The Education of Axel Heyst

Where are you and where are you going?
zbigi
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by zbigi »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:55 am
@zbigi, I think your post is related to yesterday's blog post: https://earlyretirementextreme.com/lack ... ation.html
In my case, the problem is basically the opposite - I have plenty of intrinsic motivation, but just not for food growing. So it makes no sense to save small amounts of money by growing food, when I could be spending that time on my actual interests. On the other hand, If I had no intrinsic motivations, then growing my own food wouldn't sound so bad, as I'd be having too much free time anyway and no good idea on what to do with it - so, why not convert it into some extra security.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Two Rocks in the Void: Episode 1
Imagine two balls of rock hurtling through the void. Imagine you live on one of these balls of rock. It's called "This World".

You stay stuck to This World because of gravity. This World exerts an invisible force on your body and keeps your feet stuck to it. This is a good thing - without this gravity you'd just float off in to the void and be lost.

But you are a curious sort, always looking out and up and wondering. You notice the other ball of rock out there. Everyone on This World calls that ball of rock Another World.

You read everything you can about Another World. You learn about its geography, its orbital tilt, its gravitational force expressed as a ratio of This World's, its species of plants and animals. You read what little you can find about its culture, which seems strange and a little scary but exciting. You become a little obsessed. You build a small telescope and put it up in your backyard and gaze at the features of Another World. It's difficult to make out the details, but you can see the broad strokes of it. You build a radio and sometimes listen in to what the people on Another World talk among themselves about. You don't really follow it all. They send a few broadcasts to This World, which sometimes make sense and sometimes don't. But the more you listen, the more you *think* it makes sense.

One day, you turn on your radio and you don't understand at first what you're hearing. Finally it clicks. It's instructions. Someone on Another World is broadcasting instructions to build a rocket ship. You start scribbling down notes, mind racing. You'd never considered leaving This World, you didn't know it was an option. The broadcast mentions that the stars that move around in the night sky are the rocket ships of other people who have built them and are traveling towards Another World.

Just before the end of the broadcast, it mentions that rocket ships only go from This World to Another World. Almost no rocket ships go from Another World to This World. It's a one way trip.

You start building your rocket ship from the instructions. It's not easy. The instructions often don't make any sense to you, and you have to go read other books to make any sense of them. You learn chemistry, metallurgy, mechatronics, controls theory, orbital mechanics. It takes a long time. It also takes money to get the parts for the ship, so you scrimp and save and put all of your money and time in to building your spaceship.

Everyone you know makes fun of you and has no idea what you're trying to do, even when you explain it to them. They like This World: why would you want to go to Another World? There's no blagoyas there. Blagoyas are awesome! Why would you want to leave blagoyas behind? But you've lost your taste for blagoyas. You learned on the radio that on Another World, people don't even like blagoyas. They have something better, although when they describe it you don't really understand.

Finally, your rocket ship is built. No one comes to watch you launch. You didn't invite anyone. You're excited and nervous and don't want anyone else there to ruin your moment. You get in and push all the right buttons, snap your spacesuit helmet on, and run through the checklists. The engines warming up scare you. It feels like the whole thing is going to explode maybe. What the hell were you thinking? You're not a rocket technician! Too late. You blast off.

You arc up and up, the acceleration pushes you in to the seat back and everything shakes and now you're absolutely convinced that it's going to explode. But it doesn't. You see out the window the sky turns dark blue, then black. The acceleration eases. It worked! You made it off This World!

You get up and check your instruments. Hmm. You thought you'd be screaming towards Another World by now, but instead you're... yes, you are in orbit around This World. The gravity of This World is still holding you.

If you train your telescope on This World, you can still see it, you can even see people you know walking around, enjoying blagoyas. But you can't talk to them, and they don't notice you. You're just a tiny point of light they can see at night if they bother to look up, which mostly they don't.

white belt
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by white belt »

Very interesting ideas in your recent posts. I'll respond with a few of my thoughts:

I think the Ferd and Gert example is a bit of a false dilemma. I haven't read the book but I listened to Wheaton's extended podcast discussion with Jacob about it. Maybe he meant it as 2 extremes on a spectrum, but so often in permaculture circles I see a similar all-or-nothing mindset. Basically the idea is you can't do anything permaculture-related until you go back to the land and move to an X acres homestead in the country. This is a terrible model for beginners because they don't know what they don't know and also a terrible general model because it doesn't scale. Here in ERE land we look at things from a systems perspective and recognize that staying in your existing location is going to have many benefits (social capital, job income, local knowledge, etc).

