Why time seems to pass faster as we age

1/ I’ve been mega-obsessed with this feeling.

A year as a 36-year-old seems so much shorter as compared to when I was a kid or even as a teen.

It seems cosmically unfair – we have fewer years to live, and each year flies by faster.

2/ But, why is that happening?

My tentative conclusion is that it’s an unfortunate outcome of how evolution shaped our brain to be an efficient storage device. 

3/ Our brain is a prediction device.

Its top job is to construct a model of the world so that we get a survival and reproductive edge.  ...  Read the entire post →

Don’t sell your soul to the algorithm

The danger of pleasing the algorithm to go viral is that gradually you end up selling yourself to big tech companies.

This is how it works:

  • Algorithms optimize for time spent on platform, because more time spent = more time for showing ads
  • Algorithms promote content that sucks in more people (i.e. content that can go viral)
  • Certain types of content is inherently more viral (rage inducing, hot takes, lowest common denominator, etc.)
  • Creators maximizing reach prioritize creating such kind of content
  • Since creation shapes thinking (as much as the other way around), gradually they become what they tweet

    This loop has two sinister effects:

    • For the non-creator, it appears that the world is falling apart as they see extreme, hot takes all around them as nuanced, well-balanced content is seldom promoted by the algorithm
    • Creators with promise end up losing their soul in the process

    All this to make the richest companies and their shareholders even richer.

    This is why we must refuse to be dictated by the algorithm.

    It’s hard, very hard.

    But what is more important than likes and retweets is having an authentic voice (irrespective of whether it’s reaching to the masses or not).

    PS: It’s also worth noting that the algorithm forces dull sameness of content because machines optimize for a singular metric: time-spent. While what we need to become better thinkers (and also to save the democratic process) is diversity. ...  Read the entire post →

Bye 2022. Hello 2023.

This year was intense. Perhaps the most intense one in quite a while.

I’ve been gradually developing the habit of reflecting as months and years pass by. In my 20s, I used to think that celebrating birthdays or New Year is pointless. After all, what’s so special about Earth completing one revolution around its star?

Now in my 30s, I know that actually years are all we got. As I see my parents aging and grandparents not being around anymore, the relentless march of time is quite noticeable. I now fully understand that it’ll all be over and even though I can’t lock time in a bottle, I can at least bow and acknowledge as it departs. ...  Read the entire post →

How my 2021 went

At the closing of the last decade, I reviewed the intellectual progress I had in 2010s. Then I reflected upon the year 2020 by writing 20 lessons I learned in that year. Such reflections haven’t been part of any process – I’ve simply enjoyed taking a pause and doing stock of where my time went. Since time is the only limited resource we have, as I’m aging, I’m realizing that being conscious of how it’s getting spent is extremely important. In fact, such reflections are a fantastic way to nudge your future into a direction that you intentionally choose (v/s reacting to circumstances and drifting from year to year). ...  Read the entire post →

My moral code

Lately, I’ve been feeling a lack of a well-deliberated, explicit moral code. The world is changing really fast – we have Elon Musk trying to set up a human colony on Mars while Earth’s bio-ecosystem is degrading by the day. So, should I support the investment of resources into making Mars habitable while Earth is gradually becoming unhabitable?

This, obviously, isn’t the only question. Every day, I feel like I need to decide which way to swing on controversial topics. People have strong opinions about things like genetically engineered babies, bitcoin, nuclear power and other new technologies. I know enough about cognitive biases to know that I shouldn’t trust my gut fully on these questions. My gut simply doesn’t know enough to have a good opinion on complex societal issues. Instead of relying on my gut, I need to rely on deliberate thinking to make moral choices. ...  Read the entire post →

My intellectual progress in the last decade (2010s)

A decade is a long time, about 1/8th of an average life span if you happen to live a long life. I came across Scott Alexander’s post where he wrote about his intellectual progress in 2010s and thought it’ll be a good idea to do the same for myself. When I had turned 30 two years back, I had looked back at the goals that the 20 year old me had. If you read that post, you’ll see that overall I feel that my 20s (and correspondingly, most of the 2010s) were very fulfilling. I started a company, fell in love and made myself financially independent. ...  Read the entire post →

Making peace with the ambiguity of progress

Is there an arrow of progress in our universe? Or do things change without any particular direction as a goal, like a dust particle engaged in a Brownian motion, bumping and tumbling along randomly?

I don’t think there’s an answer to those two questions. Our thinking is designed to box phenomena into neatly packed categories that capture only a slice of reality. In fact, that’s where the problem with philosophy starts. Even if we both use the same word – say “love”, “free will” or “democracy” – we usually mean slightly different things and these slight differences provide all the fodder for the philosophical debate...  Read the entire post →

Big ideas that I suspect to be true

In the last year or so, I have been reading on various topics indiscriminately. As I’m discovering connections while reading and thinking, my conviction towards some ideas has grown stronger. I wanted to mention some of such ideas that I suspect are true. I’ll also mention why I feel that way, but you derive your own conclusions.

1/ All matter and collections of matter have subjective experiences

I’m starting to believe that everything has an internal world to it. My belief in (a flavor of) Panpsychism grew stronger because we have evidence of one collection of atoms that has subjective experiences: our brain. Just like we take the evidence of gravity on Earth and project that it holds true everywhere else in the universe, why can’t we take the evidence of our own subjective experience and project it to be true for other collections of matter as well? We, by definition, cannot peek inside an atom to feel what it feels. So proving it or disproving it is hard. In such a case, I feel that the responsibility of providing evidence that an atom doesn’t have feelings (while we know that brain obviously has feelings) falls on strict materialists.  ...  Read the entire post →

The meaning of life is unthinkable

What’s the meaning of life?

This question has haunted me for as far as my memory goes. Fourteen years ago – in 2005, when I was 18 – I wrote on my blog:

Purpose/Aim of life

First things first. Everybody says one should have some definite aim in life. But I consider living life to live, nothing else. Consider this, nobody lives after their death. So why waste ur whole life chasing an aim? Even if you get there. I mean even if you achieve so called aim, what next? Enjoyment or yet another aim? Enjoyment is OK. But there are many other ways in which u can enjoy ur life without wasting ur life in chasing an aim. No matter what, U are going to live. I don’t know if I am making any sense. But it is what I want to convey. ...  Read the entire post →

Modes of living

One of the many wonderful things about life is that like a good game, it allows players to develop their own playing styles. This essay is an attempt to document the two most salient dimensions of playing the game of life. Note that there’s no objectively right way of playing and the lack of “best practices” is what makes living interesting.

Think of the following classifications as an example of meta-mental models. Hopefully, a good understanding of the modes of living will help you reflect how you play right now and how you want to play in future. ...  Read the entire post →