I’m really noticing how the best life improvements come from purchasing or building better infrastructure, rather than trying permutations of the same set of things and expecting different results. (Much of this results from having more money, granting an expanded sense of possibility to buying useful things.)
The guiding question is, “What upgrades would make my life easier?” In contrast with the question that is more typically asked: “How do I achieve this hard thing?”
It seems like part of what makes this not just immediately obvious is that I feel a sense of resistance (that I don’t really identify with). Part of that is a sense of… naughtiness? Like we’re supposed to signal how hardworking we are. For me this relates to this fear I have that if I get too powerful, I will break away from others (e.g. skipping restaurants for a Soylent Guzzler Helmet, metaphorically) as I re-engineer my life and thereby invite conflict. There’s something like a fear that buying or engaging in nicer things would be an affront to my internalized model of my parents?
The infrastructure guideline relates closely to the observation that to a first approximation we are stimulus-response machines reacting to our environment, and that the best way to improve is to actually change your environment, rather than continuing to throw resources past the point of diminishing marginal returns in adaptation to the current environment. And for the same reasons, the implications can scare me, for it may imply leaving the old environment behind, and it may even imply that the larger the environmental change you make, the more variance you have for a good or bad update to your life. That would mean we should strive for large positive environmental shifts, while minimizing the risk of bad ones.
(This also gives me a small update towards going to Mars being more useful for x-risk, although I may need to still propagate a larger update in the other direction away from space marketing. )
Of course, most of one’s upgrades should be tiny and within one’s comfort zone. What the portfolio of small vs huge changes one should make in one’s life is an open question to me, because while it makes sense to be mostly conservative with one’s allocation of one’s life resources, I suspect that fear brings people to justify the static zone of safety they’ve created with their current structure, preventing them from seeking out better states of being that involve jettisoning sunk costs that they identify with. Better coordination infrastructure could make such changes easier if people don’t have to risk as much social conflict.
I find the question, “What would change my mind?”, to be quite powerful, psychotherapeutic even. AKA “singlecruxing”. It cuts right through to seeking disconfirmation of one’s model, and can make the model more explicit, legible, object. It’s proactively seeking out the data rather than trying to reduce the feeling of avoidant deflection associated with shielding a beloved notion from assault. Seems like it comports well with the OODA loop as well. Taken from Raemon’s “Keeping Beliefs Cruxy”.
I am curious how others ask this question of themselves. What follows is me practicing the question.
What would change my mind about the existence of the moon? Here are some hypotheses:
I would look up in the sky every few hours for several days and nights and see that it’s not there.
I see over a dozen posts on my Facebook feed talking about how it turns out it was just a cardboard cutout and SpaceX accidentally tore a hole in it. They show convincing video of the accident and footage of people reacting such as leaders of the world convening to discuss it.
Multiple friends are very concerned about my belief in this luminous, reflective rocky body. They suggest I go see a doctor or the government will throw me in the lunatics’ asylum. The doctor prescribes me a pill and I no longer believe.
It turns out I was deluded and now I’m relieved to be sane.
It turns out they have brainwashed me and now I’m relieved to be sane.
I am hit over the head with a rock which permanently damages my ability to form lunar concepts. Or it outright kills me. I think this Goodharts (is that the closest term I’m looking for?) the question but it’s interesting to know what are bad/nonepistemic/out-of-context reasons I would stop believing in a thing.
These anticipations were System 2 generated and I’m still uncertain to what extent I can imagine them actually happening and changing my mind. It’s probably sane and functional that the mind doesn’t just let you update on anything you imagine, though I also hear the apocryphal saying that the mind 80% believes whatever you imagine is real.
I facilitated a Hamming Circle two days ago and it looks like I will produce some kind of writeup someday, >50% probability.
I was wrong on producing a writeup that qualifies as “a writeup” (I’m not sure exactly where I would have put it after the draft had been finished). I am poorly calibrated in personal action predictions (it may be the case that I am only tempted to make a prediction that I’ll do a thing when I want to signal to myself or others that I will in fact do a thing when the outside view says I won’t, so I should probably update downward that I’ll do a thing if I find myself trying to predict a probability that I’ll do it, over and above the normal downward adjustment for planning fallacy and Hofstadter’s Law).
Thankfully there is satisfactory content on the subject. For instance, “Group Debugging” seems to be the thing-that-is-doing-the-closest-thing-to-this at meetups that is more repeatable and tractable than the original Hamming question (it’s basically what the Hamming thing I said I facilitated was), though it is somewhat different from the broad scope of the original (though I don’t like the word “Debugging” associated with this exercise, it seems to fetishize using programming metaphors to apply to human psychology, which feels sterile, cliquey, overreliant on usage of “System 2” solutions, and not as obviously descriptive of what is happening as it could be. Maybe “Group Problem-Solving”?).
Do humans actually need breaks from working, physiologically? How much of this is a cultural construct? And if it is, can those assumptions be changed? Could a person be trained to enjoyably have 100-hour workweeks? (assume, if the book Deep Work is correct that you have max 4 hours of highly productive work on a domain, that my putative powerhuman is working on 2-4 different skill domains that synergize)
What weird experiments?
You bring to mind a visual of the Power of a Mind as this dense directed cyclic graph of beliefs where updates propagate in one fluid circuit at the speed of thought.
I wonder what formalized measures of [agency, updateability, connectedness, coherence, epistemic unity, whatever sounds related to this general idea] are put forth by different theories (schools of psychotherapy, predictive processing, Buddhism, Bayesian epistemology, sales training manuals, military strategy, machine learning, neuroscience...) related to the mind and how much consilience there is between them. Do we already know how to rigorously describe peak mental functioning?
What is “explied postrationality”?
I believe Null Hypothesis. This site isn’t getting too many comments so there’s plenty room for variation. I would definitely rule out Hypothesis 7.