Venkatesh Rao Profile picture
21 Feb, 4 tweets, 1 min read
After accounting for downtime, context switching time, recovery time, maintenance time, leisure, chores, only about 3-4 hours a day are available to “do stuff.” Assuming 8h sleep, wakefulness is only about 25% efficient relative to any active life mission. Worse than IC engines.
I suspect a cartoonishly optimized life could hit maybe 60-70% for very tightly scoped life missions, like number theory or piano playing.
But 3-4h is still better than the effectively 0 hours median in pre-modern life. Life that’s basically all chores and it was a weird thing for life to have a purpose beyond “surviving.”
When I do put in a 6-10 hour day, I typically have to take a light or rest day the next day to catch up on all the overhead debt. 5 days of 8 hour days (very rare) and I definitely need the whole weekend off to recover. Maybe that’s how weekends started. 5 days is my max streak.

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More from @vgr

23 Feb
Clubhouse people are rapidly approaching Scientology/Amway levels... 😟

Be careful people.
There’s something off about the user acquisition UI if someone like me gets invited dozens of times despite not wanting to join as an entirely personal preference but interested people far from SV still have to scrounge for invites.
As a vegetarian this feels a bit like meat-eating friends constantly bugging me to go to a steakhouse with no good options for me on the menu (which has never happened).
Read 11 tweets
22 Feb
there are no general intelligences
Yes, but....

The greatest failure of AI discourse has probably been the failure to distinguish clearly between Turing completeness and universal function approximation on the one hand, and intelligence on the other.

Minecraft though... the right kind of mental model. I’ve always thought Von Neumann’s Universal Constructor (self-replicating cellular automaton equivalent to Turing completeness) is a much better mental model because it foregrounds a) reproduction b) randomness…
Read 18 tweets
21 Feb
“It’s never too late to start X” is awful advice. They always share some stupid outlier anecdote like “best-selling novelist who started writing at 75 and won Pulitzer at 80” and it’s always either a lie (oh you failed to mention she was an editor age 30-75) or a weird anomaly.
Look at anybody doing anything well, and chances are they started long ago. Usually under 40. If not, do a double-take: they’ll often have been doing something adjacent enough to learn it easily when they switch lanes.
Anything you ever think you might want to do sometime in your life, start at least dabbling in it the moment you think of it. However ineptly. You might learn simple things at hobby scale late in life but most interesting things take a decade or so of futzing around to get good.
Read 9 tweets
20 Feb
I hadn’t seen this critique of superintelligence before. Interesting. It lands roughly where I did but via a different route (his term is much cleverer, “AI cosplay”). Ht @Aelkus…
Deleted previous version of the tweet where I mistakenly attributed it to Bret Victor rather than Maciej Cegłowski. That makes much more sense. I was surprised to find myself agreeing with what I thought was Victor. In my head “idlewords” somehow sounds close to “worrydream”
My diagnosis was always a kind of anti-projection.

a) You think in a totalizing (INTJish) way and are impressed by its power

b) You see a machine that thinks in analogous ways and looks like it lacks your limits

c) You extrapolate its future as you minus biological limits
Read 47 tweets
20 Feb
Anyone notice that’s there no respectable people left anymore?

We’re no longer a respected species! 🤣
Except me of course. I’m still respectable. It’s the rest of you who have let the species down.
I first noticed this when I realized “politics of respectability” didn’t automatically conjure up a default contemporary image in my head. Only images from like 1977.

Like, I think the Karen-class *thinks* they are respectable? That’s as close as we get in the US.
Read 6 tweets
17 Feb
Copyediting is getting harder and I’m getting sloppier. Mainly because I have the bad habit of going from blank page to hitting publish in a single day, often without a true break. So by the time I get to the last copy edit, I’m tired. Effect of aging fatigue and weaker eyesight.
I should probably get a night’s sleep before publishing and do copy edits first thing in the morning, and/or outsource to a copy editor. But habit of doing all writing last minute, single pass is really hard to break after ~13 years.
Open loops are my Achilles heel
Read 4 tweets

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