Willa

Hi there!

I'm focused on learning about the different causes of death and how to get rid of them: Viva Immortality!

I used to do IT, but am pivoting to found an organization dedicated to achieving human immortality.

I also write over at the EA Forum: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/users/willa

Join the EAHub professional network and community! You don't have to rely on LinkedIn to find other EAs for interesting and impactful job opportunities or discussions. https://eahub.org/profile/willa-lambert/

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Willa's Shortform

Shortform #65 Work Work Work, jobs are nice | Thoughts about career and future things

I started a new job in October, it was about time, and I've greatly benefited from working again! I'm enjoying the work, the environment, the industry, and am looking for W2 fulltime positions (I'm contract at the moment) at the institution I'm at plus a similar few nearby. Turns out I quite like working at hospitals and medical institutions, even if I am still doing IT work.

I started a second job this week which is very different from my main job. Instead of working in person at a big institution doing technical things, I'm working remotely providing information validity assessments (i.e. fact checking) for a smaller yet still high impact organization. Very much so looking forward to doing more of such work at that org and further developing + formalizing my epistemic confidence / information validity assessment and evaluation methodologies.

Sometime during the last month or two as I adjusted to working full time again, I cut out more and more activities / actions / things from my life and so far have only been picking back up ones that truly spark joy and/or are very good for me. I feel overbooked, honestly, but I'm really enjoying everything I'm doing and am finding that my efficiency, competency, plus overall productivity all keep going up. I'm happy and doing quite well!

Other things I'm working to make more time for that I want to do that spark joy and are good for me:

  • public writing (like this, but also full posts too. these shortforms are good as basic things to do on a regular basis to keep my writing habit going and increase my self-legibility)
  • correspondence! I dropped almost all of my one on one or small group correspondence when I went into super job hunt mode and then especially when I started working again. There are quite a few people I want to get back to, and also reach out to, so I will.
  • Guild of the ROSE: a great organization, I am enjoying participating in the guild quite a bit and really like what we're all doing there. Now to make just a wee more time for completing coursework, since I want to be more on top of that than I have been.
  • YouTube videos: I've wanted to make videos for awhile, and people these days keep telling me to make them already, so fine I'll do that :) (it'll be fun!)

Thoughts about the future and career things: I am a very good technician, solving problems that involve hands on work plus a deep understanding of complex and highly abstract systems (and ideas) comes very easily to me. Any complex system that's been thrown at me...I've been able to quickly understand what I needed to about it and fix problems with it. This is not limited to IT / technical complex systems problem solving, it seems to be near fully general in my experience. I think this is one of those areas where I have an intuitive leg up over others and my prowess at complex system problem solving should be factored into my career goals.

I love exploring ideas and am good at doing so, understanding even the most difficult and complicated concepts has never been an issue for me. I learn quickly and integrate new knowledge well, and seem to make connections between ideas or notice patterns that others miss. I have an insatiable appetite for novelty and exploration, knowledge and understand are power, and I want as much of both things as possible. I have to factor my love of knowledge, appetite for novelty, and capability of understanding into my career goals.

I struggle deeply and intensely if I am only doing one of the above two types of work, however. If I only perform applied or hands on work, I'll soon feel stuck or bored, listless. I burn out and stop caring about fixing whatever it is I was fixing. If I only perform exploration, spend all my time learning or researching, but never apply it, then I drift off and become lost, soon becoming listless and nihilistic. For whatever reason, I seem to require performing two separate types of work at the same time to be personally and professionally satisfied, and stave off burn out and other worse things.

Given that complex system problem solving and idea exploration + development are two of my favorite areas of work that I have demonstrable competence at and gain fulfillment from, I need a career path that saturates me with both types of work on a regular basis.

Additionally, I require sufficiently challenging, interesting, and important problems to solve. The most important problem to solve is death, i.e. figuring out how to prevent or fix all possible causes of death. This is a sufficiently challenging, interesting, and important problem with many subsets of criteria matching problems to solve, and I am dedicating my career to solving such problems. But where to start?

Based on my career path criteria outlined above, my enjoyment and deep satisfaction from working in healthcare, and other things, I think the best plan of attack for me is to train for an MD and PhD: MD for the more applied technician sort of work, PhD for the more abstract research sort of work. Uncertain exactly which specializations I want to pursue, though for an MD several on this list look appealing. PhD, I'm inclined towards biogerontology, but by no means have firmly decided yet.

I am open to feedback, comments, suggestions, about all of these things.