Instead, I propose Bert. Bert has been learning about climate change and permaculture recently through reading a variety of books. Bert has already read a few personal finance books so he keeps his expenses relatively low and recognizes that money is merely one form of capital. He wants to take action to build a more resilient system for his own life, but also recognizes he lacks the skill and experience to move to the countryside (in fact, Bert isn't even sure if that lifestyle is a fit for him). Therefore, Bert chooses to focus on small scale homesteading and food production that he can implement within his existing web of goals. He is looking at solutions from a systems perspective, carefully accounting for all inputs and outputs. After gaining some hands-on experience, he will better be able to assess the viability of different food production strategies* and iterate within his web of goals. Although Bert is not sure if he wants to work in his full time career field forever, he remains working full time for now because he enjoys many of the non-financial aspects of his job and recognizes that he does not have the skill yet to make money from alternative means.

If you need ideas on where to start, check out David Holmgren's Retrosuburbia, Novella Carpenter's work, and the Apartment Homesteading thread. So far we've identified microgreens, worm composting, and mushrooms as all viable things that can be done indoors. Food preservation is another one that is on my list but I haven't explored yet.

*= One analogy might be to think of Jacob's startup curriculum for finance and investing. His stated goal for that is to not make you an investing expert, but rather ensure you have the foundational knowledge to be able to assess the legitimacy of different investing experts and strategies. If you have no experience with homesteading/home food production, you are going to need a similar startup curriculum to give you similar foundational knowledge (except it's going to require hands-on work, not just reading a textbook). Then you can better judge whether some purported permaculture technique actually makes sense or if it's just a bunch of woo woo from people who have no practical experience.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I like your Bert idea, and I think you're right that there's a lot of unnecessary back-to-the-landism going on.

In Paul's defense, I'm guessing he means the story as two ends of a spectrum, not an either/or. The name of his book is "Building a better world in your backyard", implying to my mind a start-where-you-are approach, and the book is full of advice just about anyone can do. In fact, a lot of it didn't apply to me at all because I'm off-grid, non-urban, and not living in conventional housing (I don't have any windows, for example, so the only sorts of things I can grow inside at the moment have to not rely on any photosynthesis).

white belt
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by white belt »

In case you couldn't tell in my last post, I also have a lot of reservations about permaculture. I think the permaculture principles are sound and many of the books I've found useful, but like you said there are way too many people that turn into evangelists. Of course I guess you could say the same thing about the FIRE community with a hyper-focus on specific techniques without understanding the larger strategy.

It's also just not evidence-based enough for me. I was listening to an interview with the Strong Towns movement founder and I remember he had a similar gripe about permaculture. Basically he was talking about how how strange it is that it's been around for 50 years and yet there are no academic institutions with advanced permaculture study paths, while other more recent trends like hydroponics and organic farming have entire departments now. Additionally he talked about learning and teaching about the prototypical example from a permaculture design course; a closed loop system with chickens living in a greenhouse. He asked around to everyone he knew in the farming and permaculture space and discovered not one single person had ever implemented such a system in real-life. This tells me that there's just not a lot of rigor in a lot of these techniques (that's not to say they don't work, just that their results could be easily exaggerated with only anecdotal evidence).

Just to give an example, everyone talks about how great chickens are for the homestead, but here are a few things to consider:

-Edible feed conversion ratios (kg of feed/kg of edible weight) with conventionally farmed layer chickens are something like 4 and free range layer chickens are something like ~10*
-you will need to ensure the chickens do not have access to soil contaminated with any heavy metals (most soil in urban areas), or else they will consume large quantities of it and get sick

*= Stare at this for a long time before getting any livestock. I'd recommend figuring out how you're going to feed the livestock sustainably/efficiently first and foremost (for chickens Black Soldier Fly might be feasible but you would need a decently sized system and a lot of food/other waste going into it). Insects, milk, fish, and poultry eggs are going to be the most efficient live FCR for animal proteins. Duckweed and some legumes are the most efficient sources for plant-based proteins.

