Experimentation with AI-generated images (VQGAN+CLIP) | Solarpunk airships fleeing a dragon

A few days ago I found the Twitter account @images_ai, which posts AI-generated images and links to these instructions for generating your own. I started playing around with it; some of my choice picks: The first image I generated, “sci-fi heroes fighting fantasy heroes” “cute catboys having a party” Someone had figured out that if you add words like “unreal...

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Imaginary reenactment to heal trauma – how and when does it work?

Some therapies involve various forms of imaginary reenactment, where you heal a trauma by first recalling the memory of it and then imagining how things could have gone differently. Sometimes the imagined alternative can be quite fantastical in nature, such as your current adult self traveling back in time to when you were a child and saving your child self from the bullies tormenting you. (Here...

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Open loops in fiction

A fiction-writing trick I find particularly compelling are open loops. A cliffhanger is an example: you want to know how the hero survives, so your thoughts keep looping back to the situation, trying to figure out what happens next. But you need the author to tell you. Really good writing uses open loops at the sentence level as well. The first sentence of the story is meaningful on its own, but...

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Different kinds of language proficiency

It’s funny how forms asking for your language proficiency use “native language” to mean “best possible proficiency”. My native languages are Finnish and Swedish, but I’m out of practice with Swedish so my English vocabulary is way better than my Swedish. Though interestingly, speaking either Finnish and Swedish with someone give me a sense of emotional...

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Bedtime reminiscences

Things that I imagine would be cool to do with my kids (if I manage to have some): taking bedtime as a moment to reminisce about the day together. Recalling enjoyable moments is by itself enjoyable. So ask, what parts of the day did you like? What were some good moments? What about it was enjoyable? At first, it’ll be just me mentioning things I noticed on that day: “You seemed to...

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Unwitting cult leaders

An insight that I’d kind of already had, but which this interview with Michael Taft (relevant section starts at about 32 minutes) helped crystallize: We tend to think of a “cult leader” as someone who intentionally sets out to create a cult. But most cult-like things probably don’t form like that. A lot of people feel a strong innate desire to be in a cult. In the podcast,...

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November 10-day virtual meditation retreat

So yesterday I finished a 10-day virtual meditation retreat taught by Tucker Peck and Upasaka Upali. Several people have asked me what it was like, so here are some highlights. First, a “virtual” retreat means that you spend 10 days doing pretty much nothing but meditation, and also don’t talk to anyone except the teachers, who hold daily lectures and once-every-two-days...

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Memory reconsolidation for self-affection

Last Thursday, I realized that none of the people who ever hurt me did it because there was anything fundamentally wrong with me. I don’t mean that as in “realized intellectually”, I mean as in “realized emotionally so that in any shame-tinged memory that I could think of, the other person decomposed to their inner pain and what they did to me in reaction to that pain and...

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Things are allowed to be good and bad at the same time

I’ve found it useful to sometimes remind myself that things are allowed to be good and bad at the same time. Suppose that there was a particular job that I wanted but didn’t get. Afterwards, I find myself thinking: “Damnit, some of the stuff in that job would have been so cool.” “But the commute would have killed me, it wouldn’t have been a good fit for me...

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Public transmit metta

Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, involves picking a person and wishing them good things. In the same way as other kinds of concentration practice condition your mind by letting it notice how it feels good to be able to concentrate, I think of loving-kindness meditation as conditioning your mind by letting it notice how pleasant it feels to experience metta. What is metta? Psychologist and...

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Attention to snakes not fear of snakes: evolution encoding environmental knowledge in peripheral systems

Sinking In: The Peripheral Baldwinisation of Human Cognition. Cecilia Heyes, Nick Chater & Dominic Michael Dwyer. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2020. Some theories have proposed that humans have evolved to experience some stimuli (e.g. snakes, spiders) as more potentially frightening, so that a fear for these entities is learned faster than a fear for more neutral things. In evolutionary...

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The Haters Gonna Hate Fallacy

Occasionally I see people doing what I think of as the “Haters Gonna Hate Fallacy”. The HGHF says something like: “People are going to misinterpret you no matter how carefully you word things. Therefore, there’s no point wasting time wording things carefully.” An example: “I think [term X] in your post is going to cause misunderstandings, I’d suggest...

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GPT-3 space opera

AI Dungeon is an online text adventure which uses the “GPT” AI to generate responses to what you say. You can type in anything, and it will try to create a response. I had tried it a bit before, as well as seeing a friend try, and it had been amusing but very quickly incoherent. Yesterday I tried its upgraded version, the “Dragon Model“. It’s only available in the...

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Healing vs. exercise analogies for emotional work

I know a fair number of people who put in a lot of effort into things like emotional healing, digging up and dealing with buried trauma, meditative and therapy practices, and so on. (I count myself in this category.) And I think that there’s a thing that sometimes happens when other people see all of this, which is that it all seems kinda fake. I say this because even I have this thought...

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Waiting

I’ve often noticed in myself a tendency, if I am not doing something immediately engrossing, to find myself waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting, not really being present, just willing time to pass. But the weird thing is, frequently there isn’t anything in particular that I’m waiting *for*. Getting out of that situation, yes, but I don’t have anything in particular that...

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18-month follow-up on my self-concept work

About eighteen months ago, I found Steve Andreas’s book Transforming Your Self, and applied its techniques to fixing a number of issues in my self-concepts which had contributed to my depression and anxiety. Six weeks after those changes, I posted a report called “How I found & fixed the root problem behind my depression and anxiety after 20+ years”. I figured that by now it would be...

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Tentatively considering emotional stories (IFS and “getting into Self”)

I’ve recently been getting a lot out of the psychotherapy model of Internal Family Systems, as described in this book. I just wrote a comment on Slate Star Codex describing some of its basics and what I’ve gotten out of it, and thought that I might as well repost it here: I recommend this book, though with the note that I often don’t need to follow the full process outlined...

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Incorrect hypotheses point to correct observations

1. The Consciousness Researcher and Out-Of-Body Experiences In his book Consciousness and the Brain, cognitive neuroscientist Stansilas Dehaene writes about scientifically investigating people’s reports of their out-of-body experiences: … the Swiss neurologist Olaf Blanke[ did a] beautiful series of experiments on out-of-body experiences. Surgery patients occasionally report leaving...

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Mark Eichenlaub: How to develop scientific intuition

Recently on the CFAR alumni mailing list, someone asked a question about how to develop scientific intuition. In response, Mark Eichenlaub posted an excellent and extensive answer, which was so good that I asked for permission to repost it in public. He graciously gave permission, so I’ve reproduced his message below. (He otherwise retains the rights to this, meaning that the standard CC...

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On insecurity as a friend

There’s a common narrative about confidence that says that confidence is good, insecurity is bad. It’s better to develop your confidence than to be insecure. There’s an obvious truth to this. But what that narrative does not acknowledge, and what both a person struggling with insecurity and their well-meaning friends might miss, is that that insecurity may be in place for a...

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