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Comment author: Viliam_Bur 15 April 2014 09:00:39PM 4 points [-]

Short version: It was awesome!

Long version: see here

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 16 April 2014 11:05:40AM *  1 point [-]

I learned that in Finnish schools, students are graded not just by their knowledge, but also by the amount of work

I think that I should insert the disclaimer that although this was my experience, it may not be true everywhere: Finnish schoolteachers are also given a large amount of autonomy in exactly how they want to organize and grade their lessons, so it's conceivable that other schools might have done things differently. Also, things may have changed since the time that I was in primary school.

That said, I would be very happy to see you improving the education in Finland. :D

Comment author: Optimal 14 April 2014 02:57:44PM 4 points [-]

Funny story: I actually did try tracking daily 'social interaction time' for a while. It's much harder to track than anything else, because it is such a fluid and unpredictable activity, and I don't have access to my spreadsheets while socializing.

I've had moderate social anxiety for many years, starting because of issues (mostly inside my head) in early public school. It was severely exacerbated when I switched to online school because I spent so much time, locked in my room, on pleasurable activities.

I have a small group of friends who I met in public school; we still meet once every couple of months to play video/board games. This results only in casual interaction centered around the game, never anything serious that involves personal issues or philosophical debates. And of course, the entire time, I am thinking that I could be doing something more productive or fun-efficient. Those friends are not exactly positive influences: they spend a lot of their time on video games (CoD etc.), and they are constantly laughing at internet memes or terrible sex jokes. I've tried meeting other people online, but I never really can get engaged with them, also because I feel that I am using time inefficiently. So, in the social interaction department, I am not really making any progress. That could be considered another big problem in my life; I probably should have included it in the main article.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 15 April 2014 07:18:38AM 3 points [-]

Although it doesn't provide real-life interaction, it still sounds like you might find the LW study hall useful.

Comment author: blacktrance 08 April 2014 04:08:06PM *  -1 points [-]

I would expect anyone who genuinely believes that eating meat is wrong to not eat meat. If they eat meat while talking about how wrong it is, they believe something other than "Eating meat is wrong", such as "I don't want other people to eat meat". Or perhaps they think that eating meat promotes suffering, and suffering is socially assigned the label "bad", but they don't actually think that the extent to which they contribute to it is bad.

If your high moral ideals are unappealing to you, then perhaps they're incorrect and you shouldn't abide by them. More generally, if you can't live up to your own ideals, you should reexamine what you mean by "should" and "your ideals".

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 14 April 2014 09:33:49AM 0 points [-]

Minds are modular. A part of your mind could believe that was something was wrong, while another didn't care and just wanted to do it.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 13 April 2014 08:51:21PM *  9 points [-]

Thanks to everyone (and particularly the organizers) for a fantastic weekend!

Strongest sign of this being a good event: usually I feel drained after a social event, and by the end of the official program I was feeling that, but by the time I got home I was suddenly feeling social and energetic again. Did you people slip something into my drink to make me an extrovert?

(Okay, a lot of it was probably due to the book on charisma that I read just before the meetup and which gave me loads of confidence and useful techniques for getting into the right mindset for being social. But you all being so awesome made them much easier to use! So there. <3)

Some comments of what could've been better:

  • There were lots of people around, and I'd have loved having a chance to talk with everyone. However, a large part of our waking time was taken up by lecture/workshop-type content, during which there wasn't much of an opportunity for being actively social, Saturday's introduction start notwithstanding. I also felt mentally drained after focusing on such content for the whole day, which made it harder to be actively social afterwards: the Fermi calculation contest felt especially energy-draining, since the time limit was short and stressful enough that I basically just looked at my team's activity from the side.

This isn't to say that the lectures/workshops weren't interesting! The "supercharging your learning" and mnemonics one in particular felt like they might be valuable in the future. But regardless, I think I'd have preferred a stronger focus on social activities. One of the parts about the meetup that I found the most enjoyable was the "Socratic Dialogue" that I ran into on accident, when people engaged in it had taken over my room on Friday. I was a little disappointed that the official program didn't include anything like that.

Suggestions for improvement: favor social activities for the programmed content, at the expense of lecture/workshop-type content. Try to set up such a set of activities that everyone ends up getting introduced and everyone talks with everyone: as it was, there were some people who I simply never got a good chance to talk with. (Maybe the introductory lunch on Friday had more of this kind of thing? Too bad we Finns missed it. :( )

  • To the extent that there are lectures, limiting their length would be a good thing. Research apparently suggests that around 25 minutes is the maximum length for people to maintain an optimal focus on lecture-type material. A shorter duration would also force lecturers to focus on the essentials and cut peripheral content.

