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Hello!

Content

The content on this website is mostly my writings on various topics like video games, Cognitive Science, electronics, and a bunch of other tangentially related topics. In short, it's a bunch of essays written by myself, about my projects or about topics I'm just generally interested in. At the moment it's a bit bare, but I'm actively working on a bunch of stuff so that should change in the near future.

Format-wise, I went with a website like this mostly out of my explicit dislike for blogs, which I think are more analogous to a newspaper than they are to, say, a book. I quite like Gwern's idea of "Long Content", and in general a lot of the content I'm interested in writing is meant to still be readable in 5/10/20 years.

Learning By Accumulation

This is a sort of meta-skill I developed during my college years that has served me extremely well up to now. Before I started learning to do this, I would think of project ideas and more or less immediately discard them, since I didn't yet have the relevant skillset to accomplish it and felt that acquiring that skillset would be too much of an investment. Something like "make a machine learning classifier for seeding tournament brackets" felt impossible to me, since I was under the erroneous assumption that I would need to learn mountains of machine learning to "become worthy" of doing a project on machine learning. In short, I felt that I didn't deserve to use tools that I had not yet mastered completely.

Luckily, I realized, that's not really the case! Becoming functional and mediocre at pretty much anything is within reach for pretty much anyone, and if you're doing it for the sake of a project and not a career then it's often practical to only acquire what you need to accomplish your goal. This can often lead you to a more passionate interest in your subject that you otherwise would have had (i.e. making something cool to gauge your interest in a subject, then deciding that it was extremely cool and learning more about it).

The nice thing about this is that your skillset and knowledge don't go away after you finish your project. By doing many things, you learn to do many things, and thereby gain access to even more things you wouldn't have even thought of had you not done the first thing. As they say, once you're given a hammer, nails start popping up all over the place.

It seems like a pretty obvious thing to say, but you won't believe how often I see people place this sort of self-imposed barrier to action upon themselves. People who show up to SSBM tournaments after spending a year practicing by themselves, since they didn't feel "good enough to play with real players", or people who refuse to do anything vaguely math-related since they're afraid of numbers.

Also important to note is that learning in this way will often put you face-to-face with failure. It's important to realize that this is okay! Having consistent output is more important than making sure all your output is good, since you have no obligation to share every single failure you have. Trying something too hard and messing up still nets you experience points in the real world, and as Neal Stephenson put it: "hey, at least a wild-goose chase gives you some exercise."

Disagreeing with Me

You may eventually find a point on which you disagree with me on, perhaps extremely strongly. For these events, please consult the following directions:

For smaller disagreements, I would suggest just confronting me about them. I have a stronger interest in holding accurate beliefs than defending my own beliefs, so there's a very real chance that you'll be able to change my mind, and even if you're certain I won't be able to change yours I would probably appreciate the opportunity to challenge my own beliefs and make them more accurate. You can do this at virtually any time, and I will not request time to prepare myself since if I need preparation then I probably don't have a very solid grasp of why I believe the thing anyways.

For larger disagreements, we can settle it like gentlemen/women and have a good, honest duel over it. I propose a set of three games, each best of three. one in a game of my own choosing (most likely Super Smash Brothers Melee), one game of your choosing, and a game in the middle (let's say, rock paper scissors). For these disagreements, I suggest a training period of one month in which I can learn your game and you can learn mine, and at the end of the month we duel and the winner would be declared the victor, being definitively and objectively correct at whatever squabble we were having. I am reasonably competent at many games, but I am not amazing at any of them, so I find this to be a fair victory condition.

For the biggest, most impossible to resolve disagreements, I am willing to accept a challenge to a fair and honorable boxing match to the death. Please only use this option for the most passionate beliefs you have, those because of which my existence completely invalidates yours. I reserve the right to tap out at any time (with the condition that you are declared right, of course). However, this will require a full year of training, in which I will have enough time to get in decent shape, learn some sort of martial arts, and come to terms with the fragility of life. Like I mentioned, though, most things probably would be better suited for the previous condition with the three video games, so please choose those as a default option.

Getting in Touch with Me

If you want to talk to me about academics or any of my more serious projects, feel free to shoot me an email at erykbanatt@gmail.com

You can find me on twitter @ambisinister\_, some tweets I thought worth saving are collected here.

If you want to talk to me about Melee, friend me on facebook and send me a message. I love talking about Melee!

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