your values since Hammertime Day 1? If so, what helped?

I've been able to (probably lastingly) resolve ~20 bugs so far¹ and make notable improvements in a few areas of my life. Also my productivity increased by roughly 40% since starting hammertime, which however could have various causes (plus, last year too I was most productive during the summer months).

Regarding whether it helped me achieve my values, "no clear values" remains as one of my unresolved bugs, so I can't really tell.

I'd say the things that helped the most are yoda timers and murphyjitsu. TAPs tend to not work very well for me, but when they do, they're also very useful.

¹) That really isn't too much, and I realize it would make sense to allocate a few hours every week to just do some introspection and working on my bugs. So far I've mostly just followed hammertime and didn't do much on top, but I guess the greatest value lies in utilizing all this stuff consistently.

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