I’ve still been thinking about this quote a lot. Do you think you can trace it more specifically? Is there a book / video / resource that explains it well?
This is one of my favorite games! I’ll definitely try the variant.
I’m getting more and more interested in this sequence. Very applicable to what I’m doing: analyzing market data.
I’m expecting a baby any day now. I guess this is the area I’m most concerned about, since historically I’ve felt very protective of my own time. But I’m looking forward to spending it with my kids, even in a “childcareish” way. :)
I second what Kaj said. If you’re curious I can go and copy the rules verbatim.
Rationality: not really. But the community: yes.
Below is my personal experience with the game. I decided not to include it in the post because I didn’t want to spoil the experience for anyone else. So I do recommend you read this comment only after you’ve played the game yourself a few times and ideally got to the end.
Recently I’ve been on a huge board game kick. My wife and I have started to build up a small collection. I try to buy games that seem fun, but are also diverse and interesting. (I get most of my ideas from The Dice Tower channel, which I’d highly recommend). Anyway, that’s how I ended up buying this game.
Our roommate Anna usually plays with us, so it was a three player game. The first night we played it, we got to level 5 twice. It was fun, interesting and challenging from the very first round.
One thing we learned almost immediately is that everyone’s sense of “speed” is quite different. My wife, Parina, tended to be on the faster side, sometimes making large jumps. Anna tended to be a lot more cautious, which meant sometimes she’d be hesitant to play a card when she should have. Usually that meant that when the two of them would have a “conflict” (wanting to play a card before the other), it should be Anna who goes first. But even knowing that, it wasn’t always easy to follow that rule (S2), since so much of the game is based in S1.
Another thing I also admire about this game is how there’s no downtime. Even if you have a 100, which means you’ll play last for sure, you still want to pay attention to the flow. It helps you calibrate, but it also means you could be a helpful tiebreaker if the other players are at an impasse. There were multiple amazing moments where two players would feel very uncertain, but they would turn to the third player to help them figure it out. (It’s also just fun to observe.)
The second night we played it, we got noticeably better. First time we lost around level 5. But the next play through, everything clicked. We got to level 5 with more lives and shurikens than we’ve ever had before. The “flow” state was setting in. Basically every time we had close cards, we got the order right. I didn’t think it was possible to do that, but it definitely wasn’t luck. It felt like catching the perfect wave or like being in flow solving an amazing puzzle. (In a way it feels like the opposite of poker: you’re trying to let the other players know what your cards are.)
Seriously, the feeling of getting close calls right is amazing!!! You’re looking at 41 in the center. It’s level 5, and your next lowest card is 47. You slowly try to put it down, when you notice the other player is doing it too. You lock eyes and enter a “communication dance”. “No, you go” you gesture. “Eh, I’m not sure I should,” they gesture. (And yes, at the peak experience it almost felt like I was hearing people speak, which is extremely rare for me. And to be clear, no drugs were involved.) You keep doing the dance. After a while you just know they have 48. Because if they had 46 they would have definitely played it by now. You take the chance and play your 47, and they follow by playing 48. The tension and the release is just pure crack. :P
Every level we completed after that we felt ecstatic! We celebrated and held hands. Sometimes we would make mistakes and lose a life. It was so emotional. In Anna’s words: “I felt betrayed, alive, sad, angry, surprised.” You get so in sync that it creates this strong illusion of one-mindedness that it almost hurts when it breaks.
Yet another thing I love about this game is that the collaboration works super well. If you’ve played cooperative board games, you’ve probably seen the common fail mode where one player just directs everyone else. This definitely can’t happen here. Also when someone makes a mistakes, the mistake is symmetric. One person should have gone first and they didn’t, whereas the other person should have waited longer and they didn’t. So it’s really hard to blame anyone in this game. You just learn and adjust.
We got to level 10 with 2 lives and no shurikens. A few cards in we lost another life. We were a hair away from losing the game. The next 8 cards were just pure adrenaline, but at the same time so calm and steady. No mistakes could be made. Every decision was approached with maximum consideration. When we finished the level the feeling was almost orgasmic. Like solving one of the most satisfying puzzles or hearing the most beautiful resolution to a song. There’s not many things in this world that I’ve experienced like that.
One nice property of markets is that it only takes a small number of people to remove an inefficiency. Once the better, cheaper mousetrap hits the market, the old mousetraps become obsolete; the new mousetrap is adopted even if there are initially many more old-mousetrap-makers than new-mousetrap-makers. Same with the stock market: even if most investors don’t notice a pattern, it only takes a handful to notice the opportunity and remove it.
