ERE as Chess Discussion

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ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by Fish » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:05 am

This thread is for continued discussion of @black_son_of_gray's excellent journal entry, "ERE as Chess".

Things I wanted to talk about:
  1. Feedback and continued development of the chess metaphor for financial independence.
  2. A more general discussion of chess, including recent developments such as AlphaZero
There are two things currently on my mind.

1. Let's use @bsog's formulation where the opening corresponds to debt reduction and frugal-skill building, and the endgame is the phase where FI has been secured and NW is in runaway mode. The personal finance domain has plenty of "opening theory" from Dave Ramsey up to ERE. The endgame is covered by nuts-and-bolts retirement books that presume some combination of nest egg and pension/SS has already been secured. What about the middlegame?

For FI/RE, the opening probably lasts about a year, while the middlegame is usually anywhere from 4-10+ years depending on motivation. Yet most PF resources are concerned with the opening, then treat the middlegame as some solved problem where one just needs to continue repeating the same behaviors until FI is achieved. Is it the same experience running the first and last 5km of a marathon? Should the pursuit of FI be any different?

It occurred to me that most of the discussion on this forum is centered around middlegame issues. Is anyone familiar with any PF blogs or books which address this phase? I'm looking for more of the "lifestyle design" or psychological aspects of remaining engaged in life/work during accumulation. The financial optimization and investing piece, not so much.

2. Here are some links to Youtube videos reviewing some of the games between AlphaZero and Stockfish (the most powerful chess engine): I find the analysis very interesting, because I'm not at a level that would let me infer the strategy based on the board positions and moves. The commentary is extremely insightful for me. The first thought: expert-level computer chess can be interesting! I've played various chess engines (incl. SF) against each other and the result tends to be rather defensive. AZ's attacking style is otherworldly and reveals a playing strength considerably higher than SF's. Maybe +2 Wheaton levels?
jacob wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:06 pm
As far as AI developments go, watching those games is some of the most scary AI stuff I've seen yet. Not only is it winning, but it's winning in ways that often don't make sense or are hard to explain. Imagine if something like this was put in charge of military/nuclear strategy :shock:
The next thought: I've previously dismissed all the futurist talk of AI world domination as premature and speculative (not an informed opinion, btw)... but this was sort of a wake up call that the revolution is coming a lot sooner than I expected.

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:16 am

On the last tangent of the point made by jacob, one of the first things that come to mind is the concept of the Warmind from Destiny series, which is essentially a group of AI's made for defense of the Sol system on the interplanetary scale.

Anyways. For the analogy, there is definitely a format of:
  • Opening = Blog
  • Midgame = Forum
  • Endgame = The Act
The analogy falls apart at the end, there is a life after FIRE which is definitely does not fall under the Chess analogy.

As for resources in-between?

Read books on personal philosophy, such as stoicism, Daoism, etc. Learn about yourself during the "mid-game", in that what you are beyond your job and develop interest. I can't really give a specific suggestion as everyone is different, and with it their journey.

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by Farm_or » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:08 am

Having my own chess obsession awhile ago taught me a little about the peaks and valleys of my own mental states. I was advanced intermediate, but on rare occasions I could beat those ahead of my league.

That took the right frame of mind, playing defensive, and patient. Waiting for the opponent to make the first bold move and then capitalizing.

For life analogy, you have to first realize that you are playing against yourself. I get the whole strategy comparison and opening play vs middle game, but the person in charge of both sides is ultimately yourself.

If you are considering something else as your opponent: expenses, incomes, taxes, health, addictions; those are relatively easy games.

The sooner that you realize that you are your most formidable opponent, the sooner you will realize you're first victory, Financial Independence.

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:52 am

Although I do not play chess, and I am more interested in models than games, I am quite intrigued by this discussion.
from bsog's journal wrote:In ERE, the Opening comprises the initial moves that give your fancy job income room to breathe.
I would note that this is not the perspective of somebody like me who has really never had a "fancy job income." The opening move for me would have to be summoning up the motivation to acquire a fancy job income. I have been hanging out here for several years now, and this still hasn't happened. My ability to perform burpees is also still ranking Pathetic. OTOH, my comprehension of systems theory and some related topics has very much improved.

