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Comment author: diegocaleiro 23 November 2010 01:35:46AM 1 point [-]

What a fantastic motivational post.

Some things that definitely worked for me:

1) To know you personally experienced a feeling of "No way, that is too hard" yet kept going 2) That you said: "the total mountain-to-be-climbed has increased in height" which was getting me increasingly anxious recently. 3) This: "When you're confused about a domain, problems in it will feel very intimidating and mysterious, and a query to your brain will produce a count of zero solutions. But you don't know how much work will be left when the confusion clears."

Basically, the fact that you have described situations which I have experienced myself, that were tipping the balance of my emotions towards the "Forget about it, too hard" side, and said that in those situations you just kept walking, untarnished.

Which clearly shows that this kind of reasoning would only seduce someone who already thinks you are a good fellow, and a smart hard worker. I'm unsure which bits would be persuasive for someone who started less wrong by this post.

Comment author: Zian 03 May 2017 03:55:30AM 0 points [-]

has increased in height That is usually where I end up after estimating the amount of time required to do a software project (small or large). But, as EY pointed out, once you do the work to figure out what must be done, then the problem is just 'really hard'.

Comment author: Sgeo 11 February 2015 05:03:46AM 5 points [-]

What's the deal with General Biotics? They first promised a study on January 15th, then they said it would need 15 more days, and to check back Feb 1st. Feb 1st rolls around, nothing for a few days, then that page is gone, and the home page then says that the study is slated for completion mid year. It would be nice to have an actual record of the constantly changing date, but they've been blocking the Internet Archive (since December 2014 or earlier, which to me does not look as bad as if it was a very recent change): http://web.archive.org/web/20141217104405/http://www.generalbiotics.com/robots.txt

Comment author: Zian 17 February 2017 10:54:29PM 0 points [-]

We can only infer that something bad has happened. In the worst case scenario (as HPMOR is so fond of recommending), the company has been taken over by hostile aliens and is now pumping out poisons to destroy as many humans as possible.

In response to LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: Zian 25 January 2016 07:32:29AM 1 point [-]

You make a pretty good case for better platforms for accomplishing individual parts of what LW can do but I think LW should be the central place that takes a solid stab at doing all of them because once you send someone to another site, they're less likely to be willing to spend the (now-consumed) time/energy on a 2nd or 3rd site for the other things you mention in the article.

I have always viewed this site as the central meeting point or repository for all things related to rationality and find that the infrastructure is already very promising with a combination of a Reddit-based discussion area and wiki. However, the wiki seems to get 0 attention from the discussion area and the only visible part is the discussion area unless you click on the 3rd item in the bulleted list on the home page or the grayed out wiki link in the corner if you have the discussion page bookmarked.

With the departure of many of the big names to other platforms, I find that I lose track of what they're writing because I don't have the time or energy to go around rounding all of the various sites up. At most, I might remember to visit Overcoming Bias once in a while. I certainly don't have EY's Facebook URL memorized.

Comment author: Zian 25 January 2016 12:03:11AM 0 points [-]

Thank you for making this post. The topics you covered here are at the core of why I have been somewhat reluctant to donate to CFAR in the past.

Comment author: Zian 09 October 2015 06:00:16AM *  1 point [-]

Implemented another layer of detail in my food tracking/analyzing project. Specifically, I went from a single sentence in the specifications document that said "Based on the accumulated data, rank the various eating places from least likely to cause bad reactions to most likely to cause problems" to a completed table with counts obtained from sample meals in the document and a worked-out Bayes Theorem equation that gets as specific as:

P(no reaction | ate at the Castle in the Air) = p(...| ...)p(...|...)...etc.
p(...|...) = such-and-such-sum / such-and-such count
p(...|...) = ...
and so on.

Next up: plug in #s, work through 4 more sample analysis questions, and then implement the whole lot in software.

Comment author: Tem42 14 August 2015 02:55:01AM 3 points [-]

Being a comparatively new user, and thus having limited karma, I can't engage fully with The Irrationality Game. Seeing as how it's about 5 years out of date, is there any interest in playing the game anew? Are there rules on who should/can post such things?

Comment author: Zian 22 August 2015 06:22:18AM 0 points [-]

Looks interesting. Feel free to try.

Comment author: Zian 15 June 2015 12:56:01AM 17 points [-]

Since utilions are a unit of caring and Less Wrong (the website) has helped me immensely in making the transition from a somewhat despondent college graduate to a software engineer job with an annual salary + benefits, is there any way I can donate some dollars towards the site's upkeep?

Failing that, and as a more immediate measure, I extend my sincere thanks to everyone on Less Wrong, especially Eliezer Yudkowsky and his works HPMOR & An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem for enlightening me.

On a more useful note, it appears that the Java applets at http://www.yudkowsky.net/rational/bayes are now blocked by the current version of the Oracle Java Runtime Environment for Windows.

Comment author: Vaniver 17 March 2015 03:18:15AM *  12 points [-]

So, several years ago I was moved by my primary dissatisfaction with HPMoR and my enjoyment of MLP to start a rationalist MLP fanfic. (There are at least two others, that occupied very different spheres, which I will get to in a bit.)

