(88) Production Notes

Woo, this was a high-stress episode to make. Previous to this, all voice actors had months of notice that I would need to borrow their talents, and I had all the lines I needed already waiting for me when I was editing the episode together. With this chapter I was calling or emailing people on Sunday asking if they could get lines to me within 7 or 8 days, hoping they were available and scrambling to get out to those who live near me. I had to edit together the chapter with blank spots left in for voices to be inserted later – two of them being dropped in Tuesday afternoon. It was nuts, but everyone came through, and we have a brand-new episode out today! Heck, I even have several new voices! Thank you all!

And OMG, can you believe I got Jay Novella to do Argus Filch? Hellz yes!!

Also, as mentioned on the show, I will be participating in FTBCon, on a panel with David Brin, PZ Myers, and Eliezer Yudkowsky discussing whether human immortality is a good thing or a bad idea in principle. It’ll be broadcast live over Google+ and YouTube on Sunday July 21 at 12:00noon Pacific Time.

I also thought I’d post what Eliezer said about chapter 88 on his Facebook feed:

The cognitive skill taught in Ch. 88 is the insight that I call ‘wasted motion’. If you read Ch. 88 closely, a ‘Tick’ does not occur just because time passes. It occurs after each of Harry’s thoughts (or actions) that predictably do not contribute to [resolving the issue successfully].

For more general example, if you want to solve a problem, then after you’ve solved it, any emotional fretting you did about whether you could solve it will have been a wasted motion in retrospect – those thoughts will predictably not have contributed to reaching the goal in hindsight.

“But if I’m genuinely not sure if I can solve a problem, the value of information about whether I can solve it is high, if the cost of trying and failing is non-negligible!” True, though this depends on the existence of branches where you don’t solve the problem, which isn’t very heroic epistemology. The value of information about the exact level of effort required is even higher, and if it leads you to put in the correct level of effort, that will not have been a wasted motion in retrospect – heroic epistemology certainly allows for possible worlds in which higher levels of effort were required.

But regardless of this sort of obvious theoretical objection, *in practice* you would still be very well advised to fix in your mind the scenario where your goal has been achieved, and ask whether a thought will predictably not have contributed to getting there in retrospect. In a mind which has not practiced detecting wasted motions, there will be many, many wasted motions; so ignore the theoretical objections and just do it for a while.

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