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Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag

41 Raemon 03 April 2017 06:37PM

This is the first in a series of posts about improving group dynamics within the rationality community. (The previous "checking for interest post" is here).

 

The Berkeley Hufflepuff Unconference is on April 28th. RSVPing on this Facebook Event is helpful, as is filling out this form.

Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag


"Clever kids in Ravenclaw, evil kids in Slytherin, wannabe heroes in Gryffindor, and everyone who does the actual work in Hufflepuff.”

- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Chapter 9


“It is a common misconception that the best rationalists are Sorted into Ravenclaw, leaving none for other Houses. This is not so; being Sorted into Ravenclaw indicates that your strongest virtue is curiosity, wondering and desiring to know the true answer. And this is not the only virtue a rationalist needs. Sometimes you have to work hard on a problem, and stick to it for a while. Sometimes you need a clever plan for finding out. And sometimes what you need more than anything else to see an answer, is the courage to face it…

- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Chapter 45

 

I’m a Ravenclaw and Slytherin by nature. I like being clever. I like pursuing ambitious goals. But over the past few years, I’ve been cultivating the skills and attitudes of Hufflepuff, by choice.


I think those skills are woefully under-appreciated in the Rationality Community. The problem cuts across many dimensions

continue reading »

LW 2.0 Open Beta Live

23 Vaniver 21 September 2017 01:15AM

The LW 2.0 Open Beta is now live; this means you can create an account, start reading and posting, and tell us what you think.

Four points:

1) In case you're just tuning in, I took up the mantle of revitalizing LW through improving its codebase some time ago, and only made small amounts of progress until Oliver Habryka joined the project and put full-time engineering effort into it. He deserves the credit for the new design, and you can read about his strategic approach here.

2) If you want to use your current LW account on LW2.0, we didn't import the old passwords, and so you'll have to use the reset password functionality. If your LW account isn't tied to a current email, send a PM to habryka on lesswrong and he'll update the user account details on lesserwrong. He's also working on improving the site and sleeping and things like that, so don't expect an immediate response.

3) During the open beta there will be a green message in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. This is called Intercom, and is how you can tell us about issues with the site and ask other questions.

4) The open beta will end with a vote of users with over a thousand karma on whether we should switch the lesswrong.com URL to point to the new code and database. If this succeeds, all the activity from the open beta and the live site will be merged together. If the vote fails, we expect to archive LW until another team comes along to revive it. We currently don't have a date set, but this will be announced a week in advance.

European Community Weekend 2017

16 DreamFlasher 02 February 2017 07:17PM

We are excited to announce this year's European LessWrong Community Weekend. For the fourth time, rationalists from all over Europe (and some from outside Europe) are gathering in Berlin to socialize, have fun, exchange knowledge and skills, and have interesting discussions.

The event takes place September 1st to September 3rd and, like last year, it will be held in the beautiful Jugendherberge Wannsee which contains a large room for central events, several seminar rooms, and lots of comfortable spaces inside and out to socialize or relax.

This is primarily a community-driven event. That means that while there will be a keynote and pre-planned content, the bulk of the schedule will be filled by the participants. There will be space to give talks, short or long, provide workshops, or just gather some people to do an activity together. In previous years we had the talks, lightning talks and workshops you would expect, as well as lighter activities such as 7-minute-workouts, an improv acting workshop, swimming in the lake and a workshop on modular origami. Of course there will also be time to reconnect with friends and form new connections with other aspiring rationalists.

Some valuable information

Most of the talks and discussions will be held in English, so you do not need to be able to speak German to attend.

The ticket price of €150 includes accommodation for two nights, on-site meals and snacks, and a welcome lunch on Friday at 12:00.

The event wraps up Sunday afternoon around 15:00. In the days after the weekend, participants are invited to stay in Berlin a little longer to explore the city, go bouldering, play frisbee, etc. While this is not part of the official event, we will coordinate couch-surfing opportunities to avoid the need for hotels.

To sign up, fill out this form.

tl;dr


If you have any questions, please email us at lwcw.europe@gmail.com.

Looking forward to seeing you there,
The Community Weekend organizers and LessWrong Deutschland e.V.

MIRI's 2017 Fundraiser

8 malo 07 December 2017 09:47PM

Update 2017-12-27: We've blown past our 3rd and final target, and reached the matching cap of $300,000 for the $2 million Matching Challenge! Thanks so much to everyone who supported us!

All donations made before 23:59 PST on Dec 31st will continue to be counted towards our fundraiser total. The fundraiser total includes projected matching funds from the Challenge.


