[Link] On Form vs Meaning

Scott Aaronson, with some assistance from GPT-3:

There is a fundamental difference between form and meaning. Form is the physical structure of something, while meaning is the interpretation or concept that is attached to that form. For example, the form of a chair is its physical structure – four legs, a seat, and a back. The meaning of a chair is that it is something you can sit on.This distinction is important when considering whether or not an AI system can be trained to learn semantic meaning.

Key Ingredients

Drowning in a sprawling new project, a team spins in trial and error, fumbling around and trying to discover the shape of the desired outcome. Realizing they need to ground their work, the leads come up with a simple principle. “Whatever we ship, it needs to have these ingredients: speed, stability, security, and simplicity.” These key ingredients can come in many forms, but they must be present. This simple formula energizes the team, giving just enough organization to retain individual agency while providing enough structure to keep everyone is on the same page.

There is power in framing fluid, ambiguous, and flexible environments in terms of a few key ingredients. Especially in organizational cultures that trend toward being non-hierarchical, capturing the essence of desired outcomes can provide a valuable organizing technique. Chosen well, key ingredients can become a team’s core values. Finding the right set of ingredients is definitely a challenge — though veterans of your domain can provide you with a good starting list.

Taken too far, though, this approach falls into essentialism. We are tempted with a quest to find the ultimate key ingredients: the essence of it all. Essentialist adventures tend to end badly. They shift focus from the utility of a loose categorization to the inflexibility of finding the perfect one. If you’ve ever spent too much time arguing about the names for phases of a process or the one true way to refactor code, you’ve experienced essentialism’s gravitational pull.

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[Link] The Third Space

Rob Miller on “third spaces” or Non-Offices as an alternative to the office:

In the old world, going to the office was a source of important social capital; it provided you with autonomy, mastery, and purpose, and with human connections and friendships, too. If you can get those things just as readily from other physical places, what does that mean for the future not just of offices, but of conventional employment?