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Codex Vitae

Instructions

If you are Itamar:

  1. As often as you can: re-read your Type 3 beliefs (opinions).
  2. At the beginning of every month, read the whole thing and make any necessary edits.
  3. At the beginning of every year archive the document.
  4. Around your birthday every year, write a new yearly report.

If you aren't Itamar:

  1. Read this with the understanding that you are different than me — the way I live my life is not the way you should live yours.
  2. Read the Glossary for a general intro to my favorite ideas, starting with What is this?, then come back and read through the Beliefs that seem interesting to you.
  3. Check the Changelog for updates since you last visited.
  4. Consider creating your own Codex (here's a template)

Table of contents

Beliefs

Glossary

Personal canon

Changelog

Beliefs

Type 1: Metabeliefs

Beliefs about beliefs.

  • This document's purpose is to capture my beliefs about the universe.
  • This document's benefits grow in a compound interest kind of way, over time, as beliefs course correct over time, and build on one another.
  • It's always incomplete and out of date.
  • Some of these beliefs will be proven wrong. Some won't be proven wrong but will be wrong anyway.
  • I’m open to changing my mind at any time about any belief by evidence, persuasion, whimsy, or chance.
  • I believe beliefs are best categorized into four types: beliefs about beliefs (metabeliefs, i.e. this one), beliefs about perceptions (how reality seems to be), beliefs about the meaning of reality (opinions about how myself and others should approach life), and beliefs about the future (predictions about how things will be in the future).
  • Making and maintaining this document is useful and fun. And increasingly rewarding over time
  • Separating metrit beliefs from crony beliefs is an invaluable exercise when evaluating one's beliefs

Type 2: Perceptions

How reality seems to be. 2A is about how my mind and senses seem to work, 2B is about my take on spirituality, and 2C is about how I think the external world can be best explained based on the information I have.

2A Perceptions: Senses

Personal mental and physical abilities, constraints, and biases.

  • Perception/sensation is the awareness of things changing. We can't perceive or sense things that aren't changing.
  • Free will is mostly an illusion, but a nice one to keep because it is highly practical.
  • We create mental heuristics to reduce the amount of energy to retrieve, sort, and select from lists of likely possibilities.
  • The biproduct of mental heuristics is that we are biased at all times in proportion to the number of heuristics we use.
  • We are the sum of our biases.
  • To name a few: We tend to favor the beautiful, the reaffirming, and the expected. We tend to attribute too much credit to success (and under-credit luck).
  • We will die.

2B Perceptions: Supersenses

My take on the spiritual and supernatural.

  • We don't have a purpose given to us, but it's okay if we make one up.
  • My self-declared purpose is to shape societies and communities to enable them to elevate their game by giving them the tools and support they need.
  • Life is already lost. The only honest way to approach it is from a perspective of gratitude.
  • Souls don't exist as separate from the physical body.
  • The gods of organized religion don't exist.
  • Intention can't create reality (it just primes our perception of it, and makes us more likely to notice opportunities).
  • Astrology is (fun) entertainment, like the Myers Briggs test.
  • Science can't explain everything. Most in the "not yet" bucket, but some in the "never" bucket.
  • There is no heaven or hell.
  • We have no cosmic significance. Other than that the cosmos is significant and we are part of it.

2C Perceptions: Explanatory

Science, politics, and the universe.

  • Micro and macro evolution happens.
  • Something like the Big Bang happened, and will probably happen again.
  • Something existed before the Big Bang (outside of time and space as we know them).
  • Nothing in our universe can travel faster than light.
  • The human brain (in its current state of evolution) can't comprehend the universe.
  • Non-carbon-based life forms exist.
  • Aliens exist, but we will most likely discover their creations (ie. robots they made) before we discover them.
  • Aliens will probably discover our own robots before they discover us.
  • The vast majority of intelligent beings throughout the universe are probably more similar to robots and cyborgs than organically evolved life.
  • Technology will eventually disrupt all other human-created institutions (politics, religion, identity, economics, energy).
  • As history progresses, power will tend to be more quickly redistributed when it gets too heavy at the top.
  • Privacy is just a side effect of people not being truly connected.
  • Being good/moral increasingly becomes our default state as we learn more about the world and are more connected with others.
  • Most questions have no answer (but asking them anyway is often entertaining).
  • Logic is a helpful tool, but has flaws and can't be relied on entirely.
  • Vaccinations are good for babies and society.
  • As inequality increases, affinity with other-states citizens of similar socio-economic status exceeds the affinity with same-state citizens of different socio-economic status, putting tremendous pressure on the concept of a nation state

Type 3: Opinions

Beliefs about how I interpret my perceptions and synthesize the meaning of reality. 3A is about what this means for my own approach to life, 3B is about how others may want to interact with me as a result, and 3C is about how I believe society should be structured.

3A: Opinions: Commitments

How I believe I am committed to approaching life. These are all opt-in and apply only to myself.

