September 08, 2018 RnL (contains substance)September 08, 2018
Note/epistemic status: RnL’s (reading and listening) are my consumption logs with notes I’m OK making public. I spend little time polishing my thoughts and timebox it to no more than 30 min to an hour on days I choose to log.
A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality by Venkatesh Rao.
I had a fun conversation with my friend about this, this evening after I read it, specifically the thought experiment called “Time Machine Test”. The thought experiment’s trying to bucket two types of people he defines: “Ghosts seek appreciative knowledge of both past and future. Vampires seek manipulative knowledge of both past and future, but as a means to changing the future.” With that:
“Time travel: If you could travel in time for 5 minutes:
- Would you choose to travel to the future or the past?
- If you choose the past, would you attempt to change the course of history to make your present better, or would you use it to participate in an experience that has always fascinated you, like the cowboy era?
- If you went to the future, would you spend your time in the future memorizing stock prices or shopping for things to bring back to your own time, or would simply wander around, trying to see as much as possible?
- Would you find a time-machine that allowed for ghostly, non-participatory observation, but no intervention (with future stock prices and sports results being beeped from your memory after), almost as interesting, or uninteresting, because of its practical uselessness?”
My answers: 1) The future. 2) If I chose the past, I’d be too scared to cause any of my friends to not exist by some chain of events I’m oblivious to, but on the condition that it were non-interventionist, it’d be cool to experience being the first person in space or being an Irish king for 5 min. 3) Wander around. I’d want to see a supernova explosion with the appropriate eyegear. 4) About almost as interesting.
But I think this questioning (as a heuristic for which bucket you’re in) is incomplete for people in certain sets of circumstances—like if I were super old and was the only one left in my family, I’d probably want 5 min of time with them back—but that answer wouldn’t speak to what kind of person I’ve been on average.
Friend sent me this tweet.
Think you can accumulate both “macro-” and “micro-“signals in your lifetime, but generally not in parallel. And some upsides are temporally-dependent, e.g., if I had waited to found [X], then someone would’ve done it before I had the chance to start.
to my friend talk over drinks in the evening
Heard an interesting insight about how comedians have three “background threads” happening in their minds when they present to an audience:
- sexual, crude humor (which I suggested could be generalized to any roughly culturally-appreciated comedic fallback such as “self-deprecation” or “awkwardness”)
- context-specific humor built up over the course of a storytelling
- cross-context-specific humor, which I just blanked out on (I was 3 drinks in by this point)
Their argument is that this could generalize/be roughly analagous to the background threads of a storyteller or person performing the act of explaining things in a simple manner. I need to find the Reddit post that this “framework” originated from.
Then we talked about what I thought was funny. My answer:
- absurdity (e.g., Elon Musk publicly smoking weed while leading an organiation that fires people for failing drug tests)
- caricatures (e.g., The Office)
- very occasionally, nonsense/very awkward non-sequitors. (e.g., If a person comes up during a conversation and says “What if there was a startup that could [something stupid]”, I would probably find it funny 20% of the time, and laugh out of politeness 60% of the time. 80/20 true comedic preferences split :: 60/40 falsified preferences for “the sake of harmonizing the social dynamic” split.
- The rest are subtleties or circumstantial things too intangible for me to describe at the moment.
to my friend talk over brunch in the early afternoon
they mentioned a Rick and Morty episode (I do not watch the show currently, but might after hearing this) where one of the characters’ spaceships is powered by a tiny civilization that produces energy: 80% of which goes to the spaceship and 20% of which goes to themselves (presumably for sustenance?).
In the episode, the spaceship dies, so Rick and Morty shrink themselves to the tiny civilization’s size in order to investigate what’s going on. As it turns out, THAT civilization figured out how to produce energy with a civilization even smaller than theirs, with a similar 80/20 energy allocation. And this continues…
We ended up talking about this because I mentioned the trailer for Downsizing, a movie where people have the option to shrink themselves in order to live more luxurious lives with less money (the assumption is that smaller things are cheaper to build). Unfortunately I heard this movie wasn’t very good. Neat little (no pun intended) thought experiment though.
- is there a correlation between “not being quick to anger” (roughly reworded as “patience”) and IQ? How about EQ? My friend and I’s hypothesis is probably yes for EQ, probably not for IQ, but perhaps there is a correlation between having the capacity/inclination to see the other party/perspective’s side and having the capacity/inclination to think long-term, which in turn might have a correlation with intelligence.