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by black_son_of_gray » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:51 am

@7w5, as chess games are obsessed over and studied by many enthusiasts, there is a standardized text shorthand way to represent the moves in a game. Your style of play I think has many more !, !!, and !? notes that usual. It's always good to hear from unorthodox players, whether human or computer. :D

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:32 pm


Lol- I would also definitely assign my style of play some ??s and ?!s. I wonder what is the likelihood that FI will emerge from my system by my goal date of harvest-time 2022? As I indicated above, I see it more like I am putting together a model than playing a game, so the fact that I am once again in pick up toppled pieces mode is semi-irrelevant :lol:

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by black_son_of_gray » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:45 pm

Fish wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:05 am
It occurred to me that most of the discussion on this forum is centered around middlegame issues. Is anyone familiar with any PF blogs or books which address this phase?
Isn't this essentially the "ERE Journals" forum?

In chess, people develop different styles of play that ultimately reflect their preferences/personality. Some play aggressive, some play defensive, some play very unorthodox, some play "standard". (Play style might also evolve over time.) I think we could make some progress on your questions by using the ERE journals as a crowd-sourced data set which we then do a sort of meta-analysis on...

For example: If I wanted to get a more concrete sense of what "defensive" play is in chess, I might look at a couple thousand games that are commonly accepted to exhibit defensive game play. The three things I would first try to analyze are:
  1. What are all the types of moves/"offensives"/patterns that are over- or under-represented statistically in that style of play? - E.g. maybe there are 3 or 4 common defensive openings (plus variants), whereas some openings are NEVER played, or maybe defensive players "castle" more often, etc.
  2. Do these over- or under-represented patterns of play correlate/cluster with each other?
  3. Are there consistent themes or generalized concepts within these clusters that I can abstract?
In principle, the same analysis can be done with the ERE middle games that are playing out in the ERE Journals forum. Clearly, various forum members have different styles of play... perhaps they can be clustered into general style groups - E.g. Defensive, Aggressive, Nomadic, "Roots-based?" (e.g. permaculture/homesteading), Academic, "Coasting to FI", etc. Setting the groups might be tricky and ultimately unnecessary because...I think the real interesting question is #2: Are there specific patterns of ERE behaviors that correlate/pair particularly well with each other and keep coming up again and again (a locally-reinforced web of goals/think "three sisters") for a given style of ERE? #3 is also tricky, because the abstractions need to be made at the correct, implementable level. Too general and you get things that are true but not particularly helpful ("Expenses were met via multiple income streams and skills").

*Some shootin'-from-the-hip examples: maybe [van-dwelling+location independent freelancing+adventure lifestyle+BLM]? [house-sitting+tech freelance+gardening+DIY]? [High-income career+family+"work ain't so bad"+slow roll into FI]? Please feel free to correct or add...

While it is useful to know all sorts of different ERE skills/lifestyles/approaches, it is perhaps more useful to know what works best for your style of ERE.

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:49 am

I think style of frugality depends somewhat on inherent temperament/personality, but also phase of life. For instance, based on my own experience when I was in that phase, I would highly recommend quick initialization of 1 home-based income source, preferably a Schedule C rather than W2, for a couple with young children. Perhaps, this would be akin to a "Sacrifice of Queen" strategy? I might combine this with owner-occupied rental strategy. I tried to do this, but my ex was too introverted-misanthropic to tolerate shared housing.

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by Astra » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:35 am

Tying together the chess analogy for ERE and the more and less recent gaming-AI advances (DeepBlue, AlphaZero):
recent development has seen artificial intelligence surpass human strategy games such as chess and Go. If we accept ERE as another strategic game (as the analogy suggests), could machine algorithms also surpass human strategist in becoming financially independent?

