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Comment author: MumpsimusLane 09 August 2014 07:58:12PM 3 points [-]

I liked this post overall. Minor nitpick: I found the use of "guy who VERBs" to be a little jarring. Saying "person who VERBs" would be more inclusive.

Comment author: Eneasz 11 August 2014 03:53:21PM 3 points [-]

That's a good point, and you're right. I wish "person" didn't feel so formal though. I'm having trouble thinking of a gender-neutral word that conveys the same casualness of "guy."

Roles are Martial Arts for Agency

116 Eneasz 08 August 2014 03:53AM

A long time ago I thought that Martial Arts simply taught you how to fight – the right way to throw a punch, the best technique for blocking and countering an attack, etc. I thought training consisted of recognizing these attacks and choosing the correct responses more quickly, as well as simply faster/stronger physical execution of same. It was later that I learned that the entire purpose of martial arts is to train your body to react with minimal conscious deliberation, to remove “you” from the equation as much as possible.

The reason is of course that conscious thought is too slow. If you have to think about what you’re doing, you’ve already lost. It’s been said that if you had to think about walking to do it, you’d never make it across the room. Fighting is no different. (It isn’t just fighting either – anything that requires quick reaction suffers when exposed to conscious thought. I used to love Rock Band. One day when playing a particularly difficult guitar solo on expert I nailed 100%… except “I” didn’t do it at all. My eyes saw the notes, my hands executed them, and no where was I involved in the process. It was both exhilarating and creepy, and I basically dropped the game soon after.)

You’ve seen how long it takes a human to learn to walk effortlessly. That's a situation with a single constant force, an unmoving surface, no agents working against you, and minimal emotional agitation. No wonder it takes hundreds of hours, repeating the same basic movements over and over again, to attain even a basic level of martial mastery. To make your body react correctly without any thinking involved. When Neo says “I Know Kung Fu” he isn’t surprised that he now has knowledge he didn’t have before. He’s amazed that his body now reacts in the optimal manner when attacked without his involvement.

All of this is simply focusing on pure reaction time – it doesn’t even take into account the emotional terror of another human seeking to do violence to you. It doesn’t capture the indecision of how to respond, the paralysis of having to choose between outcomes which are all awful and you don’t know which will be worse, and the surge of hormones. The training of your body to respond without your involvement bypasses all of those obstacles as well.

This is the true strength of Martial Arts – eliminating your slow, conscious deliberation and acting while there is still time to do so.

Roles are the Martial Arts of Agency.

When one is well-trained in a certain Role, one defaults to certain prescribed actions immediately and confidently. I’ve acted as a guy standing around watching people faint in an overcrowded room, and I’ve acted as the guy telling people to clear the area. The difference was in one I had the role of Corporate Pleb, and the other I had the role of Guy Responsible For This Shit. You know the difference between the guy at the bar who breaks up a fight, and the guy who stands back and watches it happen? The former thinks of himself as the guy who stops fights. They could even be the same guy, on different nights. The role itself creates the actions, and it creates them as an immediate reflex. By the time corporate-me is done thinking “Huh, what’s this? Oh, this looks bad. Someone fainted? Wow, never seen that before. Damn, hope they’re OK. I should call 911.” enforcer-me has already yelled for the room to clear and whipped out a phone.

Roles are the difference between Hufflepuffs gawking when Neville tumbles off his broom (Protected), and Harry screaming “Wingardium Leviosa” (Protector). Draco insulted them afterwards, but it wasn’t a fair insult – they never had the slightest chance to react in time, given the role they were in. Roles are the difference between Minerva ordering Hagrid to stay with the children while she forms troll-hunting parties (Protector), and Harry standing around doing nothing while time slowly ticks away (Protected). Eventually he switched roles. But it took Agency to do so. It took time.

Agency is awesome. Half this site is devoted to becoming better at Agency. But Agency is slow. Roles allow real-time action under stress.

Agency has a place of course. Agency is what causes us to decide that Martial Arts training is important, that has us choose a Martial Art, and then continue to train month after month. Agency is what lets us decide which Roles we want to play, and practice the psychology and execution of those roles. But when the time for action is at hand, Agency is too slow. Ensure that you have trained enough for the next challenge, because it is the training that will see you through it, not your agenty conscious thinking.


As an aside, most major failures I’ve seen recently are when everyone assumed that someone else had the role of Guy In Charge If Shit Goes Down. I suggest that, in any gathering of rationalists, they begin the meeting by choosing one person to be Dictator In Extremis should something break. Doesn’t have to be the same person as whoever is leading. Would be best if it was someone comfortable in the role and/or with experience in it. But really there just needs to be one. Anyone.

cross-posted from my blog

Comment author: Eneasz 04 August 2014 03:22:46PM 18 points [-]

I've written a short fiction piece that has been accepted for publication. My first ever professional publication will appear in February's issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine.

Comment author: Eneasz 13 May 2014 10:15:52PM 6 points [-]

Not much has been said cuz there ain't much to say about things that don't exist. Your mind is what your brain does. When the brain stops, so do you. This isn't even advanced rationality - it's reductionism 101. I believe there was a Intelligence Squared debate on it just a few days ago that rehashed all the same old ground if you'd like a refresher. Here we go.

