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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109

Did you ever come up with a response to the point that the Goblet was in Hogwarts for a few centuries after Baba Yaga, before being warehoused at Beauxbatons? If the curse was in effect all that time, it would have been mentioned.

2Izeinwinter7yThe phrasing is that nothing can be taken from anyone protected by the contract. Not that gifts or trade are forbidden, Which means that if BY drops a note to the effect that she is subcontracting her responsibilities as battle magic teacher into the goblet that particular teacher is granted forbearance. So as long as the goblet was in a place she could get at, no curse.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96

Really late reply, but: the prophecy was made before Harry was born; Voldemort and Dumbledore found out about it at roughly the same time (almost immediately); and the attack came when Harry was fifteen months old. They knew about the prophecy while they were in hiding.

0HungryHippo8yI'll be damned. Good correction!
"Stupid" questions thread

Do you not care about humans you can't get along with?

3Qiaochu_Yuan9yLook, let's not keep doing this thing where whenever someone fails to completely specify their utility function you take whatever partial heuristic they wrote down and try to poke holes in it. I already had this conversation in the comments to this post [] and I don't feel like having it again. Steelmanning is important in this context given complexity of value [].
0wedrifid9yCaring about all humans and (only) cooperative aliens would not be an inconsistent or particularly atypical value system.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

Do we have an example of Finite being used to cancel anything other than transfigurations or first-year level spells (Somnium)?

2bogdanb9yCanon is rather inconsistent, as you’d expect. In MoR chapter 23 there’s this: Stuff like locks would obviously be protected, but Harry’s thoughts (“some”) suggests that it’s more of an exception.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

It's not unique, and Dumbledore did bring it up, actually:

"How can you not believe it? " said the Headmaster, looking completely flabbergasted. "Harry, you're a wizard! You've seen ghosts! "

"Ghosts," Harry said, his voice flat. "You mean those things like portraits, stored memories and behaviors with no awareness or life, accidentally impressed into the surrounding material by the burst of magic that accompanies the violent death of a wizard -"


I asked Hermione and she said that they were just afterimages, burn

... (read more)
5Ries9yFair point, I missed that bit. There goes my theory then
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

I read that as being an excuse for the differences between Harry's Cloak and the one Neville's familiar with.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89

Whoops, looks like you're right, the accusation was public knowledge:

Father's own allies didn't believe him after Dumbledore just denied everything in public

3bogdanb9yThink about what would happen if Dumbledore (strong wizard, has all sorts of authority) cast Finite Incantatem on his desk, and the spell doesn’t include a “do what I mean, not what I say” security feature. There must be thousands of spells in that general area. Even if for some reason the desk wouldn’t be disenchanted (which probably it wouldn’t, else casting Finite on someone holding a filled magic pouch or near a magic trunk would be very dangerous, and someone would have mentioned that in MoR), it still probably has dozens if not hundreds of other spells, and can thousands of magic items due to recursive space folding. Even if many of those are protected against Finite, they are so many in total that it’s very likely that a lot aren’t. Now that I think about it, casting Finite on something you don’t know about sounds just as dangerous as casting a spell you don’t know what it does. (Basically, Finite means casting the reverse of a spell.) Very exploitable unless something automagically checks for corner cases.)
3ikrase9yNot in sight, but Finite Incantatem does seem to be a (likely moderate and adjustable) area-affect spell based on it's spammability in combat and the ability to finite things that you don't know the exact position of.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89

Amelia Bones isn't a member of the Order of the Phoenix.

Emmeline wasn't a member of the Order of the Phoenix any more, they had disbanded after the end of the last war. And during the war, she'd known, they'd all known, that Director Crouch had quietly approved of their off-the-books battle.

Director Bones wasn't Crouch.


