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David_McDougall comments on Complex Novelty - Less Wrong

26 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 December 2008 12:31AM

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Comment author: David_McDougall 21 December 2008 09:35:47PM 2 points [-]

on table legs:

your core assumptions about the nature of 'fun' - i.e., as quantifiable information influx - follow a particularly post-Enlightenment Western-scientific model.

Consider the pursuit of perfection as an alternate model.

We can assume that the achievement of perfection is impossible (as is implicit in many philosophical systems that treat perfection as a goal - zen, Aquinas, etc etc). It's possible then to find a vocation - any vocation - and pursue it infinitely while still being challenged by the imperfections of the physical world.

One might argue that eventually you would craft a 'perfect' table leg. I suspect that this 'perfection' would be the result of low standards on the part of judger (inability to perceive microscopic flaws in the interior grains of the wood, etc), but let's say that it is possible to do so. Then of course the quest is to create a perfect form of craftsmanship, in which every table leg is totally perfect.

Even assuming always-perfect wood, your craftsmanship can be perfect only until proven otherwise, so one would need to continue in perfect craftsmanship to approach certainty of perfect craftsmanship. Since perfection doesn't have the ability reach p=1, you would need to create perfect table legs infinitely to constantly fail to disprove your perfect craftsmanship hypothesis.

Perfection is time-based in that it only exists in the present (zen again), not with statistical certainty. The 'fun space' is already infinite in the crafting of table legs -- it just depends on your definition of 'fun.'