Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 22, chapter 93

This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 93. The previous thread has passed 300 comments. 

There is now a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.) 

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.  Also: 1234567891011121314151617,18,19,20.

Spoiler Warning: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13. More specifically:

You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it’s fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that “Eliezer said X is true” unless you use rot13.

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I don't know if our love has any magical power under your rules, but if it does, don't hesitate to call on it.

Foreshadowing alert, particularly given canon.

I found 93 incredibly refreshing-- it was good to see so much cooperation, good will, and clear communication after a tremendous amount of earned and unearned mistrust.

It can't be completely stable, of course, not least because Quirrel is around, but also because I think stories don't work to maintain high points before the end.

I wasn't horrified at McGonagle's announcement. This is a story where learning how to do better is a good thing, and I respect the idea that children need to be raised to be adults.

Undoing the problem of people who've been trained to do nothing is going to be harder than it sounds. Having rewards for doing something sounds good at the moment because very few people did anything, but all rewards are subject to Goodhart's Law. I expect to see people doing a lot of ill-thought-out somethings because the reward structure is too simplified.

Harry's father's letter is emotionally excellent, but I wonder whether the idea that adults should be protecting children rather than the other way around entirely applies to Harry's situation. On the other hand, if it's foreshadowing, that could be a relief. Arguably, Harry learning how not to be isolated is a major theme of the story.

As for Eliezer's rant, my first thought was HGMOR would be delightful, and it wouldn't take bending canon nearly as much. It's a lot easier for me to imagine canon Hermione taking an interest in theory of how to think better than canon Harry.

Meanwhile, if you want a brilliant-Hermione-at-the-center-of-the-story fanfic, try Amends, or Truth and Reconciliation. Any recommendations for more of the same?

I have mixed feelings about reading through a gender-focused lens. It gets really claustrophobic, and I find it spoils a lot of fun for me. On the other hand, I'd forgotten how disappointed I was in HermioneMOR compared to canon Hermione. I don't think Eliezer expects as much of his female characters as he does of his male characters, and even if the story plays out in some surprising way (a female wizard playing behind the scenes at Quirrel's level?), what's on stage for most of the story matters at least as much as revelations at the end.

On the other hand, I'd forgotten how disappointed I was in HermioneMOR compared to canon Hermione.

I think this is because canon!Hermione plays the voice of reason and maturity to the childish Harry and Ron, whereas HPMOR!Hermione in some ways serves the opposite role, being a real (and thus immature and limited) eleven-year old girl next to super prodigy Harry and trained-to-perfection Draco. Seen in that light, the extent to which she does manage to keep up is actually pretty amazing.

Her "reason and maturity," in canon, is basically playing the role of a responsible young girl. Rowling seems to think this is impressive; obviously, Eliezer does not.

I'm not sure about that last-- remember the bit in MOR where Hermione is right to trust the adults about the dangers of transfiguration and Harry wasn't?

I kind of recently came to the realization that I think Eliezer meant Harry and Hermione's relationship to personify what he says often, which is "Utilitarianism is what is correct, virtue ethics is what works for human beings".

It's been a while since I've read canon, but I remember that Hermione as largely motivated by love of learning (with loyalty to her friends as a strong second, but we don't see the two motivations in conflict, and loyalty isn't distinctive to her-- all the good characters are loyal), and HermioneMOR as largely motivated by wanting to maintain her self-image. MORHermione isn't as awful as that might be because the self-image she wants to match is (mostly?) built around virtue ethics, not vanity or status, but the two characters are very different to me.

From my point of view (and I don't know if anyone shares it), in the early parts of MOR, Hermione was this weird brittle conglomeration of traits that didn't even seem like a human being. I blew up about it, and upset Eliezer, and he did something to how Hermione was portrayed, I don't know what, so that she didn't make me crazy even though her character wasn't drastically changed. I leave the possibility open that Eliezer being affected by what I said calmed me down rather than that he changed the character, though I certainly didn't intend to affect him that strongly.

I have to take it on faith that Eliezer and practically everyone here likes MORHermione as much as they say they do because this isn't how I react to the character.

