Posted on 2024-05-02

[2024-04-30 Tue]

  1. Surrogate handles

    1. selecting rocks

    2. selecting trees

    3. tiger selecting man

    4. organization selecting hires

    5. college applicants selecting colleges, colleges selecting college applicants

    6. girl asking if she looks fat in the jeans she’s wearing

  2. The next frontier for me would be to apply Naturalism to investigating surrogation

[2024-05-01 Wed]

  1. Both mathematicians and other researchers expect you to error-correct the statements they make and not process it literally, but use those statements as pointers to the actual things they are talking about

    1. Andrej Bauer(?) calls this “elaboration”

  2. Language is actually the best way to start off learning surrogation, and only once you’ve wrapped your head around language, then you can move onto looking at surrogation in action

    1. Verbal language, of course, is also very limited compared to non-verbal communication and in fact, communication would consist of all things that can be read by an observer, including your outfit, your actions or lack thereof, your expressions and mood in situations. Everything.

  3. Myopic focus seems to be a ‘sort’ of literalism, best described as ‘dissociation’

    1. Here, however, you aren’t dissociating from your body per se, but perhaps parts of you. Those that track things about reality.

    2. I wonder if anxiety and depression can be seen as a sort of biochemically enabled literalism – one that you probably need medications to ameliorate, but fundamentally also underlies a confusion between the surrogate (your goals and the anticipated reactions in the moment) and the surrogated (a holistic understanding of your self and its relation to the world around you and that you are in)

      1. For example, you can just leave the party if you aren’t having a good time. Sure, you would want to find socially palatable excuses, but that makes sense if it seems worth it overall to do so. Its easy to lose sight of the holistic vision of… everything you care about and everything the world contains (based on your understanding), and get into a myopic mode where you take actions that are incoherent across different instances of you that are also acting myopically

      2. So this implies that a holistic view of your self, your desires, and the world, when you have this whenever you can, increases a sort of integration of the parts of you, except instead of integration of IFS-style parts in your brain, you are integrating parts of you across time

      3. If you want to go more ‘mystical’, here’s a hypothesis: what if you extend the ‘holistic’ nature across different people? That’s where you have integration instead of compromise or strategic irrationality or extraction, for example.

        1. I wouldn’t go that far, I don’t want to consider the notion of integration with people – people are in general capable of quite cruel things, and while my extended social circle is selected for really nice people (by me and by my friends), people in general aren’t ones I would care about.

        2. And that’s okay! People who would try to shame or guilt you or hurt you into thinking that you should care about others – they don’t have your best interests in mind, and they are hurting you to achieve outcomes that they seem to algorithmically expect would benefit them (usually relative to other people, and not as a ‘positive-sum’ thing).

          1. This also applies to what I am saying – I would prefer you didn’t ‘should’ yourself into thinking one way or another due to the parent statement. What matters to me is that you allow yourself the space and freedom to consider things for yourself.

  4. I disagree with the idea that Babble and Prune applies to deconfusion very well

    1. Babble and Prune seems more like an uninformed sort-of-blind search and filter

    2. What I believe is core to deconfusion is a sort of informed-by-intuition search

      1. To be able to do this, however, the skill of noticing subtle cognition and emotions is incredibly important

      2. That is, getting better at introspection is a big deal

      3. This is how you gain valuable information from your intuition that you would use to guide your search, such that your search involves maximum information / uses a very informed prior distribution over possible candidates or directions

        1. This is important because as the difficulty of the problem increases, the search space of possibilities explodes, and the value of even a few bits of information become massive

        2. It therefore makes sense to develop this skill

    3. Perhaps a foundational and simple attempt at developing this skill of introspection would be to try to ‘meditate’, where you observe your cognitions and sensations

      1. Note that the thing you pay attention to is the thing that captures your attention better as time passes (or better put, you get more sensitive to noticing that sort of a thing)

      2. This implies that the sort of thing you’d want to notice is the exact sort of thing you’d want to practice noticing

      3. In such a scenario, one possible experiment you could try is to meditate upon things that confuse you, to explore the set of things that bubble up in your mind and make you interested, to be aware of the things that seems to make you feel like something is missing or confusing or inconsistent

