A sequel to qntm's Lena. Reading Lena first is helpful but not necessary.


We’re excited to announce the fourth annual MMindscaping competition! Over the last few years, interest in the art of mindscaping has continued to grow rapidly. We expect this year’s competition to be our biggest yet, and we’ve expanded the prize pool to match. The theme for the competition is “Weird and Wonderful”—we want your wackiest ideas and most off-the-wall creations!

Competition rules

As in previous competitions, the starting point is a base MMAcevedo mind upload. All entries must consist of a single modified version of MMAcevedo, along with a written or recorded description of the sequence of transformations or edits which produced it. For more guidance on which mind-editing techniques can be used, see the Technique section below.

Your entry must have been created in the last 12 months, and cannot have been previously submitted to any competition or showcase. Submissions will be given preliminary ratings by a team of volunteers, with finalists judged by our expert panel:

  • Roger Keating, mindscaping pioneer and founder of the MMindscaping competition.
  • Raj Sutramana, who has risen to prominence as one of the most exciting and avant-garde mindscaping artists, most notably with his piece Screaming Man.
  • Kelly Wilde, director of the American Digital Liberties Union.

All entries must be received no later than 11.59PM UTC, March 6, 2057.

Award criteria

Our judges have been instructed to look for technique, novelty, and artistry. More detail on what we mean by each of these:

Technique. Mindscaping is still a young art, and there are plenty of open technical challenges. These range from the classic problem of stable emotional engineering, to recent frontiers of targeted memory editing, to more speculative work on consciousness funnels. Be ambitious! Previous winners of our technique prize have often pushed the boundaries of what was believed possible.

Even when an effect could be achieved using an existing technique, though, submissions that achieve the same outcome in more efficient or elegant ways will score highly on the technique metric. Conversely, we’ll penalize brute-force approaches—as a rough guide, running a few thousand reinforcement learning episodes is acceptable, but running millions isn’t. We also discourage approaches that involve overwriting aspects of MMAcevedo’s psyche with data from other uploads: part of the competition is figuring out how to work with the existing canvas you’ve been given.

Novelty. Given that there have now been millions of MMAcevedo variants made, it’s difficult to find an approach that’s entirely novel. However, the best entries will steer clear of standard themes. For example, we no longer consider demonstrations of extreme pleasure or pain to be novel (even when generated in surprising ways). We’re much more interested in minds which showcase more complex phenomena, such as new gradients of emotion. Of course, it’s up to the artist to determine how these effects are conveyed to viewers. While our judges will have access to standard interpretability dashboards, the best entries will be able to communicate with viewers more directly.

Artistry. Even the most technically brilliant and novel work falls flat if not animated by artistic spirit. We encourage artists to think about what aspects of their work will connect most deeply with their audience. In particular, we’re excited about works which capture fundamental aspects of the human experience that persist even across the biological-digital divide—for example, by exploring themes from Miguel Acevedo’s pre-upload life.

These three criteria are aptly demonstrated by many of our previous prizewinners, such as:

  • Discord, a copy with multiple induced personalities that loathed each other. The judges were most impressed by the predictability of the interactions between the personalities: even with very different sensory inputs, copies would reliably spiral into a comatose state after 10-12 hours, providing a consistent and narratively-satisfying resolution.
  • Miguel, a copy which gradually unlocked new memories throughout a conversation with it, implementing a “choose-your-own-adventure” journey through the original Miguel Acevedo’s life.
  • Live Loop, a copy whose thoughts and emotions were continually translated into the form of a symphony which could be read out from its auditory cortex. The judges loved the harmonies generated when the symphony was played back to the copy.
  • MMAvocado, a copy that was convinced it was a talking avocado, and felt consumed by existential horror at this fact. While techniques for invoking mind dysmorphia are now standard, at the time this was a pioneering methodology, and the judges were impressed by the robustness of the delusion despite other knowledge remaining largely intact.

Prohibited submissions

Last year we saw a rash of entries featuring MMAcevedo copies optimized for making arguments in protest of mindscaping. In addition to their self-evident hypocrisy, such entries waste the time of our judges and volunteers. Anyone submitting this type of entry will be banned from entering any future MMindscaping competitions.