Giving a prior of .5 is ridiculous. Something for which you have no evidence and which breaks several known laws of physics should begin with a seriously tiny prior. You're being heavily influenced by social traditions.

Comment author: Eneasz 28 April 2014 09:29:08PM *  2 points [-]

Ever since my brother joined the Military I've thought that could be a potentially good way to push cryonics. The Military is already well-known for forcing technological change, but it's less known that the Military's effort to reduce loss of fighting men to Syphilis (as well as other STIs) was a major contributor to the social acceptance of condoms, which had previously been shunned. The social changes resulting from that campaign are often cited as a precursor to the sexual revolution.

People don't seem to care that much when an old person dies of natural causes, which is the case for most cryo. A young, attractive corpse gathers enough sympathy and attention to get crowd-sourced funding. The Military produces a much higher-than-average number of young, tragic deaths. A fair percentage of them leave the brain intact. It shouldn't be that hard of a case to make that since the Military is the reason that these young people are losing their lives, it has a duty to give them the best chance at getting their lives back.

Difficulty of engineering a moderately-sided canister that can be fitted over the head of a dead soldier and automatically sever and preserve it (obviously opt-in only)? Probably well within DARPA resources. A decade of this being a standard option for military personnel would do wonders to ease social acceptability, no? A family that has a son/brother in cryo now has emotional motivation to consider that it just might, maybe, work some day in the future.

Also -

I actually have a list of about ten of these, which I will happily make available on request (i.e. I’ll write another discussion post about them if people are interested)

I am interested, please consider this +1 requests. :)

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 February 2014 08:09:35PM 2 points [-]

CPAP (auto-adjusting pressure) didn't work on me. What else is there?

Comment author: Eneasz 28 February 2014 09:12:28PM 0 points [-]


Not terribly expensive. The recovery is painful. But the pain is temporary, and the improvements are amazing. It was a major turning point in my life, and I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who is considered a good candidate (consult your specialist)

Comment author: Eneasz 27 January 2014 10:12:04PM 1 point [-]

Well, someone's gotta do it.

TED Prize Nomination

4 Eneasz 02 January 2014 04:47PM
I started the process of a TED Prize Nomination:

 Nominate an individual — or yourself — to envision and execute a high-impact project that can spur global change. Our TED Prize winner will have an ambitious wish — and the vision, pragmatism and leadership to turn it into reality. Every self-nomination will include a proposal for a world-changing and achievable wish. 

Fairly obvious who I'm nominating.
But then came across a few things that made me suspect I'm not the best person to do this. Such as:

* We weigh each single nomination as heavily as multiple nominations and we strongly discourage multiple nominations. 
* The heart of the TED Prize is the wish. Though it's small in size, it is the most important element of your nomination. It's worth investing your time refining. At its most basic, a wish = who + what + how = a better world. In other words, who are you going to engage on what issue and in what way for what kind of improvement?
* Imagine your nominee is on the stage at the TED Conference announcing their wish and inviting the wider community--everyone from corporate and nonprofit leaders to TED fellows doing grassroots work in developing countries--to get involved. In a few sentences, what is your nominee's ask?

I have absolutely no idea what Eliezer would write as his wish, and I don't think I'm even remotely qualified to take a stab at it. Would someone who knows Eliezer better, or perhaps Eliezer himself, be willing to take this on?

To reduce the amount of time needed to complete the application, here are two outside-source articles about Eliezer that I googled up while I was doing this (they ask for links to such articles in Step 3)

Comment author: VAuroch 04 December 2013 02:43:55AM 0 points [-]

Points against this: Money spent via card has much less immediate mental impact than spending cash. When you pay more thanyou make in a month, you realize it only at the end of the month. When you spend cash, you feel the impact on your finances directly.

The pattern I use, which I stumbled upon mainly by accident: For necessities, use a card (I use debit, but this is interchangeable with credit from this perspective). For luxuries, use cash. This insulates you from impulse purchases and has a short feedback loop discouraging you from spending too much.

Drawbacks: This doesn't work for online purchases and may hurt somewhat in that regard.

Comment author: Eneasz 04 December 2013 04:49:10PM 0 points [-]

Interestingly, I've been using card and online banking for so long that I seem to have internalized "money is the number stored in the bank's computer/my mental register". Recently I came into a steady flow of cash (long story), and I didn't want to go to the bank every damn week to deposit it, so I started paying for groceries and restaurants with that cash. It felt like giving away play money and getting real goods and services in exchange. "You mean I can give you some colored paper slips, and you'll just give me $100 worth of groceries? It doesn't reduce the money I have in the bank? And I'm not going to jail for this?" It was weird.

Comment author: Ishaan 29 November 2013 10:41:58AM *  -1 points [-]

55%-95% cooperate.

However, after having made that guess, I note that I am the most optimistic one here so far and begin to have doubts...

Comment author: Eneasz 03 December 2013 11:27:27PM -1 points [-]

Well, my actual guess is 85%, so it's not a symmetrical split for me. Hopefully I'm not doing confidence intervals wrong..

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