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The Fundamental Question - Rationality computer game design

I meant something like the difference between:

Bob says: "There will be an assassination..." Player's notebook is automatically filled with this information. The player can assign expected probability. Bob says: "Alice told me so" Player's notebook is automatically filled with this information marked as evidence for the previous claim. The probability assigned to this being true will automatically update the assassination claim.

Or what I was considering yesterday:

Bob says: "There will be an assassination..." Player manually writes this into his notebook. Bob says: "Alice told me so" Player manually writes this into his notebook and manually marks it as evidence for the previous claim. The automatic updating would still happen after this has been done. Alternatively, the player might just go ahead and write in a conjunction for "Alice told me so" & "Alice knows what she is talking about" & "Alice tells the truth" instead.

Pro: Learning to extract facts from statements seems like a useful skill to teach. Con: Without letting the game know about the intended meaning of the facts, it would be very hard for it to find and correct faulty reasoning. It might also turn into too much bookkeeping for the player.

I'm leaning more to a middle ground now, were the game presents all facts that are part of a statement, but it is still up to you to connect them to the right place in the graph. We'd have to experiment to find what actually works of course.

I also meant that if we make it a good enough tool, maybe it would be valuable to use entirely independent from the game. If that should be a goal, it would need to be carefully designed for. This will likely introduce conflicting requirements though, so may not be worth it.

I probably won't finish up something demoable today either. I've mostly just been brainstorming on mechanics and the architecture to support them.

Some more random notes from the prototyping:

  • There are beliefs and correlations between beliefs.
  • Beliefs are entered with a prior for how likely they are without any of the given correlations (prior).
  • Correlations are entered with a belief as cause and one as effect and values for probabilityOfEffectGivenCause + probabilityOfEffectGivenNotCause
  • Conjunctions and disjunctions can be expressed as special cases of beliefs.
  • The full complexity should not be introduced all at once.
  • To guide giving probabilities they could be converted to frequencies in time or space. ("So with no evidence, you believe there would be an assasination like this every week?"; "[...]right this hour in one city in the country")
  • My biggest problem is that I have no idea how to actually score a player if he gets to come up with his own probabilities in a fictional world. Maybe the game needs to have some way of explicitly finding out the "right" values for some priors and correlations.
The Fundamental Question - Rationality computer game design

What seems to be taking shape while doing this is the idea of the player having access to a tool, mostly separated from the rest of the game, to help calculate probabilities. It would allow new (possible) facts to be entered with priors, facts split up into conjunctions, dependencies noted between facts and so on. The tool would then calculate probabilities for you while you tweak the calculation. (Possibly color coded or otherwise abstracted if we expect numbers to be seen as scary.)

I'm not even gonna try to do make this into an intuitive or full featured tool right away, but in a final release I would imagine a very polished interface with drag&drop graphs for dependencies, folding to hide irrelevant details etc.

Early on in the game, there would be heavy prompting on exactly how to use the tool while later on the player would be left increasingly on their own in figuring out how to enter statements and facts she encounters.

First of all, is this in line with what other people are envisioning?

Secondly, this seems like something which may actually be useful in real life as well (and I could see the game ending with an encouragement to do just that). Does anyone know of such a tool which already exists? If nothing else, it might be good for salvaging ideas from. Some quick Googling doesn't reveal anything beyond simple tools where you can put in the numbers for a single equation and tools special fitted for a single application.

Edit: Argument Map software seem to be what I was looking for.

The Fundamental Question - Rationality computer game design

I'm interested in helping out with programming (which I do professionally, though not games related) and have joined the mailing list.

I'll try to make some quick prototype of the mechanics over the weekend unless anyone beats me to it.

How is your mind different from everyone else's?

I've got this too and have learned how to do it more or less at will. This post from that same page ties the feeling to Seratonin release which seems to make sense. I haven't looked into it enough to say it's certainly true though.

The curse of identity

This is probably what I've been struggling with the most during my life. I'm starting to feel like I'm close to reaching a balance in overcoming it though.

Early on my primary goal in life was being Good. Along with a bunch of other traits, I deemed status seeking and signalling as Evil and strove never to do it.

That... is hard to do and of course I didn't succeed fully. What I did manage was becoming terribly passive and self-effacing, I second-guessed any activity I engaged in even as I was doing it and abandoned anything I recognized as being signalling or status increasing unless I could come up with a convincing reason why it was objectively good. In the last few years I have reconsidered somewhat. I still have a gut instinct against it but I slowly changed my personality to accept and then embrace it since I recognized that would make me a better person.

I guess this is adding to the other comments that, yes, status and signalling is a mind killer and the first step is to notice and acknowledge that you are participating in it. The second step isn't to surpress it though, but to shape it and use it to fit who you want to be.

I still hate bragging*, so to balance the positive signaling I just did I'll add in that another, less idealistic part of my passive behavior was and probably still is the anti motto "If you don't try, no one can judge your goals or blame you for failing".

*and hate that saying so is itself bragging** :)


Meetup : Stockholm meetup

That's a 15 minute walk according to Google maps even after you've gotten out of the station, and those trains don't have the best reputation for being on time...

So, in case someone else arrives first: Did you/will you book a table that we can claim ahead of you?

Meetup : Stockholm meetup

I've mostly been lurking here, but I'll show up.

Looking forward to it.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)


I wasn't consciously inspired by it, but was aware of the terms. I'd still discount it as a coincidence though. (Or being a natural division to make.)

The terms kind of grew on me from using them separately in expressions. ("That's just story" when discounting some evidence, ""Life is" when being stoical (Or "Life is beautiful" when being happy.) and "What's his game?" and similar when reasoning about entities (people, organizations, myself). Then they just fitted as words to partition the world around.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)

Hello, I'm John Lindberg a 26 year old Computer Scientist from Stockholm, Sweden. I've been reading this site for almost a year now. I'm a lurker by habit, preferring to listen rather than writing, but I really like this community, so I'll see if I can fit myself in.

I originally found Less Wrong through Stumble Upon to the Ureshiku Naritai article, liked it enough to browse the front page and found that I liked almost all of the articles there. That set of a long bout of tab explosion as I followed links from those to other articles. Eventually started reading the sequences, but haven't got through them all.

Much of the content here is stuff I've thought about on my own before, so I have not really taken on any groundbreaking new ideas, just a lot of refinement and applications for them. Many things have different names here of course, I called Map vs Territory for Story vs Life (forming a trinity along with Game for people's intentions) for instance, but I've internalized most of the local terms by now.

Automating processes has always been of almost intrinsic value to me, for which I consider FAI the ultimate goal; automating the thought process itself. I considered "the Dark Arts" (by which I mean trying to influence people with anything but logic) an evil to the extent that I thought far less of the ancient Greek once I learned that they were the ones to develop the art of Rhetoric. I've relented on that in recent years, seeing it as a tool instead, which derives most of it's value by how it's used. Still carries a slight tinge of evil though. That also made me learn a lot about biases and I tend to get very defensive when I recognize one being used against me.

I suffer some from Akrasia, but mostly because of not having found any goals I really want to achieve. Three years ago I finally decided on self improvement as my new goal. The goal being to be able to end each day and come out of any situation feeling like I'd done a good job of it. (Discounting wireheading and averaging over time.) Still a long way to go, but I'm happy with the results so far: mostly getting rid of a few diseased memes which were holding me back, such as the "influencing people is evil" one mentioned above. Getting started with lifelogging will probably be the next step.

Hope to get involved.

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