Highlights from Q2
- Launched the developmental interpretability ("devinterp") research agenda with Alexander Gietelink Oldenziel, Stan van Wingerden, and Daniel Murfet.
- This came out of the 2023 SLT & Alignment Summit, which I co-organized with the same people.
- I prepared six lectures, contributing to over 20 hours of recorded materials.
- Worked as a research assistant at the university of Cambridge.
- Submitted "Unifying Grokking & Double Descent" with Xander Davies, Lauro Langosco, and David Krueger to NeurIPS.
- Started working on a project on capability unlearning with Jake Mendel, Bilal Chughtai, and Lauro Langosco.
- Worked as a writer with CAIS on ██ ████████ ████████ ██ ██ ██████ .
- I'm making progress on the posts I set out to complete in my previous quarterly review: The Shallow Reality of 'Deep Learning Theory', What are inductive biases, really?
- I dropped/modified some of these: Neural (network) divergence, toy models of loss landscapes, and path dependence.
Plans for the rest of 2023
I have only one priority the coming 6 months: to test the basic claims behind the devinterp research agenda.
That means saying no to pretty much everything else and closing off my responsibilities with the Krueger Lab and CAIS ASAP. It's time to grind.
Research. My primary role will be leading the empirical component of the investigations into devinterp. I will manage (and contribute to):
- Building tooling/libraries for measuring RLCTs, singular fluctuations, and prosaic "progress measures".
- Building out a "zoo" of models and settings in which to test these tools from models trained on synthetic data to vision models, simple language models, and full-fledged LLMs.
I will also move to Melbourne for a few months (September—December) to work alongside Daniel Murfet on this agenda.
Organizational. My secondary role is laying the groundwork for devinterp to scale rapidly if the empirical claims survive scrutiny. This means:
- Organizing a follow-up devinterp summit in November.
- Managing and coordinating contributors to the empirical branch of devinterp.
- And ████████ █ ████████ ███.
Now, all that said, I'm not exactly planning to neglect the rest of my life. It's time for a more in-depth reflection.
- Diet. My diet's been pretty good, but I've been eating many more meals not prepared by myself. That's meant a lot more seed oils/added sugars/etc. than I'd like.
- Breakfast is usually oatmeal + peanut butter + protein + banana, etc. in smoothie or porridge form.
- I could use an equally easy default lunch.
- As long as I'm in the same location with Robin, she's happy to cook dinner.
- Meat. I've been eating much less meat. Perhaps too little. As much as I'd like vegetarianism to be equivalent in terms of health, it's not.
- Alcohol. I drink occasionally, usually not more than 1 or 2 drinks per week, but it's time to stop.
- Protein. I've been supplementing with protein shakes regularly since I'm trying to build muscle. I've gained ~3-5kg over the last half year and would like to gain another ~5kg over the rest of the year.
- Intermittent fasting. I've fallen out of the habit of 16/8 IF and would like to restart some kind of fasting. 16/8 isn't ideal since I like being able to drink a cappuccino in the morning and because of the bulking. Alternatively, I can try a 5-day fast once a quarter, which might even be better, but I love food too much, so I need someone else to force me to do this.
- Supplements. I've been taking Athletic greens, creatine, fish oils, and occasionally vitamin C + zinc (when I have a cold).
- Caffeine. I drink two-three cups of coffee per day (and stop responsibly at noon).
- Nicotine. Most days, I take 2mg of Nicotine in the afternoon sometime between 15:00 and 17:00.
- Melatonin. I take 3mg of melatonin per night (or rather I was, but then fell out of the habit). Not very consistent.
- Time to cook (esp. because travel).
- Willpower for fasting.
- Meat is unethical.
- Talk to Robin: ask for quick lunch recipes, or plan a meal prep day, or find someone in Melbourne who can do meal prep for me. She also recommends more broccoli sprouts.
- Get someone to hold me accountable to do longer fasts.
- Find access to more stimulants: Modafinil for regular use and Vyvanse or Adderall for occasional use. Maybe also LSD for microdosing.
- Find a somewhat ethical source of meat like venison or kangaroo.
I think of three main components to physical fitness:
- Endurance: aerobic/cardio, sauna.
- Strength: anaerobic, weight-lifting, calisthenics.
- Dexterity (mobility, agility, flexibility, plasticity, elasticity, stability & balance): yoga, pilates, handstand practice.
Target. My ideal schedule would look like:
- ~30min light cardio/yoga/core to start the day (maybe jump-rope and some sun salutations).
- ~45m Weight-lifting/calisthenics and HIIT on alternating days, followed by 30min of skills/stretching/sauna.
- ~15min of restorative yoga before bed.
Weight-lifting/calisthenics. I started weight-lifting again a few months ago but then pulled something in my back, then went traveling for a month, and fell out of the habit again. I'm going to go from StrongLifts to Starting Strength, since the time commitment is lower, and I'll add weight more slowly this time.
