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Eliezer_Yudkowsky comments on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12 - Less Wrong

5 Post author: Xachariah 25 March 2012 11:01AM

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Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 March 2012 05:53:43PM 33 points [-]

General announcement:

I do not lie to my readers.

Almost everything in MoR is generated by the underlying facts of the story. Sometimes it is generated by humor (I can't realistically claim that Ch. 5 would have comic timing that precise in a purely natural universe). Nothing is generated to deliberately fool the readers.

There are two exceptions to this claim I can readily recall - cases where red herrings made it into the text - and they occur in Ch. 21 where my phrasing of Dumbledore's note to Harry was influenced to be overly compatible with the fan theory (which took me quite by surprise) that the notes were sent by Sirius Black. And in Ch. 77 when Mr. Hat and Cloak says "Time -", which was generated to be compatible with the postulate of a Peggy Sue. I may go back and eliminate both of these at some point to make the text herring-free.

Methods of Rationality is a rationalist story. Your job is to outwit the universe, not the author. There are also cases where people have scored additional points by successful literary analysis, e.g. Checkov's Gun principles. But the author is not your enemy here, and the facts aren't lies.

Of course there are various characters running deceptions and masquerades, but that is quite a different matter.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 26 March 2012 12:51:02AM 8 points [-]

Having a few very minor read herrings is a generally accepted part of literature as long as they aren't extremely deceptive. In this context, both of the two seem minor enough to be fair.

Comment author: nohatmaker 26 March 2012 07:04:42PM *  2 points [-]

I think the time travel hint was a bit too strong. I basically had two possibilities: H&C is a time traveller with all the world breaking implications, or Eliezer is meta-screwing with us. There's no other high probability reason for H&C to say that right before he obliviated Hermione. If the latter, all other bets are off - I can't seriously approach predicting a work like that. So I'm very glad Eliezer let us know.

Comment author: NihilCredo 26 March 2012 11:04:27AM 7 points [-]

Re-posting it so you see it in the inbox:

Eliezer, could you please confirm / deny / decline to answer whether the fic is past its halfway point? Anubhav and I have a persistent memory that you did at one point state that it was, but I can't find that statement so I'm wondering if I just crossed a couple of brain-wires.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 March 2012 07:58:45PM 12 points [-]

It's past the halfway point.

Comment author: moritz 27 March 2012 07:09:39AM 14 points [-]

For purely selfish reasons I hope it's in the "first 80% done, second 80% being worked on" sense.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 March 2012 08:35:37AM *  12 points [-]

For purely selfish reasons I hope it's in the "first 80% done, second 80% being worked on" sense.

For purely selfish reasons I'm ambivalent. I like fanfiction as much as the next guy but kind of wouldn't mind it if Eliezer spent his efforts trying to save the world. ;)

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 27 March 2012 10:14:26AM 20 points [-]

As long as HP:MoR remains unfinished, thousands of people who could be helping Eliezer build a Friendly AI are instead sitting by their web browsers, repeatedly pressing Ctrl+R.

Finishing HP:MoR is the necessary first step towards Singularity.

Comment author: Alsadius 27 March 2012 06:12:30PM 10 points [-]

The thing is, I know he can do the fanfic. I seriously doubt he can save the world.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 March 2012 02:09:36AM 5 points [-]

I seriously doubt he can save the world.

I am approximately 95% sure the world will be lost (ie. we'll all die). It would seem that I must agree with you.

Comment author: MatthewBaker 27 March 2012 09:50:30AM *  1 point [-]

safe the world. ;)

If you have any more zingers like that please use them before the story is over. I don't think my heart will be able to handle the combined laughter.

On this forum we tend to want Eliezer to get back to work sometime before 2049 and so we cant have an endless saga of 7 fan-fictions in sequence culminating with a double movie ;)

Comment author: Alsadius 27 March 2012 12:20:44AM 4 points [-]


Comment author: NihilCredo 27 March 2012 12:14:05PM 1 point [-]

Thank you. Also, sigh.

Comment author: Blueberry 27 March 2012 08:50:24AM 1 point [-]

Does that preclude sequels?

Comment author: Anubhav 10 April 2012 11:45:24AM 1 point [-]

If he wanted to write sequels, the obvious way to do it would be to continue the fic.

Comment author: Locke 25 March 2012 08:22:41PM *  6 points [-]

Anything in particular that spurred this announcement?

Oh, and do you ever intend to read the later books?