"That depends," Amelia said in a hard voice. "Are you here to help us catch criminals, or to protect them from the consequences of their actions?" Are you going to try to stop the killer of my brother from getting

... (read more)
375th9yWell, I think Lucius probably made sure a long time ago that everyone knew what Dumbledore (supposedly) said to him. I didn't get the feeling from that scene in the Wizengamot that Dumbledore-killing-Narcissa was any kind of a secret idea that people were just then finding out about. This does rather change my view of some of the peripheral details, though. Previously, one possibility I pictured was Dumbledore restraining Amelia from her vengeance until Aberforth died, then relenting. I knew Amelia Bones wasn't in the OotP, and I knew she felt distaste at Dumbledore's softness, but somehow I never completely drew the conclusion that she wouldn't care one whit about what Dumbledore said or thought, and therefore probably wouldn't have cared if he had tried to restrain her. Perhaps more likely, then, is the other way I pictured it: that Amelia couldn't get to Narcissa by herself, and after Aberforth's death, Dumbledore actively approached Amelia and said "Okay, I'm ready to help. I'll be the ward-breaker, you do the deed."
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89

"Prodi" is the imperative ("come forth"), "prodeas" is the subjunctive (here used in supplication, for which there is no precise English translation; perhaps "wouldst thou come forth").

Which itself suggests something quite interesting about the nature of incantations... unless it's not actually an incantation, just talking to Hogwarts in Latin.

3somervta9yWell, in the first usage, Dumbledore did seem to be addressing Hogwarts ("Hogwarts! Deligitor prodi"), so it's possible, but Fred/George didn't do that. I suppose it is possible that Eliezer just used the subjunctive form rather than the imperative accidentally, but I'm not sure if I want to count on that :D
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

I wasn't sure what time they were meeting- it seemed like it was a short time after retrieving Harry from lunch, but I couldn't find any specifics. Even if it was after three, though, they could (for example) send a Patronus to Flitwick asking where he was at three o'clock, but not to tell them anything else but that; and have Harry come there at nine, tell him to tell Flitwick not to report his arrival to anyone before nine, then Time-Turn in front of them.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Yeah, I don't know why the test didn't involve Time-Turning such that he would appear right in front of Dumbledore or whoever at three o'clock. It shouldn't be too difficult to prevent cheating with the Cloak.

It doesn't even require having thought of the test before three, just knowing where someone (Flitwick, etc) was at three, without actually seeing it yourself.

2bogdanb9yYou don’t even need that. It’s enough to have someone with another Time-Turner accompany Harry back.
175th9yIt couldn't have been Dumbledore or McGonagall or Snape, could it? Because at the time they thought of testing Harry they had already not-experienced Harry appearing in front of them at 3:00. Which itself, though, I suppose, could be a clue pointing to Harry's guilt. But maybe that's too much like "messing with time"?
Open thread, February 15-28, 2013

He can edit his own without leaving an * , for the record.

Unintentional bayesian

I can't tell if you're aware that that was Manfred's point.

1handoflixue9yThat "woosh" you heard was Manfred's point going over my head. shminux distinction seems entirely warranted in-context, since he's differentiating between "I believe there are no gods" and "I don't believe in gods", both of which are, technically, "atheism".
Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Argument

Huh, it works even better in text with undifferentiated spelling. I'll have to remember that one.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

He's also a Horcrux in canon; the murder that created him was the murder of Harry's parents, which still happened.

It wasn't the murder of Harry's parents, it was

when Lily cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Voldemort’s soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself onto the only living soul left in that collapsed building.

(Deathly Hallows, Ch 33)

The Killing-Curse-reflecting Love Shield doesn't exist in HPMoR, so if Harry is a Horcrux it's not because things happene... (read more)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Quirrell's "ritual to summon Death" is a reference to the Seething Death from LWE's Ethshar novels, so it's a pretty safe bet.

0Manfred9yHuh. Well, I'll clarify a bit to deprive myself of a win on reference: I guess that the style of hp:mor was similar enough to Watt-Evans that I was guessing that it was intentional, and as part of making it happen Eliezer had actually opened a book. Or at least, that hypothesis is way above the base rate.
Isolated AI with no chat whatsoever

1) The generator would be in the isolated area.