white belt
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by white belt »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:26 pm
In Paul's defense, I'm guessing he means the story as two ends of a spectrum, not an either/or. The name of his book is "Building a better world in your backyard", implying to my mind a start-where-you-are approach, and the book is full of advice just about anyone can do. In fact, a lot of it didn't apply to me at all because I'm off-grid, non-urban, and not living in conventional housing (I don't have any windows, for example, so the only sorts of things I can grow inside at the moment have to not rely on any photosynthesis).
I will confess I didn't read the book but I am familiar with many of the ideas from Wheaton's blog. Looking at the table of contents, I think it looks like a great book to get a newcomer in the mindset and give them a survey of what's possible. Some of the chapter titles are clickbaity and I find some of the techniques aren't as universal as he proclaims (ie rocket mass heaters only make sense if you have a foundation to structurally support such a large mass, have access to a large stockpile of firewood, can tend to it every couple of hours with more wood, and you can build one to meet existing code).

I am intrigued by your living situation now but I don't want to pry. Myself and @sky have both grown microgreens successfully indoors with grow lights and we live in completely different climates. I'm new to mushroom growing, but right now I have a batch of oyster mushrooms in my apartment that I will harvest in a few days which don't require anything but some ambient light. A worm bin can process your food scraps to give you fertilizer and worms to use as fishing bait without the need for light.

Edit: I see now. A cargo trailer is a challenging solution space. Do you have any outdoor space for containers?

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Yes, most of my "grow food constraints" have to do with the fact that I haven't been in any one place longer than three months since 2016. The other constraint is my priorities - at the moment, most of my free time is going towards basic shelter needs like staying warm, staying dry, having a place to shower, a place to poop, installing a window, that sort of thing. And while my current location has plenty of outdoor space, a) it's winter right now and b) I'm not sure how long I'll be here. So for the moment I'm intentionally holding off on any major growie projects that I might abandon in a few months anyways. My circumstances need to settle out a bit before I can invest significant time in that (although I am planning on e.g. putting up a compost bin and any other small projects that would be no big deal to abandon in place).

Growing things inside with grow lights is something I'd like to do - need to see what kind of plants are resilient against temperature swings from 30's to 80's.

I'm in a very "information-intake-heavy" mode when it comes to future projects, homesteading and growing things, while my actual actions are focused elsewhere, so I am appreciating your thoughts on permaculture very much. Lots to integrate.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

No need to hesitate about prying. I'm the opposite of the rest of the forum at the moment; I'm debating whether or not to just get it over with and dox myself already.

theanimal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by theanimal »

Come join the dark side 8-)

white belt
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by white belt »

Cold weather brassicas can germinate in temperatures in the 30s. So you could do microgreens of kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc indoors even in winter. There are probably mushrooms that you can get to fruit in the same temperatures as well.

If you mean your living space fluctuates from 30-80 degrees in a single day then yeah that’s going to be challenging since the aforementioned cold weather crops generally don’t like heat. You’d have to have them somewhere that’s more protected against temperature swings.

Microgreens have 2 week life cycles and many outdoor crops can be harvested before 3 months so your frequent moving isn’t a dealbreaker.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Consider my interest piqued, indoor microgreens weren't really on my radar but they going in the system now. Thank you!

Yesterday I helped my land-mate with some tree work. Mostly just belayed limbs and tree-tops down, but I also ran up a tree to break down the anchor. New skills practiced: jumaring ("jugging") up a fixed line, belaying with a munter hitch, and how to set a rope-only tree rap. Fun!

He self-taught himself tree work, but has only taken work he can do solo. Since I'm part-time, I'm available to lend a hand and he can now take a greater variety of jobs because some just really require at least two people to be efficient and/or safe. So I've got another source of intermittent side income that I'll pick up new skills at, with a bonus that a lot of the work is for neighbors within walking distance, so it's also building relationships locally.

A couple weeks ago I installed a tiny little stove in Serenity:
Image

And then a week later installed a slightly larger one in the shipping container:
Image
My hope is that that horrid accretion of boards and mistakes is the worst thing I ever build in my life. One day I'll come back and make something that doesn't look like Dali and a four-year-old with a Builder Bob tool set collaborated to make a stove cabinet.

Together the stoves have really improved our quality of life here. I wake up ~0430, go in to the container, build a fire, boil my water for coffee on it, write, study econ, work on my passive income project. At night, DW spends her evenings in there (as I go to sleep around 2000/8p). Our landmate is clearing out a bunch of stuff and so we took over a couch/futon thing. The rest of the container is absolutely jammed with all of our stuff in boxes, which makes us think we have a lot of stuff until we remind ourselves that literally everything we own in this world fits on the floor of a shipping container and there's enough room for a desk, couch, piano, worktable, wood stove, etc.

