Once again, it is time to become stronger.
This week’s challenge: You find yourself in a locked, empty room. You only have the clothes on your body and a phone in your pocket. You have enough energy to not need food or water for 10 years. Your phone has enough battery power to not need to recharge. It has wi-fi.
You have 1 hour to come up with 50 ways.
To last week’s babble champions, who made it to 50 —
gjm, mr-hire, Tetraspace Grouping, Neel Nanda, ErickBall, Harmless, steven0461, Vanilla_cabs, gogishvilli, justinpombrio, Bautista Cazeaux, tomcatfish, NunoSempere, Unnamed, MikkW, Mati_Roy, James Fadden, James Barry, frontier64, Slider, smiley314.
— I salute you.
Together we produced more than 1300 ways of going to the moon. (Though there’s likely a lot of overlap.)
I found it inspiring. Both in terms of the turnout (which far surpassed my expectations) and in terms of the creativity of individual submissions. Reading your answers made me realise I can do a lot better. There are other levels to reach. I want to get there.
Moving forwards: weekly babble
I am hereby committing to doing a babble challenge on LessWrong every week for the coming six weeks (including today).
(The format might change a bit along the line, but the impetus will remain the same.)
Practice is about building for the long run.
Showing up every week and putting all that deliberateness into your craft.
Showing up for years to tread that subtle incline, until one day you find yourself side by side with a beginner. They look upon your mountain of compound returns and all they see is magic. But you know that “sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect”.
Eventually I’ll switch away from the babble challenge to other things. But what matters is to retain that will to improve, that burning fire to advance further. And I want LessWrong to be a place that sustains a flourishing culture of practice and self-improvement.
If you want that as well, I invite you to join me. Comment and commit to showing up for this week, and then five more.
(If you just want to try it out once and then reevaluate, that’s also fine. You’re welcome to do that.)
I feel like so much of our ability to make the world great is bottlenecked by creativity.
We don’t know how to solve the alignment problem. We haven’t unravelled all the mysteries of science. There are trillion dollar companies that haven’t been founded.
Somehow, someone will need to reach into that weird aether where insight is born, and pluck out a solution to share with the world.
Creativity is not the only thing we need. We also need good judgement. Concrete skills like design, coding, management and research ability. Money. Great teammates. Luck.
But creativity is a crucially important component. I’d be surprised if I regret investing in my creativity.
50 answers or nothing. Shoot for 1 hour.
It’s fine if you don’t manage all of them in one hour. But any answers must contain 50 ideas. That’s the babble challenge. We’re here to challenge ourselves.
Post your answers inside of spoiler tags. (How do I do that?)
Celebrate other’s answers.
This is really important. Sharing babble in public is a scary experience. I don’t want people to leave this having back-chained the experience “If I am creative, people will look down on me”. So be generous with those upvotes.
If you comment on someone else’s post, focus on making exciting, novel ideas work—instead of tearing apart worse ideas.
Reward people for babbling—don’t punish them for not pruning.
I might remove comments that break this rule.
Not all your ideas have to work.
The prompt is very underspecified. You don’t know if there are doors or windows; or, if so, what they are like. You don’t know the material of the wall. Use your creativity — feel free to come up with solutions that only work in some of those scenarios.
If it helps, imagine that you’re a fiction writer. You’re searching for interesting ways to continue the above story.
My main tip: when you’re stuck, say something stupid.
If you spend 5 min agonising over not having anything to say, you’re doing it wrong. You’re being too critical. Just lower your standards and say something, anything. Soon enough you’ll be back on track.
This is really, really important. It’s the only way I’m able to complete these exercises (and I’ve done a few of them in the last few days).
Now, go forth and babble! 50 ways of escaping a locked room!