Yay for writing! I enjoyed writing this post and am glad I've done so. Here's to more writing to come :)

Earlier I gave myself some time to have one full album listening session (doing nothing but listening to music, no multi tasking) and listened to Caterina Barbieri's "Patterns of Conscioussness" 2017 album, which was sublime and honestly very focusing and refining in significant ways. I unconsciously wrote most of this post during that listening session, because after the album finished I went to my computer and typed all this up.

While writing this post, I listened to the "Berlin Atonal: More Light" compilation from 2020. Not every song was my jam, but it was fun exploring, and I did find some songs I quite enjoyed.

Be well!
Cheers,
Willa

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #64 Building Deliberate and Helpful Systems for Increasing Goal-Aligned Actions

The Guild of the ROSE's beta phase courses begin this week, and I'm happy to be participating! I like the organizational model of the guild, the mission and vision, the guild's fundraising model, the community, etc. I'm excited to see where this all goes and am enjoying my participation + cohort membership thus far, I've already gained good things from it.

Making and using deliberately designed systems for creating, organizing, managing, etc. knowledge work, creative work, projects, etc. is vital, so I'm building such systems for myself now. The goal is to increase my deliberateness and produce / create a lot more goal-aligned work, so the systems will be tailored thusly.

What I'm building so far / what I know I need to build:

  • trusted "inbox" for tasks, things I'm doing, etc. that is cloud syncable and accessible from the desktop of all my computers

    • to accomplish this I've created an Inbox.txt file in my cloud storage drive and aliased it to my computer's desktop; i will create a similar alias / shortcut / sym link (Depending on OS, same idea though, different name or implementation) on my other computers.
    • much inspiration for this came from Cal Newport's work generally and some of his podcast episodes I listened to recently
    • I am dating entries and each entry is assigned defined symbols corresponding to urgency, priority, status, etc.
  • Way to keep track of what I'm doing with my time and track what I get done

    • I created a DoingList.txt file in my cloud storage drive and aliased it to my computer's desktop. Each entry is time stamped including the start and end time so I know how long it took and when I performed relevant actions for + completed said entry. Generally there will be a corresponding Inbox.txt entry which once actually completed I will append the appropriate symbol to, but notes or other things that I jot down during the process of completing the task will stay in the DoingList.txt file. This preserves a distinction between "here's whats on my plate" and "here's how I accomplished specific things on my plate and when", which feels important to preserve.
  • Website design and implementation that supports the repositories of information and other things I want to place on it.

  • How to track what I know and how I know it

  • Quick to use, well-organized referable sources of information that act as external memory prosthetics for my life generally but especially for specific projects I'm working on and/or knowledgebases I'm building.

I'll likely find more to add to the above systems, but for now that's good enough and represents quite a bit of work.

Cheers,
Willa

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #63 Something Hopeful

I'm writing this shortform while listening to this song: https://open.spotify.com/track/7BpaJerjwq1LCvInJevW74?si=39872be743b34768

I believe that's inspired the title, the song does inspire a feeling of hope in me as well as wonder.

This is a short shortform, not much to go on about today other than it was a better day than yesterday, and I'm happy about that! There was a Houston Rationalists meetup tonight which went well and was fun, I'm glad I participated in that, I had a good time. I did better regarding my media diet today though still not quite back to full adherence.

Legibility, noticing, precision, deliberateness, focus, and right action are all on my mind these days. Maybe I need to look more into the OODA Loop and surrounding research? Though, that doesn't seem to capture entirely the above grouping of things, despite still being helpful in certain ways.

Houston Rationalists Virtual Meetup 17 August

Hi! Discord shows that you joined on the 13th, are you logged in with the same Discord account? Here's an invite again just in case: https://discord.gg/n9NVNqvJ

Cheers,
Willa

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #62 Ah, Commitments | Getting Out

I said I would resume daily shortform writing (among other things), and I am doing so. Thus this :)

Generating communication right now feels extremely difficult. Wow. But, I'm doing so because of the myriad benefits which come from writing publicly like this. And the communication gets easier as I type each word. Break through the block / barrier!

Despite the difficulty of translating experiential matters into communicable form, the above short paragraph represents a reasonably adequate insight into the experiences I had while writing it. I often write things like that at the beginning of any writing session, post, etc. but never make that part public. Doing so now for my own future reference and to note the trend of such experiences / feelings which occur most of the times I begin writing, plus maybe others can benefit from me sharing that experience if it's relevant to them in some way. A very common oft repeated experience or feeling of my being is a mental "locked-in" sort of phenomena where the act of communicating feels extraordinarily difficult, such that "getting out" of my own head and communicating with others / "the outside world" is a challenge. Sometimes extremely so. There's so, so, so much I want to say, do, discuss, develop, etc. I will defeat those feelings of communicating being difficult by continuing to practice communicating and doing all that I wish to do.