        1. Also see HRO literature for the importance of paying attention to tiny signals of discord / confusion / inconsistency

        2. Note that one could do this badly when it is driven by neurosis: you could, for example, keep asking “What if I’m wrong?” and not actually make much progress compared to alternative futures where you weren’t constantly spending time recalculating your arguments. Alternately, you could find yourself not really tracking the intuition (because the signal is faint in comparison to the hugeness of anxiety) and therefore end up lost and unable to actually make progress

          1. It sure is funny that to do effective deconfusion research, from my perspective (or in my style) the most load-bearing skills are introspection and mental stability

          2. This is very funny

          3. Especially because I had to build them by myself after I began learning deconfusion

  5. If introspection practice is a fundamental skill you want to build to do deconfusion, I’d recommend starting off with using waypoint questions (not the best term for it but good enough)

    1. These are questions that you would use as starting points and would return to when you feel lost or distracted

    2. For example

      1. What do I feel confused about?

      2. What would I like to understand better?

      3. What parts of my knowledge or understandings are fragile?

      4. What has happened recently that has surprised me? Why did they surprise me?

  6. I wonder if Thinking Physics is actually a very good thing to use to learn deconfusion tactics

  7. “Why idly theorize when you can JUST CHECK and find out the ACTUAL ANSWER to a superficially similar-sounding question SCIENTIFICALLY?” – Steven Kaas

[2024-05-02 Thu]

  1. Here’s a confused question: “Is something of type X?”

    1. For example, “Is the anti-seed-oil ‘movement’ a sort of distributed intelligence, doing its ‘thinking’ through social interactions?”, as James Lucassen put it

      1. Usually the actual thing the person is concerned about is, “If something is of type X, then we can expect Y. Is this thing of type X?”

      2. It is useful to try to investigate the source of this question, to figure out why we care about this distinction, and then track the questions beneath, because in general they may be easier to answer or not answer.

        1. See the “If a tree falls in an empty forest” example that Yud used as a canonical example

      3. Also, distinctions and abstractions and models we use are stuff we choose because they give us predictive power: obsessing over them seems equivalent to focusing on the letter of the law instead of the spirit

        1. One can lose sight of what matters as they focus on the things they can easily see, at the cost of the things they cannot see but care about far more

  2. Interestingly, eshewing ‘shouldness’ and systemic modeling seems similar and intertwined

    1. If you make a mistake and you think, “I shouldn’t have done that!”, it involves a sort of unnatural modeling of your past self, where you wish that things should have gone another way. You are rejecting your state of mind back then, instead of investigating why you made the mistake you did.

    2. Relevant Nate Soares comment

      There’s a phenomenon where a gambler places their money on 32, and then the roulette wheel comes up 23, and they say “I’m such a fool; I should have bet 23”.

      More useful would be to say “I’m such a fool; I should have noticed that the EV of this gamble is negative.” Now at least you aren’t asking for magic lottery powers.

      Even more useful would be to say “I’m such a fool; I had three chances to notice that this bet was bad: when my partner was trying to explain EV to me; when I snuck out of the house and ignored a sense of guilt; and when I suppressed a qualm right before placing the bet. I should have paid attention in at least one of those cases and internalized the arguments about negative EV, before gambling my money.” Now at least you aren’t asking for magic cognitive powers.

      My impression is that various EAs respond to crises in a manner that kinda rhymes with saying “I wish I had bet 23”, or at best “I wish I had noticed this bet was negative EV”, and in particular does not rhyme with saying “my second-to-last chance to do better (as far as I currently recall) was the moment that I suppressed the guilt from sneaking out of the house”.

      (I think this is also true of the general population, to be clear. Perhaps even moreso.)

      I have a vague impression that various EAs perform self-flagellation, while making no visible attempt to trace down where, in their own mind, they made a misstep. (Not where they made a good step that turned out in this instance to have a bitter consequence, but where they made a wrong step of the general variety that they could realistically avoid in the future.)

      (Though I haven’t gone digging up examples, and in lieu of examples, for all I know this impression is twisted by influence from the zeitgeist.)