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Meetup : Toronto: making hard decisions

1 Giles 15 November 2014 11:41PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Toronto: making hard decisions

WHEN: 20 November 2014 07:00:00PM (-0500)

WHERE: Toronto

See [http://www.meetup.com/Less-Wrong-Toronto/] for the exact location.

Sometimes we are faced with a decision which is important and non-trivial. What hard decisions have you made in the past? Do you have any coming up? Do you have any techniques and strategies for making hard, real-world decisions?

For me right now a hard decision is which direction to take my career, with grad school being an option. I'd like to talk about that a bit, but other examples too, with the emphasis being on general-purpose techniques that can be applied to a wide range of decision-making problems.

Things to consider:

  • How do you get yourself in the right decision-making mindframe?
  • How do you get a handle on what your options actually are, and make sure you're considering all of them?
  • How do you translate your goals and values into utility, in order to compare options? Or do you not do it that way?
  • How do you make sure your model of the decision and its consequences squares with reality?

Discussion article for the meetup : Toronto: making hard decisions

Meetup : Toronto: Meet Malo from MIRI

1 Giles 10 June 2014 02:50AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Toronto: Meet Malo from MIRI

WHEN: 12 June 2014 07:00:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: 591 Yonge St, Toronto

I don't usually do this, but since this meetup is a special occasion, I'm buying everyone dinner! (Up to 10 people, first come first served. Beyond that you're more than welcome to come, but no free grub). RSVP on the meetup.com page

I'm assuming you know who MIRI are.

Malo Bourgon is a project manager and volunteer coordinator at MIRI. He will be visiting Toronto just for this meetup, so read up on AGI and prepare to give him a good grilling on what MIRI is up to.

Location: Fernando's Hideaway, 591 Yonge St.

Discussion article for the meetup : Toronto: Meet Malo from MIRI

Comment author: Giles 27 March 2014 09:34:44PM 1 point [-]

I got the same piece of advice - to think about things in terms of "wants" rather than "shoulds" or "have tos" - from someone outside the LW bubble, but in the context of things like doing my tax returns.

Comment author: PhilipL 21 April 2013 02:18:33AM 6 points [-]

Who is this Cat person and why is everyone saying she's awesome?

Comment author: Giles 22 April 2013 05:02:46PM 6 points [-]

She teaches social skills to nerds at CFAR workshops. She has an incredibly positive view of humanity and of what people are capable of, and meeting her massively increased the size of my reference class for what a rational person is like.

Comment author: Giles 14 April 2013 12:48:23AM 2 points [-]

LW Women Submissions

a call for anonymous submissions by the women on LW

Seven women submitted

uh... could this be rephrased?

Meetup : Toronto: Our guest: Cat Lavigne from the Center for Applied Rationality

3 Giles 06 April 2013 04:46AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Toronto: Our guest: Cat Lavigne from the Center for Applied Rationality

WHEN: 09 April 2013 07:00:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: 20 Edward Street, Toronto, ON

Sorry, new location again! We're at the World's Biggest Bookstore in the Second Floor Meeting Room (at the back of the bookstore, up the stairs. Look for the paperclip sign).

This is our first guest event so let's all be friendly and welcoming to Cat, who's in Toronto just for the day! Cat volunteers for the Center for Applied Rationality, which you've no doubt heard a lot about already.

I don't want to set a fixed agenda for the discussion (since we're trying out a new format here with the invited guest) but let's just say I have a hunch this meeting's going to go well. :D

Discussion article for the meetup : Toronto: Our guest: Cat Lavigne from the Center for Applied Rationality

Meetup : Toronto: fight/flight/freeze experiences

5 Giles 17 March 2013 11:58AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Toronto: fight/flight/freeze experiences

WHEN: 19 March 2013 07:00:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: Tim Horton's, 26 Dundas Street, Toronto, ON

Tim Hortons on Victoria Street near Dundas station. We'll be at the back by the paperclip sign.

The "fight or flight" response evolved to help us cope with life-threatening situations, which called for quick judgement and maybe aggression or bursts of energy. But it comes at a price - when in this mode, blood is diverted away from the parts of the brain that deal with empathy, social relationships and long term planning.

This doesn't sound so good for rationality! In the modern environment, we can go into fight or flight response when it really isn't necessary (or a mild version of it, if we suffer from chronic stress). In this meetup we'll be sharing stories about the fight/flight/freeze response, how well we handled it and what the consequences were!

Discussion article for the meetup : Toronto: fight/flight/freeze experiences

Comment author: Giles 11 March 2013 04:21:33AM 6 points [-]

I'm a very satisfied customer from the March workshop. The biggest win for me has been with social skills - it turns out that anxiety had been making me stupid, and that if I de-stress then whole new parts of my brain spring into action. And that was just one of a large number of practical insights. I was amazed at both how much CFAR know about how we can use our brains effectively, and at how much they were able to teach over 4 days. Really impressive, well-run effort with a buzz of "this is where it's happening".

I promised I'd write about this in more detail, so stay tuned!

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 15 February 2013 07:11:24PM 6 points [-]

Tallinn and Tegmark? Are they participants?

Comment author: Giles 11 March 2013 04:05:36AM 4 points [-]

The best thing about this was that there was very little status dynamic within the CFAR house - we were all learning together as equals.

Comment author: Giles 27 February 2013 05:11:12PM 9 points [-]
  • Agree with purchasing non-sketchiness signalling and utilons separately. This is especially important if like jkaufman a lot of your value comes as an effective altruist role model

  • Agree that if diversification is the only way to get the elephant to part with its money then it might make sense.

  • Similarly, if you give all your donations to a single risky organization and they turn out to be incompetent then it might demotivate your future self. So you should hedge against this, which again can be done separately from purchasing the highest-expected-value thing.

  • Confused about what to do if we know we're in a situation where we're behaving far from rational agents but aren't sure exactly how. I think this is the case with purchasing xrisk reduction, and with failure to reach Aumann agreement between aspiring effective altruists. To what extent do the rules still apply?

  • Lots of valid reasons for diversification can also serve as handy rationalizations. Diversification feels like the right thing to do - and hey, here are the reasons why! I feel like diversification should feel like the wrong thing to do, and then possibly we should do it anyway but sort of grudgingly.

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