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Thanks for the feedback! 

I agree that it is possible to learn quickly without mentorship. However, I believe that for most programmers, the first "real" programming job is a source of tremendous growth. Why not have that earlier, and save more of one's youth?


Conventional advice directed at young people seem shockingly bad. I sat down to generate a list of anti-advice.

The anti-advice are things that I wish I was told in high school, but that are essentially negations of conventional advice.

You may not agree with the advice given here. In fact, they are deliberately controversial. They may also not be good advice. YMMV.

  • When picking between colleges, do care a lot about getting into a prestigious/selective university. Your future employers often care too.
  • Care significantly less about nebulous “college fit.” Whether you’ll enjoy a particular college is determined mainly by 1, the location, and 2, the quality of your peers
  • Do not study hard and conscientiously. Instead, use your creativity to find absurd arbitrages. Internalize Thiel's main talking points and find an unusual path to victory.
  • Refuse to do anything that people tell you will give you "important life skills." Certainly do not take unskilled part time work unless you need to. Instead, focus intently on developing skills that generate surplus economic value.
  • If you are at all interested in a career in software (and even if you're not), get a “real” software job as quickly as possible. Real means you are mentored by a software engineer who is better at software engineering than you.
  • If you’re doing things right, your school may threaten you with all manners of disciplinary action. This is mostly a sign that you’re being sufficiently ambitious.
  • Do not generically seek the advice of your elders. When offered unsolicited advice, rarely take it to heart. Instead, actively seek the advice of elders who are either exceptional or unusually insightful.

Thanks for the post!

The problem was that I wasn’t really suited for mechanistic interpretability research.

Sorry if I'm prodding too deep, and feel no need to respond. I always feel a bit curious about claims such as this.

I guess I have two questions (which you don't need to answer):

  1. Do you have a hypothesis about the underlying reason for you being unsuited for this type of research? E.g. do you think you might be insufficiently interested/motivated, have insufficient conscientiousness or intelligence, etc.
  2. How confident are you that you just "aren't suited" to this type of work? To operationalize, maybe given e.g. two more years of serious effort, at what odds would you bet that you still wouldn't be very competitive at mechanistic interpretability research? 
    1. What sort of external feedback are you getting vis a vis your suitability for this type of work? E.g. have you received feedback from Neel in this vein? (I understand that people are probably averse to giving this type of feedback, so there might be many false negatives).

Hi, do you have a links to the papers/evidence?


Strong upvoted.

I think we should be wary of anchoring too hard on compelling stories/narratives.

However, as far as stories go, this vignette scores very highly for me. Will be coming back for a re-read.


but a market with a probability of 17% implies that 83% of people disagree with you

Is this a typo?

Answer by sudo11



What can be used to auth will be used to auth

One of the symptoms of our society's deep security inadequacy is the widespread usage of unsecure forms of authentication.

It's bad enough that there are systems which authenticate you using your birthday, SSN, or mother's maiden name by spec.

Fooling bad authentication is also an incredibly common vector for social engineering. 

Anything you might have, which others seem unlikely to have (but which you may not immediately see a reason to keep secret), could be accepted by someone you implicitly trust as "authentication."

This includes:

  • Company/industry jargon
  • Company swag
  • Certain biographical information about yourself (including information you could easily Google)
  • Knowing how certain internal numbering or naming systems work (hotels seemingly assume only guests know how the rooms are numbered!)

As the worst instance of this, the best way to understand a lot of AIS research in 2022 was “hang out at lunch in Constellation”. 

Is this no longer the case? If so, what changed?

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