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Bragging Thread May 2015

For what it’s worth, the grammar and spelling was much better than is usual for even the native English part of the Internet. That’s probably fainter praise than it deserves, I don’t remember actually noticing any such fault, which probably means there are few of them.

The phrasing and wording did sound weird, but I guess that’s at least one reason why you’re writing, so congratulations and I hope you keep it up! I’m quite curious to see where you’ll take it.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113

Indeed, the only obvious “power” Harry has that is (as far as we know) unique to him is Partial Transfiguration. I’m not sure if Voldie “knows it not”; as someone mentioned last chapter, Harry used it to cut trees when he had his angry outburst in the Forbidden Forest, and in Azkhaban as well. In the first case Voldie was nearby, allegedly to watch out for Harry, but far enough that to be undetectable via their bond, so it’s possible he didn’t see what exact technique Harry used. In Azkhaban as well he was allegedly unconscious.

I can’t tell if he could have deduced the technique only by examining the results. (At least for the forest occasion he could have made time to examine the scene carefully, and I imagine that given the circumstances he’d have been very interested to look into anything unusual Harry seemed to be able to do.)

On the plus side, Harry performed PT by essentially knowing that objects don’t exist; so it could well be possible to transfigure a thin slice of thread of air into something strong enough to cut. For that matter, that “illusion of objects” thing should allow a sort of “reverse-Partial” transfiguration, i.e. transfigure (parts of) many objects into a single thing. Sort of like what he did to the troll’s head, but applied simultaneously to a slice of air, wands, and Death Eaters. Dumbledore explicitly considers it as a candidate against Voldemort (hint, Minerva remembers Dumbledore using transfiguration in combat). And, interestingly, it’s a wordless spell (I’m not even sure if Harry can cast anything* else wordlessly), and Harry wouldn’t need to raise his wand, or even move at all, to cast it on air (or on the time-space continuum, or world wave-function, whatever).

On the minus side, I’m not sure if he could do it fast enough to kill the Death Eaters before he’s stopped. He did get lots of transfiguration training, and using it in anger in the forest suggests he can do it pretty fast, but he is watched, and IIRC transfiguration is not instantaneous. He probably can’t cast it on Voldie nor on his wand, though he might be able to destroy the gun. And Voldemort can certainly find lots of ways to kill him without magic or touching him directly; hell, he probably knows kung fu and such. And even if Harry managed to kill this body, he’d have to find a way to get rid of the Horcruxes. (I still don’t understand exactly what the deal is with those. Would breaking the Resurrection Stone help?)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 104

Well, we only know that Harry feels doom when near Q and/or his magic, and that in one case in Azkhaban something weird happened when Harry’s Patronus interacted with what appeared to be an Avada Kedavra bolt, and that Q appears to avoid touching Harry.

Normally I’d say that faking the doom sensations for a year, and faking being incapacitated while trying to break someone out of Azkhaban, would be too complicated. But in this case...

The Great Filter is early, or AI is hard

Thank you, that was very interesting!

Truth vs Utility

I sort of get your point, but I’m curious: can you imagine learning (with thought-experiment certainty) that there is actually no reality at all, in the sense that no matter where you live, it’s simulated by some “parent reality” (which in turn is simulated, etc., ad infinitum)? Would that change your preference?

The Great Filter is early, or AI is hard

most "earthlike" planets in habitable zones around sunlike stars are on average 1.8 Billion years older than the Earth

How do you know? (Not rhethorical, I have no idea and I’m curious.)

The Great Filter is early, or AI is hard

If the final goal is of local scope, energy acquisition from out-of-system seems to be mostly irrelevant, considering the delays of space travel and the fast time-scales a strong AI seems likely to operate at. (That is, assuming no FTL and the like.)

Do you have any plausible scenario in mind where an AI would be powerful enough to colonize the universe, but do it because it needs energy for doing something inside its system of origin?

I might see one perhaps extending to a few neighboring systems in a very dense cluster for some strange reason, but I can’t imagine likely final goals (again, for its birth star-system) that it would need to spend hundreds of millenia even to take over a single galaxy, let alone leave it. (Which is of course no proof there isn’t; my question above wasn’t rhethorical.)

I can imagine unlikely accidents causing some sort of papercliper-scenario, and maybe vanishingly rare cases where two or more AIs manage to fight each other over long periods of time, but it’s not obvious to me why this class of scenarios should be assigned a lot of probability mass in aggregate.

Memory is Everything

Honestly, I can’t really find anything significant in this comment I disagree with.

Memory is Everything

It's a bit like opening a thread arguing that the Spanish inquisition was right for torturing nonbelievers because they they acted under the assumption that they could save souls from eternal damnation by doing so.

But the OP didn’t argue in support of torturing people, as far as I can tell. In the terms of your analogy, my reading was of the OP was a bit like:

“Hey, if the Spanish Inquisition came to you and offered the following two options, would you pick either of them, or refuse both? The options are (1) you’re excommunicated, then you get all the cake you want for a week, then you forget about it, or (2) you’re sanctified, then you’re tortured for a week, then you forget about it. Option (3) means nothing happens, they just leave.”

Which sounds completely different to my ears.

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