From my point of view (and I don't know if anyone shares it), in the early parts of MOR, Hermione was this weird brittle conglomeration of traits that didn't even seem like a human being. I blew up about it, and upset Eliezer, and he did something to how Hermione was portrayed, I don't know what, so that she didn't make me crazy even though her character wasn't drastically changed.

When exactly in the story did this shift in portrayal occur?

The back of my head says around chapter thirty or so. I don't have a convenient way of tracking down my original comment to make sure.

I found 93 incredibly refreshing-- it was good to see so much cooperation, good will, and clear communication after a tremendous amount of earned and unearned mistrust.

Also, good to see Harry see it, and maybe correct his not entirely accurate assessment of other people.

I'd forgotten how disappointed I was in HermioneMOR compared to canon Hermione.

Really? I like this one so much better. Her only real failing I see is her preoccupation with feeling inferior to Harry, which should be irrelevant regardless and is inaccurate besides.

Eliezer has said that Hermione hasn't been powered up as much as other characters because she was already so great in canon. This is one voice who hasn't had any issues with Eliezer's handling of Hermione.

Eliezer has said that Hermione hasn't been powered up as much as other characters because she was already so great in canon.

And went so far as to observe that if Hermione were to be upgraded in the same way that Harry, Quirell and Draco had been upgraded then she would surpass the intellectual capabilities of the author himself, and his ability to emulate.

It's possible to write about characters cleverer than oneself by two means I can think of.

  1. having unlimited time to think about what your character arrives at in an instant

  2. getting multiple people to help with the above.

It's going to take a very long time for Chimpanzees to write Hamlet.

Sure, the method I mention only allows you to write characters a single level above yours.

You can also have characters make original discoveries that you read about in books.

Or correctly apply in real time techniques that you have only read about in books.

But at some point your character is going to think about something for more than an instant (if they don't then I strongly contest that they are very intelligent). In a best case scenario, it will take you a very long time to write this story, but I think there's some extent to which being more intelligent widens the range of thoughts you can think of ever.

As Harry himself points out, Harry is cheating, and hard. He has a dark-side, he has a time turner, he's been training his mind from birth... and Hermione is still beating him in raw intelligence, and was just starting to learn to be a hero before her death.

Aside from that, take a look at Hermione Granger and the Burden of Responsibility, which is a recursive fanfiction of HPMoR diverging during her trial. It's really only just getting started, but I have hopes.

Aside from that, take a look at Hermione Granger and the Burden of Responsibility, which is a recursive fanfiction of HPMoR diverges during her trial. It's really only just getting started, but I have hopes.

I've just read the first chapter and this is excellent. Though I'm concerned that the title indicates that it might culminate in Hermonie angst-mongering. If that happens, I might just start a fanfic of order 3 with Amelia Bones as the main character.

Hermione Granger and the Burden of Responsibility

the title indicates that it might culminate in Hermonie angst-mongering

Yes, I'm starting to think of Spider-Man. But I don't expect this story to go that way.

Hermione wasn't powered up at all.

a basic theory of MoR is that all the characters get automatic intelligence upgrades, except for Hermione who doesn't need it and starts out as exactly similar to her canon self as I could manage, thus putting everyone on an equal footing for the first time.

HPMOR kinda feels off because canonically, Hermione is unambiguously the most competent person in Harry's year, and has a good chance of growing up to be the most competent person in the 'verse. Harry is kept at the center of the story by his magical connection to Voldemort. In HPMOR, in contrast, Harry is kept at the center of the story by competence and drive. It's going to be very hard to do that without it feeling like Hermione is getting shafted.

That said, Hermione's death was an excellent decision from a storytelling perspective. Death is a major theme of both canon and HPMOR, but in canon Harry the most important deaths in Harry's life are those of his parents, who he had no memories of.

Harry is kept at the center of the story by his magical connection to Voldemort.

Not just that-- he's also got a good bit of competence and drive, and Dumbledore's Army is a good example of canon Harry taking initiative in a way that's unusual for fictional characters but rather in the spirit of MOR.

Dumbledore's Army is a good example of canon Hermione taking the initiative, Harry just went along with the idea, if I recall correctly.