  • I am committed to regularly verifying that I want to continue opting-in to everything in this document on the first of every month.
  • I am committed to striving to know what I really believe, and to make sure my beliefs work well together.
  • I am committed to honoring my word: have the full intent to keep it, let people know when I can't, and help clean up the mess
  • I am committed to have good intentions.
  • I am committed to not feel sorry for myself and avoid competitive suffering.
  • I am committed to have a vision that I'm striving for.
  • I am committed to be the change I want to see.
  • I am committed to be comfortable with the consequences of being who I am.
  • I am committed to manage my stress, health, and clarity by consistently eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
  • I am committed to study my mistakes.
  • I am committed to retry things I don’t like every once in a while.
  • I am committed to cultivate quality time with myself, with others, and with my interests.
  • I am committed to face things that make me uncomfortable.
  • I am committed to take responsibility for things I find important, even if I can’t fully control them.
  • I am committed to view my time as my scarcest resource.

3B: Opinions: Interacting with me

How I believe you should best interact with me

  • Here is my Insights Personality profile. While I believe I'm constantly growing and changing, pages 11-12 in particular still ring very true.
  • I view my time as my scarcest resource. Disrespecting it means disrespecting me.
  • Trust = Motive (benevolence) + Competence (ability) + Reliability (integrity).
  • To that latter point, always start with why to make your intentions clear.

3C: Opinions: Society

How I believe society should be structured.

  • The success of a society can be measured by its ability to deliver on its pupose: delivering social goods that allow people to enjoy genuinely prosperous lives.
  • Gay marriage should be legal everywhere (and now IS in the United States).
  • Abortion should be legal everywhere.
  • Assisted suicide should be legal everywhere.
  • Health care should be available and affordable to everyone who needs it.
  • Prisons should be about protecting the public, not about punishment.
  • It should be easier and more expedient to put neglectful and irresponsible public servants in prison than the average citizen, not slower and more difficult.
  • Guaranteed basic income should be a thing available to everyone.
  • Free college education should be available to everyone who wants it.

Type 4: Predictions

...are not really my thing. You are welcomed to have yours

Glossary

What is this?

This document was started in July 2016, inspired by Buster Benson's experiment My Sunday experiment: what do I believe?

Codex vitae

This is an idea coined by Robin Sloan in his book Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. The idea is to write a book, the Codex Vitae or Book of Life, that represents everything I have learned in my life. If I lost all of my memories somehow, this could be something that helped me remember who I am.

Quality time

There are 3 kinds of quality time that I want to seek out. The first is quality time with myself. Find my favorite ideas, core interests, and people that I can connect deeply with. The second is quality time with those favorite ideas and core interests, and the third is quality time with those people I can connect deeply with. They each feed into each other: I can't really connect deeply with others until I know myself sufficiently well; often times interests are strengthened by having people I can connect with and share with. It seems pretty ungameable to me. Seek quality time with myself, my interests, and others and I won't regret anything on my death bed.

Systems thinking

Organizations

  • Organizations are complex systems with emergent behavior
  • Hierarchy is a way to reduce the transaction costs of collaboration. Reduce the transaction cost and you'll need it less.
  • "In the presence of substantially lower transactions costs and competition from nimble, flash organizations and non-market innovation, building communities of meaning around economic collaboration is the primary form of strategic advantage firms have over dynamic, fluid networks of collaborators." (Benkler, 2016)
  • We often times advocate for democracy, when what we really seek is a shift from tyranny/popularity contest to benevolence/meritocracy
  • Humans are flawed and fallible. It is what sets us appart from machines. We should design our orgs for this feature
  • Human behavior should be thought of as probabilistic rather than deterministic
  • Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle applies to measuring performance & growth/learning in a similar way that it applies to measuring position & potential
  • At a ceratin scale, variability inside the org surpases the variability across orgs (simplistic example: Facebook's and Google's best developers have more in common between them than they have in common with the worst developer inside their own respective org)
  • Leadership is a role, not a rank; Management is a career change, not a promotion.
  • Management = the structures, processes and techniques used to compound human effort [Hamel]
  • "In the presence of substantially lower transactions costs and competition from nimble, flash organizations and non-market innovation, building communities of meaning around economic collaboration is the primary form of strategic advantage firms have over dynamic, fluid networks of collaborators" [Benkler]

Personal canon

Quotes

  • "The enemy of science is not religion. Religion comes in endless shapes and forms... The true enemy is the substitution of thought, reflection, and curiosity with dogma." -Franz de Waal
  • “All Truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, third it is being accepted as self-evident” - Arthur Schopenhauer
  • "From the Son of Heaven down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the person the root of everything besides." - Confucius
  • “The one thing we can learn from history, is that we never learn from history” - Hegel

Articles

Writing I've loved and come back to a bunch of times.

Books

Each of these books has changed how I see the world.

My writing

Stuff that I've written that means something to me. I collect my writings here. While often times why are expanded takes on someone else's work, sometimes I contribute original pieces as well:

Changelog

History of changes to this document

Yearly reports

36: TBD

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