In both cases, I think ‘start one’s own business’ should be at the top of the list. This can be a start-up designed to make a lot of money—and that’s by far the highest EV play if you can take a real shot and afford to fail. But it does not need to be something so risky. If you have a trade where you can open a store, or put yourself and perhaps a small number of others out for hire, or even become a consultant of some kind, consider doing one of those before anything else.
Doctor → private practice. Lawyer → small law firm as possible. Programmer → own projects, short term gigs, employee number 1.
Similarly, the easiest way to avoid a large business is to work for a small business. Especially good is of course to be employee #1 and get equity, but even employee #5 with nominal equity upside is pretty good.
I’d also encourage people not to think in terms of fixed career paths, but rather in terms of developing skills, doing real things, seeing what opportunities present themselves, etc. But my situation was always very unique, and I took paths most people can’t, so I don’t claim to be any kind of expert in all this. This comment is likely quick / half baked.
I debated which of those two to use here. Will consider switching.
On editing note, I think that subheaders requires that things happen in header order, but I want to go in timeline order, and I don’t think you can do clean breaks given that restriction. I’m presuming you could group them into types of steps in useful ways if you were so inclined and had a reason to go in that direction.
On second note, I do worry that people will think that #4 is both more endogenous and does more work than I see it as being and doing, and use that as a reason to think of this is a localized and conditional problem. But in terms of how to solve that?
It’s hard and important. Enough so that it’s often going to be worth designing and/or splitting the whole structure in order to keep this problem in check, even if such splits don’t otherwise make any sense. And in general there’s a whole set of thoughts I could give on how to try and measure performance more accurately. I’ll put that in the stack of possible future things to say, but long series already super long and I don’t think I have anything great to suggest here, unfortunately.
I did a little more work to make it flow better in OP, and I’m going to let it drop there unless a bunch of other people confirm they had this same issue and it actually mattered (and with the new version).
My explicit advice above was that if you find yourself in that situation, down-scaling your lifestyle is prohibitive (e.g. it would break up your family) then you should seek to become a loser in the Rao sense. E.g. don’t quit or outright rebel, but stop trying to advance further, do the minimum to not have anything disastrous happen, and make this clear to all parties at work, while trying to save as much as possible and plan a second act if you want one after that eventually fails to hold up.
If it’s just ‘you have comparative advantage doing this’ then that’s one of the big reasons I invested so much on the super-perfect competition concept—even if you do have this advantage, unless it is freaking impossibly huge, you are still better off not doing it because your edge won’t be that big and you’ll be facing far more competition than is justified by the prize. E.g. even if you really are so talented you ‘deserve’ to be a rock star, you still have to contend with all the people who try anyway, so only do it if you also can’t do anything else, and here our edge over those fools who don’t have such advantages is going to be much, much smalller, beyond those without the necessary minimum being ruled out, which my model says the system is at least good at.
If it’s that you actively like this sort of thing, again I’d ask you to balance against the competition level and the fact that you get sick of anything if you get paid to do it enough for long enough, but I’d also wonder about what values/morality this question implied you already have. If I have ever been friends with such a person, I did not realize it. It seems like the less-murder-heavy version of Barry before he has a change of heart—TV hitman who claims it’s what they’re good at and that they somehow only kill bad people.
Agree that it could be +EV to sign on where you would learn specific skills—e.g. I am very confident that Year 1 at my firm is a very good school they pay you to go to! The question is whether you can trust yourself to execute on the exit strategy in light of what will happen to you and the choices you will be presented with. I’d be pretty scared of this failing.
Without anchoring anyone too much on my question elsewhere in the thread: I would say that this is certainly a central case of maze behavior and points in the correct direction, but as a definition of all maze behavior it is importantly too small a class of things. There is something more fundamental going on, and it is a Fnord (I have Fnord as the top of my future post pile, where Fnord is a thing that makes you want to not notice look at it or notice it.)
Yes, that is what it is intended to mean, while noting that ‘acting like a maze’ or ‘doing what it takes to get ahead in a maze’ is in general a maze-creating and maze-supporting behavior.
