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Comment author: RomeoStevens 23 March 2017 02:24:45AM 3 points [-]

If durability is hard for a consumer to evaluate, then the manufacturer will push costs there in order to devote more optimization power to the dimensions that consumers actually evaluate. Manufacturers that don't do this will be left behind for two reasons. 1. They will appear worse in terms of the features that are visible and 2. Their competitors will have larger advertising budgets.

The general principle is similar to the idea of an Aether variable. Costs get pushed into harder to evaluate dimensions. The products available in the market are only 'designed' by humans in a loose sense. After a market has existed for awhile it is more accurate to say the product is the output of a selection process. This is part of the reason new areas appear to make ultra fast progress initially, proxy measures haven't diverged from utility yet keeping the feedback loops tight.

Comment author: Viliam 18 March 2017 05:49:49PM *  12 points [-]

I have recently read Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities, which is a book containing experience and advice for people wanting to build a community. The book is about ecological communities, which may differ in some aspects from the rationalist ones, but I believe most things are valid generally.

Some points I remember:

Do not overestimate people's commitment, no matter what they say. When the moment comes to actually put down the large amounts of money, don't be surprised if most of them suddenly change their minds.

Do your research in advance -- how much the project will cost, what kinds of documents and permissions you will need, and whether your plan is actually legal. (Ask people already living in similar communities. Actually, visit them for a few days, to get a near-mode experience. All of you.)

Good fences make good neighbors. Whatever were your original agreements, expect people to change their minds later and to remember something different than you do. Then you will need a paper record.

For any kind of group decisions, you need very precise rules for (1) who is and who isn't a member, how to become one and how to stop being one; and (2) what happens in case of prolonged disagrement. Outside view says that "we will do everything by consensus" is magical thinking predictably leading to a disaster.

It helps to identify your vision, and describe it in "vision documents" as clearly as possible. You might be surprised that people who previously seemed to agree with non-specific details, will suddenly find things they object against. (Better to find it now than after you have all moved.) Also, this will be helpful in future to explain your community to potential new members.

It is a bad idea to introduce power imbalances, such as "the rich members volunteer to intially pay for the poorer ones" or "someone can lend their unused private building to the community", because that can make later intra-group negotiations really unpleasant (e.g. when you have a vote about something the rich members have a strong opinion about, and they end up in the minority). If there is a need to lend money between members, do it completely officially, so that the fact that "X owes money to Y" cannot be used as a leverage against X.

It is probably a good idea to have together some lessons on communication skills. You need to be able to talk about sensitive topics where you disagree, without it making you feel disconnected. But you also need to hold each other accountable for things you agreed upon.

Filter people for emotional maturity. Seriously. Some people can cause insane amounts of unnecessary drama. And that applies not just for founders; you should also agree on some selection process for new members in the future. Also, newcomers should become provisional members first, participate in the community life and contribute some work, before they become full members. (Good interview questions: how have you supported yourself financially in the past? describe your long-term relationshops, school and work experience.)

There are different options: You can buy or rent several houses or flats for individual members of families, and then one extra place which will be common. Or you can buy a piece of land with several houses. Or a piece of land without houses, and build them. Or you could buy an office building or an abandoned factory, and then rebuild it. Members can own their places; or you could together create a legal entity that owns everything, and all members rent it from that entity. That entity may be able to take a loan.

Have a debate about what is your position on:

  • preferred distance from: schools, shops, nature, traffic nodes, other important places
  • lifestyle: vegetarianism / veganism, families, pets, sexual behavior, drug use...
  • financial issues: will everyone contribute equally, do member rights depend on their respective contributions, which property or expenses specifically are shared
  • politics: what about religion, is it okay if members are politically active, is it okay to publicly support politically active people

Have monthly meetings, with an agenda and a facilitator; only members can vote; take notes and archive them. (The logs will be useful to show to new members in the future.) Specifically, keep records about agreed upon tasks and dates. To make sure everyone is trivially involved even before you buy something, require a symbolic financial contribution from the members (remember, only those can vote), e.g. $100 for joining, and $10 as a monthly fee. Keep financial records.

How to create positive emotional bonds: talk about your life; cook and eat together. (Once in a while.)

Comment author: RomeoStevens 20 March 2017 01:27:30AM *  4 points [-]

Additionally: if only one member seems enthusiastic about thinking/planning/enforcing this kind of stuff that is a very bad sign. In such a situation when that person burns out the community slowly dies.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 18 March 2017 09:19:29PM 1 point [-]

Common limiting beliefs can be seen as particularly strong attractors along certain dimensions of mindspace that coping mechanisms use to winnow the affordance space down to something manageable without too much cognitive overhead. Regularities in behaviors that don't serve a direct purpose could also be seen as spandrels from our training data clustering things that don't necessarily map directly to causality. Ie you can get animals to do all sorts of wacky things with clicker training which then persist even if you start only rewarding a subset of the actions if the animal has no obvious way of unbundling the actions.

Comment author: juliawise 17 March 2017 11:14:01AM *  15 points [-]

Yeah, when I looked into cohousing this is what I concluded too. My husband and I ended up buying a house with 6 bedrooms and occupying two of them (then adding two more family members and building two more bedrooms.) None of our housemates would have bought in because they're not sure how long-term they want to be here, but they're happy to be renters and we're happy to own the building.

