One of my friends wrote an article about value alignment in EA circles...
...which I think you should go check out:–)
...which I think you should go check out:–)
Since I've been asked this a few times now, I figured I might as well turn it into a blog post to link people towards it.
To understand perspective: I've now been reading about various learning algorithms for 3+ years in my PhD at EPFL, and actively working on RL research for about a year now. Before that I was working as an ML freelancer and during that time I've given a few workshops trying to vulgarize ML.
My recommended progression would be
Some other links (might update this in the future) are:
edit: I liked the book enough that I made a printable worksheet licensed as CC-BY-SA which you can use to implement the 4-DX mentioned below.
I just finished reading “Deep Work” and found it an enjoyably easy read (I think it took me 2-3 hours total) but out of the self-improvement books I've read it's one of the better ones:
The book like many of its contemporary is somewhat US centric (and so assumes ad-decimated attention spans and work styles which would make e.g. a german or french worker scoff both at the intrusion into personal life and at the inefficiencies) and targeted at “knowledge workers” in that setting, so as an european PhD student who doesn't really have a concept of “work” per se (I am lucky enough that I always was interested in doing things for which only need slight tweaking to be monetized, e.g. software engineering, machine learning and research) I'm not quite the core demographic. However, I was still able to get a lot of valuable things out of the book, some of which I'll briefly summarize here (the others go into my journal, since that should hopefully increase my chances at following through). This will be thought snippets, since other people have already summarized sections properly, and you should really read the book for details :–)
The book makes its main thesis very explicit in the introduction, mainly that the world is becoming more and more optimized towards “shallow work” (i.e. work amenable to be done intermittently in small bursts) in contrast to “deep work” (i.e. work which requires focus, concentration and often a “bootup” time), while actually requiring more and more of the latter. It then goes on to present four rules (with a few sub-tasks) which are meant to help cultivate “deep work” as a skill. Summarizing them here in my words:
This is the core thesis, and I think one of the most important bits the book does is to give clear actionable steps in order to achieve deep work.
As a sample highlight,the book acknowledges people work differently and hence lays out the following spectrum of deep work styles
For me, I already do rhythmic deep work, but I might move more towards a bimodal model, as I think the rhythmic method suited my freelance life better than the my current life as a researcher.
These are respectively a recap of the 4DX business strategies in the deep work framework, i.e.
Step four is the hard bit here by the way (as anyone who journals and occasionally reviews knows).
The point on random serendipity ties into the general theme of deliberate breaking of deep work. Instead of blindly embracing open offices to facilitate overhearing things, it might be a better idea to have long hallways/natural meeting points where people who aren't focusing can run into each other.
These come down to “standard” cognitive research based self improvement tips like separating “work mode” from “fun mode” by dedicating surroundings and fixed schedules to work, having “bootup” and “shutdown” rituals like planning and reviewing your day. It also highlighted the importance of downtime, complete with actionable tips on how to improve this. The only thing I would have liked would have been some discussion of the importance of unstructured time and on the difficulty of separating work from leisure if your friends work with you as well. The key messages to highlight here are the power of habits and the importance of removing obstacles so you don't have to use willpower (see also the next two sections)
All of these sections are very much about being deliberate about your time and attention. The key point here is that focus should become the norm, with break from focus being a scheduled thing. This schedule doesn't need to be set in stone, but you do need a schedule to not get drained of into shallow activities and business. Taking breaks and boredom isn't the same thing as mindless distractions etc.
This ties the book very close to the mindfulness practices which became very popular in Silicon Valley and related communities a while ago and seem to have died off again (and obviously have been practiced by Zen people for ages). By steadily practicing focus itself, it becomes easier to apply to work (apparently because of myelination? The book refers to Daniel Coyles slideshow but sadly it is in flash only...I've reached out to Prof. Coyle to see if he could update it).
I appreciated the highlight of downtime as well and liked the bit where Cal essentially describes forest bathing and gives some references onto why it works. What I would have liked would have been some additional discussion of the importance of unstructured downtime, which can still be scheduled.
I thought I had it all figured out, just don't do anything immoral, or anything you wouldn't be comfortable with airing out if forced, and you are immune to blackmail. But what happens if you are forced to do something you think is justified, but your workplace and other important factors of your life might not react well to, because you are not as lucky as me?
I'm a white, middle class, mostly heterosexual cis-male, in a very liberal country, in a very liberal industry without any dependents. I do not have to deal with being judged for abortions, with being subtly discriminated for my sexuality or gender, or my race, or any other factor. I can easily reject employers which won't treat me with respect, but what if I couldn't? How would I deal with that? What if for example someone judged one of my hobbies as “bad for the orgs image” and “had to” distance the org from me by firing me? Or if I had an abortion and would have to face harassment because of this? Owning it wouldn't be possible, and my integrity would not matter.
This insight might seem trivial to you, but I had to be pushed face first into this by some of my friends. Which I guess says something about my naivete. Thank god I have friends who'll call me on my bullshit.
Aside from driving home the point for strong privacy laws and technology, and protective laws making sure employers don't have any business snooping around in he private life, this thing has me chewing on this problem now:
How should one deal in such a situation? One in which there one had to do something not illegal, not necessarily immoral, but something other people with power of you could possibly treat you worse if they knew.
How could one make sure one becomes immune against blackmail again? What systemic protection could we come up with to protect people in such a setting? If you have good solutions, please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As another year passes, staying true to my word, I'm still haunted by a small owls cry. With it memories of a lovely mind, and all our pieces we made,changed,shared broke and left behind. Struggling to make and let go a history of love and hurt and so much more. Still remains wishing to see it grow. To see her soar
Lee Sharkey, a friend of mine just published a wondeful guide on neuroscience for AI/ML researchers, focusing on
The functions that particular brain areas are believed to perform and, where possible, how they are believed to perform them. The high-level algorithms the brain is believed to be implementing and what we know about how they are performed Relations between the discussed brain parts and systems Links from the neuroscience to modern AI algorithms and architectures.