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Comment author: Elo 21 December 2016 02:00:06PM 3 points [-]

Every day. Do it every day. This is the number one piece of advice for writers, artists. Every day. (An hour every day, less if you can't handle that, and maybe start smaller like 5mins).

Every day. There will be days when your grandma dies, days when it's been raining for 3 days straight, Days where you might have to tie yourself to the desk, days when people are literally dragging you away. Things will happen, you will go on holidays, WRITE EVERY DAY. Every day. Every day. Every day.

Feel uncreative? Do it anyway. You can still produce great work by generating what you think creativity would look like. Every day! Every day. Cannot emphasise enough - every day. (And yes this works for me)

Other than that - have a workspace (future article of mine one day) - a setup that is designed to enable you to work. If this means a bottle of water nearby - that. If it means headphones, extra lighting, 16 pencils all lined up square. A pentagram with candles at the corners. Whatever it is; work out what's stopping you from working, and remove those things. Then work out what's enabling you to work and increase them until you have the most fruitful workspace possible. I can't tell you all the answers to how to make a perfect workspace, but if you sit down with a pen and paper and work through whatever you can think of this should take you well on your way.

Once you are on your way, notice things that distract you and later come back and remove them. Keep tab-closing habits, phone on the other side of the room habits, cup-of-tea-making habits, whatever it takes. Make a good system and a good workspace, then repeat.

And write every day. (probably in the morning is better, probably first thing is better)

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 22 December 2016 05:29:34AM *  0 points [-]

Cal Newport on "Write Every Day". If it's not your main job, you're going to end up having no write days, and if you're committed to a hard schedule a missed day is going to translate into "welp, couldn't make the cut then, better quit for good".

Comment author: Vaniver 25 August 2016 09:43:18PM 1 point [-]

I seem to recall a Yudkowsky anti-NRx comment on Facebook a year or two ago, but does anyone recall / have a link to an earlier disagreement on Yudkowsky's part?

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 26 August 2016 05:18:19AM 5 points [-]

On Moldbug from 2012.

Comment author: CurtisSerVaas 04 February 2016 01:43:07AM 4 points [-]

I also think John Yates's Progressive Stages of Mindfulness in Plain English is orders of magnitude better than all the other meditation books I've read.

From what I could tell from looking at the table of contents (and page lengths) for both, the book/pdfs I linked covers the same content, but is free! Though, I might consider buying his newest book, just because I liked the other one so much.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 04 February 2016 06:10:52PM 2 points [-]

Yes, The Mind Illuminated is basically the same ten-step model as the one in that article, but expanded to book length and with lots of extra practice advice and theory of mental models.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 02 February 2016 12:21:14AM 2 points [-]

Nonfiction Books Thread

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 02 February 2016 04:59:27AM 3 points [-]

The Mind Illuminated by John Yates is my new favorite meditation instruction book. Has lots of modern neuroscience grounding, completely secular, and presents a very detailed step-by-step instruction on going from not having a daily meditation habit going to attaining very deep concentration states.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 30 January 2016 07:07:01PM *  0 points [-]

I don't know your mind, you tell me? What exactly is it that you find worrying?

My possibly-incorrect guess is that you're worried about something like "the community turning into an echo chamber that only promotes Eliezer's views and makes its members totally ignore expert opinion when forming their views". But if that was your worry, the presence of highly upvoted criticisms of Eliezer's views should do a lot to help, since it shows that the community does still take into account (and even actively reward!) well-reasoned opinions that show dissent from the tribal leaders.

So since you still seem to be worried despite the presence of those comments, I'm assuming that your worry is something slightly different, but I'm not entirely sure of what.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 31 January 2016 08:41:56AM 2 points [-]

One problem is that the community has few people actually engaged enough with cutting edge AI / machine learning / whatever-the-respectable-people-call-it-this-decade research to have opinions that are grounded in where the actual research is right now. So a lot of the discussion is going to consist of people either staying quiet or giving uninformed opinions to keep the conversation going. And what incentive structures there are here mostly work for a social club, so there aren't really that many checks and balances that keep things from drifting further away from being grounded in actual reality instead of the local social reality.