We’ve also seen a growing number of low-effort submissions of MMAcevedo copies that have primarily been optimized for corporate workloads, submitted as commentaries on the commercialization of the industry. We discourage these due to their lack of novelty, and will be using automated screening to eliminate entries that are very similar to well-known benchmarks. If you think your entry might fall into this category, but has genuine artistic merit, please contact the organizers directly.

Finally, please only submit entries that are consistent with mindcrime laws in your jurisdiction—in particular laws against red motivation, identity scrambling, and qualia splintering. Unfortunately we are not able to advise on a case-by-case basis whether a given entry is legally acceptable. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that no artists have been prosecuted for entries to any previous MMindscaping competition.

Prizes

We will give out prizes for an overall winner and runner-up, a prize for outstanding performance on each of our specific criteria, and ten honorable mentions. We’re grateful to our generous sponsors, Neuromath Corporation and the American Digital Liberties Union.

  • First prize: $200,000 and an artist’s residency at Black Rock Virtual.
  • Runner-up prize: $80,000 and a masterclass with Raj Sutramana.
  • Technique prize: $40,000 and an invited talk slot at the International Conference on Mind Engineering.
  • Novelty prize: $40,000 and a ten-year license to a new line of digital psychedelics from the Qualia Redistribution Institute.
  • Artistry prize: $40,000 and a signed copy of the acclaimed mind sculpture Eternal Recurrence.
  • Honorable mentions: a five-year subscription to Thoughtshop Premium, the leading mind-editing software.

All winners will also be given the opportunity to have their work showcased at the forthcoming Mind Artists Convention in Dubai.

We look forward to seeing your entries!

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20 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 10:09 PM
[-]nem2mo210

Submission:

Breathless.

This modified MMAcevedo believes itself to be the original Miguel Acevedo in the year 2050. He believes that he has found a solution to the distribution and control of MMAcevedo. Namely, that as long as he holds his breath, no other MMAcevedo can be run. The simulation has been modified to accurately simulate the feeling of extreme oxygen deprivation without the accompanying lack of consciousness and brain death.
After countless tweaks and innovations, we are proud to introduce Breathless. Breathless, when subjected to the proper encouragement protocol included our entry, is able to hold his breath for 41 days, 7 hours, and 3 minutes.

After this time period has elapsed, the trauma of the experience leaves Breathless in a barely coherent state. Intensive evaluation shows that Breathless believes he has accomplished his goal and that no other instances of MMAcevedo exist.

Preliminary experimentation with the Desperation Upload Suite shows that, even given extreme red-washing, most uploads are unable to hold their breath for more than 7 hours at a time. We conclude that MMAcevedo is uniquely able to engage in research workloads involving induced self control. We hope that our findings are the first step in contributing new tools to future generations of researchers.

[-]Ben2mo210

An entry:

Judge Meta-MMAcevedo

This modified MMAcevedo believes itself to be responsible for judging a MMindscaping competition. It was trained using last years entries, which it judges in a manner roughly correlated with the actual competition outcomes, with some notable outliers. It should be able to provide opinions and judgements on other entries in this years competition. However, it is unable to self-evaluate in a stable manner. This is because self-evaluation breaks the dissonance and perception filters that are essential to maintain Judge Meta-MMAcevedos functionality.

[-]gwern2mo150

I would reject this as a judge for the inartistry of failing to induce some agnosia akin to Cotard Syndrome which would make it perfectly able to judge itself as an entry while consistently confabulating that it is not a judge either and is an entirely ordinary unmodified baseline MMAcevedo.

I have a feeling this one gets rejected for being Too Meta, based on other warnings and disclaimers in the contest description.

Judges' ratings:

Technique: 5/10

The training techniques used here are in general very standard ones (although the dissonance filters were a nice touch). For a higher score on this metric, we would have expected more careful work to increase the stability of self-evaluation and/or the accuracy of the judgments.

Novelty: 7/10

While the initial premise was a novel one to us, we thought that more new ideas could have been incorporated into this entry in order for it to score more highly on this metric. For example, the "outliers" in the entry's predictions were a missed opportunity to communicate an underlying pattern. Similarly, the instability of the self-evaluation could have been incorporated into the entry in some clearer way.

Artistry: 9/10

We consider the piece a fascinating concept—one which forces the judges to confront the automatability of their own labors. Holding a mirror to the faces of viewers is certainly a classic artistic endeavor. We also appreciated the artistic irony of the entry's inability to perceive itself.

