I think the idea is that you can learn rationality techniques that can be applied to politics much more easily by using examples that are not political.
So to clarify, I think there is merit in his approach of trying to engineer solutions to age related pathology. However, I do not think it will work for all aspects of aging right now. Aubrey believes that all the damage caused by aging are problems that we can begin solving right now. I would suspect that some are hard problems that will require a better understanding of the biological mechanisms involved before we can treat them.
So my position is that aging, like many fields, should be investigated both at the basic biology level and the from the perspective of trying to design therapeutics, because you don’t know if you can fix problems with current knowledge unless you try. However, if you fail to adequately treat the condition you want basic research to be ongoing.
As someone who works in biological science, I give the claim very little credence. I am someone who is very interested in Aubrey’s anti-aging ideas and when I bring up aging with colleagues, it is considered to be a problem that will not be solved for a long time. Public opinion usually takes 3 to 5 years to catch up to scientific consensus, and there is no kind of scientific consensus about this. That said, the idea of not having to get old does excite people a lot more than many other scientific discoveries so it might percolate into mainstream much faster than other ideas. Still my sense is that the overwhelming majority of scientists are not on board, which will make it very unlikely for this shift in public perception to happen.
Further, I do not know why he would expect the public to care this much about the issue that it would be impossible to be elected without it. It’s not like there’s huge electoral pressure to increase spending on cancer or heart disease research, which are diseases that essentially everyone is impacted by (directly or indirectly). The idea that there will be huge pressure for aging research seems absurdly over-optimistic.
So I would give this claim very little credence personally despite the fact that I do think we can at least make major strides into treating age-related pathology within the coming decades if it receives sufficient funding.
I think a very interesting aspect of this idea is that it explains why it can be so hard to come up with truly original ideas, while it is much easier to copy or slightly tweak the ideas of other people. Slight tweaks were probably less likely to get you killed, whereas doing something completely novel could be very dangerous. And while it might have a huge payoff, everyone else in the group could then copy you (due to imitation being our greatest strength as a species) so the original idea creator would not have gained much of a comparative advantage in most cases.
I think a number of the example answers are mystifying meaning. In my view, meaning is simply the answer to the question “why is life worth living?”. It is thus a very personal thing, what is meaningful for one mind may be utterly meaningless to another.
Yet as we are all humans, some significant overlap in the sorts of things that provide a sense of reason or gladness to being alive exists.
I will quote my favorite song, “The Riddle” by Five for Fighting, which gives two answers: “there’s a reason for the world, you and I” and “there’s a reason for the world, who am I?”
I think these capture the two most common sources of meaning for people. Our interactions, love and care for others is one major aspect of what, for many, makes life worth living. And the other is looking inside oneself, finding the things you cherish for their own sake and the moments of flow and joy you are able to find in the world.
This was very interesting. There seems to be a trade off for these people between their increased happiness and the ability to analyze their mistakes and improve, so I am not sure I find it entirely attractive. I think there is balance there, with some of the people studied being too happy to be maximally effective (assuming they have goals more important to them than their own happiness)
I think these are very important points. I have noticed some issues with having the right responses for social situations (especially laughing when it’s not entirely appropriate), which is something I’ve been working on remedying by paying closer attention to when people expect a serious reaction.
The issue of ignoring problems also seems like something to look out for. Just because something does not make you feel bad should not mean you fail to learn from it. I think there is a fine balance between learning from mistakes and dwelling on them, which is another, related skill.
Losing risk aversion and motivation seem unlikely to be problems for me personally, as what you’re calling the stoic mindset seems to push those towards a more ideal spot from my natural inclinations. However, I suspect this advice may be critical for others, though they would never have occurred to me as associated problems. This is why I always feel hesitant to give self-help advice.
I think the example with the lightbulbs and SAD is very important because it illustrates well that in areas that humanity is not prioritizing especially, one is much more justified in expecting civilizational inadequacy.
