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Alicorn comments on Building Weirdtopia - Less Wrong

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 January 2009 08:35PM

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Comment author: Alicorn 16 December 2010 04:19:32PM *  17 points [-]

Technological/Cognitive Weirdtopia: Everyone runs on computronium, in a simulation that starts out rather like normal, but everybody has an undo button: at your option you can undo everything except progress made in your own mind, up to any point in your life since the simulation began. There are safeguards in place to prevent two people from doing this at the exact same time, but otherwise there are no limitations on use; you can redo a second or a century, once or a thousand times. It takes a lot of "real" time for the simulation to progress to everyone's satisfaction beyond the first five minutes.

Comment author: Perplexed 16 December 2010 04:41:15PM 3 points [-]

So, you can undo progress made in other people's minds, just not your own? Or does everyone remember what they learned in those alternative realities.

I don't know about you, but most of the time when I find myself wishing I had an "undo button", it is other people's memories of my mistakes that I really want to erase.

Comment author: Alicorn 16 December 2010 04:49:16PM *  0 points [-]

Yes, including other people's memories. And if you rewind to before some younger person's conception, you can prevent their existence outright should you take the relevant actions.

Comment author: Perplexed 16 December 2010 05:23:31PM 13 points [-]

So in a world with only two people, both determined to win at paper, stone, scissors, you risk an infinite cycle and may never get to 5 minutes of simulated time.

Comment author: Alicorn 16 December 2010 05:25:55PM *  4 points [-]

Well, yes, that could happen.

Comment author: benelliott 17 December 2010 05:47:35PM 4 points [-]

Perhaps you only have a set number of tries before you just have to accept what happens. This might actually be an improvement, since while it would definitely be nice to redo my worst mistakes and to experiment before trying something difficult, life might get a bit meaningless if there were never any permanent consequences to anything.

Comment author: Strange7 18 December 2010 12:43:34AM 2 points [-]

In that sense, it would be a world where sufficient willpower (in the sense of boredom-resistance) really can achieve nearly anything.

Comment author: Perplexed 18 December 2010 12:49:47AM 2 points [-]

Or if not achieve something, at least prevent the other guy from achieving anything.

However, in this scenario, it doesn't take much willpower. Every time someone pushes 'reset', (s)he thinks it is the first time the button has been pushed.

So it requires determinism, not determination, to keep on doing what you did before. ;)

Comment author: Strange7 18 December 2010 09:37:43PM 1 point [-]

Only if each reset went back further than the other player's last reset, which obviously isn't a stable equilibrium.

Comment author: katydee 16 December 2010 05:38:34PM *  5 points [-]

This post strongly reminds me of the superlative time-travel game Braid-- by an interesting coincidence (or perhaps not), this game is currently bundled with four other good indie games in a pay-as-you-want bundle if anyone else is interested.

Comment author: gwern 16 December 2010 09:27:04PM 6 points [-]

As someone who has paid for it ($15), I'd just like to mention for all the other Linuxers here, the games seem in general to run well on Linux. Braid in particular runs very well here.

Comment author: lsparrish 18 December 2010 12:33:46AM 1 point [-]

I like this "universal Peggy Sue" idea. I wonder if the computronium might be replaced by weird physics.

One technology plausible in a time travel world could be undoing time travel changes by going back further in time and thereby preventing the time travel from occurring. Also, whether the passing of a given moment happens by deterministic or non-deterministic processes could be variable. In order to revisit a specific future you could always follow a particular previously determined worldline to it.

In my weirdtopian extrapolation of this notion, there's a vast set of worlds which trillions of people are swapping back and forth between all the time (with careful tracking of the necessary pasts using computerized transporters), without giving a moment's thought to the fact that they are destroying all of the previous universes they have been to. "Ah yes, my living room is in the Mesozoic era on Earth 12..."

Another related (but maybe less weird) scenario would be a world where time can be treated as a bankable resource. People could go into stasis for a day, then suddenly perform actions twice as fast over the following day, or instantly use up their day in the course of a moment. They would also be free to sell their days, thus getting shoved further into the future, or purchase new ones for productivity and/or relaxation purposes.

Comment author: Yvain 18 December 2010 07:56:34PM *  1 point [-]

See: The Void Trilogy, Peter Hamilton.