Babble challenge: 50 ways to escape a locked room

post by jacobjacob · 2020-10-08T05:13:06.985Z · LW · GW · 9 comments

This is a question post.

Contents

  Looking back
  Moving forwards: weekly babble
  Why creativity? 
  Rules
None
  Answers
    TurnTrout
    Slider
    ursusminimus
    Bucky
    johnswentworth
    ryan_b
    Yonge
    haydenblord@gmail.com
    Harmless
    Mark Xu
    Jay Anthony
    Richard_Kennaway
    Vanilla_cabs
    jacobjacob
    CptDrMoreno
    Tetraspace Grouping
    arxhy
    magfrump
    athom
    gjm
    ike
    Dan Weinand
    Jsevillamol
    Ericf
    oczarnecki
None
9 comments

Once again, it is time to become stronger [LW · GW]. 

This week’s challenge: You find yourself in a locked, empty room. You only have the clothes on your body and a phone in your pocket. You have enough energy to not need food or water for 10 years. Your phone has enough battery power to not need to recharge. It has wi-fi. 

Escape. 

You have 1 hour to come up with 50 ways.

Looking back

To last week's [LW · GW] babble champions, who made it to 50 — 

gjm, mr-hire, Tetraspace Grouping, Neel Nanda, ErickBall, Harmless, steven0461, Vanilla_cabs, gogishvilli, justinpombrio, Bautista Cazeaux, tomcatfish, NunoSempere, Unnamed, MikkW, Mati_Roy, James Fadden, James Barry, frontier64, Slider, smiley314. 

— I salute you.

Together we produced more than 1300 ways of going to the moon. (Though there’s likely a lot of overlap.)

I found it inspiring. Both in terms of the turnout (which far surpassed my expectations) and in terms of the creativity of individual submissions. Reading your answers made me realise I can do a lot better. There are other levels to reach. I want to get there. 

Moving forwards: weekly babble

I am hereby committing to doing a babble challenge on LessWrong every week for the coming six weeks (including today). 

(The format might change a bit along the line, but the impetus will remain the same.)

Practice is about building for the long run. 

Showing up every week and putting all that deliberateness into your craft. 

Showing up for years to tread that subtle incline, until one day you find yourself side by side with a beginner. They look upon your mountain of compound returns and all they see is magic. But you know that “sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect”.

Eventually I’ll switch away from the babble challenge to other things. But what matters is to retain that will to improve, that burning fire to advance further. And I want LessWrong to be a place that sustains a flourishing culture of practice and self-improvement. 

If you want that as well, I invite you to join me. Comment and commit to showing up for this week, and then five more. 

(If you just want to try it out once and then reevaluate, that’s also fine. You’re welcome to do that.)

Why creativity? 

I feel like so much of our ability to make the world great is bottlenecked by creativity. 

We don’t know how to solve the alignment problem. We haven’t unravelled all the mysteries of science. There are trillion dollar companies that haven’t been founded.  

Somehow, someone will need to reach into that weird aether where insight is born, and pluck out a solution to share with the world. 

Creativity is not the only thing we need. We also need good judgement. Concrete skills like design, coding, management and research ability. Money. Great teammates. Luck.

But creativity is a crucially important component. I’d be surprised if I regret investing in my creativity.

Rules

It's fine if you don't manage all of them in one hour. But any answers must contain 50 ideas. That’s the babble challenge. We’re here to challenge ourselves. 

This is really important. Sharing babble in public is a scary experience. I don’t want people to leave this having back-chained the experience “If I am creative, people will look down on me”. So be generous with those upvotes. 

If you comment on someone else’s post, focus on making exciting, novel ideas work -- instead of tearing apart worse ideas. 

Reward people for babbling -- don’t punish them for not pruning. 

I might remove comments that break this rule. 

The prompt is very underspecified. You don't know if there are doors or windows; or, if so, what they are like. You don't know the material of the wall. Use your creativity — feel free to come up with solutions that only work in some of those scenarios. 

If it helps, imagine that you're a fiction writer. You're searching for interesting ways to continue the above story.

If you spend 5 min agonising over not having anything to say, you’re doing it wrong. You’re being too critical. Just lower your standards and say something, anything. Soon enough you’ll be back on track. 

This is really, really important. It’s the only way I’m able to complete these exercises (and I’ve done a few of them in the last few days).

