David Gross


Notes on Virtues


Aesthetically, opera seems like it slots in well to a Very Gay modern niche, in that it is flamboyant, is dramatic to the point of histrionic, lends itself well to backstage scuttlebutt about prime donne and other such inside baseball dish, is nicely campy in its traditional overwroughtitude of costume and set design and vocal fireworks and Götterdämmerung, and is a good object to lavish conspicuous aficionado-points on. It's as gay as green is Irish.

I'd also like to see what work people have already done that I don't already know about.

See Notes on Attention for some possible leads.

I'd add "Covid" to the hypotheses. At the time it was difficult to sustain many varieties of coordinated grassroots activity, even something as banal as a book club, just because you didn't want to meet indoors in groups and because alternatives like Zoom were off-putting to some and suboptimal in many ways. People may have relished the opportunity to come out in the streets and protest a bit, or to engage in social media histrionics, but to sustain this sort of activism in a meaningful way requires the sort of organizing and group deliberation that was unusually difficult at that time.

This reminds me of a POV that I find perennially tempting, a sort of Buddhism verging on solipsism:

"Reality Itself" is already completely here and completely available to you. That indeed is the definition of Reality Itself: the actual subjective contents of the present moment, your (pre-"assessed") subjective experience. To discover Reality Itself, you don't have to assess your subjective experience as though it were merely evidence left behind by the real reality that you have to examine for clues. It's already the real deal. Our ideas about "objective reality" (atoms and quarks and fields, but even chairs and tables and people) are models and linguistic conventions we find helpful for discussing, finding patterns in, and predicting Reality Itself, but they are not themselves Reality Itself hiding behind our subjective experience. You can learn interesting things about Reality Itself by examining it and subjecting it to scientific analysis, but you can't get any realer that way: any closer to reality. You're as close as you can get already -- it's right here; you can't miss it.

This will probably be dismissed as glib, but: human alignment.

FWIW, here's how my "investment" strategy has been changing ("investment" considered broadly, in a time=money sense).

I'm weighting foreign language acquisition less than I used to, in part because advances in AI are making that a somewhat less-valuable skill than I had originally anticipated.

I'm googling for websites a lot less than I used to. This is partially because Google's web search has declined in quality (and while its competitors can roughly match it, none have really leapfrogged it) and partially because the web itself has become such a morass of crap. I'm correspondingly increasing my investment in particular sources of web content (these seem vulnerable as well, so I'm keeping my options open, but by the time AI starts writing LW content on the regular it might be worth reading). I'm long on the wisdom of the ancients, short on anything expressed in an op-ed.

I've given up on Twitter/Facebook, and am finding my long-shot investment of time in Mastodon to be paying off better than I'd hoped. I'm tentatively exploring other fediverse options.

I've been divesting from politics / political arguments broadly for a while, and shifting to a more-local focus on political action (meaning not just action involving governments & elections, but any organized efforts for social goals). This is I think in part motivated by an inchoate hunch that our ability to rationally observe and engage in useful discourse about events outside of our own back yards is going to be terribly disrupted by AI/bot-fueled disinformation.

My retirement portfolio is slightly more tech-heavy now, but I otherwise don't feel confident picking winners & losers among public companies or sectors and haven't made any galaxy-brained I-think-I'm-smarter-than-the-market moves.

So far, my policy of frugality has paid good dividends. My spending has been largely in sectors less-affected by inflation, and I have accumulated enough buffer savings that if my job gets automated away I'll have some time to pivot gracefully.

I continue to be long on health, and take steps to secure a vigorous longevity to the extent fortune allows. Whatever happens in the coming decades, I don't want to miss it.

Reduced it by ~43kb, though I don't know if many readers will notice as most of the reduction is in markup.

Since you've gone with the definition, are you sure that definition is solid? A reasoning process like "spend your waking moments deriving mathematical truths using rigorous methods; leave all practical matters to curated recipes and outside experts" may tend to arrive at true beliefs and good decisions more often than "attempt to wrestle as rationally as you can with all of the strange and uncertain reality you encounter, and learn to navigate toward worthy goals by pushing the limits of your competence in ways that seem most promising and prudent" but the latter seems to me a "more rational reasoning process."

The conflation of rationality with utility-accumulation/winning also strikes me as questionable. These seem to me to be different things that sometimes cooperate but that might also be expected to go their separate ways on occasion. (This, unless you define winning/utility in terms of alignment with what is true, but a phrase like "sitting atop a pile of utility" doesn't suggest that to me.)

If you thought you were a shoe-in to win the lottery, and in fact you do win, does that retrospectively convert your decision to buy a lottery ticket into a rational one in addition to being a fortunate one? (Your belief turned out to be true, your decision turned out to be good, you got a pile of utility and can call yourself a winner.)

LessWrong is a good place for:

Each of the following bullet points begins with "who", so this should probably be something like "LessWrong is a good place for people:"

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