Slate Star Codex

for any1 interested in reading blogs, i’d like to make an argument for one, which I think is implicitly tied to certain utility heuristics that make deep learning interesting. There was an online community that was active and popular until the latter half of the last decade called LessWrong. “refining the art of applied rationality”. Not a vulcan rationality, but one that incorporates aspects of the conscious mind, subconscious mind, and their interfaces. Daniel Kahneman explains this well in his empirical social psych book called “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (don’t skimp on just excerpts).

Online communities are interesting because they present the opportunity to bubble up people who are most capable of forwarding the memetic structures of the community. My guess is that this tends to consistently follow a power law:  the nth largest contributor contributes 1/n. This means that the largest contributors are substantially larger than the large majority of the community. Slate Star Codex is one of the most prominent emergent people from LessWrong.

Online communities have a very low barrier to clustering, that’s obvious. Couple that with something as general as “the art of applied rationality” and I think you get something interesting. Like inverting the world after a global El Niño, and following the water. This falling water is kind of like the implosion phase of a core-collapse supernovae. Slate Star Codex is like the first post-bounce shock of the water colliding in Earth’s now hollow center. The so-called Libertarian Contrarians. I’d be MoreInterested in finding the equivalent of the Spherical Accretion Shock Instability (SASI): the unstable growth of an acoustic sound-wave sloshing between the supernovae’s [temporarily] complacent shockwave until it breaks into a perpendicular crashing wave, initializing the spin of a pulsar signaling high quality noise across the stars (at least that’s the theory. shout out to Dr. John Blondin!). Anything that isn’t SASI enough is just never quite contrarian enough to become its own undoing.

To be sure: This tangent has brought me to describing only the Idea of Slate Star Codex, and, by metaphor, what’s up next: psuedo-meta-meta-libertarian-contrarians who feed an instability with metaphloral words to crash and surf the wave into metaphoria brah, as the new intellectual hipsters.

But to be more concrete in my suggestion of succession:


I think leveraging the opinions of online bayesian communities allows for an effective exploration heuristic when wanting to exploit the best sources. And maybe that makes Slate Star Codex an interesting place to start. Its quixotic. And its weird. But Slate Star Codex is LessWeird, LessQuixotic, and is interesting on many levels.

For those interested, this tends to be people’s favorite:

For other testimonials:

I think this is my favorite from the above testimonials: “Go read the comment section on Slate Star Codex for a week and report back if you think LessWrongism is acceptable. It’s a place for broken people to be shielded from ever hearing that they’re broken and for developing better and better rationalizations for why they’re not broken and shouldn’t do the work needed to fix themselves… The information there permanently disqualifies anyone associated with it from from having anything to do with building a functioning society.”

SSC covers a lot of topics. So of course everything he writes isn’t of an expert’s quality. But he’s evolving his own thoughts, widening and deepening his own world view. Others are just along for the ride.

And if he can’t imagine himself not writing, then it feels safe to say that he writes for himself. As most of us should. To help us think more clearly. The very act of writing ideas down facilitates a constructive thinking process like nothing else.

I think his essays could be more interesting though. And for me, interesting means surprise. Interfaces, as Geoffrey James has said, should follow the principle of least astonishment. A button that looks like it will make a machine stop should make it stop, not speed up. Essays should do the opposite. Essays should aim for maximum surprise, contradicting beliefs, that we previously held to be true, in a constructive way.


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