--

Now, go forth and babble! 50 ways of escaping a locked room!

Answers

answer by TurnTrout · 2020-10-26T03:29:38.675Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did this with my family! We had a lot of fun.

(Misread prompt as "you have 10 years of food & water")

1. Kick down the door
2. Unlock the door
3. Use high-pressure water source to explode the room

4. Contact someone and get them to open the door

5. Learn how to pick locks and pick the locks

6. Eat through the door

7. Bust through the thin drywall

8. End up in a low-probability universe where you teleport outside the room

9. Wait for someone to come open the door

10. Upload yourself and have yourself reconstructed on the outside

11. Build an AGI to solve the problem

12. Hire someone to come blow up the door

13. Go on an extreme diet and slide under the door

14. Train hard at karate so you can break off the hinges with one blow

15. Use a rocket launcher

16. Climb out through ventilation shaft

17. Synthesize corrosive compound that eats through the wall

18. Tunnel underground with your hands

19. Take screw from glasses, burrow out hole in door so you can reach hand through and unlock it

20. Take your shoe and hit the bolts out

21. Use hemp in food to grow a rope and then slip under the door and wait for someone to trip and then let them know you're there

22. Scream at resonant frequency of the wall so it explodes

23. Trigger sprinkler system to soften drywall

24. Burn down whole room and hope your remains are enterred outside of the room

25. Wear your way through the wall

26. Eat so much food that you get bigger than the room and then it explodes

27. Download blueprints for the room and then exploit weak points

28. Use avocado pits to cut out cinderblock

29. Find out how to make explosives from food (methane gas?)

30. Use acidity of something to wear away metal in room

31. Train super hard to run fast enough opposite to Earth's spin to stop its spin and blow the room away via inertia (this wouldn't work)

32. Build a 3D printer that takes food as input and produces keys to the door

33. Jump hard enough to bust head through ceiling

34. Use light + unlimited energy to wood burn out of the room

35. Wave your hands so fast the air turns to plasma

36. Call the police and tell them you have weed in the room

37. Let food rot; bug eggs hatch; bugs chew through the door

38. Hire a hitman to kidnap you

39. Climb out through the window

40. Rip off two of your toes and rub them together to make a fire

41. Wait for tornado

42. Wait for earthquake

43. Wait until sun expands and then "your" molecules likely end up outside of the former room's molecules

44. Spin arms at right angle to get lift to turn yourself into a human helicopter and fly out of the skylight

45. Use tine on belt to pick lock

46. Get the building condemned (via your phone) and torn down

47. Sand away log walls with sandblock

48. Drill through the wall by spinning your hand quickly

49. Scratch out with really long fingernails

50. Yell for help

answer by Slider · 2020-10-09T18:52:39.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Smash door with with hands and elbow tackle
  2. Pick the lock
  3. Claw throught the door
  4. Search room for supplies to take down door
  5. Smash windows and air vents for alternative exits
  6. Call emergency number
  7. Call friends to come aid
  8. Rely on friends to come looking for you for becoming a missing person
  9. Fry lock electronics with phone battery
  10. Instigate carpet bombing of country you last remember to be in to take down the room
  11. Make wifi-hotspot with network name "come free me from the locked room"
  12. Dig a tunnel out (samey with 3?)
  13. Call lock manufacturers to reinstall locks of the type that the door has
  14. Hit walls to echolocate surroundings to get idea where you are and call buddy
  15. Use plethora of water available to pressurise the door open
  16. Leak water outside of the room to alert passerbys of unusual goings on
  17. Use water to grow mould and/or to rust and degrade door hinges
  18. Yell "help come help me"
  19. Knock on door and ask why you have been captured
  20. Use excessive amount of phone charge to make a particle accelerator to knock down door
  21. Fast to lure kidnappers in to prevent hostage loss
  22. Meditate to remember in detail how you got into the room (to know who to contact)
  23. Look at architectural style and materials and research wikipedia etc to narrow down where you might be
  24. Make your phone listen to other wifi-networks and hack into google maps or other services who know how to use such data for locating
  25. Post on internet message boards to ask for help
  26. Make a alternate reality game that lures people to find you (samey with 25?)
  27. Grow and rinse fingernails and hair for years to make implementes to get further reach beyond door
  28. Use your homeostasis products to make methane enough to blow the door up
  29. Use stomach acid to dissolve lock
  30. Hack into a very good listening satellite and make phone do a strong as possible signal to find yourself from space
  31. Escape into imagination and memory
  32. Hack other wifi soures and time for them to send signal that maxes out at the location of the lock to EMP it.
  33. Try electronic lock combinations
  34. Open electronic lock to reverse engineer it
  35. Smell air to deduce where you are
  36. Make scary lunatic rituals to try to scare outside captors to come stop you
  37. Try all kinds of esoteric rituals to summon helpers
  38. Jump down from windows, use clothes for rope / parachute
  39. Drill holes into room to let water erode a passage over multipe years (hope room is undergound)
  40. Use clothes to seal door for gas pressure and use metabolism products to increase inside pressure to hopefully dehinge the door
  41. Rub door to make fire or melt parts
  42. Use clothes to create a lot of rope to swing and pull on the door constantly
  43. Use internet to try to make people more earthquakes to hopefully tear down your walls
  44. Trigger nuclear war to tear down walls (might not be super conductive to good health)
  45. Try different rythms of moving back and forth to create a resonance effect to tear down walls (hope room is high up)
  46. Tap wall for morse code to communicate with nearby fellow prisoners and stage a rebellion
  47. State that you want to go home and that kidnapping is illegal and immoral
  48. Try say all kinds of codewords hoping one of them is a scenario safe-word
  49. Deface the room so that maintainer of the room would start to feel sorry for it or that your story will make it to the newspapers
  50. Jump up and down and in general burn a lot of calories to make the room wear down faster.