Imagine there is an app interface, where you enter all your data (current budget and needs, income, retirement goals) and the app sends these to a server which calculates all possible moves in your life (or a more organic analysis via neural networks). It then sends you detailed, day-to-day instructions on what to buy and eat, how to exercise and commute, where to live and what to do in your free time. It allocates your schedule and when you are allowed to buy a new pair of pants, how much soap and toothpaste you should use for optimal cost/effectiveness. Maybe it even does your shopping for you, finding the best deals online. Your salary goes straight into the app, which is uses for your budget, the rest is invested for highest returns (investment bots already exist). Your day-to-day life is completely governed by the app, until you reach FI, and maybe even beyond (to keep your spending low and your investments running).

Would you use the app?

If we accept the premise that AI is better at chess than humans, and ERE is like chess, should AI not also be better at guiding us to FI?

(Of course there more to ERE than going through the motions of reaching FI. :) But theoretically you could focus on these mental changes even better if an AI managed the rest of your life. Or does the act of managing your life on your own aid these mental changes?)

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by jacob » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:31 am

@Astra - I'm fairly confident I could play that app for lots of people. I think a lot of pf-nerds notice choices in other people where we know alternative choices that are much better. The problem with people is that they don't do exactly what you tell them when you tell them. They almost always think they know better. (That being the default setting of people who know so little that they don't even know that they don't know much.)

For example, when talking about combining various strategies of the systems thinking benefits of ERE and people say things like "you don't have to follow all of them [strategies], just pick the ones you like". D'oh!

Also, seeing that humans are involved, it would be wise to allow for the human desire for some combination of skill (decision-making) and randomness. If not, they'll probably induce it themselves, maybe even by some self-sabotaging, just to have a challenge. Games that have neither (like that app) would not be very appealing to "adults".

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by daylen » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:34 pm

@Astra This is basically what happens now. People rely on some external system for making decisions (social norms and experts) and fail to develop the ability to make their own decisions based on an adaptable logical framework (systems design and ERE).

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:29 pm

Astra wrote:Imagine there is an app interface, where you enter all your data (current budget and needs, income, retirement goals)
I think even this much initial input from user could over-determine process and outcome. Consulting the manual, in the Tactical Principles section, under Identifying Needs and Wants, we find:
Consider, for example, shelter. Here the list of choices may look like this:

1. Sleeping under open air
2. Sleeping under a tarp, basha or hootchie
3. Living in a tent.
4. Couch Surfing.
5. Living in a shack or cabin.
6. Living in a ship cabin or truck cab.
7. Living in a car or a boat.
8. Living in an RV.
9. Sharing a room with other people.
10. Having your own room.
11. Sharing an apartment with other people.
12. Having your own apartment.
13. Sharing a house with other people.

On this scale there is no demarcation of when a need becomes a want. Each step is slightly different and slightly more expensive than the previous step, with no clear indication of what the bare minimum is, other than having somewhere to sleep. At what point, then, does a want become a need?
So, if the goal of the app is to minimize time to solution of SWR metric, I think the only necessary initial inputs would be information about current ongoing contractual obligations (debt, child support, leases, etc.) Then some sort of Pure Libertarian strategy would likely be quickest method of dispensing with these. Once that was accomplished, Serious Stoic Self-Sufficient strategy immediately taking Expenses down to $0 could be implemented and GAME WON!

Otherwise, it will be necessary to include some sort of feedback loop between user and app requiring the user to reveal emotional states to which the app will respond by adjustment to directives. For example:

App: "How did sleeping under open air on the park bench last night make you feel?

User: "Miserable. 5 degrees colder and I likely would lose some toes."

App: " That is most unfortunate. My prime directive is to ensure your structural integrity. According to information you previously provided, you estimated that your highest current marginal hourly wage would be employment you described as "offering yourself as a whore in dark alley" at approximately $40/hr. Please proceed to engage in this activity for 2.2 hours, deposit proceeds into your linked account, and I will expedite delivery of sleeping bag with required qualities to the Amazon locker at this location. (map pop-up)"

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:48 pm

The 3 considerations that are necessary when attempting any change to the system are feasibility (compatibility with processes outside human control-external biophysical constraints), viability (compatibility with processes under human control-internal biophysical or economic constraints), and desirability (compatibility with normative values.)

