Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

alethiophile comments on Luminosity (Twilight Fanfic) Discussion Thread 3 - Less Wrong

10 Post author: Alicorn 30 December 2010 02:37PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (353)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: alethiophile 05 January 2011 04:57:30AM 2 points [-]

I just thought of something. Given Alice's precog, could she, for instance, guess passwords? Assuming a numeric entry code, could she do something along the lines of 1. decide to press 0 first; 2. if she sees the door opening in her precog set, press 0 and then go to 1; 3. if not, then try 1 with the number 1 instead, etc. (i.e., does her precog give her a set of possibilities based on future decisions, or does it give her only one possibility based on what she has in mind at the time?)

If the latter holds, and hence the above algorithm won't work, then how long a password is it feasible for her to guess by exhaustive mental search of the command space (i.e. resolve to type 0000, then if she sees door opening type it, otherwise go to 0001, etc.) with vampire mental speed? The advantage of this over simply trying each password is 1. that it's likely to be faster, with physical bottlenecks removed, and 2. it doesn't trigger anti-brute-force alarms in the system.

Comment author: Alicorn 05 January 2011 02:42:00PM 2 points [-]

Alice could probably guess shortish numerical passwords like this; I could imagine her doing so to, say, make use of a stolen debit card or something and figure out the PIN. I don't think she has enough fine detail to determine whether one of the nearly-a-billion possible completed six-character alphanumeric case-sensitive passwords beginning with "A" is the right one, though. She sees in broader swaths than that.

Comment author: grautry 05 January 2011 11:02:19PM *  1 point [-]

That's an interesting possibility.

Though, I think there's an easier approach.

In the case of passwords or PIN numbers or whatever, she could probably look into the future and see the password used by an authorized user of whatever-it-is-that-she's-trying-to-break(eventually, someone's going to use it).

This is vastly less universal(she can't solve problems unless someone already knows the answer), but far easier. She could, for example, try to see who's going to use the ATM next, overlook the PIN and then decide to steal that person's wallet.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how that interacts with her ability. If she, say, decided to look into the future for the next PIN, wouldn't that influence the future so that no one enters the PIN at all(since she's going to steal the wallet of the next person)? Or, would she see herself entering the correct PIN(which would be an extremely interesting possibility)?

Comment author: alethiophile 07 January 2011 04:54:18AM 0 points [-]

In Luminosity, Alice was able to see her future conversation with Bella about how blood smells to her, even though after she told Bella her results there was no reason for her to ever have that conversation. However, getting arbitrary information by resolving to write it down once she knows it, then seeing herself write it down, seems different. It would also be an absolute game-breaker, so for narrative reasons it probably won't work out that way. (Maybe it wouldn't work if the information pertained to someone that blocks her. That would be less game-breaking, but still bad.)

Comment author: Alicorn 07 January 2011 01:24:08PM 1 point [-]

getting arbitrary information by resolving to write it down once she knows it, then seeing herself write it down, seems different

Specifically, she'd have to actually have a path forward to learning the information, within the horizon that she can see, outside of any "shadows" cast by wolves or hybrids, that isn't influenced by too many other people's shaky choices. This means she'd have to be reasonably likely to learn the information (and not be misled by misinformation) if she didn't make the prediction. If Bella commits to informing Alice of something in the future conditional on Alice not yet knowing that thing, that's a clear path to the information.

Comment author: wedrifid 05 January 2011 09:22:57AM 0 points [-]

The latter case seems likely. Your points about bringing things up to vampire mental speed are good!