~40 minutes

Over doing it to keep safely over 50

4. Room was empty, search can't produde items: Claw material off walls to use as sand to wedge door to wear it down under pressure

8. Doesn't involve any action, thus can't fullfil any verb (such as escape): Make string and rope go throguth keyhole to mechanically wear it down

 12. is a repeat: Echolocation to find structural weakpoint and then karate down the walls

20. is a repeat of 9 (and lack of tools hard to pull from your body and clothes): Use body metabooites to make toxic/nauseating bomb and apply to prison guards and hope a investigation party opens the door

 26. is a repeat: Use blood chemistry to weaken or bloat the lock (regenerate blood from big food supply)

31. Fails to escape: Upload yourself into a outside body

~ 55 minutes

answer by ursusminimus · 2020-10-08T15:13:14.150Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That was fun. Made me sign up after years of lurking :)

Hope I will get the spoiler right

1. Kick in the door

2. Break the window with a fist, climb out

3. Dive roll through the window

4. Front flip through the window

5. Throw your phone with enough force to break the door

6. Throw your phone with enough force to break the wall

7. Ram head first through the wall

8. Call your mother to come get you

9. Call the emergency numbers so someone gets you

10. Get a date via tinder, then let them get you out.

11. Convince a random stranger on some obscure web forum to get you out

12. Hack into the buildings security via WiFi and unlock the door electronically

13. Let your phone emit resonant sounds to break the window glass

14. Open the window, yell loudly to get a passer-by to get you out

15. Climb through the air vents

16. Use the phone to dig a hole in the floor

17. Break your phone, use the glass shards to carve a hole in the door

18. Order a eascape kit from Amazon, get it delivered you you, realize you don't need it cause the delivery guy opened the door

19. Meditate until you have an out of body experience and leave the room

20. Start a cult online, let your followers free you

21. Hack a launching rocket, redirect it, let it crash in a way that it destroys a wall but does not kill you

21. Make the singularity happen, upload your mind to the net, leave that way

22. Incite a violent revolution, hope that the chaos will ensure the building gets damaged and leave.

23. Provoke Trump into starting a nuclear war on twitter, leave after the building is destroyed.

24. Hire a drug cartel tunnel boring team to dig you out

25. Carefully disassemble the ceiling tiles to realize there is no roof and leave

26. Google "how to escape a locked room" and follow the instructions

27. Check the less wrong babble challenge on the same topic for new ideas, pick the one you like most

28. Realize that your jacket has an integrated survival tool kit (you are THAT guy) and pick the lock with the mandatory lock pick utility

29. Simply teleport yourself through sheer power of will

30. Change your aggregate state to fluid, flow through the gaps in the door, change shape back.

31. Use your laser eye superpower to cut a hole through the roof

32. Realize you are superman and fly through the roof.

33. Hack the electronic door by making an elaborate electromagnetic pattern by manipulating your phone

34. Order a Uber/Taxi, ask the driver to open the door from the outside on pickup

35. Mediate for 10 years, transcend reality, walk through the wall on the last day because walls are socially constructed.