Since studies indicate that individuals generally return to average happiness level within 2 years of any positive or negative event, simple achievement of FI will not serve to ensure best results. However, the ongoing quest to achieve something approximating the Renaissance Ideal might provide adequate intermittent varied challenge and reward towards maximizing possible upwards variance from expectation of happiness level. I am imagining an impredicative relationship between acquired competencies (knowledge/skill set) and the ability to better acquire further competencies. The continual acquisition of competencies representing the best strategy for overall future happiness for the NT temperament incumbent.

Somewhere in my stacks I own a book entitled "You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls." It is structured like a scout manual for earning competency badges, but with more adult realms to be explored. It also included a section on how to write a new merit badge competency by using a template, and suggestions for hosting a social group dedicated to this process. It was pretty basic, but it could be amusing to attempt to construct a rule-of-thumb for achievement of Renaissance Ideal that would be similar to a sash full of scout badges. You either already have to have somebody who is accepted as Master in the realm of a particular badge in the group to construct the challenge towards competency, or you have to solicit an outside expert for creation of the badge fulfillment requirements.

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by Clarice » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:48 pm

Fish wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:05 am
This thread is for continued discussion of @black_son_of_gray's excellent journal entry, "ERE as Chess".

I'm looking for more of the "lifestyle design" or psychological aspects of remaining engaged in life/work during accumulation. The financial optimization and investing piece, not so much.
From reading the ERE journals I gather that many people do not allow themselves to achieve ERE as they falsely perceive their position as zugzwang.

noun CHESS
a situation in which the obligation to make a move in one's turn is a serious, often decisive, disadvantage.)

The line goes something like that, "I've done everything, but I am tired, bored, don't like lentils, don't want to live in RV, and can not survive my miserable job for 1 more day."
What are the strategies to get unstuck? Well... the first helpful thought that comes to mind is that life is much more complex and multidimensional than chess. Unless death is imminent, there is always - always something up your sleeve. What can it be? The short answer, "It depends..." :)

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by bryan » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:22 pm

Has the ERE forum ever had a more real-time interactive component? Immediately coming to mind is a chess (or generally, strategy games) ladder tournament (of course this is just 1v1, unless we have specs and a chatbox, lol).

I'm not sure about the chess analogy (small number of rules, moves), but see what you are getting at. I've made a comment in the past basically saying that I've learned a lot about myself by analyzing how I play games (starcraft, BF2, RPGs, total war games, board games, etc).

A lot of human lives/systems comes off as premature optimization.

@7Wannabe5, sounds like it could be turned into kickstarter campaign if marketed/re-designed as a gamified real-life RPG sort of thing, aiding in human direction/purpose. Especially if you oraclize/federate some organizations for achievements (e.g. submit proofs from your phone to the company). This removes some of the scary unknowns of society? Sounds like a Black Mirror episode (I mean, they've already done a couple that are similar). I guess others like the basic concept:

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Re: ERE as Chess Discussion

Post by Jason » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:54 am

(@) Clarice

I've been doing my best to follow this thread as it's interesting but pretty much above my pay grade. If I'm not mistaken, your point is that often the best move (and oftentimes hardest move) in life is not doing anything and as far as I understand chess, that "move" (doing nothing) is not an option as you have an active, "other" opponent demanding you make a move. To go further on your point, at least in my situation, the real enemy in ERE is the self, the so-called "House divided", so I see ERE as a game I am playing against myself. The opponent in that sense is one's limitations and/or tolerances (tolerations?). I am essentially learning about how certain moves affect myself and my goal is not to thoroughly defeat myself, but learn which parts of myself I can live with being defeated to the point of elimination. So in that sense you are "gaming" or "modeling" your self. For instance, I know I cannot live in a van. However, can I live without Kentucky Fried Chicken? Well, the move there is not going somewhere i.e. to my local Kentucky fried Chicken establishment. The question is, I guess, does it follow that I have to necessarily make another move or am I eliminating a potential move without replacing it with another, a "move" which is not allowed in the game of chess unless it's checkmate. All analogies break down at some point, but that doesn't mean the analogy doesn't have pedagogical merit.

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