Ilya actually is working with cutting edge machine learning, so I pay attention to his expressions of frustration and appreciate that he persists in hanging out here.

Comment author: Fluttershy 28 January 2016 10:07:24AM *  2 points [-]

I'm trying to help a dear friend who would like to work on FAI research, to overcome a strong fear that arises when thinking about unfavorable outcomes involving AI. Thinking about either the possibility that he'll die, or the possibility that an x-risk like UFAI will wipe us out, tends to strongly trigger him, leaving him depressed, scared, and sad. Just reading the recent LW article about how a computer beat a professional Go player triggered him quite strongly.

I've suggested trying to desensitize him via gradual exposure; the approach would be similar to the way in which people who are afraid of snakes can lose their fear of snakes by handling rope (which looks like a snake) until handling rope is no longer scary, and then looking at pictures of snakes until such pictures are no longer scary, and then finally handling a snake when they are ready. However, we've been struggling to think of what a sufficiently easy and non-scary first step might be for my friend; everything I've come up with as a first step akin to handling rope has been too scary for him to want to attempt so far.

I don't think that I'll even be able to convince my friend that desensitization training will be worth it at all--he's afraid that the training might trigger him, and leave him in a depression too deep for him to climb out of. At the same time, he's so incredibly nice, and he really wants to help with FAI research, and maybe even work for MIRI in the "unlikely" (according to him) event that he is able to overcome his fears. Are there reasonable alternatives to, say, desensitization therapy? Are there any really easy and non-scary first steps he might be okay with trying if he can be convinced to try desensitization therapy? Is there any other advice that might be helpful to him?

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 29 January 2016 07:46:11PM 2 points [-]

This sounds like someone who's salient feature is math anxiety from high school asking how to be a research director at CERN. It's not just that the salient feature seems at odds with the task, it's that the task isn't exactly something you just walk into, while you sound like you're talking about helping someone overcome a social phobia by taking a part-time job at supermarket checkout. Is your friend someone who wins International Math Olympiads?

Comment author: EHeller 09 January 2016 08:51:06PM 2 points [-]

In STEM fields, there is a great deal of necessary knowledge that simply is not in journals or articles, and is carried forward as institutional knowledge passed around among grad students and professors.

Maybe someday someone clever will figure out how to disseminate that knowledge, but it simply isn't there yet.

In response to comment by EHeller on LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 10 January 2016 09:45:55AM 0 points [-]

Maybe someday someone clever will figure out how to disseminate that knowledge, but it simply isn't there yet.

Based on Razib Khan's blog posts, many cutting edge researchers seem to be pretty active on Twitter where they can talk about their own stuff and keep up on what their colleagues are up to. Grad students on social media will probably respond to someone asking about their subfield if it looks like they know their basics and may be up to something interesting.

The tiny bandwidth is of course a problem. "Professor Z has probably proven math lemma A" fits in a tweet, instruction on lab work rituals not so much.

Clever people who don't want to pay for plane tickets and tuition might be pretty resourceful though, once they figure out they want to talk with each other to learn what they need to know.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 09 January 2016 05:36:43PM *  3 points [-]

We're about to see the first generation that grew up with a really ubiquitous internet come to grad school age though

I only know about STEM, but I don't think it will make a ton of difference (will report back once I see a few graduate).

What I'm interested in now is whether in the next couple decades we're going to see a Grigori Perelman or Shinichi Mochizuki style extreme outlier produce some result that ends up widely acknowledged to be an equally big deal as what Perelman did, without ever having seen the inside of an university.

I am quite certain this is very unlikely to become any type of trend (it is certainly possible for outsiders to be great, Ramanujan was an outsider after all).


edit: I think a better example of "credentialism" is docs vs nurses. MDs know a lot more than nurses do, but there is a ton of routine healthcare stuff that needs a doc for no good reason, basically. In academia people ultimately just care if you are good or not. One of the smartest mathematical minds I know is an MD, not a PhD (and is an enormously influential academic doing mathy stuff). There is a famous mathematician at UCLA without a PhD, I think.

