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Good luck, Mr. Rationalist

"Think clearly" seems a reasonable goodbye.

PSA: Learn to code

Absolutely; I certainly do have things I'd love to code.

  • I rely heavily on a python notes taking program, Zim, which could use some help implementing more features like tables, or an android port.
  • Linux could use an extended nutrition, food, and exercise tracking program
  • I've toyed with the idea of trying to pull components together under KDE and link food purchases to a pantry tracking program to a nutrition tracking program to a health logging program
  • The BIOS on my laptop is broken under Linux in many ways; I've seen and attempted to decompile and repair it, but working with a >10000 line decompiled program exhausted me quickly.
  • Everyone needs their own window manager, right? I'd even started extending xfwm4 with wmctrl in bash scripts, but it was a bit silly and in the latest release the key feature was replicated officially, and far more elegantly.
  • qubes-os is (I hope) the future of secure but practical computing but my current hardware makes running it less than useful

I could probably work a good bit on any of the above projects, but I don't think I could succeed, since there is so little benefit to me and I'm at a #1-20 Project Euler level.

PSA: Learn to code

As someone who can program well for a beginner ( Linux user, scripts very well; otherwise Python, C, C++ and MATLAB are what I've used), what advantage is there to be gained in learning more? I'd really like to; I'm trying to all the time, but I have no real problems I need to code to solve, or they are simply much too big. Can you suggest some benefits that I'd gain from a moderate skill increase?

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)

I know it's been some time, but I wanted to thank you for the reply. I've thought considerably, and I still feel that I'm right. I'm going to try to explain again.

Sure, we all have our own utility functions. Now, if you're trying to maximize utility for everyone, that's no easy task, and you'll end up with a relatively small amount of utility.

Would you condone someone for forcing someone else to try chocolate, if that person believed it tasted bad, but loved it as soon as they tried it? If someone mentally deranged set themselves on fire and asked you not to save them, would you? If someone is refusing cancer treatment because "Science is evil", I at least would force the treatment on them. Would you force transhumanity on everyone who refused it, is probably a better question for LessWrong. I feel that, though I may violate others' utility functions, we're all mentally deranged, and so someone should save us. Someone should violate our utility preferences to change them. Because that would bring an enormous amount of utility.

I'm struggling how to reconcile respecting preferences with how much of society today works. Personally, I don't think anyone should ever violate my utility preferences. But can you deny that there are people you think should have theirs changed? I'm inclined to think that a large part of this community is.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)

Well, I am new here, and I suppose it was a slightly presumptive of me to say that. I was just trying to introduce myself with a few of the thoughts I've had while reading here.

To attempt to clarify, I think that this story is rather like the fable of the Dragon-Tyrant. To live a life with even the faintest hint of displeasure is a horrific crime, the thought goes. I am under the impression that most people here operate with some sort of utilitarianist philosophy. This to me seems to imply that unless one declares that there is no objective state for which utilitarianism is to be directed towards, humanity in this example is wrong. (In case someone is making the distinction between ethics and morals, as an engineer, it doesn't strike me as important.)

To the issue of akrasia, I don't see this as a case. My own judgement says that a life like theirs is vapid and devoid of meaning. Fighting to the death against one's own best judgement probably isn't rare either; I expect many, many soldiers have died fighting wars they despised, and who had options other than fighting them. In effect, I feel like this is multiplication by zero, and add infinity. You have more at the end; you're just no longer the unique complex individual you were, and I could not bear to submit to that.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)

LessWrong community, I say hello to you at last!

I'm a first year chemical engineering student in Canada. At some point in time I was linked to The AI-Box Experiment by Yudkowsky, probably 3-1/2 years ago. I'm not sure. The earliest record I have, of an old firefox history file, is Wed Jun 25 20:19:56 ADT 2008. I guess that's when I first encountered rationality, though it may have been back when I used IE (shudders). I read a lot of his site, and occasionally visited it and againstbias. I though it was pretty complicated, and that I'd see more of that guy in my life. Years later, here I am.

One concern I have is whether or not I belong here. Sure, I like to learn on my own and do a lot of rationality-related stuff, but to accurately express how badly I am at rationality, I will compare my own abilities to most republican's ability to understand science. I don't think I'm particularly smart, on top. I argued with teachers and got a ~93% average in High School, though I like to think I understand things more than most students. I have not taken any formal IQ test, but I consistently score a mere 120 on online tests.

My motivation tends to be highly whimsical, and though I'm attempting to track myself on various fronts I keep failing. If I ever get addicted to a drug, I will never escape it. I have horrible dietary habits, though miraculously I have stayed lean enough. I don't exercise and constantly fail to realize how most people around me could kick my ass.

I've read about half the sequences, and taken notes on maybe 15%. I think Gwern's writing is not top-notch but always a pleasure to read. Methods of Rationality is a mediocre story by an author who isn't. It's not even in my top 20 fanfictions. Someday I'll actually send him some feedback, but I think it would all be ignored because he's trying make fanfiction something it isn't. To his credit, it worked much more than I though it would. Three worlds collide demonstrates to me that most of you don't understand the lack of ethics in this world - you should all accept that assimilation is the optimal solution.

On the other hand, I'd fight to the death and beyond to avoid it. I'm not ready to leave everything I am behind. I'm also not ready to sign up for cryogenics, and I have definitely heard all the arguments for it. My pathetic refutations are that I don't want to ruin my life trying to survive forever, I'd rather live a good life now, and that I expect either existence is such a cold, cruel place that civilization will fall soon, or other life will preserve my existence anyway. Possibly with time travel. Or just through everything happening, like in Greg Egan's novel Permutation City.

I think that's about all I can write today. I hope I don't make too many enemies here. Hope to get to know you all!

2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey

Alright, I finally made an account. Thanks for the push, though this had little to do with why I've joined. I liked the probability parts of the survey, though I know I need to improve my estimates. Political section might be better done with a full-fledged Question section just devoted to it. Perhaps a later survey? I can't wait to see the results.