Leave Room for Errors

  • extreme "productivity" usually leaves no room for error, no "slack", which makes it extremely hard to:
    • change directions - when something unpredicted (and interesting happens)
    • backtrack - when realising a different approach could be better
    • make errors - which makes the whole situation much more stressful
    • play - which makes it hard to innovate (Novelty Search, Play Your Own Games)
  • same with personal finances - Financial Independence / Retire Early crowd taken to the extreme makes it hard to enjoy life as it currently happens since the whole point is saving money for future where at some point the "real life" will start
  • this sounds similar to "happy path" coding - preparing only for "clean" inputs with no issues

Specialization, in morphogenesis as in other fields, exacts its price in creativity.


It seems that this overshooting of the mark, this giving more than was asked for, is an inherent characteristic of the mechanism of evolution.

The Act of Creation - Arthur Koestler

Degeneracy is a product of evolution, and it certainly enables evolution. Probably degeneracy is itself selected for because only creatures that have significant amounts of degeneracy are sufficiently adaptable to allow survival as the environment changes. For example, suppose we have some creature (or engineered system) that is degenerate in that there are several very different interdependent mechanisms to achieve each essential function. If the environment changes (or the requirements change) so that one of the ways of achieving an essential function becomes untenable, the creature will continue to live and reproduce (the system will continue to satisfy its specifications). But the subsystem that has become inoperative is now open to mutation (or repair), without impinging on the viability (or current operation) of the system as a whole.

— Building Robust Systems - Gerald Sussman

  • other than important point supporting the idea in this note, I love the framing that "mutability" is selected for by evolution, as organisms with more "moldability" can mutate and adapt to the changing environment, where if you had something hyper optimised for the current one, any change in the environment will be probably lethal

efficiency implies fragility

— Dave Ackley

This gets back to the first rule of compounding: Never interrupt it unnecessarily. But how do you not interrupt a money plan - careers, investments, spending, budgeting, whatever - when your life plans change?

(...) one thing I've learned that may help is coming back to balance and room for error. Too much devotion to one goal, one path, one outcome, is asking for regret when you're so susceptible to change.

The Psychology of Money

Szymon Kaliski © 2021