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gwern comments on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 - Less Wrong

7 Post author: FAWS 04 April 2012 02:53AM

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Comment author: gwern 12 April 2012 06:15:14PM *  22 points [-]

I'm curious as to what would have been your original probability estimate for "Given that Eliezer writes a Harry Potter fanfiction, it becomes the most popular Harry Potter fanfiction on the Internet."

I would have assumed that the proper reference class was all your other fiction, which as much as I enjoyed them, were all short compared to MoR even the popular ones like 'Three Worlds Collide'. (One of my favorites, the Haruhi fanfic, was, what, 2 pages on FF.net?) Short fanfics cannot become the most popular, so I would have assigned it a very low probability. Had you asked an estimate for 'wrote a full trilogy of HP fanfic novels', my estimate would be quite different. I won't pretend to know what it would have been. (I remain surprised and amused that it has become as large and popular as it has been, and that you now procrastinate on both your rationality book(s) and the Center by writing MoR. Truly, fortune passes everywhere!)

Or, for that matter, getting out of the AI Box.

Oh, I would've bet for you back on SL4. You already had succeeded in getting SIAI running, after all. (Although here again the counterfactual gets hard - I barely remember what I was like back in 2003-4 when I joined SL4 and IIRC you had already won an AI Box by then.)

Offer 20-to-1 odds against HPMOR winning Best Novel and I'll buy in.

Sure. I am poorer than a church mouse, so I can risk no more than ~$100. How's this:

"For any Worldcon 2013-2017, MoR will win the Hugo 'Best Novel' award. The stakes will be $100 against $5 (non-inflation adjusted). Payment by either Paypal or Bitcoin (at that day's exchange rate on the largest exchange eg. Mt.gox) to the winner or a charity of the winner's choice. In case of any dispute, the verdict will be judged by Carl Shulman or another person mutually acceptable to Eliezer Yudkowsky and gwern."

Hm, now I'm curious as to which side of the bet Zvi or Kevin would take.

I've pinged them.

Comment author: gwern 30 April 2016 12:56:55AM 6 points [-]

Eliezer has conceded the bet & paid me $5.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 13 April 2012 01:01:29AM 13 points [-]

Okay, it's on.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 June 2012 01:32:24AM *  5 points [-]

Can anybody get in on this bet? I would take it as well.

I think the odds of HPMOR winning the Hugo (edited to say: for Best Novel) are far less than one percent. This has nothing to do with my estimation of the literary merits of the fic, and everything to do with my understanding of the literary establishment and its unwillingness to tangle with copyright law.

Comment author: [deleted] 04 June 2012 03:52:46PM 5 points [-]

You know, on reflection I think that this was possibly a kinda snotty way of saying what I wanted to say: that I think gwern is right, and that you'd be better off applying in the Fan Writer category than in the Best Novel category. And I don't think it's true that going for the Best Novel is without cost, because you'd be giving up the chance at the Fan Writer award.

I mean, I'm happy to make the bet because I am very confident that I'll win it, but I don't actually want to punish you for putting your work out there or shooting for a high goal--which is what it sort of feels like, if I make you pay me when you lose.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 03 June 2012 10:01:29AM 2 points [-]

I have looked up the rules and apparently, instead of a plurality vote or a majority vote with runoff voting, people rank all the candidates and can put "No Award" above anything they think sufficiently underserving. This does change my odds, but not enough that I wouldn't try to for a nomination. I'm also not sure that it should change my odds enough not to bet at 20-to-1. How much would you want in for?

Comment author: gwern 03 June 2012 04:51:41PM 10 points [-]

can put "No Award" above anything they think sufficiently underserving.

Cute story I saw 12 days ago on urth.net:

I read an interview with Roger Zelazny, and he said that the reason he called the story "No Award" was because he noticed that, since the ballots were alphabetical by author, he always wound up right before No Award. He wanted to have two "No Award"s in a row and cause confusion. Unfortunately for his dastardly plot ( :) ), it didn't get nominated for anything.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 June 2012 05:02:15PM 4 points [-]

$500 against $25?

Comment author: gwern 13 April 2012 01:24:35AM 5 points [-]

I've added it to the registry & PredictionBook.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 April 2012 03:19:49PM *  3 points [-]

You should make sure, first, that MoR would be eligible for the Best Novel category, given that it's a fan work. I couldn't find anything on the site that stated definitely that such a work wouldn't be eligible, but there was some implication that the award is for original work. Looking over the past winners, I can't find any that aren't a) original, and b) published in a magazine or as a book (i.e. pro or semi-pro, by the Hugo's standards).

Anyway, it seems some provision should be made in case MoR isn't eligible.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 13 April 2012 05:33:16PM *  8 points [-]

Anyway, it seems some provision should be made in case MoR isn't eligible.

If MoR doesn't win Best Novel because it isn't eligible, then gwern wins, that's clear to me at least.

EDIT TO ADD: I think that, conditional to MoR being an official nominee, I'd assign 40-50% chance to it winning Best Novel. But I think it's the "official nominee" step that's the hard part. I'd assign only 20% chance or less to the commitee allowing it as such an official nominee for Best Novel. For fear of JKR's potential ire, for fear of losing status for the Hugo awards by having fanfiction compete on it, for fear of setting a precedent for other fanfictions.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 April 2012 05:50:44PM 4 points [-]

I'd assign 40-50% chance to it winning Best Novel.

On the basis of your past experience Hugo award winners and nominees? I don't have any familiarity with the genre, so I don't know how MoR stacks up.

For fear of JKR's potential ire, for fear of losing status for the Hugo awards by having fanfiction compete on it, for fear of setting a precedent for other fanfictions.

The first is probably nothing to worry about: JKR has said she's okay with fan fiction, so long as no on tries to make any money and no one tries to publish it in print (whatever that means). This does mean that EY can't count himself a pro or semi-pro author, which might exclude him. I'm not sure.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 April 2012 10:13:33PM 10 points [-]

JKR's statement does not, I believe, have the force of law, it only describes her current disposition, and she's free to go back on it any time. She may consider being nominated for a Hugo to be equivalent to the other things she disapproves of.

Comment author: gwern 06 September 2014 07:46:02PM *  4 points [-]

So 2+ years on, has your opinion changed any? I think the probability has dropped a fair bit*, but I'm trying to simplify my finances, so I'm going to make you an offer: I'll sell you my side of the bet for 20% off, or $4. (Offer good for the next month or so.)

* to expand: I think the decrease in post tempo has destroyed much of the virality & reduced fan ardour, and more specifically, I haven't seen any prominent endorsements of MoR by elites like David Brin over the past year or so, which are necessary to legitimize MoR and make it a contender. You can't win a Hugo just by appealing to some people online, you also have to win over the niche of voters at the convention.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 09 September 2014 04:43:54PM 2 points [-]

Nope.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 September 2014 05:30:29PM *  1 point [-]

That's what you'd call a liquidity preference. *rimshot*

Comment author: gwern 09 September 2014 08:50:16PM 2 points [-]

I admit, it never occurred to me that part of liquidity preference is simply that liquid assets are easier to manage from an overhead/data point of view.

Comment author: Kevin 13 April 2012 12:50:13AM 2 points [-]

I'd take the Eliezer side of the bet if I was confident that HPMOR could compete against an unusually weak slate of nominees.