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John_Maxwell_IV comments on SotW: Check Consequentialism - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 29 March 2012 01:35AM

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Comment author: Desrtopa 24 March 2012 02:09:10AM *  3 points [-]

If I'm thinking of games to reinforce consequentialism, my first thought is to use games with actual story involved; you don't lose points, or regions, or so on, you lose the lives of characters you're attached to, or their trust, or maybe you fail to prevent a genocide, etc. Things which people will be more likely to associate "this is a bad game outcome" with "this would have been a bad choice in real life."

The first solution that comes to mind for this is a video game, perhaps some kind of visual novel that features a large number of choices and forces the players to choose consequentially on pain of causing Bad Things to happen in the game. But I don't think this is actually a very good solution considering how much effort it takes to make a visual novel, which can be played in its entirety and will no longer offer a single new choice afterwards, and how many people are simply not interested in playing visual novels.

Maybe some sort of roleplay would be more feasible, at least you wouldn't be designing a whole video game for each scenario, but it still sounds like an awful lot of work.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 24 March 2012 04:34:39AM 8 points [-]

I sometimes try to get myself to make better decisions by pretending I'm a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure book. (E.g. "If you decide to stay on the couch because you're too lazy to work, turn to page 30.") Unfortunately, in the real books it's rare that enough information is given for you to make a really good decision, and the authors also appear to like messing with you by having good decisions blow up in your face.

So, maybe a similar book that actually gave you enough information to make a good decision and rewarded good decisions and punished bad ones?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 24 March 2012 06:04:57PM 7 points [-]

I sometimes try to get myself to make better decisions by pretending I'm a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

This sounds like a more useful, more intuitive, much more widely applicable reification of my own method of "What Would Your TV Tropes Page Say?"

Comment author: sketerpot 25 March 2012 06:36:00AM *  6 points [-]

I don't know how many people have this issue, but I can't read Choose Your Own Adventure books without marking several past pages so I can rewind time, or try multiple branches, or safely find out what was hidden behind the venomous Venusian potted plant. Really, the only bound on it is that I eventually run out of fingers to mark my place, which constrains my time travel abilities to about four save-states. (In visual novels it's even worse, since there are enough actual save states that saving at anything that looks like a potentially significant branching point becomes viable. I've actually started using walkthroughs from GameFAQs to find out where I don't need to save, so I can stop fretting about making an irreversible decision. Trivial time travel is surprisingly addictive! What would the world be like if everyone could do it, I wonder?)

I really, really wish that this were a useful approach to life, but if it's possible to save and restore universe states, I have not been made aware of this. And obviously I haven't noticed anybody else doing it.

Comment author: Nornagest 30 March 2012 10:53:48PM *  2 points [-]

At least visual novels (well, the two or three of them that I've played) are pretty good about giving your decisions reasonable consequences based on what you know or should be able to infer. If I'm remembering my childhood well, Choose Your Own Adventure books have a nasty habit of dropping you into unwinnable states based on trite moral dilemmas, when they aren't dropping you into unwinnable states for no good reason at all. Not that life's fair in that regard either, but CYOA doesn't even give you the option of taking the steps that could ameliorate it.

So I've got to doubt the usefulness of this as a general decision procedure. Seems to me that it'd lead to overweighting conventional social mores and social risks in general, and underweighting the sort of fact-finding and risk minimization that actually works. Which, while not as immediately suboptimal as ignoring the "Beware of Yeti" sign or playing patty-cake with the toaster in the bathtub, is probably a lot more salient for a halfway sane decision-maker.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 March 2012 11:05:42PM 1 point [-]

This is one of the things I originally found disconcerting about the board game Arabian Nights. It's like anti-consequentialism: You would have options of things to do, and the option that seemed the most logical ("I'll give change to the beggar" or "I'll ignore the beggar") never gave as good of results as the craziest options ("I'll worship the beggar" or "I'll steal from the beggar", etc). I ended up getting the best results by choosing the weirdest option available.

Comment author: Dolores1984 26 May 2012 06:05:59AM 1 point [-]

That strategy doesn't ALWAYS work out poorly in weird life. If you go through life looking for opportunities to make your life weirder, it WILL be interesting, if nothing else. Of course, you might also get shot.

Comment author: tkadlubo 26 March 2012 09:08:31AM 1 point [-]

IMHO that's a really important point. You get a better grasp about consequences of your choice after trying several options and seeing how the consequences of different actions differ.

The best laboratory example of this is playing go on a computer. Typical go software records your games, and then lets you replay, play different variants, analyze when things went really bad after a silly move, etc. After a while you get a tree of diverging game records. In some you won, in others you lost. It's a good learning experience.

(disclaimer: I'm not sure how to un-compartmentalize this learning to be applicable in real life, not just in a game of go)

Comment author: handoflixue 29 March 2012 09:19:34PM 0 points [-]

I do the same thing. I found that I needed far fewer save states when I routinely took the BAD choice first, since they usually lead to the shortest further decision tree. I'd also occasionally use physical bookmarks, for the few rare books that just would NOT kill you off until the very end (even though you were quite possibly stuck on a guaranteed-negative branch of the decision tree)

As to applying it to real life, I will sometimes think about the decision tree involved. Playing Chess is a good example of this: If I make THIS move, my opponent could do X, Y, or Z. If she goes with X, I can do X-a, X-b, or X-c... and then weighing all this based on probability ("She hates doing X!" "Y is her best move!") and expected value (if she does X, I'll lose. If she does Y, I go up a pawn.) Fortunate for me that she hates doing X :)

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 24 March 2012 08:12:42PM 6 points [-]

"What Would Your TV Tropes Page Say?"

The problem with TV Tropes is that they've been heavily primed with fictional evidence.

Comment author: JGWeissman 25 March 2012 06:55:17PM 10 points [-]

If you are influenced by the fictional evidence, your TV Tropes page will say Wrong Genre Savvy.

Comment author: CronoDAS 26 May 2012 05:44:34AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: Armok_GoB 24 March 2012 06:12:09PM 0 points [-]

reminds me of http://www.epicsplosion.com/epicsploitation/adventures , maybe you'll be able to find something there?