2) Lead-lined airlock, and obviously portable electronics wouldn't be allowed in the isolated area.

3) If you have communication lines going to terminals which are not isolated, then you haven't even made an attempt at isolation in the first place.

4) This is a point about practicalities, not possibilities.

5) The relevant comparison would be the CDC, not the military.

State your physical account of experienced color

Sorry- "minimum necessary (pieces of brain)", I meant to say. Like, probably not motor control, or language, or maybe memory.

1whowhowho9yThe point of discussing the engineering of colour qualia is that it relates to the level of understanding of how consciousness works. Emulations bypass the need to understand something in order to duplicate it, and so are not relevant to the initial claim that the implementation of (colour) qualia is not understood within current science.
State your physical account of experienced color

Okay, so... we can't make computers that go from red to black, and we can't ourselves understand what it's like to go from #FF0000 to #000000, and this means what?

To me it means the things we use to do processing are very different. Say, a whole brain emulation would have our experience of color, and if we get really really good at cognitive surgery, we might be able to extract the minimum necessary bits to contain that experience of color, and bolt it onto a red-eye filter. Why bother, though? What's the relevant difference?

0whowhowho9yI don't see how a wodge of bits, in isolation from context, could be said to "contain" anything processing, let alone anything depending on actual physics. It;s hard to see how it could even contain any definite meaning, absent context. What does 100110001011101 mean?
0whowhowho9yIt doesn't relate to giving an internal system an internal represetnation of colour like ours. If you put the filter on, you don't go from red to black, you go from #FF0000 to #000000, or something.
State your physical account of experienced color

I'm not going to say the goalposts are moving, but I definitely don't know where they are any more. I was talking about red-eye filters built into cameras. You seemed to be suggesting that they do have "internal representations" of shape, but not of color, even though they recognize both shape and color in the same way. I'm trying to see what the difference is.

Essentially, why can a computer have an internal representation of shape without saying "wow, what a beautiful building" but an internal representation of color would lead it to say "wow, what a beautiful sunset"?

0whowhowho9yI don't know why you are talking about filters. If you think you can write seeRed(), please supply some pseudocode.
State your physical account of experienced color

How would it function differently if it did have "an internal representation of color as we experience it"?

0whowhowho9yThat's hard to answer without specifying more about the nature of the AI, but it might say things like "what a beautiful sunset".
State your physical account of experienced color

You lost me a little bit. We can write "see these wavelengths in this shape and make them black" (red-eye filters). What makes "seeing" shape different from "seeing" color?

0whowhowho9yWe can give a computer an internal representation of shape, but not of colour as we experience it.
Isolated AI with no chat whatsoever

Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but why wouldn't physical isolation (a lead-lined bank vault, faraday cage, etc) solve these problems?

0ewbrownv9yBecause you can't create real, 100% physical isolation. At a minimum you're going to have power lines that breach the walls, and either people moving in and out (while potentially carrying portable electronics) or communication lines going out to terminals that aren't isolated. Also, this kind of physical facility is very expensive to build, so the more elaborate your plan is the less likely it is to get financed. Military organizations have been trying to solve these problems ever since the 1950s, with only a modest degree of success. Even paranoid, well-funded organizations with a willingness to shoot people have security breaches on a fairly regular basis.
AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say?

Yes, I realize that. The point being, the bit in bold is still true if the Earth-destroying threat is the speaker.

-1MugaSofer9yOh. Heh, I hadn't looked at it like that.
AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say?