 

 

MIRI’s 2017 fundraiser is live through the end of December! Our progress so far (updated live):

 


Donate Now


 

MIRI is a research nonprofit based in Berkeley, California with a mission of ensuring that smarter-than-human AI technology has a positive impact on the world. You can learn more about our work at “Why AI Safety?” or via MIRI Executive Director Nate Soares’ Google talk on AI alignment.

In 2015, we discussed our interest in potentially branching out to explore multiple research programs simultaneously once we could support a larger team. Following recent changes to our overall picture of the strategic landscape, we’re now moving ahead on that goal and starting to explore new research directions while also continuing to push on our agent foundations agenda. For more on our new views, see “There’s No Fire Alarm for Artificial General Intelligence” and our 2017 strategic update. We plan to expand on our relevant strategic thinking more in the coming weeks.

Our expanded research focus means that our research team can potentially grow big, and grow fast. Our current goal is to hire around ten new research staff over the next two years, mostly software engineers. If we succeed, our point estimate is that our 2018 budget will be $2.8M and our 2019 budget will be $3.5M, up from roughly $1.9M in 2017.1

We’ve set our fundraiser targets by estimating how quickly we could grow while maintaining a 1.5-year runway, on the simplifying assumption that about 1/3 of the donations we receive between now and the beginning of 2019 will come during our current fundraiser.2

Hitting Target 1 ($625k) then lets us act on our growth plans in 2018 (but not in 2019); Target 2 ($850k) lets us act on our full two-year growth plan; and in the case where our hiring goes better than expected, Target 3 ($1.25M) would allow us to add new members to our team about twice as quickly, or pay higher salaries for new research staff as needed.

We discuss more details below, both in terms of our current organizational activities and how we see our work fitting into the larger strategy space.

continue reading »

In support of yak shaving part 2

4 Elo 26 April 2017 01:41AM

part 1 of yak shaving.  It wan necessary to write part two because part 1 was not clear enough about what the problem is.  I don't disagree with the comments, and I apologise for not presenting it better in the first round. (part 1 on lesswrong)

Original post: http://bearlamp.com.au/yak-shaving-2/


You decide today is a day for getting things done, it is after all your day off.  You do what any person concerned with work does.  You sit down at your desk.  When you do you notice two empty tea cups and a one-sip-left in a can of soft drink.  Not liking a messy environment you figure you will quickly tidy up.  You take the teacups and put them on the kitchen bench.  You take the can to the recycling bin when you realise it's full and needs to be taken out to the garbage bin.

You take the rubbish to the garage and realise tonight is bin night anyway so you put the recycling bin.  While you are at it you put all the bins to the curb.  You get back to the kitchen and find the teacup is actually sitting on a pile of unopened mail.  You open what looks like the bills in the pile and mentally note to deal with them when you get back to your desk.  so you leave them on the kitchen table to take back with you.

You get to the teacups and realise you are out of dishwashing detergent.  You will have to go buy some.  You go to get the car keys and notice the washing basket is full.  You decide to quickly put the washing on before you go.  That will save time.  You get in the car and discover it's nearly out of petrol.  And the supermarket is it the other direction from the petrol station.

While you are out you grab a coffee and lunch before getting back.  Then you hit traffic and get home quite late.  You bring in the mail but notice the mailbox post is rotting.  you have some spare wood in the garage but your work bench has the remnants of when you tried to fix the shelf for your bathroom.  You could just fix the mailbox post with cable ties but how long would that last?

With a stubborn determination to get SOMETHING done today you take the mailbox into your work bench, and start working on top of the other project because you basically have no choice any more.  When you go to measure and mark the wood it seems like every pencil needs sharpening, as does the saw.  The drill has a flat battery, the last drill bit of the right size is broken, you have only three screws that are galvanised and one that is not.  you drill the guide hole too small, bend a screw in the process of getting it into the wood, slip and wound the bathroom shelf project, and eventually re-assemble a mailbox.  

You get the mailbox on the fence but it's getting dark and you need dinner.  You can't help but wonder where the day went.  It feels like you worked hard all day but you barely have anything to show for it.

Tomorrow you are back at work but maybe you need to take another day off, a tantalising prospect...  You have a deal with your boss that you can take the day off only if you could explain why you need another day off.  Of course that might require writing a note, which might require a working pen from the stationary cupboard, or sending an email, which you swore to not do before reading all the unread ones that are waiting for you...  And it would be nice to pay those bills.