I think a large portion of the judgment of whether one should expect that inadequacy should be a function of how much work and money is being spent on a particular subject.
Great sequence, I’ve really enjoyed it.
And I definitely agree with this view of rationality, I think the idea of incremental successes enphasizes the need to track successes and failures over time so that you can see where you did well and where you did poorly and plan to make the coin come up heads more often in the future.
You don’t build strength while you’re lifting weight. You build strength while you’re resting.
I think this phrase is particularly helpful as something to repeat to yourself when feeling the impulse to push through exhaustion when you know that you really ought to rest. I’ll almost certainly be using it for that purpose when I’m feeling tempted to forget what I’ve learned.
Yeah, I think the biggest problem for me was that I felt deficient for failing to live up to the standard I set for myself. I sort of shunted those emotions aside and I really fell out of a lot of habits of self-improvement and hard work for a time. So I would say the emotional fallout lead to the most damaging part (of losing good habits in the aftermath). Thinking about tradeoffs in terms of tasks completed is a good idea as well, I’ll try doing that more explicitly.
I definitely have had the experience of trying to live up to a standard and it feeling awful, which then inhibits the desire to make future attempts. I think that feeling indicates a need to investigate whether you’re making things difficult on yourself. For example, I would often attempt to learn too many things at once and do too much work at once because I thought the ideal person would basically be learning and working all the time. Then, when I felt myself breaking down it sent my stress levels through the roof because if I couldn’t keep going that meant I was just unable to be the ideal I wanted to be. Instead of asking, “okay, the way I’m doing this is clearly unsustainable, but the standard is still worthwhile, how do I change my way of thinking or going about this thing?”, I would just try to force myself to continue on, feeling constantly stressed about not failing.
But when I began to ask the question, I saw that I could decrease the work I was putting on myself to something I could actually manage all the time and that would be actually most productive in the long run. And I recognized that sometimes I’ll just be exhausted and unable to do something and that doesn’t make my whole attempt to live up to the standard a failure. This, it became easier to live up to the standard, or rather, my ideal standard shifted organically to the standard of how I think I can become the best me instead of the standard I ascribed to an unspecified ideal person who I am just not capable of being.
The general idea for me is using the heuristics to form the goals, which in turn suggest concrete actions. The concrete actions are what go on your schedule/to-do list. I’d also advocate constantly updating/refining your goals and concrete methods of achieving goals, both for updating on new information and testing out new methods.
It’s possible that a daily schedule just doesn’t work for you, but I will say that I had to try a number of different tweaks before it felt okay to me. Examining negative feelings the schedule gives you and then looking for a way the problem might be ameliorated I found to be very helpful, if schedules are still something you’re interested in.
Yeah, I do think that I can become aware of that implicit condescension of not criticizing and update more frequently on whether someone might be worth trying to help in that way. I’m still going to avoid criticizing as a general heuristic, especially after just meeting people.
I find myself doing this a great deal when deciding whether to criticize somebody. I model most people I know as not being able to productively use direct criticism. The criticism, however well meant it may be, will hurt their pride, and they will not change. Indeed, the attempt will probably create some bad feeling towards me. It is just better not to try to help them in such a direct way. There are more tactful ways of getting across the same point, but they are often more difficult and not always practical in every situation.
The people I do directly criticize are generally the people I respect the most, because I expect that it will actually be useful to them because they will be able to overcome the impulse to become defensive and actually consider the critique.
I suppose your question indicates that I should try criticizing people more often, as I have gotten into the habit of presuming that people will be unable to productively receive criticism. But, at the same time, criticism is quite socially risky and I am quite confident that the vast majority of people will not handle it well.
I think optimizing based on the preferences of people may be problematic in that the AI may, in such a system, modify persons to prefer things that are very cheaply/easily obtained so that it can better optimize the preferences of people. Or rather, it would do that as part of optimizing-it would make people want things that can be more easily obtained.