Agree with Raemon that I haven’t done the best job summarizing exactly what maze behaviors actually are. I attempted with this post to summarize my model of how mazes come to be and become powerful, but that is a different question. I will consider writing an explicit post to cover this, since it isn’t in any of the scheduled posts either, but seems like an important thing to have. Thank you for pointing this out.
I would like to take this opportunity to ask others, without anchoring them with an answer: If you had to give a short summary answer to “What exactly are maze behaviors?” what would you say? I want to know what is being communicated, and also people might have their own insights/perspectives/behaviors.
Happy to delete the word ‘you’ there since it’s doing no work. Not going to edit this version, but will update OP and mods are free to fix this one. Also took opportunity to do a sentence break-up.
As for saying explicitly that slavery is bad, well, pretty strong no. I’m not going to waste people’s time doing that, nor am I going to invite further concern trolling, or the implication that when I do not explicitly condemn something it means I might secretly support it or something. If someone needs reassurance that someone talking about slavery as one of the horrible things also opposes a less horrible form of slavery, then they are not the target audience.
‘Rat race’ is a highly related concept. It’s mostly a subset, I think, although your view of the term may vary. Rat race illustrates the idea that when all the workers try harder to get ahead of other workers, everyone does lots more work, often to no useful end, without people on net getting ahead. Or, alternatively, that you do all this work just to stay in place. It certainly has implications of ‘what I am doing doesn’t actually matter’ and also ’what I am doing is a zero-sum game” which implies the first thing.
As I commented elsewhere I think this is great, but there’s one curious choice here, which is to compare exposure to The Singularity as a de-conversion experience and loss of faith rather than a conversion experience where one gets faith. The parallel is from someone going from believer to atheist, rather than atheist to believer.
Which in some ways totally makes sense, because rationality goes hand in hand with de-conversion, as the Sequences are quite explicit about over and over again, and often people joining the community are in fact de-converting from a religion (and when and if they convert to one, they almost always leave the community). And of course, because the Singularity is a real physical thing that might really happen and really do all this, and so on.
But I have the system-1 gut instinct that this is actually getting the sign wrong in ways that are going to make it hard to understand people’s problem here and how to best solve it.
(As opposed to it actually being a religion, which it isn’t.)
From the perspective of a person processing this kind of new information, the fact that the information is true or false, or supernatural versus physical, doesn’t seem that relevant. What might be much more relevant is that you now believe that this new thing is super important and that you can potentially have really high leverage over that thing. Which then makes everything feel unimportant and worth sacrificing—you now need to be obsessed with new hugely important thing and anyone who isn’t and could help needs to be woken up, etc etc.
If you suddenly don’t believe in God and therefore don’t know if you can be justified in buying hot cocoa, that’s pretty weird. But if you suddenly do believe in God and therefore feel you can’t drink hot cocoa, that’s not that weird.
People who suddenly believe in God don’t generally have the ‘get up in the morning’ question on their mind, because the religions mostly have good answers for that one. But the other stuff all seems to fit much better?
Or, think about the concept Anna discusses about people’s models being ‘tangled up’ with stuff they’ve discarded because they lost faith. If God doesn’t exist why not [do horrible things] and all that because nothing matters so do what you want. But this seems like mostly the opposite, it’s that the previous justifications have been overwritten by bigger concerns.
This post is great and much needed, and makes me feel much better about the goings-on at CFAR.
It is easy to get the impression that the concerns raised in this post are not being seen, or are being seen from inside the framework of people making those same mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are disorientation that people know are disruptive and need to be dealt with, but other times I’ve encountered many who view such things as right and proper, and view not having such a perspective as blameworthy. I even frequently find an undertone of ‘if you don’t have this orientation something went wrong.’
It’s clear from this post that this is not what is happening for Anna/CFAR, which is great news.
This now provides, to me, two distinct things.
One, a clear anchor from which to make it clear that failure to engage with regular life, and failure to continue to have regular moral values and desires and cares and hobbies and so on, is a failure mode of some sort of phase transition that we have been causing. That it is damaging, and it is to be avoided slash the damage contained and people helped to move on as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Two, the framework of reality-revealing versus reality-masking, which has universal application. If this resonates with people it might be a big step forward in being able to put words to key things, including things I’m trying to get at in the Mazes sequence.
