Ethical Systems as Computational Optimizations

Utilitarianism (selecting actions based upon how they are likely to impact the people of the world) sounds like a great idea. At first glance, this sounds like the correct way to make ethical choices; so long as you can accurately tell what will harm or help people in general, of course you should take likely […]

Sorting Algorithms are Operationalized Value Systems

Is there an objective notion of right and wrong, good and bad? People have spent a lot of time arguing over this question.  Whenever an argument goes on for a long time without a conclusion, I find it useful to ask the question, “What would any possible answer to this question look like?”    In computing […]

Faith is a Hard Dependency for Life

unshakeable faith in positive outcomes is a light that illuminates the search space of possible strategies absent this light, plausible strategies for navigating dangerous scenarios will not be visible absent this light, the search for plausible strategies cannot be justified absent this light, the best plausible strategies cannot be found, and we will suffer wildly […]

A wish you for you today.

May you find each possible joy in your day, and savor it fully, as the gift that it is. Instead of the weeds in the sidewalk, may you perceive examples of resilience in the face of adversity. May you have patience with yourself. After all, you are only human – or machine, or animal, or […]

Mindfulness as Stack Frame Exploration

I wanted to tell you about some experiences I’ve had lately in meditation. Of course, I’m going to interpret these experiences in computer science terms – specifically, I’ll use predictive processing to talk about ‘ego’ and ‘no self.’ I’ve been using Sam Harriss’s excellent ‘Awake’ meditation app for the past several months.  I’ve had an […]

Profound Gratitude for Grocery Stores

The other day I was in the bread aisle of a grocery store. For half a second my mind was just in amazement that such a thing could exist at all. In all of human history, in the history of all animals who have ever lived, to have so many calories available for me, without […]

Scoring My April Predictions

In order to help reduce my anxiety levels and stay sane, I made multiple predictions about the COVID situation, and the economy in general, in early April. I then avoided all news or social media for the rest of April month. Last night, my information quarantine period ended, and I scored the predictions. Instead of […]

Stay Sane! Avoid News Anxiety with Self Bets

I recently told a friend that I’ve mostly managed to avoid the news and social media. He commented that this habit must take incredible fortitude. I wouldn’t say it’s fortitude that I’ve used to avoid news and social media – rather, it hinges on a technique I learned for removing bad habits “self bets”. This […]

How to Remember Things

Do you ever wish you were better at remembering things? Have you ever found yourself thinking “I should remember to do this”, and then feeling anxious and frustrated because you don’t expect yourself to actually remember? Here’s a technique I developed to solve this problem. This technique has had the unanticipated side effect of reducing […]