This is very very wrong.
Knowing that there’s an inefficiency is only part of the battle. In order of importance to counter your point:
You need to have enough volume to remove the inefficiency. For a trading strategy, this is the capital you can allocate to this strategy specifically. It’s not obvious how many hedge funds, for example, are capital constrained. In the mousetrap example this means actually producing the sufficient volume of mousetraps.
The opportunity costs matter. The people positioned best to notice the inefficiency are also positioned best to notice others. May be there is a good trading strategy but it’s *less* than what you would make with your other strategies. So you wouldn’t actually trade it, leaving it for others to pick up. Same with the mousetrap: may be you go build a cat trap, or may be you don’t build anything but make money consulting.
The inefficiency removal needs to stick. If you’re trading a strategy and then stop, the inefficiency will likely come back. You might stop for a multiple number of reasons.
The execution is important. Let’s say you can analyze the data perfectly and come up with a clever algorithm. You’d still need to figure out how to execute on the actual trading. Part of it is not introducing too many exploitable opportunities for other trades (e.g. market makers).
Overall, I’d say even if an inefficiency is publicly known, it usually takes a non-trivial amount of people*effort to remove all of it.
I’m noticing this post is not getting many upvotes, so I thought I’d leave a comment to help with the lack of feedback.
Overall, I think this is a fine post. I agree with most points, with a few minor disagreements that overall don’t undermine the main point. It’s written pretty well too; very easy to read for me. But the content / main point is pretty well know, I think. And that’s why I’m guessing this post isn’t getting a lot of attention.
I’ve been aware and working on this dynamic for many years now, but I haven’t thought about it from this perspective. It feels pretty helpful! I think the underlying assumption is “of course I can deal with the first-order problem myself. But it would be helpful to not worry about the second-order effects while I do it.”
This is so so good! I think this is my favorite post of yours. It’s just teeming with possibilities and connections. Melting/freezing and magnetization connections are very interesting. This almost seems similar to what happens with brain plasticity increase (due to mania, being excited, or substances).
First, I’ll question some of the assumptions.
I do think there aren’t enough leaders. (I’m happy to discuss whether Ender Wiggins was a good leader in comments.) Part of what makes someone a good leader is being able to recruit and work with other people, not just rationalists. In fact, I think for most rationalist projects, you need a rationalist leader, but not necessarily rationalist helpers. For example, Arbital didn’t fail because we didn’t have enough rationalists (we had 3⁄3), but because neither of us knew how to run that kind of a startup. However, Arbital very likely wouldn’t have even happened unless I tried. And I’m pretty sure of that because after Eliezer approach me with the idea and I told him “no”, six months later nobody was doing it. So I picked it up.
So, I think there are a lot of valuable projects out there that have nobody to do them. And if you look at most failed projects, rationalist or not, they don’t fail because there weren’t enough helpers, they fail because the person who was supposed to be the leader didn’t do a good job.
Over the years I have collected a large pile of various failed or aborted projects in my wake. Things that just didn’t work out or didn’t go the way I had planned or hoped.
Yeah, welcome to the club. I think most people, even those who have been pretty successful have a long list of failed projects as well. If I understand you correctly, it seems like all of yours failed. I think that’s still fine. Most (if not all, depending on how you count) of my projects failed too. I don’t think that alone is a good enough reason to stop trying, though obviously you should adjust your strategy. (More on that in the next parts.)
Second, I’ll give what I think is a helpful context to approach this from.
To me this question reads loosely as “Hmm, I’m trying things, but they aren’t working out. May be the root problem is this one particular underlying assumption.” And the umbrella question is “What should I do with my life?” As such, I think any answer has to feel right for you at multiple levels. (Jordan Peterson covers this idea very well.) So I’d caution anyone against hyper-focusing on one assumption / problem when it comes to answering a big question like that.
That said, if you ask yourself “What should I do with my life that feels right for me at all levels?”, you often don’t get an answer. So it’s much better to go try something than not do anything at all. I guess, overall, I’d encourage people to approach this question from a more S1 / holistic feeling rather than S2 / systemic debugging.