Suggestions for improvement: enforce a 25-minute limit on how long someone is allowed to lecture before they are required to either end their talk, or somehow engage their audience with e.g. workshop-style activities.

  • The meditation exercise would probably have been a better off on Saturday, since meditation while sleep-deprived does not necessarily produce good results, and Sunday morning was probably the time when everyone could be expected to be the most sleep-deprived.

Suggestions for improvement: try to schedule meditation exercises to a time when people are likely to be well-rested. (This may admittedly be an impossible task, but at least try to have them at a time when people are relatively well-rested.)

--

One last thing: subjectively at least I felt like I got my social skills to a much better level than on some previous occasions. But I was also mentally drained at times and couldn't always keep it up, plus there were moments when I caught myself doing what felt like mistakes, like looking away from someone too fast or not saying hi when I had the chance, etc. So general feedback of how my social skills came across, by anyone who spoke or otherwise interacted with me, would be appreciated. Here's my anonymous feedback form that you can use for this, though of course it may be difficult to stay truly anonymous: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Z2he5Tziy7OuVCGbtD2VHrI4U014sm-DRsLFw-A9dH4/viewform .

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 13 April 2014 08:52:56PM *  3 points [-]

BONUS: References for some of the things that I mentioned in my comments during the "supercharging learning" workshop.

  • "Too rapid feedback can be harmful":

"This research does not mean, however, that greater frequency of feedback is always better. Again, timeliness of the feedback is a significant factor. For example, consider a study in which college students were learning to write mathematical functions in a spreadsheet application (Mathan & Koedinger, 2005). The particular goal for students’ learning in this situation was not only that they be able to write these functions accurately but also that they be able to recognize and fix their own errors. Students who received feedback immediately after they made a mistake scored lower on final assessments compared to students who received “delayed” feedback. Although surprising at first, this result makes sense when one realizes that the immediate feedback group was missing the opportunity to practice recognizing and repairing their own errors. In contrast, the students receiving delayed feedback had a chance to fix their own errors so they had more practice at the corresponding skills. That is, when the delayed feedback group made errors, feedback was given only when they (a) showed sufficient signs of not having recognized their error or (b) made multiple failed attempts at fixing their error. In this way, one could argue that even though it was not immediate, their feedback was given in a more timely manner relative to the learning goals at hand."

(Susan Ambrose et al., How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, citing Mathan & Koedinger: Fostering the Intelligent Novice: Learning From Errors With Metacognitive Tutoring.

See the cited paper for a broader discussion. Note that based on the paper, Mathan & Koedinger would probably somewhat disagree on Ambrose et al's characterization of the worse-performing group as receiving "delayed" feedback: Mathan & Koedinger would argue that the feedback wasn't so much immediate, but rather reflected a different conceptual model of the best kind of feedback. From their description, though, it is true that the worse-performing group did get feedback at an earlier stage than the better-performing one.)

  • "Shorter and easier math problems are better than longer and harder ones": don't have conclusive evidence since the following paper discusses a method that's broader than just changing exercises into shorter and more numerous ones, but see regardless pages 4-5 of http://icme12.org/upload/UpFile2/TSG/1801.pdf and the results of their method.

  • Bonus bonus: another method for increasing intensity that I don't remember being mentioned is interleaved practice. E.g. if you're practicing movements associated with a physical skill, rather than repeating one move over and over and then doing the same with another move, it's better to increase the challenge by alternating the two, or even picking randomly between the two. May generalize to cognitive skills as well. See http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/why-the-progress-in-the-practice-room-seems-to-disappear-overnight/ .

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 13 April 2014 08:51:21PM *  9 points [-]

Thanks to everyone (and particularly the organizers) for a fantastic weekend!

Strongest sign of this being a good event: usually I feel drained after a social event, and by the end of the official program I was feeling that, but by the time I got home I was suddenly feeling social and energetic again. Did you people slip something into my drink to make me an extrovert?

