Your Personal Operating System

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
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7Wannabe5
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Your Personal Operating System

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I've been reading and re-reading a lot of lifestyle design books lately while also taking an introductory course on the topic of computer operating systems. This may already be blatantly obvious to many of you, but I was struck by many similarities. For instance, how much "Getting Things Done" resembles a scheduling algorithm for CPU utilization. Suggestions for improving organization or achieving clutter control in your household or office resemble algorithms for memory management, and recommendations for improving focus or changing habits resemble cs methodsthat are concerned with creating or changing context (the "expense" associated with loading or switching between processes.) For instance, a pomodoro forces a context change which you might perceive as "expensive."

"Any problem in computer science can be solved by adding another level of indirection" , but as recently popped to the top entry on the ERE Blog explains, from the end-user's perspective, technological abstraction can turn all the know-how associated with the construction of a microwave oven into a simple push of a button, leaving little motivation to overcome essential ignorance. So, if we consider the CCCCC model described in "ERE", which also makes use of CS terminology (but not in direct correspondence) , might it not be the case that the rough overall goal in lifestyle design or adult development would be towards becoming abstractor (creator of useful abstractions) vs. abstractee (end-user of useful abstractions?)

One particular puzzle I am contemplating is how to get from something like the direct mapping optimization algorithm of Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" to something like a fully mobile version of Permaculture or "Scavenger Walking on Steroids."

daylen
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by daylen »

I think computational analogies are great, though in a high-energy future, the real challenge will be to distinguish human intelligence from artificial intelligence. The turing test is already passed to some extent in limited contexts and continues to win contests. Again and again, computer tech shows how human intelligence is nothin' special. Perhaps as far as language goes, it's turing machines all the way down. More and more I expect AI cults to arise and proclaim a transcendent vision of humanity (perhaps replacing conscious experiences with ghosts in machines or prophetic voices in the clouds).

Machines are better abstractors(*) than us in just about every way except that they cannot alter properties of their tape (and perhaps we can). The tape being the memory, and for humans these memories are "resizable" in the sense that the distance between two reference points in our "mind's eye" is arbitrary. So, perhaps agents like us can perform topological changes on our tapes (gluing and cutting at various points). Humans can sense gaps, computers cannot.

Becoming an abstractor is part of good lifestyle design, but perhaps more importantly, becoming a grounder that ignores abstaction when necessary on the "ground" tape is also a part of good lifestyle design. That is, intelligence is just as much about ignoring irrelevant structural details across any context as it is about positing structure in a given context. The former is much more challenging to code.

(*) Assuming that there is actually a distinction to be made (i.e. humans code but machines run). Another perspective is that machines are res extensa, so any process a machine engages in implies human participation.

Slevin
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by Slevin »

Ah, I have a (almost) decade old ongoing argument on this subject, which is: In programming, if you aren't building high performance systems, quality and readability should be a top 3 concern. This is because maintenance costs of development by other people will very quickly outstrip initial development time, and you shouldn't use tricky abstractions that are hard to understand "without a good reason to". If you have to use a tricky abstraction, provide a reference to what's happening or a link to a stackoverflow / blog post / confluence document explaining what is happening, etc.

The translation to lifestyle speak is something like: When building lifestyle design, making the design easily understandable *by others* is a critical factor. In Hanzi speak, you need to build the scaffolding to help others (who might not have the MHC level to develop a systems, meta systems, etc level abstraction) understand what you are doing and how you are doing it. This should helpfully bridge the gap between the "oh i can copy that and I don't know why" to "oh i see that's why they are doing it, but my situation is slightly different, so I should change the implementation, or do something different in my instantiation of the model".

The second thing I would bring over would translate like, "don't overly rely on abstractions you don't understand". I.e. you can use a microwave to cook, but you shouldn't be *depending* on your microwave to cook, so if the microwave breaks, or the power goes down, you should have a cooking system available that you can understand and repair if the need arises. Attach reasonable limits to these on items with universally ubiquitous parts. I.e. with cooking maybe understand how to make a simple rocket stove out of bricks, but you probably don't need to understand how to make bricks if bricks have a high complexity since bricks are something that can be easily scavenged in about any human landscape (and, luckily, making clay bricks is a super simple affair anyways). To apply it to transportation, maybe understand how to change out a bike cassette, but gaining the skills to manufacture a bike cassette is complex, and bike cassette's are again very easy to scavenge in any human landscape, so probably you don't need to learn to build a bike cassette to be okay with relying on a bicycle for transportation.

