“Who wants to brag about something they did last week?”
That was the question posed to the entire circle of people sitting in a park in the center of Berlin. And then one by one people started bragging and everyone else cheered them on.
Strictly speaking this happened after the LessWrong Community Weekend during the Rationality Dojo that the Berlin Community organized, but it is an illustrative example of the unusual nature of this event.
If you were to look at the table of talks you would see: dancing, meditation, how to make fire in the wilderness, kissing workshop, acapella singing, early morning running, dealing with depression and anxiety, modular origami workshop, Japanese Mahjong, neurobiology of psychedelics, crochet 101, dark arts intro to rhetoric, …
Hardly what one commonly thinks of as rationality, is it? Well in that case you would also see multiple talks and workshops about AI (artificial intelligence) safety, meetup organization, wisdom, probability theory and Fermi estimates or practical exercises such as “Circling”, “Hamming circles”, “Double Crux” and “Gendlin’s Focusing”.
What is more, all of it was organized as an unconference, meaning that anyone could add a new event to the schedule at any time or just change their mind and move it to a different slot.
Let’s not forget about Duncan Sabien’s (former CFAR - Center for Applied Rationality - instructor and author of the CFAR handbook) keynote speech “The moments that matter”, which had to be delivered via video due to COVID. His key message, that the tools of Rationality should actually be put into practice instead of theorizing, especially in the moments where it’s hardest, really resonanted with many participants. Does making the right choices most of the time count for nothing? It does count, but if in the really crucial moments, the moments that matter you keep making the wrong decisions, what is the difference?
Around 150 people from all over the world, though mostly Europe, showed up and the entire vibe was inspiring, beautiful and touching. So many fascinating conversations in the hallways, during lunch or on the way to one of the evening swims in the lake Wannsee.
Not a single moment of boredom could be another way of putting it. Everyone was open and welcoming, bringing their own incredible experiences and knowledge to the table, keeping the minds and hearts of the rest engaged.
Participants were staying in the same hostel, almost entirely booked for us, right next to the lake, with plenty of food, Mate tea, snacks and board games.
Last but not least, just in case you are wondering about COVID protocol: Everyone was required to test themselves with the highest quality available antigen test, provided by the organizers, upon arrival and then every morning before leaving their room. One of many ways in which the wonderful organizers worked tirelessly to make the event fantastic for everyone.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart to every single attendee and organizer! See you next time!
If you are in or around Freiburg come to the meetups in the next months to learn much more about the exercises and experiences of this awesome weekend!