(Okay, a lot of it was probably due to the book on charisma that I read just before the meetup and which gave me loads of confidence and useful techniques for getting into the right mindset for being social. But you all being so awesome made them much easier to use! So there. <3)

Some comments of what could've been better:

  • There were lots of people around, and I'd have loved having a chance to talk with everyone. However, a large part of our waking time was taken up by lecture/workshop-type content, during which there wasn't much of an opportunity for being actively social, Saturday's introduction start notwithstanding. I also felt mentally drained after focusing on such content for the whole day, which made it harder to be actively social afterwards: the Fermi calculation contest felt especially energy-draining, since the time limit was short and stressful enough that I basically just looked at my team's activity from the side.

This isn't to say that the lectures/workshops weren't interesting! The "supercharging your learning" and mnemonics one in particular felt like they might be valuable in the future. But regardless, I think I'd have preferred a stronger focus on social activities. One of the parts about the meetup that I found the most enjoyable was the "Socratic Dialogue" that I ran into on accident, when people engaged in it had taken over my room on Friday. I was a little disappointed that the official program didn't include anything like that.

Suggestions for improvement: favor social activities for the programmed content, at the expense of lecture/workshop-type content. Try to set up such a set of activities that everyone ends up getting introduced and everyone talks with everyone: as it was, there were some people who I simply never got a good chance to talk with. (Maybe the introductory lunch on Friday had more of this kind of thing? Too bad we Finns missed it. :( )

  • To the extent that there are lectures, limiting their length would be a good thing. Research apparently suggests that around 25 minutes is the maximum length for people to maintain an optimal focus on lecture-type material. A shorter duration would also force lecturers to focus on the essentials and cut peripheral content.

Suggestions for improvement: enforce a 25-minute limit on how long someone is allowed to lecture before they are required to either end their talk, or somehow engage their audience with e.g. workshop-style activities.

  • The meditation exercise would probably have been a better off on Saturday, since meditation while sleep-deprived does not necessarily produce good results, and Sunday morning was probably the time when everyone could be expected to be the most sleep-deprived.

Suggestions for improvement: try to schedule meditation exercises to a time when people are likely to be well-rested. (This may admittedly be an impossible task, but at least try to have them at a time when people are relatively well-rested.)

--

One last thing: subjectively at least I felt like I got my social skills to a much better level than on some previous occasions. But I was also mentally drained at times and couldn't always keep it up, plus there were moments when I caught myself doing what felt like mistakes, like looking away from someone too fast or not saying hi when I had the chance, etc. So general feedback of how my social skills came across, by anyone who spoke or otherwise interacted with me, would be appreciated. Here's my anonymous feedback form that you can use for this, though of course it may be difficult to stay truly anonymous: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Z2he5Tziy7OuVCGbtD2VHrI4U014sm-DRsLFw-A9dH4/viewform .

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 13 April 2014 06:50:02PM *  6 points [-]

People are (rightly or wrongly) less concerned about putting their best foot forward with text.

As an ergonomic matter, typing all day long, although fatiguing, consumes less energy than talking all day long.

Text can be created in fits and bursts. An audio or video needs to be recorded more or less in a continuous sitting.

Note that many people seem to prefer e.g. Skype calls over text chats because (to these people) voice chat requires less energy than writing, and feels like just having a normal conversation and thus effortless, whereas writing is something that requires actually thinking about what you say and thus feels much more laborious.

A lot of people also seem to find audio easier to consume than text: podcasts would be a lot less popular otherwise. (I never understood podcasts at first. Why not just write? Finally I realized that non-nerds actually find listening easier than reading.)

You can't play background music while having a video conversation

Headphones and a good call quality together fix this, I think? Haven't tried, though.

Comment author: Metus 09 April 2014 11:17:43PM *  13 points [-]

Read and learn. Then get a high paying job and pay people to be activists.

The marginal effect of one more activist with low social standing and low purchasing power especially with popular causes is near zero. For example I might think that global warming exists, has negative effects and these can be averted by reducing energy consumption. Then I could start nagging my friends about this particular issue, to reduce their energy consumption through ever more inconvenient measures. Or I could study my ass off on physics, chemistry and engineering until I find a way to conveniently reduce energy consumption through some convenient, affordable invention.

Or say there is some issue that needs popular awareness. The marginal effect of this young student nagging his local neighbourhood will be near zero. If he reads and studies he can get in a position to influence policy if that is needed, or build a reputation as a journalist to reach an extremely wide audience, or the student can get in a position with high amount of disposable income to buy ad space in cooperation with an existing organisation supporting the cause.