In part 1 I said:

The problem here is that you spent all day shaving yaks (see also “there’s a hole in my bucket“).  In a startup that translates to not doing the tasks that get customers – the tasks which get money and actually make an impact, say “playing with the UI”.  It’s easy to see why such anti-yak shaving sentiment would exist (see also: bikeshedding, rearranging deck chairs on the titanic, hamming questions).  You can spend a whole day doing a whole lot of nothings; getting to bed and wonder what you actually accomplished that day (hint: a whole lot of running in circles).

It’s not just one problem, but a series of problems that come to your attention in a sequence.

this sort of behaviour is not like bikeshedding at all.  Nor is it doing insignificant things under the guise of “real work”.  Instead this is about tackling what stands in the way of your problem.  In problem solving in the real world, Don’t yak shave” is not what I have found to be the solution.

I propose that yak shaving presents a very important sign that things are broken.

The scenario above is my version of hell incarnate.  Real life is probably not that bad but things like that come up all the time.  They act as open loops, tax your mind (kind of like the debatable ego depletion concept) and don't really represent you being in a good place.

If something is broken, and you are living with it, that’s not acceptable.  You need a system in your life to regularly get around to fixing it.  Notepadsreviews, list keeping, set time aside for doing it and plan to fix things.

So I say, Yak Shave, as much, as long, and as many times as it takes till there are no more yaks to shave.


Accruing or resolving problems?

A question worth asking is whether you are in your life at present causing a build up of problems, a decrease of problems, or roughly keeping them about the same level.

If you are a person who keeps quantified tracking of yourself - this might be easier to answer. than if you do less tracking.  maybe you have to do lists, maybe some notepads, any way to know if you are getting better or worse at this.

The answer is probably something like, "up and down".  You do both, over time.  Things build up and then things resolve.  If you see things as having always built up, or gradually gotten worse...  Maybe it's time to stop.  Think.  Ask yourself...

What's going on?


Meta: this took 1.5hrs to write.  

Part 1: In support of yak shaving.  I would recommend a quick read over it.  I don't honestly want to quote the entire thing here but it's so so so so so relevant.

Original post:  http://bearlamp.com.au/yak-shaving-2/

Up next: Working with multiple problems at once

Meetup : LW Sao Paulo - Meetup de julho

2 leohmarruda 11 July 2017 11:52PM

Discussion article for the meetup : LW Sao Paulo - Meetup de julho

WHEN: 29 July 2017 02:00:01PM (-0300)

WHERE: Rua Antonio Carlos 452, São Paulo Brazil

Encontro mensal de racionalistas, novatos são bem vindos!

Desta vez discutiremos investimentos e finanças: gestão básica, erros comuns, como aprender mais, títulos, fundos, ações, criptomoedas.

Discussion article for the meetup : LW Sao Paulo - Meetup de julho

Meetup : Slatestar Codex Sao Paulo

2 leohmarruda 27 April 2017 12:48PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Slatestar Codex Sao Paulo

WHEN: 06 May 2017 02:00:00PM (-0300)

WHERE: Rua Antonio Carlos 452, São Paulo Brazil

Encontro mensal de racionalistas, novatos são bem vindos! Falaremos sobre Slatestar codex, teremos discussões diversas e jogos de tabuleiro no final.

Discussion article for the meetup : Slatestar Codex Sao Paulo

Meetup : Felicidade e psicologia positiva

1 leohmarruda 13 October 2017 07:34PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Felicidade e psicologia positiva

WHEN: 14 October 2017 02:00:00PM (-0300)

WHERE: Rua Antônio Carlos 452, são paulo

Encontro mensal de racionalistas, novatos são bem vindos!

Conversaremos um pouco sobre felicidade e psicologia positiva.

Discussion article for the meetup : Felicidade e psicologia positiva

Meetup : LW Sao Paulo: Rationality and fun!

1 leohmarruda 12 September 2017 11:58PM

Discussion article for the meetup : LW Sao Paulo: Rationality and fun!

WHEN: 16 September 2017 02:00:26PM (-0300)

WHERE: Rua Antônio Carlos, 452 - Consolação - SP São Paulo, Brazil

We'll be talking about having fun and enjoying life!

Newcomers are welcome as usual.

Boardgames are likely to happen.

Discussion article for the meetup : LW Sao Paulo: Rationality and fun!

Meetup : Washington, D.C.: Fun & Games

1 RobinZ 15 June 2017 01:58PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Washington, D.C.: Fun & Games

WHEN: 18 June 2017 03:30:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture

We will be meeting in the courtyard to hang out, play games, and engage in fun conversation.

Upcoming meetups:

  • Jun. 25: Bike Shedding
  • Jul. 2: Self Care

Discussion article for the meetup : Washington, D.C.: Fun & Games

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