To us it's important that the arrangement be flexible; rather than a single big house we bought a house that had been divided into two apartments, so if we ever want to stop having housemates or we can't find housemates who want to live with us, we can pick the smaller or the larger apartment and rent the other one out. There's also some possibility of our kids wanting to rent from us in 20 years, which we think will work better if they can have their own apartment. I wouldn't have wanted to sink our savings into something that would really only work in one configuration.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 17 March 2017 09:13:37PM 3 points [-]

Thanks a lot for sharing. I think there's something valuable to be learned from how you've managed to maintain option value.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 17 March 2017 05:53:34AM *  12 points [-]

I've looked into housing prices for multi family complexes and they scale sublinearly with number of bedrooms. The biggest obstacle is that people aren't really willing to invest significant fractions of their income in them currently (because you don't want to have to gather 8 investors for an 8 unit, chaos/life happens). Ideally something like 3 people/couples who think they are relatively stable would take on responsibility for an 8 unit with a significant fraction of their income. This is a risk, but one of the top regrets of old people is becoming socially isolated. I think investing a significant fraction of ones income in what will eventually turn partially into semi-passive income (once the mortgage is paid) and partially into their community it is okay to invest a larger than usual fraction of income in. This will still likely take an individual slightly more wealthy than your average techie to eat a larger chunk of the down payment than others and thus own more of the equity in the income stream.

I suspect this is fairly impossible in the bay area which has the lowest conscientiousness people in the US AFAIK.

Edit what I mean by pointing out low conscientiousness is that many people are incredibly short sighted and will defect when short term opportunities look better ie they will not tough out a few years of sub-optimal financial arrangement ie people don't actually grasp the concept of investing in a community. Related to why our kind can't cooperate.

In response to Noble excuses
Comment author: RomeoStevens 14 March 2017 09:30:54PM 4 points [-]

Not all noble excuses are bad.

I think excuses in general are bad. They reinforce the narrative fallacy. All excuses collapse to I didn't care enough about the thing to take into account the factors affecting it. Including variance in factors you couldn't control. People don't like this frame because it makes them a lot more responsible for what happens to them. Note this should be deployed exclusively internally and not as an excuse to have less empathy for others. Everyone is doing the best they can. Note also that there is a distinction between responsibility and fault. It isn't your fault that random misfortunes befell you, but dealing with them is your responsibility whether you would like to think about it or not.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 25 February 2017 01:22:43AM *  3 points [-]

The inventor of the premortem also uses a pro-mortem: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/seeing-what-others-dont/201510/the-pro-mortem-method

Bouncing back and forth between these feels like it could be an even more effective instantiation of mental contrasting, and might route around mental contrasting's weaknesses. This is also supported by its use in psychotherapy where a similar construct is referred to as the 'miracle question': https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solution_focused_brief_therapy#The_miracle_question

Ben Hoffman has also reported some success with a similar question of the form 'imagine a fluke occurred that solved your problem or made it much easier, is there anything you can do to make such a 'fluke' more likely?'

This turns it more into a factor analysis question: if you bounce back and forth between the failure and success condition, which dimensions most saliently seem like they are shifting as you move? These are your candidate hypotheses for the things that affect success. Can they be tested?

Comment author: diegocaleiro 22 February 2017 12:42:10PM 0 points [-]

It seems to me the far self is more orthogonal to your happiness. You can try to optimize for maximal long term happiness.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 23 February 2017 08:37:21AM 0 points [-]

This doesn't seem very feasible to me given both the prediction horizon being short and my preferences changing in ways I would not have predicted. Option value seems like a much better framework for thinking about the future.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 22 February 2017 03:47:53AM 1 point [-]

What I mean is that the skills 'work' when practicing them leads to them bleeding out into the world. And that this mostly looks liess like 'aha, an opportunity to use skill X' and more like you just naturally think a bit more in terms of how skill X views the world than before.

Eg: supply and demand is less an explicit thing you apply (unless the situation is complex) and more just the way you see the world when you level up the economist lens.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 22 February 2017 03:50:13AM 0 points [-]

(lenses/ontologies/viewpoints/hats/perceptual habits)

Comment author: lifelonglearner 22 February 2017 03:03:47AM 0 points [-]

Huh, okay.

I will say that I think my typical everyday rationality looks much more like the thing you mentioned; if I've invested time but the thing isn't panning out, (as an example) then something along the lines of "hey, sunk costs are a thing, let's get out of here" will fire.

But I do think that there's a time and place for the sort of more explicit reasoning that boggling entails.

(Unsure if we're talking about the same thing. Feel free to re-orient me if I've gone off on a tangent)

Comment author: RomeoStevens 22 February 2017 03:47:53AM 1 point [-]

What I mean is that the skills 'work' when practicing them leads to them bleeding out into the world. And that this mostly looks liess like 'aha, an opportunity to use skill X' and more like you just naturally think a bit more in terms of how skill X views the world than before.

Eg: supply and demand is less an explicit thing you apply (unless the situation is complex) and more just the way you see the world when you level up the economist lens.

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