Cardio. Historically, I've found cardio the hardest to commit to (and probably the one I need most). I recently discovered a love for hot yoga and pilates, which combines endurance and dexterity reasonably well but isn't easy to do when you're traveling all the time (even with ClassPass). The best option is probably more HIIT-focused approaches, which I enjoy much more than steady-state work on, e.g., an erg.
- Injury risk with weight-lifting.
- Access to gyms (due to travel).
- Inconsistency (due to travel & having three separate times to do exercise).
- Cardio sucks.
- Meet with a PT to check weightlifting form. Focus on calisthenics until then.
- Use ClassPass & Alo Moves (which I already have).
- Find a gym in Melbourne.
- Assemble a set of default routines for each of these moments + alternatives that don't require gym access.
- Either select from Alo Moves or ask a PT.
- Finally figure out some kind of habit tracking software (maybe just a spreadsheet?). Obsidian isn't good because you shouldn't shit (=track habits) where you eat (=come up with ideas) and Linear doesn't have great tooling for repetitive tasks.
Sleep / Rest / Stress
- I've been sleeping in rooms that have too much light and sleeping less as a result.
- I'd also like to wake up a bit earlier (~6:00)
- Buy a good eye mask.
- Put my phone away from my bed and get some light immediately after waking.
- Sitting quietly in a sauna is the closest thing that comes to meditation for me, and it seems to be enough for now.
- Main problem is I've been getting too many colds (~2-3 this year already). It's too much of a productivity decrease, and I'm not sure what's causing this. Maybe lack of rest? Maybe travel?
- I'd like to put more effort into skincare and will ask Robin to hold me accountable for that.
- I am 3 months behind on going to an oral hygienist and need to schedule an appointment to get my wisdom teeth pulled.
- Need to be more consistent in wearing my differentials when doing near work.
- Talk to Robin about colds & skincare. See what she recommends.
- Unregister with current dentist and reregister in Amsterdam. Schedule mouth cleaning.
- Start flossing again.
- Add differentials to habit tracker.
Family & friends
- Family-wise, I'm too far away from everyone, but that's not really to be avoided. I still get to see everyone every few months intensively for a week or two at a time.
- Friend-wise, the last half year has been great. I've gotten very close to Alexander, maybe Stan soon as well, and formed a bunch more intermediate friendships. Having a community is overpowered.
- Schedule a weekly reminder to call parents & Elmer.
- The last few months have been tough because Robin and I have been long-distance so frequently. I think this will go better the next half year, since Robin is planning to come with me to Australia, but it won't be fully resolved (since I'll go back to the UK for November). I'd very much like to settle with her in one place with more than a three month horizon. Maybe that's in the cards in 2024.
- Restart biweekly relationship check-ins. Plan in a time.
- Schedule weekly reminder to plan a date.
- The SERI MATS extension grant has been the biggest help. Working as an RA pays dirt. Working as a writer with CAIS has been much better, but I haven't had very many hours, so it's not a major addition.
- I'll be applying to the Century Fellowship, and I think my odds are reasonable of getting it, which would make a major difference to my financial security. Otherwise, I'll manage on an R.A. budget in Australia.
- Actually budget out this year.
- Figure out how/where to invest money when I receive grants so it doesn't just sit in my account.
Career & impact
- Everything here is going well. (See above.)
- Need to grow my twitter clout. A few months ago, I started strong, but I haven't been posting recently. I'm at O(500) followers, and would like to get to O(5,000) by the end of the year.
- Schedule weekly reminder to post.
Personal growth & learning
- I think the past few months have been too focused on execution and not enough on growth. In particular, I haven't been learning in a structured way as much as I'd like to. I've fallen out of my Anki routines, I haven't learned any new languages recently, and I'm not reading enough outside of technical articles (and even there I think I could be doing more).
- Decide between FluentForever & Anki + iTalki (or some in-between) for learning Japanese (because Watanabe speaks Japanese and we want to honeymoon here). I'd also like to learn Mandarin, but one thing at a time, this now seems pressing.
- Map out a learning plan for this summer.
- Remember to call Alexander whenever I need tutoring.
Leisure / play
- Definitely could be doing more here though I've had plenty of time for social events and don't particularly feel like I'm coming short.
- There's room to refactor this with fitness into some kind of team sport or martial arts, but for now it's probably too much of a time commitment or too intermittent (therefore hard to form habits around) or has too much of a risk of brain damage.
- Also room for having fun in learning a new language (see personal growth).
- Most of all, there's room for reading more fiction.
- Polish off my want-to-read list on GoodReads.
- Charge my kindle & download the top books off the list.
- Schedule a regular massage?
- Schedule a trip with Robin in Australia.
- Too much twitter.
- Not enough care and maintenance for my Obsidian.
- Find a day to go through my Obsidian and clean.
- The main thing is I'd like to be able to settle in one place in 2024 for more than 6 months. This is a problem for Q4.
- Let's pay for a cleaner.
- Find a cleaner in Melbourne.
- Get a CO2 monitor.