Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review of "Rationality: From AI to Zombies", Some Introspecting on my Childhood, and a Cool Poem I Wrote

So I've been listening to the audio version of "Rationality: From AI to Zombies" by Eliezer Yudkowsky. It's a really good book and I highly recommend it. The information in it is organized much better than it was in the original rationality sequences on, and the examples it uses are more applicable to everyday life.

If you're looking to improve your own critical thinking and decision-making skills and to apply them to solving problems, or if you just notice that everyone around you is being ridiculous and stupid in predictable ways and you want to be better than that, then "Rationality: From AI to Zombies" will be right up your alley.

Also, I would like to note that if everyone around you is being ridiculous and stupid in predictable ways without realizing it, then the cognitive mistakes they are making are likely common and easy to make, in which case you could very well also be making those same mistakes without realizing it.

After learning about how to improve my own sanity for the past couple years, I have become suspicious that maybe sanity is never an inborn attribute, but rather a skill or set of skills that some people have an easier time learning than others. At the very least, everyone is at least a little crazy unless they learn how not to be.

And lest anyone think that I am being condescending and saying that I am oh so sane and that you all are crazy idiots or something, I will point out how crazy and stupid I have been for the vast majority of my life, and how even now I'm still not perfectly sane.

It might not seem like it now, but I was functionally quite dumb as a kid. Not just in the sense of being immature or inexperienced, but rather I suspect that I may have had a genuine case of mild mental retardation. And even if I didn't, my psychological issues made me so functionally stupid and crazy that there was no practical difference. Whether the underlying mechanism for that was an undersized cerebral cortex or merely a bunch of maladaptive neural networks that were sucking up most of my cognitive energy or something else entirely... I don't know for sure.

Nevertheless, I was the problem child, the moron, the idiot. People only said I was smart because I had glasses, liked to read and actually made an effort in class. So when I talk about rationality and how most people are crazy unless they learn how not to be, and how I've been learning to be saner than most other people are, I mean no offense and would strongly prefer that you do not take it as an insult.

Also while we're on the subject of how human beings in general are at least a little crazy unless they learn how not to be, I wrote a poem about exactly that. Hope you like it!

Look Again

Look! Out of the corner of your eye!

You just missed it

Look again! It’s right there!

You saw it, I know you did

Look! Why don’t you look?

You don’t believe me?

You don’t believe your own eyes, either

You ignore it

Hey, look! It’s still here! It’s not going away

“There’s nothing there,” you say.

For the love of crap, can’t you see? It is!

You look again

Your eyes rest briefly on it

They widen in horrified comprehension

And then they close.

“You’re crazy,” you say to me

You know you are lying

And yet you don’t know that you know

You ignore it

You don’t think of it

You don’t look

You don’t realize

If it were really important, you would have noticed it by now, right?

But you already have

If it were really important, you would remember it, right?

But you do remember

You say that I’m crazy

Take a deep, long look at yourself

If you think this poem isn’t about you

Look again.

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