Comment author: DanArmak 25 March 2012 09:19:50PM 9 points [-]

I'm guessing the large amount of very low probability ideas for Harry's solution in the next chapter.

Comment author: Anubhav 26 March 2012 02:41:18AM 6 points [-]

I've said it many times, and I'll say it again... this is a better solution than most of what's been proposed in the discussion thread so far.

Comment author: Pringlescan 26 March 2012 06:01:54AM *  0 points [-]

Hopefully i'm not deluding myself by believing that my solution outlined here is equal or superior to Harry's solution whatever it is.

I outlined my solution here


Comment author: ArisKatsaris 26 March 2012 08:19:15AM 8 points [-]

Check out Chapter 24, which mentions "The Rule of Three": Any plot which requires more than three different things to happen will never work in real life.

I'm counting atleast 8 different things that have to go right for your plot to work (steal Draco's wand, steal Hermione's wand, steal Jugson's wand, convince Snape/Quirrel/Dumbledore to cooperate with your plan, convincingly tamper with the wands, sneak back and return Hermione's wand, return Draco's wand, return Jugson's wand)

Comment author: pleeppleep 26 March 2012 08:23:01PM 1 point [-]

I could be wrong, but i believe its been noted that Harry has a tendency to bypass the rule of three.

Comment author: Alsadius 27 March 2012 12:19:48AM *  3 points [-]

I don't think Harry has even noticed that the rule of three exists yet. He hasn't actually had any of his plans fail, so he has no experience with trying to make sure that they don't. This is why I'm fairly skeptical of his whole "If your plan isn't working, be more clever" attitude - sometimes, clever isn't enough. Dumbledore's inactivity seems a lot more sensible in a lot of cases, as would be expected from someone who's learned the hard way.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 27 March 2012 12:43:34AM *  2 points [-]

sometimes, clever isn't enough

sometimes, there isn't enough clever

Comment author: Alsadius 27 March 2012 04:37:11AM 1 point [-]

This is also true.

Comment author: pleeppleep 27 March 2012 01:03:20AM 0 points [-]

would you care to elaborate?

Comment author: pleeppleep 27 March 2012 12:36:49AM 0 points [-]

His knowledge of the rule's existence is irrelevant. I don't think It was meant to be taken as a limiting boundary on all plans, just good advice that Lucius seemed to trust. And his solution isn't to be merely clever, its to be creative. Harry's point is that a world where evil goes unchecked is barely worth living in, and so there's no real room for compromise. With power like magic that can literally rewrite the laws of physics, no situation is ever really unsolvable if you're creative enough to directly manipulate the rules.

Comment author: Alsadius 27 March 2012 04:36:47AM 2 points [-]

I understand the attitude, but Harry's default plan seems to be to throw complexity at any given problem. That doesn't end well, magic or no magic. And to steal a quote from canon, "the problem is that our enemies have magic too".

Comment author: MatthewBaker 27 March 2012 09:54:38AM 0 points [-]

Look all I know is that when Harry gets killed by Voldemort in canon nothing was as it seemed. I assume the next chapter will be nearly as suspenseful despite the trial resolution if Eliezer has anything to say about it.

Comment author: drethelin 25 March 2012 06:10:47PM 7 points [-]

Of course this is exactly what you would say if you DID lie to your readers.

Comment author: MartinB 25 March 2012 06:44:46PM 11 points [-]

No, because unlike certain TV shows you the reader will hold him accountable afterwards.

Comment author: drethelin 25 March 2012 08:22:12PM 2 points [-]

What do you mean by "hold him accountable." It's not like I'd stop donating to SIAI if he pulled a dirty trick on HPMOR readers.

Comment author: MartinB 25 March 2012 08:55:03PM 2 points [-]

You lose trust when the next story comes around. So far everything in HPMOR makes sense, I think it is reasonable to assume this will continue.

I watched a few tv shows where a well thought out plot was promised upfront. But later it turned out the creators just made things up as they went along. This usually breaks down at some point. When this happens repeatedly one is less likely to get into it again.

Comment author: thomblake 27 March 2012 06:23:06PM -1 points [-]

And in Ch. 77 when Mr. Hat and Cloak says "Time -", which was generated to be compatible with the postulate of a Peggy Sue

This is totally not a red herring. I will die with my Peggy Sue theory!

Comment author: thomblake 29 March 2012 08:39:59PM -1 points [-]

Okay, I don't have a Peggy Sue theory, I have a time traveler theory, which is not explicitly denied above.