We Want MoR – Chapter 17


Harry attempts to abuse Time with a clever idea, takes a flying lesson, and has a bizarre first encounter with the headmaster.

Original chapters, written by Eliezer Yudkowsky, can be read here and the audiobook chapters, recorded by Eneasz Brodski, can be found earlier in this podcast feed and on the website.

In next week’s episode, we will be covering chapter 18.

LessWrong essay Cached Thoughts

The Relativistic Railgun (also called Peasant Railgun) from DnD

Quick overview of P vs NP if you’re curious.

Discord Link

Album art courtesy of Lorec from The Bayesian Conspiracy podcast’s Discord. Thank you!

Coy on the same Discord manages an RSS feed that compiles the relevant audiobook chapters with the WW MoR counterparts. Just copy and paste that link into your favorite podcast app in the “add by url” option. Thanks, Coy!

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  1. Spoiler warning

    I had a different read on the prime factorization scene. I don’t think that we’re not supposed to think about that sort of thing, it’s just that Time will try to simplify complex loops. What ended up happening is much simpler than Harry’s expectation. This is a compatible take with some other situations later in the story.

    • Sebastian Weinberg

      Yes, Harry is trying to take advantage of the fact that the time turner only allows STABLE time loops — what McGonagall refers to as being unable to change time.

      He is trying to exploit this rule by setting up a situation where all non-correct solutions to the maths problem would result in an unstable loop, thereby forcing the possibility-space of all imaginable iterations to collapse to the ONLY stable loop: the one where he receives the correct answer from his future self right away.

      He did not count on the fact that there are many, many more ways for the loop to be stable, that have nothing at all to do with the maths problem he is trying to solve — like, for example, receiving a dire warning about messing with time that would shock him to his core and cause him to write a dire warning about messing with time…

      This serves as a character-establishing moment for Harry, but also for the story itself.  We’re shown that, given any set of rules or restrictions, Harry will IMMEDIATELY start thinking of ways he can “game the system” for fun and profit — and we’re also shown that the universe of this story doesn’t have any easily exploitable instant-win loopholes.  One might think the latter is obvious, since nobody has exploited them to become God-Emperor of the Universe, but Harry is still holding out hope that this is just because wizards, as a culture, seem so incredibly incurious and scientifically illiterate to him — so maybe there’s no God-Emperor because nobody has properly TRIED to munchkin his way there?

      • To clarify further, there was no alternate version of Harry that experienced some horrifying time travel mishap that lead him to write the “DO NOT MESS WITH TIME” note. All that happened is what we see: Harry tried his clever trick, got the unnerving “DO NOT MESS WITH TIME”, and this was enough to get him to write the same note and close the loop.

  2. This is gonna sound silly, but now I wish to know what poenixes taste like.

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