My argument comes down to time preference. If the marginal value of action now is lower than the time discounted marginal value the student can provide after reading and studying, they should read and study. In other words, any non-emergency should not be dealt with, assuming high return on education.

I close this sleep-deprived comment with a last example. People get in accidents on the road and suffer disabilites or die as a result of that. Activism is then to scour the roads and help these people in case there is an accident. Or one could study and become an EMT, then being able to help better. Or one could become a safety engineer, improve safety measures and have an even greater impact. Or one could become an emergency response manager and having an even greater impact. As we see, the options are only available if the person in question is to be expected to become sufficiently more productive. A first aid course will immensely increase the efficacy of nearly anyone. Though the majority of people lack the dedication to become a high performing medical doctor or emergency response manager.

And as always, if there is an oversupply of high-skilled people, being an activist is more valuable through marginal value argument. Though I am entirely certain that there is an oversupply of activism because activism feels good and learning is a chore for most people.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 10 April 2014 07:59:09AM *  15 points [-]

There's one benefit in early activism, though: even if it doesn't have a major impact, it will allow you to credibly signal your interest in the cause and thus network with other people who are active in the field. This may have a considerable impact on your ability to achieve things related to the cause later on.

E.g. when I started getting interested in educational games, I wrote a bunch of blog posts about the topic (as I was studying it), and even though I haven't yet accomplished anything concrete, those posts helped me get on the radar of a bunch of people in the field who have offered useful advice. Similarly, even though my stint in politics some years back didn't really accomplish anything concrete, it did net me lots of new contacts who liked what I did do. The early conference articles on AI risk that I wrote weren't very significant by themselves but they helped me get to know the MIRI-(then SIAI-)folk better, and so on.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 01 April 2014 07:14:59AM 0 points [-]

Online Videos Thread

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 01 April 2014 04:49:45PM 6 points [-]

Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance.

I have to say that this was the most blatantly transhumanist mainstream lecture that I've seen in a long time, with sentences like "a human being can never be broken - only technology is broken [because it doesn't allow us to remove all of the human's disabilities yet]". Also generally one of my favorite TED Talks so far.

Note that the implications of the technology go beyond just healing the physically disabled: the exoskeletons he mentions will do wonders to old people. We're looking at the possibility of people maintaining the mobility and ease of movement of a young person for potentially their entire lives, and this technology may become widely available within quite a short time. That means that countless of people might become capable of moving back from nursing homes to living independently with only limited assistance.

Comment author: ErinFlight 01 April 2014 03:10:07AM 1 point [-]

Thank you for the link and for starting the thread. The article made me realize that I am going about trying to understand rationality as if I have a major exam in a couple months. Reading many of the articles on here for a second time, I'm grasping them a lot better than I did before. The new thread seems like it will be immensely useful. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question!

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 01 April 2014 04:28:53AM 1 point [-]

Glad I could help. :)

Comment author: ErinFlight 31 March 2014 01:19:55AM 11 points [-]

Hello, I'm Erin. I am currently in high school, so perhaps a little younger than the typical reader.

I'm fascinated by the thoughts here. This is the first community I've found that makes an effort to think about their own opinions, then is self aware enough to look at their own thought processes.

But, this might not be the place for this, I'm am struggling to understand anything technical on this website. I've enjoyed reading the sequences, and they have given me a lot to thing about. Still, I've read the introduction to Bayes theorem multiple times, and I simply can't grasp it. Even starting at the very beginning of the sequences I quickly get lost because there are references to programming and cognitive science which I simply do not understand.

I recently returned to this site after taking a statistics course, which has helped slightly. But I still feel rather lost.

Do you have any tips for how you utilized rationality when you were starting? How did you first incorporate it into your thought processes? Can you recommend any background material which might help me to understand the sequences better?

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 31 March 2014 11:19:57AM 4 points [-]

You could just trying to read the posts even if you don't explain all the jargon: over time, as you get more exposed to the terms that people use, I'd expect it to get easier to understand what the examples mean. And you might get a rough idea of the main point of a post even if you don't get all the details. Eric Drexler actually argues that if you want to learn a bit of everything, this is the way to do it.

If you don't understand some post at all, you could always ask for a summary in plain English. Many of the posts in the Sequences are old and don't get much traffic, so they might not be the best places to ask, but you could do it an Open Thread... and now that I think of it, I suspect that a lot of others are in the same position as you. So I created a new thread for asking for such explanations, to encourage people to ask! Here it is.

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