I’m not sure this applies in your context, but it might apply to some readers, and it’s an important enough point that I’ll mention it anyway: when you’re young, you’re just not that capable. It takes a lot of learning and a lot of mistakes to get to the sweet spot. Some of the most helpful advice I’ve gotten was: “No, we don’t want you here helping on this relatively unimportant project. Go out and learn and become stronger and better.” It’s a bit hard to swallow because it means going out there and failing. A bunch. But if you’re the kind of person who can slog through that and learn, you’re also likely the kind of person who can grow a tremendous amount because of that. And that seems a lot more valuable than being stuck helping on relatively unimportant projects, where in the end the project has moved forward, but you have been left behind.
Third, I’ll share some of my relevant experience.
I actually have had a very similar question some years ago. “Hmm, Eliezer sure seems to produce a lot of good stuff. I bet if I could help him be even 20% more productive that would be a hell of a lot better than anything I could do.” So I did. Around 2015, for about 3-4 months I helped Eliezer with a variety of things. I think it was marginally useful, may be even 20% if I stretch it. But it also became clear to me that it’s not what I wanted to do. Even if that was the best I could ever hope to accomplish, that just wasn’t a sustainable path. I’m italicizing that point because I think it’s a very important realization and even at the risk of the typical mind fallacy, I do think it applies to basically everyone. For a path to be sustainable, you need for it to click on all levels. (Of course I didn’t learn this lesson back then, it took another two “failures”.)
When I worked on Arbital, I was the CEO. I didn’t like most of the CEO-specific tasks like raising money. For my current project, I’m the CTO. And that feels much better for me. One could argue that the CEO is Daimyo and the CTO is the Samurai, but I think that really oversimplifies the relationship and much depends on the context. There’re opportunities to lead and to follow, to teach and to listen. I’d say it’s much closer to collaboration / interdependence than a hierarchy. The best thing is that I get to do the things I love (coding) and someone else gets to do the things they love (talking to investors).
Fourth, I’ll answer the questions directly.
1) I think the question is not extremely useful. It’s better to search for the intersection between what you enjoy, what you’re good at, and what is valuable to do. Then do it in the best way you can given the situation. If that means leading because nobody is doing it, then do that. If it means joining an existing project, then do that. If it means convincing someone to do the project and then helping them or moving on, then do that.
2) I’d start by talking to people who know you and whom you trust. See in which directions they’d invite you to explore. Check with yourself to see what resonates. Give yourself a month or two to explore, but once exploration starts to slow down, just commit to the best task you’ve found.
3) I’m guessing that since you’ve asked these questions, that you are indeed very capable of making “a positive difference.” And yes, I think you can improve it. Continue to aim high, learn, strive, accept failures, and do the best you can. I think that’s all anyone can ask of you, including yourself. And with a bit of luck, in a decade or two, you’re going to be a 1000 year old vampire capable of extraordinary feats.
I used to have video stuttering until I switched from 2.4 GHZ to 5. That helped a lot more than I expected at the time.
I stopped doing it. I also stopped learning things (like math) that required that system. I think at this point I’d probably just get a grid notebook if I started learning math again.
My wife’s doctor said chloroquine (a treatment for malaria) was shown to be very promising in treating COVID-19. I guess it’s public now as well: https://www.wired.com/story/an-old-malaria-drug-may-fight-covid-19-and-silicon-valleys-into-it/
The whole abstract:
For over a hundred years Finnish sauna has been documented as a physiotherapeutic method in respiratory diseases. Physiological changes of ventilation remain small (about 10%) in the sauna. Heat load, sauna air and sympathetic stimulation generally do not cause problems to the lungs. Electron microscopic studies have not shown irreversible damages to the airway epithelium. Sauna takers should avoid bathing during acute respiratory infections. Sympathomimetic drugs may provoke tachycardia and arrhythmias in the sauna.
So I think they’re specifically talking about bathing; while the sauna (dry air) is actually good.
I can’t find the entire paper but if someone send me a link, I’ll look more into it.
A random thought: If the virus doesn’t survive well in high temperatures would going to a sauna help treat it?
Yeah, I think this is spot on. I’ve had this idea for a few years and have been holding a few stocks of each company that I think has a chance at AGI.
Part of my interest behind this question is that recently I’ve been noticing the subtle (but also not so subtle) ways our choices affect the people and the social fabric around us. Also, listening to Jordan Peterson highlight historical cases where the moral fabric of society fails (e.g. Nazi Germany and Soviet Union). It makes me think there’s a lot of under-appreciated value in being a morally upright person. Some of the value is in directly impacting the people around you, but the majority is in signaling that “this is the kind of society we live in.”