My main dissatisfaction with HPMoR was that Harry is almost always the teacher, not the student; relatedly, his cleverness far outstrips his wisdom. It is only at the very end, after he nearly loses everything, that he starts to realize how difficult it is to get things right, and even then he does not fully get it. Harry is the sort of character that the careful reader can learn from, but not the sort of character one should try to emulate.

MLP's protagonist, Twilight Sparkle, is in many ways the opposite character: instead of being overconfident and arrogant, she is anxious and (generally) humble. Where Harry has difficulty seeing others as equals or useful, Twilight genuinely relies on her friends. Most of Harry's positive characteristics, though, Twilight shares--or could plausibly share with little modification. (In HP terms, she's basically what would have happen if bookish Hermione had been the Girl-Who-Lived, with the accompanying leadership potential, and Harry Potter, the athletic Gryffindor seeker, was just one of her friends.)

So I had the clever idea to write a series of five scenes where Twilight learned a rationality lesson from each of the other five primary characters (yes, even Pinkie Pie, and that one actually wasn't hard to write). And then once I was thinking of a rationalist Twilight, an overall story formed around those scenes. I also wanted to write a story which had more of a Hansonian growth curve--yes, things are growing and a clever protagonist is constantly improving things around herself, but she's not the only PC in the world, and doesn't necessarily stand out as particularly effective. She might get a nice palace and lead a growing and exciting startup, but she's not going to become the Singleton, and she's more likely to have a bunch of exciting and energetic friends than be a lonely genius. (The primary two rationalist MLP fanfics that I'm aware of--not including any of PhilGoetz's stuff--are one in which a pony-flavored Singleton dominates the real world, and one in which a HPMoR-esque protagonist drops into the MLP world and does HPMoR-esque things.)

But, since I'm not celebrating finishing that story, obviously things went wrong. The primary ones:

  1. My first project was not something temporary. This is the advice they give for any physical craft--don't make your first set of bookshelves for yourself, or your first scarf, or so on. You're going to muck something up, and to this day my primary scarf has a bit of a trapezoidal slant at the end of it because I didn't quite have the hang of how to crochet the end of a row. If I had made a dishrag to make my rookie mistakes on and then a scarf to wear, the scarf would have been fine. The application to fiction is obvious. Not only does it have deep problems, it isn't even done. (I do have a finished, joke story written in response to one of Eliezer's Facebook posts, which isn't any better but is at least a complete work.)
  2. As the above suggests, I'm not very good at writing fiction. Like most people who DMed at some point, I did a fair bit of it when I was younger--but it never ascended to full hobby status. Arguing and forum-posting did, but that's a fairly different skill.
  3. Continuing the trend, I don't find writing fiction all that rewarding. PhilGoetz, at some point, described himself as having to write. Perhaps the same is true of me, but I find that urge adequately satisfied by nonfiction, and I suspect the world is better off with another book review or an introductory causality lesson plan / textbook than it is with another piece of rationalist fiction (conditioned on me writing it, at least).

But with HPMoR finished, I feel the itch again. Especially in the light of the Final Exam and its resolution. (As Sun Tzu put it, "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.") But just diving into it again because the itch has returned does not a plan for success make. Here are the things I'm thinking about (and please, feel free to suggest other things to think about):

  1. Finish the original idea--the five chapters where Twilight learns a lesson from each of her friends--and publish it as its own work. (This is mostly done, and would just need some editing.) Gradually build out the full story as a separate thing when you have the time and interest.
  2. Seek more serious help from other writers--not just editing, but possibly full coauthorship, or sliding further down the scale towards commissions. (I haven't fully sorted out my priorities here, but I think I care enough to use some units of caring on this.)
  3. Drop this idea as less valuable than other projects. I don't have the introspection ability to be sure about energy/motivation, but I suspect this would draw from the same motivation budget as nonfiction writing projects, and it certainly would draw from the same time budget.

(By the way, here is the link to it; I last updated it about a year ago.)

Comment author: Zian 22 March 2015 11:21:11PM 2 points [-]

I suggest doing #1 and #2 in parallel.

As you said, the story is mostly done and just needs editing. That will require help from other people and can happen while you do other things. It will be good for you to be able to say "Behold, I have finished this thing."

At the same time, as you tackle the full story as a separate thing, it may be worth giving it your best effort (by pulling in #2) so that after a few months, you can say "I tried really hard and it didn't work. Alas. Time to stop." or the opposite, without having to wonder if you just didn't try hard enough.

Comment author: Zian 09 February 2015 06:35:15AM *  2 points [-]

The LessWrong logo seems to be broken at http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/HowToActuallyChangeYour_Mind.

(more generally, there's no clear place to post about technical issues)

Comment author: Zian 09 February 2015 06:10:46AM 0 points [-]

Improved the speed of some code by at least 1 to two orders of magnitude by moving all the disk IO that happened while crunching numbers to RAM. The code is run at least 30,000 times a day and is part of a set of steps that can end with my company sending an urgent text message to first responders (e.g. firemen, police chiefs, etc.).

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