After releasing my Robust Rental Harmony algorithm, I felt a certain sense of satisfaction, like my friends and I had built something wholesome and beautiful. Reflecting on this, it occurred to me that I might want my life to feel like an artistic creation… like a beautiful substructure of mathematics that reflectively self-appreciates wherever it arises. This felt different from my desire to help the world at large, and also from my desire for moment-to-moment enjoyment.
I wonder how many others feel this sense of artistry about their lives? And among us, what do we have in common? Do we cluster? Can any subsets of us band together and make extra-beautiful team-project lives?
This is some touchy-feely stuff, and I’m realizing I want my friends to talk more about this sort of thing. I’m blessed to already have many friends who share explicit goals and values with each other, and now I want to add another framing for us to try capturing some more dimensions of our preferences: life aesthetic.
For example, not too long ago my friend and coworker Kenzi Amodei told me that part of her life aesthetic is to be a badass. Not only did I appreciate and feel closer to her for sharing this, but that particular image resonated with me, and with my conception of her. It just felt great to know.
As well, a number of my friends have recently come out as transgender, which also feels very helpful, as a friend, to know about.
So I wonder, what other such tastes are going unexpressed?
And as I wonder this, I remain open to finding that the people with whom I share my most explicit and operationalizable goals — like learning and creating a positive future for humans and other life — may be different from the people whose fuzzier, harder-to-rationalize aesthetics I most share — like feeling a sense of journey and adventure about the universe. Indeed, the conversations I’ve had about this so far have revealed that my preferences here are far from universal, even among my closest friends and allies. But I also feel that even if someone’s life aesthetic is quite different from mine, sometimes I can still support them in it, and it’s rewarding to do so.
To this end, I’ve decided to host an event at my house called “Your Vision of a Beautiful Life.” We’ll have time for up to nine 10-minute thunder talks where folks can draw and present a picture of the harder-to-describe aspects of the life they want to create for themselves, with unstructured hangout time afterward that’ll create less common knowledge but allow more parallel processing. Even if it turns out that not a single pair of people share the same aesthetic in full, we might inspire one another with our framings on life, and I’m really looking forward what people have to say.
So, here goes an experiment in human expression! It’s possible I’ll write a follow-up post about it, but on the other hand, if we really manage to focus on what’s hardest to express in words, it might not make for a very interesting blog post 🙂