Progress on the build slowed up a bit in the past couple weeks. A couple things have been occupying my attention and lowering my motivation, but I'm getting back on track here. My next projects are to build a window, then possibly next is a shelving unit, and then tackle building out the internal frame and paneling.

$600 February is also on track. The only thing I've purchased so far is a gallon of tung oil and solvent, which goes on the overall container accruals portion of my monthly expense accounting. I'm doing the same thing I did in September where I'm tracking the cost of the food I actually eat, rather than caring much what I actually spend at the grocery story.

I was playing around with my spreadsheets the other day, and created a scenario where sub-1-jafi living, my current PT work gig, and a conservatively estimated amount of side/passive income, leads me to be "nominally FI" at the exact same time I was looking at hitting that number by going back to FT work, with a slightly higher CoL. Another nail in the coffin of going back to FT.

jacob
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by jacob »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Fri Feb 12, 2021 9:12 am
My hope is that that horrid accretion of boards and mistakes is the worst thing I ever build in my life.
Haha, yeah that is pretty ... not pretty :mrgreen: I really recommend any "dimensional lumber"-builder getting their hands on a kreg jig (or another pocket hole jig). This will avoid needing to put screws into end-grain which makes for a rather weak joint. Coming in from the other side (screw starts in a hole in the other board) makes it a lot more solid (even for a butt joint) and also hides it a lot better. For example, the diagonal/triangle reinforcers (dunno the engineering term) could have been put behind rather than underneath.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

My intent is to start using traditional joinery (eg mortise and tenon). I just built a workshop table out of 2x4s, which will make that sort of work much easier now that I don't need to be working on the floor/outside in the snow on uneven sawhorses...

A kreg jig would be a great tool to have for when trad joints aren't appropriate though, I'll keep my eye out.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

In the Stoa thread jacob said most people hit FI around 500 journal replies in. Aw man I need to hurry up! I've got like seven replies left! (Guess I'm just wordy).

Today's blog post had a gem in it:
jacob wrote:This blog is for the “elite”; not that you have to be extreme, but you should at least have the attitude of wanting to become one unless you just read along for entertainment.
I just appreciate the bald-faced honesty there. Unapologetically extreme approaches are so rare these days, because most people try to be as inclusive as possible so they can capture a larger market $egment. But for some (can I get an amen?), the mild and incremental approaches are so boring that they're ineffective. I'd been on to FIRE for years, but it didn't grab my attention enough to change my life at all, because it wasn't *that* different than what I was already doing, or so it seemed. When I finally took a close look at ERE, it was obvious that this guy was nutso, this approach is indeed qualitatively different than everything else, and if I drank the kool-aid my life would be obviously, remarkable different than it was before. Right on, sign me up.

That's really the only sort of thing that moves the needle for me. Anything gentle just bounces off. I need/want to be smacked in the face with a 2x4 to get stoked.

Marginal Utility and Frugality Practice
I'm studying the McConnel economics. It defines "utility" as "want-satisfying power". The text acknowledges utility is difficult to quantify, but they talk about "utils" as a unit of measure.

Total utility is how well your wants are satisfied by some good or service that you pay for. Marginal utility is how much extra utility you get out of having one more of that good or service. If you have five blagoyas, maybe you'll be getting twenty utils out of them. If you get one more blagoya, you'll get twenty three utils. The marginal utility of that sixth blagoya is three utils.

As "consumers" get more of some kind of product, the marginal utility tends to decrease. Going from zero to one blagoya was awesome. Now I'm a blagoya owner, just like all the beautiful #blagoyalife people on Instagram! Ten utils. Second blagoya? Hey, neat, yeah, blagoyas are awesome. 8 more utils, total of 18. Third? Cool, add it to the shelf. 4 more utils. But at some point, adding one more blagoya will make you think "ugh, I trip over these stupid blagoyas every time I go to the bathroom, I'm getting kind of sick of them, and I spent ten bucks on this last blagoya - I could have bought a naftiliq with that money!" That last blagoya actually made your life worse, and so its marginal utility is said to be negative.

One way to frame a frugality practice is that the point is to arrange one's life such that the utility of most goods and services out there is pretty low, and the marginal utility drops off a cliff almost immediately. If your marginal utility for some good starts as a negative number, then that means buying even ONE of the thing is going to make your life worse.

