Personal achievement report, Nov – Dec 2011

theferrett has this awesome habit of making regular updates on how his story-writing and his published stories are doing. I find them inspiring. After seeing his latest update, it occurred to me that I should write one of my own, to help keep track of how I’m doing, and to remind my brain to keep thinking about the stuff I want it to be thinking about. And maybe to also boast a tiny little bit. Anyway. Here are my projects and achievements from November 1st onwards. Overall, not too bad.


* Less Wrong post, “Modularity, signaling, and belief in belief“. Part of my series summarizing Robert Kurzban’s book “Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind“. Only got 16 upvotes and 733 page views (not counting front-page views), probably because it was mostly covering material the LW community already knew.
* Less Wrong post, “The Curse of Identity“. I’m really happy with this one: at 98 upvotes and 4858 page views, it’s my most popular LW post to date. Also the one that I’m possibly personally the happiest with.
* Less Wrong post, “5-second level case study: Value of Information“. This one fared much less impressively: 18 upvotes and 770 page views. But it was an experimental post, and I did expect that it might not be very popular.
* FB/G+ posts on how to visualize AI thought processes in a movie or TV series. [1] [2]. Random fun and not too insightful, but I’m quite happy with the second one in particular.
* FB/G+/LJ posts on how science doesn’t work and it seems really hard for us to know anything. It was a rant that I’ve had in mind for a long time, and seemed to strike a chord with some of my readers, with 14 G+ shares.
* A couple of briefer posts that I don’t count as achievements.


* I received two reviewer’s comments for my and Harri Valpola’s paper Coalescing minds: brain uploading-related group mind scenarios for the Mind Uploading special issue in the International Journal of Machine Consciousness. The comments were excellent, and we will be doing substantial revising soon.
* I also received one reviewer’s comments for my other paper in the same issue, Relative advantages of uploads, artificial general intelligences, and other digital minds. They were next to useless, and I still haven’t received comments from the second reviewer.
* Provided comments for two papers that other people wrote for that special issue.
* Playing around with Google Scholar, I found out that my 2010 ECAP paper, From mostly harmless to civilization-threatening: pathways to dangerous artificial general intelligences, had been cited in a paper for the 2011 AGI conference. I wasn’t very impressed with the paper, but at least I now have an h-index of 1!
(* Jokapiraatinoikeus, the book I wrote on copyright together with Ahto Apajalahti, had also been previously cited in two Bachelor’s-level theses and one Master’s thesis, but Google Scholar apparently doesn’t understand Finnish theses since they don’t appear as citations even though it finds them.)


* Novel: secret co-written one that I’m not at a liberty to talk much about. But I can probably mention that I wrote about 8000 words of prose for it before we decided that it wasn’t working as well as it could and we had to rethink our approach.
* Novel: The City of Light and Fire. Some of you will remember me starting on this in summer. I didn’t really have a clear enough idea of where it was going, and the protagonist was too passive for my tastes, so I put it on the back burner while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it. Some discussions with alicorn24 have given me a bit of an idea, and I might re-work what I have and return to it on Christmas leave.
* Non-fiction book: How human minds differ, or, I need a catchier title (working title). Put up a couple of posts in various places asking people for their experiences, began collecting ideas. Haven’t gotten much farther than that, though the LW thread in particular provided a lot of interesting material.
* Non-fiction book: Human thought, or, I need a catchier title even worse (working title). A book on human rationality which is still trying to figure out what its central claim will be. I’ve been jotting down notes on that for nearly a year now, and each time I write down a new central claim, I note that it’s completely different from everything else I’ve written. The most intriguing approach would be to write about the effect of social norms and the curse of identity on our thought, but I’d need to read up on my social psychology more for that.


* A popular article on A) overfitting and AI goals, as well as B) that old “but surely a superintelligent AI would understand that this wasn’t what we really wanted” claim. I intended to only write about A, but then I ended up writing five pages worth of B first and still haven’t gotten around A. I’m trying to decide whether I should split it in two articles or rearrange the structure somehow.
* I need to finish my LW series on Robert Kurzban’s previously-mentioned book.


* Secret crazy website project that I’m working on together with a friend. Did a bunch of writing and planning for it, he’s been doing programming and planning. We intended to unveil it at the end of last week, but didn’t meet that goal.
* I haven’t done much progress with regard to overcoming suffering and equanimity lately: in fact, I’ve lost most of what I did achieve. It seemed like being happy and free from suffering made me less productive, since I was just happy doing nothing, so I’ve put that on a hold until I figure out how to fix that problem.


* Made the final decision to change my major to computer science for my Master’s degree: applied for the program and was admitted.
* Aced an Operating Systems exam, have two other exams coming up which I expect to pass. I’m currently set to net a total of 12 credits from the fall term, which isn’t very impressive given that the official target is 30 credits a term. I should do more school stuff and less of everything else.

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