Failed at resuming media diet today, tomorrow's a new day to do so.

Hammertime intermission ended today and the group I'm leading started back up on that (I don't think I posted about the second intermission here in my shortforms, but did mention it on discord). Here's to continuing Hammertime!!

I've taken a temporary 2 week break from EA Hub volunteering while I more intensely apply for jobs. Looking forward to returning to that work, but I'm thankful for the pause right now.

Began listening to some of Monastic Academy's podcast episodes and some other shows where Soryu Forall appeared on.

I meditated for 30 minutes in one uninterrupted sitting today. The time passed remarkably quickly, and was very pleasant, though the muscles in my shoulders and especially my neck are so tense that I experienced almost burning sensations as some of those muscles relaxed for the first time in...who knows how long. This is normal for me, and such sensations will go away within a few days or week or two of regular meditating as those muscles get more fully relaxed plus I regain the ability to willfully relax them. I believe the longest I've meditated in one uninterrupted sitting previously was 20 minutes, so yay for achieving a new personal best. More to come :)

There's no reason why death should continue to plague humanity (and other species), I think solving the different causes of death and achieving immortality is probably the single most important problem set our species faces. Most problems, including AI Alignment fall within that cause area [immortality], so why isn't this being more focused on? Despite the extreme importance of AI Alignment and other existential risk problems, I'm frankly not that interested in working on any such problems narrowly and specifically, except for the meta problem of death existing, so I'll focus on the immortality cause area for my works. More to come :)

Bonne nuit

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #61 In Which Half a Month Passed, Unexpectedly

Whoosh is the best way to describe the last ~17 days. Time to make some adjustments, it's not pleasant nor desirable when time goes by so quickly while barely noticing it passing. A surprisingly illegible and inscrutable 17 days, unfortunately.

Adjustments:

  • daily shortform writing: this will increase legibility and potential for reflection regarding each day(s) and week(s)
  • increase fruits & vegetables consumption: this will improve my nutrition
  • step back down one increment on X: the increase of one step increment to current level of X occurred right around the same time that the whoosh-y-ness of everything began
  • fast food is verboten: TAP, if about to get fast food, instead redirect to grocery store or home
  • increase weekly physical activity: this will improve my fitness and have other beneficial impacts
  • reduce vegetable oil consumption generally, but not obsessively

ToDo:

  • cf adjustments
  • continue applying for jobs
  • car stuff: needs oil change, inspection, and renewal of registration
    • street flooded the other night and a small amount of water got into one spot when I jumped in to move the car (further rain would have flooded the car if I didn't move it) and closed the door I'd opened. Already dried everything thoroughly and cleaned with bleach, but keep a nose out for weird smells. If necessary, remove seat from that spot and carpeting and clean whatever is under those things. General good idea: take car through a car wash to at least rinse off the exterior underbelly.
  • resume media diet

That's it for the moment.
Tschüss

What are some beautiful, rationalist sounds?

Thomas Bergersen - One Million Voices

I shared this song on Facebook awhile back and a fellow rationalist commented: "When the first person is woken from cryosleep, this is what I want playing."

The song is a soaring roaring celebration of humanity and a great reminder of what it is we all must protect.

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #60 Back From Vacation

All of Wednesday [28 July] was spent travelling, as there were significant delays to my flight thanks to thunderstorms occurring on the flight path. Made it home safely though, but spending most of the day in airports or on airplanes is not the most fun sort of day.

I had an extremely good time on vacation in and around Madison, Wisconsin! What a lovely, pleasant, and beautiful place, I'll be happy to visit again one day.

Today I unpacked, rested, applied for a really cool job, and generally recombobulated (fun fact: the Milwaukee airport has an official "Recombobulation Zone" immediately after the security screening area; I haven't noticed other airports give this kind of zone a name before, but I like that the Milwaukee airport did). I have weekend plans for a family member's wedding shower and am looking forward to that! Monday it's back to the job hunting grindstone, for I am eager to be employed once more and reap all the benefits which accompany employment. Seattle beckons! As do a number of other things.

Hammertime Intermission for my group runs from 29 July - 1 August, we resume with Day 11 - Bug Hunt 2 on Monday 2 August. I personally will use the intermission to finish up the last few lessons from phase 1 I didn't make time for while on vacation, redo a few things, reflect, and so on.

I have written ~60 ish shortform posts now. This has been a great and enriching experience for me. I have way more confidence in writing publicly, noticed increased confidence generally, am more coherent, am generally more productive, and am having fun. I will continue doing these shortforms and writing publicly, there's much more growth to come! And so much to write about.