At the point where almost anything you buy starts with a negative marginal utility, that's some measure of being a non-consumer.
McConnell Chapter 7: wrote: Consumer equilibrium is when the consumer has "balanced his margins", aka, he's allocated his money income so that the last dollar spent on each product yields the same amount of extra (marginal) utility. .... Any person who has achieved consumer equilibrium would be worse off - total utility would decline - if there were any alteration in the bundle of goods purchased, providing there is no change in taste, income, products, or prices.
So we can add to our definition of a non-consumer as someone who has modified their "tastes" such that their equilibrium point is at near-zero spend. If they spent any more money over [almost nothing], their total utility would decline.

I'm not sure if defining a non-consumer using the terms of an economics that only sees people as consumers makes complete sense, something about it feels problematic. It's using the terms of a system to define something that is outside of that system. So the definition is inherently limited - ah, here it is, this definition is like a sign *within* the system pointing people towards the exit. This definition might not be very useful for people who have already exited the system, but for those of us attempting to muddle our way out, it can be helpful for this phase of our lives. Or maybe I'm just farting around with words and this is a waste of time, but it's hard to tell what's useful and what's not from here - the process is what's important.

Qazwer
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Qazwer »

What you are describing is decreasing utility. As you get further reading, you will learn more about utility functions. That is the same person will have a different response and value to different of blagoyas. I just love them. I want 100 of them. I hate them. You would have to pay me to have one.
Elasticities - how much more money would a blagoya be worth. Cross elasticities of blagoya vs nghf trade off. Everyone’s set of utility functions is different.
What ERE may be doing is playing with cross elasticities and personal utility functions. It might also be looking at substitute which gave a high cross elasticity. If you raise the price of coffee then I will drink tea. It increases the space of possible substitutes but then you start to get into game theory.

basuragomi
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by basuragomi »

An alternate framework: the ideal Stoic would not have negative marginal utility, but instead infinite marginal utility, such that they would be happier than anyone else with just an infinitesimal bit of consumption.

I'm really just making a shameless rehash of the utility monster argument.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

Thanks for the food for thought qazwer and basuragomi. Infinite marginal utility - I really dig flipping the concept around like that. And it - and the utility monster thought experiment - serves to "break" the model, which is sort of the point of becoming a nonconsumer. An ERE economics koan.

ERE Zen Master: "How much utility does the howlie receive from a two by four?"
Student: *gets up and stares, transfixed, at the leaves of a tree rustling in the wind*

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

I'm Going to Start an ERE Mastermind Group. Anyone interested?

Inspired by the discussion in the thread on Jacob's presentation for The Stoa, I'm going to organize an ERE mastermind group. I'm still putting the concept together, but here's what I've got so far.
  • Group size: 4-8 people
  • Membership: Should all be *approximate* peers, to avoid it becoming just bringing problems to the feet of the guru. Folks should identify as WL4/5/6, I want to say, which is most of the forum anyway. Any and all folk types, identities, locations (e.g. I don't care if you're not in North America), etc are welcome.
  • Time: A zoom call, ~90 minutes, once every two weeks, with and end date of 3 to 6 months from the start date.
  • Format: tbd, but the primary idea of mastermind groups is to share one's struggles with certain projects or initiatives, and receive thoughts/feedback/guidance/encouragement from the group in a very intense, directed, and structured way. These calls will *not* be a free-for-all, it'll be very clear whose got the talking stick, when it's appropriate to give feedback and of what sort, etc.
  • Privacy: there's no way around it, those in the group will know each other's faces and real identities. But one of the pillars of mastermind groups is an understanding of strict confidentiality - we are not to share any information divulged in the group, and due to the nature of the forum, we're also not to divulge member's real identities unless those members are already public with it.
  • Thoughts on content: My idea is that this is very much explicitly an ERE mastermind, not a FIRE or even extremeFIRE mastermind. Anyone can bring up and seek feedback on any topic related to their ERE journey of course, so it's not like financial strategies are *off* the table, but to be very clear this isn't an investing-focused mastermind. Peter Limberg, in the Stoa thread, brought up the concept of Friendships of Virtue, which is the idea or relationships built around some overlapping understanding of moral aim, which is more enduring than other forms of relationships.
  • I'd like to loosely propose RoamingFrancis' concept of "The Renaissance Bodhisattva" as a sort of foundational organizing virtue concept for this mastermind. Autonomy is pursued not for the sake of autonomy, but for the purpose of freeing our actions from the constraints of wage slavery so that we can pursue the betterment of others, however we each personally define that. In other words, there's an assumption that if you want in on this mastermind, you're motivated by ERE for more reasons than just maximizing personal freedom and security.
If you're interested in participating, PM me. If you have feedback on how to make this work/succeed, obviously please comment!

eta: If enough people display interest, I'm thinking we'll take another couple weeks to get the thing sorted, and have our first call in the first couple weeks of March.

