# wedrifid comments on Zero-sum conversion: a cute trick for decision problems - Less Wrong Discussion

7 26 July 2012 09:36PM

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Comment author: 27 July 2012 12:55:27AM 5 points [-]

I don't understand how this helps. It doesn't seem to allow anything I couldn't do before. Is it just that you find it easier to justify to yourself substituting the decision of the enemy for your own than the decision you would precommit to for your current one?

Comment author: 27 July 2012 07:19:45AM *  2 points [-]

It doesn't seem to allow anything I couldn't do before.

Yes, basically. This is "secretly" just a different way of looking at UDT, and this particular way is easy to get to from a standard game-theoretic starting point, but harder to get to from a "rationality is what wins" starting point.

Given that the non-anthropic problem is interesting because it introduces tension between these two viewpoints (sorta), this trick is interesting because it reduces that tension.

Comment author: 27 July 2012 08:08:08AM 1 point [-]

Given this framing I like it!

Comment author: 27 July 2012 04:25:01PM 1 point [-]

Yay!

Comment author: 27 July 2012 04:29:24AM *  2 points [-]

Manfred could answer better, but I think this trick is designed to help with point of view.

The problem with anthropic problems is that you aren't sure which you is you. There's all sorts of branches that occur, and you don't know which branch you're on. You're trying your damnedest to look backwards up the branching probability tree and hoping you don't lose track of any branches.

By pretending you're the researcher, you're looking at possible branching futures the other way. You always have a frame of reference that doesn't change subjectively, and doesn't need updates. At least, that's how I think it's supposed to work.

Comment author: 27 July 2012 04:34:10AM *  1 point [-]

The helpfulness described here is this: The mathematics are simpler. [Xachariah's response explains why.]

Explanations for decision trees can also be simpler. Newcomblike problems become almost trivial to consider from Omega's perspective, for example, even in the counterfactual mugging case.

Comment author: 27 July 2012 04:41:50AM 2 points [-]

The mathematics are simpler.

I can do all the same mathematics without creating an imaginary enemy. The only thing that is changing here is how I choose to describe the mathematics in question to myself. This evidently allows Manfred to feel comfortable doing specific mathematics that he would not be comfortable doing without describing it in terms of a contrived enemy's perspective.