To comment directly on "square foot gardening" vs "permaculture", these are totally different orders of abstraction and design. Square foot gardening is a very simple system "plant one of these and 5 of these per sq ft, make sure to water and have compost sitting around to feed your plants", whereas permaculture is "create resilient meta-system based on local conditions so that inter-related systems manage themselves and create a diverse ecosystem with minimal human intervention". Due to topology and waterflow, etc, I think it would tough to even create a more simple "sqft gardening-like" plan even on the small scale (within a city, etc). What sort of goals are you aiming for?

zbigi
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by zbigi »

Maybe I'm spoiled, but living in the Fallout-ish world in which I have to scavenge for bricks to build a stove so that I can have warm food, or go around and scavenge for bike parts so that i can move around does not sound much better than outright dying to me. It just sounds like a lot of unpleasant work and general misery, while I whittle away my years towards dying anyway. I can't imagine such world would hold much pleasures or other reasons for hanging on - but, who knows, maybe I'd actually adapt and find this life worth living somehow.
Last edited by zbigi on Mon Sep 19, 2022 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Slevin
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by Slevin »

Eh, Some form of humans have been around for about ~6 million years (and homo sapien for about 300,000 years). Many anthropologists think humans started cooking over fires around 2 million years ago, while the pessimistic think around 400,000 years ago, and obviously almost all of the cooking since then is using an open flame. The electric stove and gas stove (shift away from cooking with wood) is about 100 to 150ish years old. Its totally nice and totally unnecessary. About 40% of the world population (around 3 billion people) still cook over open flames, and its 2022. Many others who have the choice still choose to use woodfired grills and charcoal grills to cook their food, so even the most technologically advanced segments of the population still love it. Time tested and time approved, and if humans survive another million years i bet we will still be cooking over fires. Its just Lindy. Unequivocally human. Same with heating your home with a wood stove.

And scavenge is maybe a bad word usage, to me scavenge implies that you can buy it for money, or likely find it for free in the right circumstances (and that's the ERE way). For me, scavenging might be checking craigslist over time, but in the worst case heading over to the local hardware store and buying them.

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Seppia
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by Seppia »

I have the impression we may be assigning too much importance to computer science these days.
"Computers" may impact most/all of the stuff we do, but still sit pretty high the Maslow pyramid (and I'm someone who thinks a good wifi definitely should be located lower than "self esteem" and possibly even lower than "love and belonging" - or whatever people call these steps)
zbigi wrote:
Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:10 am
Maybe I'm spoiled, but living in the Fallout-ish world in which I have to scavenge for bricks to build a stove so that I can have warm food, or go around and scavenge for bike parts so that i can move around does not sound much better than outright dying to me.
You aren't spoiled, you're just underestimating humanity's superpower - its adaptability.

white belt
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by white belt »

zbigi wrote:
Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:10 am
Maybe I'm spoiled, but living in the Fallout-ish world in which I have to scavenge for bricks to build a stove so that I can have warm food, or go around and scavenge for bike parts so that i can move around does not sound much better than outright dying to me. It just sounds like a lot of unpleasant work and general misery, while I whittle away my years towards dying anyway. I can't imagine such world would how much pleasures or other reasons for hanging on - but, who knows, maybe I'd actually adapt and find this life worth living somehow.
The easier solution is to just have an alternate cooking source on hand, no scavenging required. Well if it's a small camping stove then you might have to scavenge for twigs, but those are pretty abundant in most places. The issue with scavenging of course is that it doesn't work when everyone else has the same idea.