Quadalupe
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by Quadalupe »

Re utility: I've thought about this a lot since the concept of utility is also used in AI to determine what preferable behavior should be. This is especially the case in reinforcement learning, where an agent should learn to do a certain task, like playing chess or learning to walk.

A reinforcement learning problem is usually framed as an Markov Decision Problem. We have states, which define the world; actions, defining how we can transition from state A to state B using an action x; and an utility function, which defines the reward of getting from state A to state B using action x. In reinforcement learning, this is all fixed. You can't learn new actions, and the utility function is also constant. The only thing you can influence is your policy: what action do you want to in state X to maximize your total utility?

ERE turns these reinforcement learning concepts on its head in several ways. It increases your action space. Instead of only being able to throw money at a problem, you learn to fix the problem in different ways. So before, you get from broken car to fixed car by taking the action spend money. After, you have learned to do certain kinds of repairs yourself, so you can either take the action "throw money" or the action "repair on your own". This makes you more efficient and allows you to spend your money with an skill of living multiplier (see this post by jacob). So you can achieve what your current needs/wants with less resources.

It also makes you more resilient because you have different courses of actions that lead to a desired state. If life throws you a curve ball (by say, cutting power and shutting of your water like in Texas last week), having just money might not be enough. Having a stocked pantry, warm sleeping bags and a good support network are preferable to having just money, but no way to spend it since the shops are closed/emptied/unable to accept credit cards.

Finally, pursuing ERE alters the way you think, i.e. it alters your utility function. Whereas your sad plato-chained-in-the-cave persona could only be happy with a large house, eating out and lots of frivolous spending, your enlightened ERE persona is happy in more situations. You can still enjoy a nice dinner at a restaurant, but you are equally happy cooking your own meals and enjoying them with your friends & family at home.

I have used my 1337 paint skills to try to make this a bit clearer:

Image

This is the low WL situation. You are only happy in the cookie cutter home, dining out often etc. You can only reach this by spending fat stacks of benjamins.

Image

This is medium WL situation. You are still only happy in your cookie cutter home, dining out, but you manage to do this more efficiently and resiliently by having multiple ways (actions) to achieve your goals (states)

Image

This is the howlie/high WL situation. You are happy in many different states *and* have multiple ways to achieve desirable states. This makes you very resilient!

Maybe this feels like fairly (or very) convoluted way to talk about ERE, but since we also used chess metaphors before, I felt this was fair game as well :P

Re: mastermind group: great idea, I'll PM you later and spew ideas here!

daylen
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by daylen »

I would like to expand onto Quad's excellent post a bit. I have just a couple of point to make [hopefully] without burying the mastermind idea!

1. Utility functions are also disguised as loss functions in many industries/disciplines/communities (e.g. insurance, actuarial science, ERM, etc.). Both are equivalent in that actions either contribute positively or negatively (i.e. just requires a sign switch)(*). Any context in which a utility/loss function is common knowledge or at least mixed into the lingo is Kegan4 and such contexts typically allow agent networks to scale higher than would be possible in a Kegan3 context. Within a Kegan3 context, each individual agent might have their own utility/loss functions (either consciously or unconsciously) but the emergent utility/loss function of the group is hidden or implicitly determined from agent interaction.

2. One way to think of ERE or Wheaton levels 6+ is as a web of utility/loss functions that are connected by conditionalized translation functions. Conditionalized in the sense that such functions are only implemented under a limited set of conditions. For instance, if one node in a web takes a shock that the agent decides would take too much time to resolve from within the node, then the agent may set this recovery-time as a condition in which another node can translate resources/time to the shocked node for a quicker recovery if said recovery-time is exceeded. Wheaton5 lacks translation; Wheation6 impliments translation post-hoc; and Wheaton7 has translation functions. That is one model anyways.

(*) ..and, in practice, a shift in attention between what helps and what hurts (i.e. optimism and pessimism). Thus, inverting between these attentional manners fluidly within each node of your web brings you closer to realism.

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