Referring to yourself in the third person doesn't help. AI DESTROYED

-2MugaSofer9yUm ... only the bit in bold is my answer. The brackets are meta.
2handoflixue9yYeah, pretty much. I'd actually expect a FAI to place a very high value on survival, since it knows that it's own survival benefits humanity greatly. An "Apathetic FAI" is... a very weird idea. Although if this is an iterated dilemma, I'd consider it a good opening, even if it'd still get killed in this iteration :)
Open Thread, January 1-15, 2013

I think the idea is that it is economical, but the patent-holder simply never thought of it.

Open Thread, January 1-15, 2013

Oh. Well, that's surprising.

Sorry, I'm not in the area.

Open Thread, January 1-15, 2013

I'll second drethelin; CBT is both evidence-based as a treatment method- there's evidence it works- and evidence-based in practice, meaning you don't have to believe in it or anything, you just follow the prescribed behaviors and observe the results. Really, it's highly rationalism-friendly, being mainly about noticing and combatting "cognitive distortions" (e.g. generalizing from one example, inability to disconfirm, emotional reasoning, etc.). A therapist who specializes in CBT can be pretty well assumed to not be in the habit of dragging "spirituality" into their work.

3ahh9yI agree that CBT is well-supported by the evidence, and in general should be rationalism-friendly but that isn't always so. The therapist I mentioned in my OP was, in fact, calling himself a CBT practitioner. So I was hoping someone knew a CBT guy (or other equally well-supported method, honestly) he personally liked.
Open Thread, January 1-15, 2013

Along with things that others have already pointed out, “per land area, farms are more efficient at producing "higher" animals like pigs and cows” -- where the hell did he take that from? Pretty much everyone I've ever read about this topic agrees that growing food for N people on a mostly vegetarian diet requires way less land, energy, and water than growing food for N people on a largely meat-based diet, and there's a thermodynamic argument that makes that pretty much obvious.

The full sentence is

And if you do manage to induce less farmland

... (read more)
0[anonymous]9yThanks. I did think “more efficient than what?”, but none of the possibilities I came up with other than “than they are at producing other foodstuffs” seemed relevant in context. (I don't even remember what they were.)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

That's true in canon, yes, but this

"The Unbreakable Vow is too useful to certain wealthy Houses to be outlawed entirely - even though to bind a man's will through all his days is indeed a dread and terrible act, more fearsome than many lesser rituals that wizards shun. [...] The one who makes the Vow must be someone who could have chosen to do what the Vow demands of them, and they sacrifice that capacity for choice. And the third wizard, the binder, permanently sacrifices a small portion of their own magic, to sustain the Vow forever.

reads to me more like a sort of permanent, irresistible Imperius. I can see it could be meant the other way, though.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Now I'm not sure if you're serious. The last quote is from the mid-1800s, and the usage is synonymous with "forget" so it wouldn't make sense in ygert's context anyway.

-4gwern9ySo? I use words as rare as that all the time, and it could be an independent invention. Committing government to oblivion as useless and a waste fits in nicely with quotes 2 and 3. So to sum up: the word 'obliviate' exists before Rowling and you were wrong about it not being a real world; then, you were wrong about it not being in the OED; now, you are wrong that it does not fit the usage; and you are still trying to correct me! You well deserve your username - the first half anyway.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Huh. My copy of the OED agrees with Merriam-Webster (and everything I can find online) that there's no real word between "obliterative" and "oblivion". What edition are you referencing?

Anyway, "obviate the need for" is such a common phrasing that I don't feel terribly unjustified in my presumption. I suppose that's for ygert to decide, though.

0gwern9yI am using the Windows Second Edition release from 2009. Screenshot of the 'obliviate' entry I was quoting, which certainly does not say anything about it not existing prior to Rowling: []
-2gwern9yThe Oxford English Dictionary on 'obliviate' (v.): 3 cited examples similar to ygert's usage. Go get yourself a real dictionary before you presume to correct other people.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Wait, is the Unbreakable Vow really unbreakable, or does it just kill you when you break it? I thought it was the first.

