2018-19 New Year review

2018 progress

Research / AI safety:

Rationality / effectiveness:

  • Attended the CFAR mentoring workshop in Prague, and started running rationality training sessions with Janos at our group house.
  • Started using work cycles – focused work blocks (e.g. pomodoros) with built-in reflection prompts. I think this has increased my productivity and focus to some degree. The prompt “how will I get started?” has been surprisingly helpful given its simplicity.
  • Stopped eating processed sugar for health reasons at the end of 2017 and have been avoiding it ever since.
    • This has been surprisingly easy, especially compared to my earlier attempts to eat less sugar. I think there are two factors behind this: avoiding sugar made everything taste sweeter (so many things that used to taste good now seem inedibly sweet), and the mindset shift from “this is a luxury that I shouldn’t indulge in” to “this is not food”.
    • Unfortunately, I can’t make any conclusions about the effects on my mood variables because of some issues with my data recording process :(.
  • Declining levels of insomnia (excluding jetlag):
    • 22% of nights in the first half of 2017, 16% in the second half of 2017, 16% in the first half of 2018, 10% in the second half of 2018.
    • This is probably an effect of the sleep CBT program I did in 2017, though avoiding sugar might be a factor as well.
  • Made some progress on reducing non-research commitments (talks, reviewing, organizing, etc).
    • Set up some systems for this: a spreadsheet to keep track of requests to do things (with 0-3 ratings for workload and 0-2 ratings for regret) and a form to fill out whenever I’m thinking of accepting a commitment.
    • My overall acceptance rate for commitments has gone down a bit from 29% in 2017 to 24% in 2018. The average regret per commitment went down from 0.66 in 2017 to 0.53 in 2018.
    • However, since the number of requests has gone up, I ended up with more things to do overall: 12 commitments with a total of 23 units of workload in 2017 vs 19 commitments with a total of 33 units of workload in 2018. (1 unit of workload ~ 5 hours)

Fun stuff:

  • Hiked in the Alps for the first time:
    • Tour de Mont Blanc – a weeklong hike around Mont Blanc going through France, Italy and Switzerland. It felt funny to cross a mountain pass and end up in a different country without anyone checking my passport. There were a lot of meadows and cows. mont_blanc
    • Monte Rosa glacier hike (Gnifetti normal route). We were all connected by a rope in case someone falls into a crack in the ice. The first night (at 3500m) I could not sleep at all due to altitude and had the interesting experience of a full day hike afterwards.monte_rosa2
  • Spontaneous solo trip to Amsterdam for my birthday
  • Helped run the Dead Hand Path camp at Burning Man and organized a series of AI safety talks
  • Read the Book of Why, Other Minds, The Player of Games, Life 3.0, The Elephant in the Brain.
  • Did 5 chinups in a row (only once, usually I can do 3)
  • Learned a headstand in yoga class
  • Learned some new moves in aerial silks
  • Our group house has been adopted by a neighbour’s cat (it all started with crashing parties). After some of our housemates moved a few blocks away, the cat has been splitting her time between the two houses.
    toffin.jpg

2018 prediction outcomes

Resolutions:

  1. Write at least 2 AI blog posts that are not about conferences (1 last year) (70%) – 4 posts
  2. Avoid processed sugar at least until end of March (90%) – yes (still going)
  3. Do at most 4 non-research talks/panels (7 last year) (50%) – 5 talks
  4. Meditate on at least 250 days (50%) – 283 days

Predictions:

  1. Our AI safety team will have at least two papers accepted for publication at a major conference, not counting workshops (80%) – yes
  2. I will write at least 6 blog posts (60%) – wrote 5 posts
  3. I will go to at least 100 exercise classes (80 last year) (60%) – 123 classes
  4. 1-2 housemate turnover at the Deep End (3 last year) (70%) – 2 housemates
  5. I will visit at least 3 new cities with population over 100,000 (4 last year) (50%) – Amsterdam, Geneva, Stockholm, Prague
  6. I will go on at least 2 hikes (4 last year) (90%) – 3 major hikes (Vancouver Island, Tour de Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa)

Calibration:

  • 50-60%: 3 correct, 2 wrong
  • 70-90%: 5 correct
  • High-confidence predictions are underconfident, low-confidence predictions are well-calibrated.

2019 goals and predictions

Resolutions:

  1. Author or coauthor two or more academic papers (50%)
  2. Accept at most 17 non-research commitments (24 last year) (60%)
  3. Meditate on at least 250 days (60%)

Predictions:

  1. Relative reachability paper accepted at a major conference, not counting workshops (60%)
  2. Continue avoiding processed sugar for the next year (85%)
  3. 1-2 housemate turnover at Deep End (2 last year) (80%)
  4. At least 5 rationality sessions will be hosted at Deep End (80%)

Past new year reviews: 2017-18, 2016-17, 2015-16, 2014-15.

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