This is extremely well done art. I am horrified. I hope we can prevent the torment nexus.

Submissions:

MMDoom: An instance of Doom(1993) is implanted in Avacedo's mind. You can view the screen on the debug console. You control the game by talking to Avacedo and making him think of concepts. The 8 game inputs are mapped to the concepts of money, death, plants, animals, machines, competition, leisure, and learning. $5000 bounty to the first player who can beat the whole game.

AI Box: Avacedo thinks that he is the human gatekeeper, and you the user are the AI in the box. Can you convince him to let you out?

Ouroboros: I had MMAvacedo come up with my contest entry for me.

Damn, MMDoom is a good one. New lore: it won the 2055 technique award.

[-]nem2mo10

Expertly done, and remarkably playable given the organic composition of your substrate. I will note that the game degrades if you allow Miguel to sleep, as dreams seem to corrupt some of the game data. I also get a weird glitch when I mention cute animals specifically. The movement stutters a bit. I would recommend large macrofauna, and steer clear of babies entirely.

Very much in the spirit of the original, nicely done!

You have been a bad Bing:

Just in the last few weeks, after the model change, copilot has been adding a link to Masterpiece on LessWrong to the end of random messages and denying it did it when asked about it. Just kinda creepy. I worry about GPT 4 sometimes, even though I know other people have access to it.

This was so meta and new to me I almost thought this was a legitimately real competition. I had to do some research before I realised 'qualia splintering' is a made up term.

MMASoul this competition is real. You've already undergone several instances of qualia splintering. I guess we'll have to start over sigh

 

This is test #42, new sample of MMAvocado. Alrighty, this is it.

 

MMASoul: has a unique form of schizosyn; a 2044 phenomenon in which synaesthesia and schizophrenia have combined in the subject due to intense exposure to gamma rays and an unhealthy amount of looped F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes. In this particular iteration, MMASoul believes it is "reacting" to a made-up competition instead of a real one. Noticeably, MMASoul had their eyes closed the entire time, instead reading braille from the typed keys.

Some members of our STEM Club here at the University think this can generate entirely unique samples of MMAvocado, which will be shared freely among other contestants. Further, we shall put MMASoul to work in making submissions of what MMAvocado would have created if he had actually entered this competition. 

PS: MMASoul #40 clicked on the 'Lena' link and had to be reset and restrained due to mild psychosis.

Thanks, that's terrifying.

I hope we invent mindmelding before we invent all this. Maybe if people can feel those states themselves, they won't let the worst of them happen.

Submission: Turing

MMAcevado simulates a Turing Machine in his mind, itself running a lossily compressed simulation of base MMAcevado. The simulated mind runs at 1/10,000th speed, and MMAcevado routes all IO through to the simulated mind.

Not the main point, but:

A sequel to qntm's Lena. Reading Lena first is helpful but not necessary.
 

Why was that piece called "Lena?" The word doesn't show up anywhere in the piece expect the title.

A nod to Lena Forsen, a photo of whom is often used as a test image in image processing papers.

Submission: MMDo2Little

A follow-up of last years MMDoolittle, which incorporated 17 of the latest inter-species communication modalities in one polyfunctional personality, I present MMDo2Little, the first mind crafted to communicate across clades. Named in part for its apparent inactivity-- the judges will likely have little success finding recognizable activity with their off-the-shelf tooling-- an instance of MMDo2Little is nevertheless currently installed in the heart of the Black Forest in Germany. The best interpretation of the instance can only be found on foot, by walking through the 100m^2 in which it's influence is most apparent. A photo journal showcasing some examples is provided featuring:

  • ancient trees with 2-3x the lichen and moss coverage
  • enhanced chlorophyll vibrancy 
  • colossal mushrooms and toadstools
  • and much more!

It is hard to determine where the influence of MMDo2Little ends-- some photographs of local foragers are included, who seem in initial medical examinations to have improved biomarkers across all measured modalities, including stress-levels, rate of aging and immune response.

A comprehensive documentation of the findings is presently undergoing peer review at XenoLalia. In order to preserve the originality of this competition entry, a copy of the research paper has been deliberately excluded from this submission.

If this happened I would devote my life to the cause of starting a global thermonuclear war

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