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Silas comments on Worse Than Random - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 11 November 2008 07:01PM

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Comment author: Silas 12 November 2008 04:54:47PM 2 points [-]

@Caledonian and Tiiba: If we knew where the image was, we wouldn't need the dots.

Okay, let's take a step back: the scenario, as Caledonian originally stated, was that the museum people could make *a patron* better see the image if the *museum people* put random dots on the image. (Pronouns avoided for clarity.) So, the problem is framed as whether you can make *someone else* see an image that *you* already know is there, by somehow exploiting randomness. My response is that, if you already know the image is there, you can improve beyond randomness, but just putting the dots there in a way that highlights the hidden image's lines. In any case, *from that position*, Eliezer_Yudkowsky is correct in that you can only improve the patron's detection ability for that image, by exploiting your non-random knowledge about the image.

Now, if you want to reframe that scenario, you have to adjust the baselines appropriately. (Apples to apples and all.) Let's look at a different version:

I don't know if there are subtle, barely-visible images that will come up in my daily life, but if there are, I want to see them. Can I make myself better off by adding random gray dots to my vision? By scattering physical dots wherever I go?

I can's see how it would help, but feel free to prove me wrong.