- Incremental deep thinking is an idea that was inspired by my conversations with Zander and Matt Nielsen on meditation.
Incremental deep thinking is an idea that was inspired by my discussions with Zander and Matt Nielsen about meditation. They explained it in a way that I could see the value from the perspective of someone interested in learning optimization - roughly, they said that when you meditate, you sit there and aim to focus on your breathing. When you notice your mind wandering, you pull your attention back to your breathing.
They described this pulling your attention back to your breathing as a "mental bicep curl" and meditation sessions like gym sessions for learning athletes. This analogy really made meditation make sense to me!
I developed a very simple prototype system to test my ideas about incremental deep thinking.
It's a basic python script that uses text to speech to read the concepts in my incremental
- It uses simple A-Factor based topic sheduling with geometrically expanding intervals.
- That makes it sound far more sophisticated than it actually is: to find the next interval all you do is multiply the A-Factor by the current interval.
Here's my journal of incremental deep thinking sessions.
Repetition 1: Is learning a fundamental principle of life?
I started with myself living among other humans in a society in an environment facing resource constraints. Slowly removed details until I was left with 1) an individual alone in an environment and 2) an individual alone in a void. I decided that learning is fundamental regardless of economic structure / society so long as you exist in an environment where you must gather information to inform survival behaviors.
- What is learning?
- Are there completely antisocial organisms?
I didn't use a meditation style like I expected. I was drawing upwards / downwards arrows to represent abstraction / specialization and sideways arrows to represent analogy.
I also added additional questions. Would be cool if these could be linked as dependencies with the original question somehow.
Could engaging in deliberate "deep thinking" sessions on specific concepts spaced over time provide any worthwhile benefit?
Incremental deep thinking may be able to answer these questions:
- Have I reached a critical mass of knowledge about some concept such that I am able to generate new ideas based purely on my prior knowledge.
- Am I able to perpetually generate semantically relevant new ideas? Or only one or two?
- Am I able to maintain a coherent stream of thought about a particular concept? How long am I able to maintain the stream of thought for?
- At each "step" in my incremental deep thinking sessions, what are the "operations" that I am carrying out / that are being
- Possible examples of "operations": Abstraction, Analogy making
- Are some of the operations more fundamental than others? Are there higher level operations that are composed of the lower level operations?
- Are the deep thinking sessions automatic? Is my unconscious taking me along for the ride, or am I effortfully directing the train of thought?
- Can I create a "deep thinking algorithm" - an audio track that walks a listener through each thinking operation in a list of operations to reach some new concept?
- By decomposing each step in complex reasoning into a set of "atomic" steps could you create a new "calculus of thought"?
- Could you use mathematics (category theory?) to describe the transformations between thoughts created by each operation?
- Could this be used to give computers the ability to understand human sensemaking?
- Could each step be atomic in the spaced repetition sense such that individual steps could be extracted and reviewed over time?