I guess it depends what your baseline is. I can assure you that eating cooked and warm food is much better than eating cold and/or raw food, but that probably comes down to individual temperament a bit. In my experience with complete shit living conditions, those that are the most successful at persevering will take the time to savor the small pleasures. As Slevin points out, humans have survived and found purpose for thousands of years in pretty austere conditions. Most survivor stories talk about this dynamic. Sometimes the highlight of the day is eating some warm food or changing socks. Or catching a few minutes of a song played on a radio when you haven't heard any music in weeks.

zbigi
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by zbigi »

(erased post after giving it some more thought)

7Wannabe5
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

daylen wrote:Becoming an abstractor is part of good lifestyle design, but perhaps more importantly, becoming a grounder that ignores abstaction when necessary on the "ground" tape is also a part of good lifestyle design. That is, intelligence is just as much about ignoring irrelevant structural details across any context as it is about positing structure in a given context. The former is much more challenging to code.
I think I agree. This could be construed as the difference between N and S functioning in MBTI model. OTOH, as one achieves greater mastery in any given realm according to the CCCCC model, the process or practice becomes more intuitive or abstracted.

"Just do the work in front of you" is a practice I have attempted to follow towards being more in the present moment and S functioning vs. N. This is also roughly what the ground level hardware does in a computer system. It is also roughly equivalent to Compute phase of CCCCC model, which might be better understood as a cycle than a ladder. The funny thing is that if/when you "just do the work in front of you", you usually end up doing a lot of housework/tidying/ordering. The interesting thing is that "in front of you" is a very clear example of embodied human language, just like the phrase "next steps" used in GTD, but a computer system does not have eyes pointing in one direction or legs that follow eyes.
Slevin wrote:The translation to lifestyle speak is something like: When building lifestyle design, making the design easily understandable *by others* is a critical factor. In Hanzi speak, you need to build the scaffolding to help others (who might not have the MHC level to develop a systems, meta systems, etc level abstraction) understand what you are doing and how you are doing it. This should helpfully bridge the gap between the "oh i can copy that and I don't know why" to "oh i see that's why they are doing it, but my situation is slightly different, so I should change the implementation, or do something different in my instantiation of the model".
So, make it just abstract enough to be flexible enough to encompass current realitie(s)? Lentil soup and rice vs. Nutritious, delicious and inexpensive meal.

I applied a brain-storming algorithm to generating and combining a variety of elements of lifestyle design and came up with examples such as:

- Maslow's ladder in a day/Very frequent re-planning/Reduce contracts and commitments

- Happiness tracker/Unknit your life/What would you tell your best friend to do?

- Journal like Franklin/Infinite game/Poly-Everything

- GTD/8 forms of capital/Node in network

- Visualisation/Spirit animals/Values Clarification

In theory, if you understood each element of any combination, you could create a design/plan/set of instructions based on those elements for anybody to follow.
Slevin wrote:To comment directly on "square foot gardening" vs "permaculture", these are totally different orders of abstraction and design. Square foot gardening is a very simple system "plant one of these and 5 of these per sq ft, make sure to water and have compost sitting around to feed your plants", whereas permaculture is "create resilient meta-system based on local conditions so that inter-related systems manage themselves and create a diverse ecosystem with minimal human intervention". Due to topology and waterflow, etc, I think it would tough to even create a more simple "sqft gardening-like" plan even on the small scale (within a city, etc). What sort of goals are you aiming for?
When I recently did an exercise on creating 3 completely different 5 year lifestyle plans for myself, my least practical, most whimsical design concept was to center my life on Scavenger Walking. Scavenger Walking is just starting from wherever you are or your "kitchen sink" and venturing out for an hour or more with the goal of finding X items (might just be information or social interaction) of value (generating yield.) Scavenger Walking is like Permaculture because it is intuitive, but it is like Square ft gardening, because it is also fairly easily rendered algorithmic.
zbigi wrote:Maybe I'm spoiled, but living in the Fallout-ish world in which I have to scavenge for bricks to build a stove so that I can have warm food, or go around and scavenge for bike parts so that i can move around does not sound much better than outright dying to me. It just sounds like a lot of unpleasant work and general misery, while I whittle away my years towards dying anyway. I can't imagine such world would hold much pleasures or other reasons for hanging on - but, who knows, maybe I'd actually adapt and find this life worth living somehow.
It has been my experience that intermittently inhabiting both worlds is the most fun. The boutique survivalist lifestyle offers more flexibility and novelty for the same $$ than the middling compromise otherwise affords.

simplex
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by simplex »

A great read in the trend of a Personal Operating System is "Algorithms to live by" by B. Christian and T. Griffiths.
The book helped me to clarify some ERE concepts and also is an entertaining read. If you are academically inclined, is has a very good reference section.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Your Personal Operating System

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@simplex:

Thanks for the recommendation.

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