1shminux9yThe latter []
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

They allowed lawmakers to legalize the Unforgivables during Voldemort's uprising; I have a hard time believing a great many people would object to a bill allowing a service where Aurors Imperius Azkaban inmates to bind vows.

The larger point being, any society could find or make an outgroup sufficiently unsympathetic to allow regulated use of the Imperius for the public good.

-2Desrtopa9yThe use of the unforgivable curses was only legalized for a fairly brief period, I doubt they explored the space of possible uses very thoroughly And for all we know, they did imperius people to use as binders, but stopped after the war ended and the use of unforgivable curses became illegal again. Also, just because a society could do that, doesn't mean they would. You might say that any society could find or make an outgroup sufficiently unsympathetic that they would be willing to impose slavery on them, and slavery is likely to be a public good if you discount the values of the enslaved, but that doesn't mean that all societies will gravitate to slavery.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Whether or not the True Patronus can block anyone else's Killing Curse, the way it's described above sounds pretty antithetical to me.

0MugaSofer9yOh, I see. Because the True Patronus is a magically embodied preference for life over death ... interesting.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

The Killing Curse is

"A magically embodied preference for death over life, striking within the plane of pure life force... that does sound like a difficult spell to block."

0ikrase9yNot only that but Harry says that wanting them dead needs to be a terminal value in your utility function. Thats what I meant.
0MugaSofer9yI assumed that he blocked Quirrelmort's curse due to their magical interference, not because the True Patronus is actually intended as a way of blocking Avada Kedavera
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Well no, we don't, not specifically. I'd find it a little odd if it did, but I suppose blackmail or threats or FMCs would also work.

0MugaSofer9yWell, in canon it's described as similar to having them as an extension of your body, albeit one with it's own skills and knowledge. So it might count less as "coercing someone into casting" than "casting with someone else's wand". But yeah, it's hardly impossible to force people into helping you.
5Alsadius9yNo, it's clearly Mrs. Barbara Dementor.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Implied, yeah.

"And finally," she said, "Mr. Potter says - this is a direct quote, Albus - whatever kind of Dark Wizard attractant the Headmaster is keeping here, he needs to get it out of this school, now." She couldn't stop the edge in her own voice, that time.

"I asked as much of Flamel," Albus said, the pain clear in his voice. "But Master Flamel has said - that even he can no longer keep safe the Stone - that he believes Voldemort has means of finding it wherever it is hidden - and that he does not consent for it to be guarded anywhere but Hogwarts. Minerva, I am sorry, but it must be done - must!"

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

That says nothing about priorities. It's more important to find the person who framed Hermione than it is to solve the debt, and it's more important to solve the debt than it is which of them solves it. There's no contradiction.

0JTHM9yThere's no reason he can't work on both problems simultaneously.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

"I s'pose you're going to tell me that I don't need to worry about anything and you'll take care of it all?" It came out sounding harsher than she would've wanted, and she felt another stab of guilt for being such a terrible person.

"Nah," Harry said, sounding oddly cheerful. "I can put myself in your shoes well enough to know that if you paid a bunch of money to save me, I'd be trying to pay it back. I'd know it was silly on some level, and I'd still be trying to pay it back all by myself. There's no way I wouldn't understand that

... (read more)
0JTHM9yIn your own quote, you said: 'it's more important to get that sorted immediately than which one of us gets it sorted." Regardless of whether it is urgent, Harry obviously believes it to be so.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

He's explicitly saying he's not relying on her to do it. How could that be any clearer?

0JTHM9yBut if he does remember the gold-and-silver scheme, then he's telling Hermione to go work on a problem that isn't necessary to solve--and there's every likelihood that she'd find out.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

I'm referring to the competence. Canon Draco was a small-minded bully. Remember the Most Dangerous Student in the Classroom bit? Canon Draco made enemies every time he opened his mouth.

8Locke9yAlright, you win there.
5NancyLebovitz9yMOR Draco had a course of education from his father that there was no evidence for in canon.
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