1: First are should be ‘what if’
2: Difference is that third-to-last question is about the ‘can’t afford it’ concern, which is distinct from generally being trapped. Could see changing it to be last three, or unifying the notes.
3: Differently. Arcane here means ‘complex and obscure details that need to be mastered and done correctly, or it won’t work’. Incantation here means ‘a thing you say in order to evoke a particular response’ in this case a social web pattern.
When I wrote The Fear down, I was thinking about a specific past Magic: The Gathering article, but I was unable to find it; if someone else knows where it still exists that would be great. The Fear was when people built their plans for matches in terror of the one card/thing that they had no way to deal with reasonably, as opposed to accepting that such a thing was unlikely but would be extremely bad if it happened, and messing tons of other things up. There’s also a Lily Allen song of the same name which is related, and might be worth using if I can’t find the article.
I don’t know if I have much advice beyond what I already said above, but my basic response is that this isn’t how life works, at least not going forward. There is no safe path, and maze work does not make your future safer. The biggest problem with The Fear is that it leads one to look for the actions that tell a story that you are doing the thing that means that when you lose/fail it won’t be your fault, as opposed to the thing that actually makes you win/succeed.
Very happy that you found a good solution.
Thank you for all that. I worry about the same thing—that this will not feel/be sufficiently actionable for people, and they won’t be that likely to change their situations based on it. As George Carlin says, some people need practical advice. I didn’t know how to go about providing what such a person would need, on that level. How would you go about doing that? It feels like a book-length or longer problem, the same way one can’t write a post on how to prepare for a street fight that would actually be that good, beyond giving basic pointers (like run away).
I do not think this is a strong analysis. Things were a lot more complicated than this, on many levels. Analyzing that in detail would be more interesting. This post seems more interested in the question of ‘what grade should we get for our efforts’ than in learning from the situation going forward, which is what I think is the far more interesting problem.
That’s not to say that the actual evaluation is especially unfair. I give myself very low marks because I had the trading skills to know better, or I should have had them, and the spare cycles to deal with it as well, with the key insight being that the fact that it was super hard to deal with was actually a reason to buy, not a reason to avoid buying. But it wasn’t until I worked with much better traders (who also, of course, all failed to bother acting despite knowing about it, the desk head said BTC was a “screaming buy” at $1 long before I got there, then everyone did nothing) that I figured out what the real mistake here was. Any good analysis, to me, has to say why we should have believed BTC but not fallen for countless other things, even if it turns out that BTC did so well that it would have fine to fall for 100 (or 1000!) other similar things at the same time, in some sense...
As you would expect from someone who was one of the inspirations for the post, I strongly approve of the insight/advice contained herein. I also agree with the previous review that there is not a known better write-up of this concept. I like that this gets the thing out there compactly.
Where I am disappointed is that this does not feel like it gets across the motivation behind this or why it is so important—I neither read this and think ‘yes that explains why I care about this so much’ or ‘I expect that this would move the needle much on people’s robustness as agents going forward if they read this.’
So I guess the takeaway for me looking back is, good first attempt and I wouldn’t mind including it in the final list, but someone needs to try again?
It is worth noting that Jacob did *exactly* the adjustments that I would hope would result from this post if it worked as intended, so perhaps it is better than I give it credit for? Would be curious if anyone else had similar things to report.
I’m finding that posts have to be read and reviewed one at a time to do this properly. As a result there’s no way I’m going to get to the bulk of the posts in time, even after deciding several days ago to make this one of my priorities for free time. And yeah, the whole thing feels mostly like work, which can’t help.
I love how cleanly this brings up its point and asks the question. My answer is essentially that you can do this if and only if you can create expectation of Successful Failure in some way. Thus, if failing person’s real mission can be the friends they made along the way or skills they developed or lessons learned, or they still got a healthy paycheck, or the attempt brings them honor, or whatever, that’s huge.
Writing a full response is on my list of things to eventually do, which is rare for posts that are over a year old.