A non-exhaustive list of topics that are on my mind semi-regularly or regularly:

  • The use of tools by humans and the impact thereof
  • Software licensing schemes and philosophies, aka: what governs the mediation of the world we experience and all the impacts thereof, especially regarding future technologies that will literally change the machinery of human beingness and alter what experiences are possible.
  • Do beliefs I have about X make sense, pay rent, and/or check out aka are they true?
  • Cohering my thinking on X subject by reading deeply on it and writing about it
  • Plunging through my archives (I've read a tremendous amount of things and saved much for offline use) and writing brief summaries about most of what's there or longer summaries or other types of writings to increase the legibility of my thoughts, development, idea lineages, increase coherency, and so on.
  • Values, AI, and alignment problems
  • Actually achieving human immortality
  • How to build a value / moral aligned society to last over the long term especially while distributed across the vast distances of space and with immortal humans. Aka exploring the ultimate goal of political philosophy
  • Contemplative traditions, philosophies, theologies, experiences, etc.
  • Taking ideas seriously and doing things about them

Helpful things I reread on a regular basis lately:
My Fear Heuristic
Four Components of Audacity

What I'll be rereading, taking notes on, and carefully evaluating: Liber Augmen
You should go read that book (very strong endorse).

Be well!
Cheers,
Willa

Willa's Shortform

Shortform #59 The Great Outdoors and Good Conversations; Hammertime Days 6 (Mantras) and 7 (Aversion Factoring)

Yesterday we went hiking for 3 hours around the absolutely stunning hills / mountain surrounding Devil's Lake, Wisconsin. The road trip there and back was fun and picturesque too, Wisconsin is gorgeous. We had dinner with one friend's friend at a grand café in town and that was lovely, great food and great conversation.

Today we went to an excellent brunch at one friend's friend's house and spent several lovely hours there eating great food and having great conversations with an excellent bunch of people. Then, a trip to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art which was fantastic! Later, we met up with another friend of one friend and had more great conversations and a lovely time. We then came back to the house and ate steaks cooked sous vide which I now believe is the only viable method for cooking a steak and all other methods result in significantly inferior tasting steaks, seriously.

I did not make much time for Hammertime today and yesterday due to focusing on other things with the little productivity focused time I had + doing very active vacation things that took up most of each day's time. I've scheduled in a longer intermission period for our group so that myself and others can catch up, reflect on our experiences, tune lists, etc. before moving to the next phase of Hammertime on 2 August.

Earlier tonight, I replied to all comments on my posts that I referenced 2 days ago and said I'd reply to by tonight, so I've done that.

Legibility continues to be on my mind, and I've brought it up constantly the last few days in conversations. I suspect that's because without legibility, or maps of reality, it's not very possible to take deliberate focused actions in goal aligned, personally congruent directions. Which, one must do if one wants to become the best version of one's self, solve hard problems, navigate the unknown, etc. Legibility + deliberate actions reinforce each other and make someone "level up". I suspect I will incorporate these thoughts into a review or analysis of Hammertime in a retrospective post I will make once my group and I finish that sequence.

Cheers,
Willa

Media Diet: Cultivating Voice, Deliberate Action, and Alive Time

Switching from consuming Hacker News during the week to exclusively during the weekend has helped me a lot, I now spend substantially less time there and even when I do check it on the weekend, I still somehow keep it reasonably short and it doesn't take too much time out of my day, plus the urge to check it very often has waned. Once a week seems to be a nice novelty hit and exploration time for consuming Hacker News, so I'll keep to this restriction on it since it lets me use it better as a tool for finding new and interesting things without that tool causing negative impacts on my life.

I find that knowledge of historical enough significance will be pushed in my direction (e.g. the pandemic) without me seeking it out or reading the news or signing up for newsletter updates, and that's good enough for me regarding staying informed unless I am specifically following some particular thing closely. But yes, I agree that push systems probably have a net negative impact on individuals and instead of being useful tools to get information from, aren't. The only exception I think would be push notifications from messaging apps when dealing with time sensitive things e.g. meeting up with a friend and figuring out where to go, meeting a deliveryperson outside to sign for a package, emergency work meeting or issue, etc. On demand is a much better use of resources, because then you can be deliberate about using such tools that allow for accessing whatever resources you want to access. Taking deliberate action is better than not, usually.

Regarding your last paragraph, I think you may find Gwern's Internet Search Tips helpful. I suspect search like you want is still a bit of a hard problem which is why (to choose one example in particular) Google makes so much money from advertising and search. Prediction markets for the efficacy of information provided by X sources could be interesting though.

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