In response to comment by IlyaShpitser on LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 10 January 2016 05:32:06AM *  1 point [-]

I am quite certain this is very unlikely to become any type of trend (it is certainly possible for outsiders to be great, Ramanujan was an outsider after all).

Not in the present circumstances, no. The interesting thing is if it would strike a match with the current disaffection with academia (perceptions of must-have-bachelor's-for-any-kind-of-job student loan rackets and stressed-out researchers who spend most of their energy gaming administrative systems and grinding out cookie-cutter research tailored to fit standardized bureaucratic metrics for acceptable tenure-track career path progress), cause more young people who think they are talented and exceptional to drop out, and what they will do once they have and if that trend might continue far enough to change the wider circumstances around academia.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 09 January 2016 12:37:38AM *  0 points [-]

After all, the Web means

An end to credentialism. Now any amateur physicist can contribute in their spare time. Smoother, better peer review processes. Cheap, universal distribution.

Physics (and STEM more generally) is a terrible example of credentialism. Almost all original research in STEM is not done by amateurs (e.g. the uncredentialed), with good reason.

The higher education bubble is likely going to "pop" eventually. (Maybe when employers realize that taking Coursera classes is a positive signal of

Yeah, I am sure enough about this not happening that I am willing to place bets. There is an enormous amount of intangibles Coursera can't give you (I agree it can be useful for a certain type of person for certain types of aims).

In response to comment by IlyaShpitser on LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 09 January 2016 08:57:44AM *  1 point [-]

Yeah, I am sure enough about this not happening that I am willing to place bets. There is an enormous amount of intangibles Coursera can't give you (I agree it can be useful for a certain type of person for certain types of aims).

Agree that being inside academia is probably a lot bigger deal than people outside it really appreciate. We're about to see the first generation that grew up with a really ubiquitous internet come to grad school age though. Currently in addition to the assumption that generally clever people will want to go to university, we've treated it as obvious that the Nobel prize winning clever people will have an academic background. Which has been pretty much mandatory, since that used to be the only way you got to talk with other academicians and to access academic publications.

What I'm interested in now is whether in the next couple decades we're going to see a Grigori Perelman or Shinichi Mochizuki style extreme outlier produce some result that ends up widely acknowledged to be an equally big deal as what Perelman did, without ever having seen the inside of an university. You can read pretty much any textbook or article you want over an internet connection now, and it's probably not impossible to get professional mathematicians talking with you even when they have no idea who you are if it's evident from the start that you have some idea what their research is about. And an extreme outlier might be clever enough to figure things on their own, obsessive enough to keep working on them on their own for years, and somewhat eccentric so that they take a dim view on academia and decline to play along out of principle.

It'd basically be a fluke statistically, but it would put a brand new spin on the narrative about academia. Academia wouldn't be the obvious one source of higher learning anymore, it'd be the place where you go when you're pretty smart but not quite good and original enough to go it alone.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 January 2016 06:07:43PM *  0 points [-]

Either you cease to exist, or you don't. It's a very clear difference.

You seem to be hung up on either memories or observations being the key to decoding the subjective self. I think that is your error.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 08 January 2016 08:29:15PM *  2 points [-]

Yeah, for some reason I'm not inclined to give very much weight to an event that can't be detected by outside observers at all and which my past, present or future selves can't subjectively observe being about to happen, happening right now or having happened.

You seem to be hung up on either memories or observations being the key to decoding the subjective self. I think that is your error.

This sounds like a thing people who want to explain away subjective consciousness completely are saying. I'm attacking the notion that the annoying mysterious part in subjective consciousness with the qualia and stuff includes a privileged relation from the present moment of consciousness to a specific future moment of consciousness, not the one that there's subjective consciousness stuff to begin with that isn't easy to reduce to just objective memories and observations.

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