36. Wake up from the bad dream.

37. Panic, spend 7 years in the room, then suddenly the simulation encounters a bug and you appear somewhere else.

38. Lick the walls that are lined with some kind of drug that gives you super strength, use that strength to get out.

39. Yell and hit the door until someone outside hears you and helps you get out.

40. Run around in circles at such high speed that the heat you create will melt the building around you.

41. Eat the walls because they are made out of candy.

42. Fart. Short-circuit the phone to cause a spark, igniting the gas. The explosion damages the door, leave.

43. Become a black hole, imploding the building around you. Turn back into your regular form at precisely the moment when the building is gone, but nothing else.

44. Realize the phone's battery is powerful enough to last to many years - short circuit it on the metal door frame to melt it away.

45. Jump out of the window, using your jacket as a parachute.

46. Wait until someone else randomly comes by to enter the room, leave. You have 10 years after all.

47. Wait until the inevitable errors during construction present themselves in the form of the door falling off. Leave.

48. Train a neural network to generate escape plans for you, follow the instructions.

49. Join a "locked in a room anonymous" self help group online, follow the instructions the new member flyer.

50. Become a famous influencer on Instagram, make a contract with some advertising company, wait for them to come by to sign the paperwork.

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T16:34:11.118Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Welcome to the group! #47 is hilarious.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2020-10-08T19:43:43.600Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Welcome! Sorry for your comment getting caught in the spam filter, and you did get the spoilers wrong, but I fixed it for you :) 

answer by Bucky · 2020-10-09T12:10:30.146Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Smash out through window
  2. Cause overheat in phone battery to explode way out
  3. Chip away at wall with phone
  4. Upload consciousness to phone, escape via wifi
  5. Wrap shirt around fist and punch way out
  6. Use wifi to request help from police
  7. Use wifi to request help from friends
  8. Use wifi to order package to own location, hope delivery man is resourceful
  9. Dig out through floor
  10. Craft phone into lock pick
  11. Kick door in
  12. Use phone part to unscrew hinges
  13. Remove door handle etc to get to lock mechanism
  14. Pray
  15. Use steel from boot toecap to dig through wall
  16. Smash head against wall
  17. Are there lights in the room? If there are I’ll use them somehow
  18. Jump high enough to smash through ceiling
  19. Wait until someone opens the door
  20. Do lots of exercise to become super strong, then smash out
  21. Escape in my dreams
  22. Examine floor, wall, ceiling, use strongest material to smash weakest
  23. Found mega successful company via wifi, use profits to fund search and rescue for me
  24. Become ace hacker, use global surveillance to find location and organise rescue
  25. Ask for ideas on how I should escape in a LW post where I pretend that this is a hypothetical question intended to promote creativity
  26. Use phone part to create laser to bore way out (research this on wifi!)
  27. Shout for help
  28. Boost wifi signal to get attention of anyone passing
  29. Increase power to phone speakers to create sonic wave to knock down walls
  30. Use phone speaker to create resonant frequency for wall to vibrate it down
  31. Find out how air is being replenished – look for weak points
  32. Investigate what weird physical/chemical effect is enabling me and my phone to store so much energy – use this new discovery to power my way out
  33. Plead nicely with the people on the other side of the door
  34. Offer bribes to any guards
  35. Just unlock the door – maybe it doesn’t need a key
  36. If room is small enough, climb up walls by wedging between opposite walls. Escape through ceiling
  37. Chip hand/footholes in the walls to escape through ceiling
  38. Wait for lock/hinges to rust, encourage this by breathing on them
  39. Use phone battery acid to etch way out (can’t believe it took me this long for that one)
  40. Force self to be sick, use stomach acid similarly
  41. Use clothes/poop to create fire (light via phone spark). Burn any vulnerable parts of lock/door
  42. Scrape out using finger/toenails (I have 10 years worth of nails)
  43. If I find myself in this situation I hereby pre-commit myself to using all of my available resources not to escape but to reign down hellfire remotely on whoever put me in there (avoid getting put in this situation in the first place)
  44. Realise that as an introvert I may actually be in a close approximation of heaven and live out the rest of my life in peace
  45. Use zoom/whatsapp to virtually escape, even if physical body is still stuck
  46. Place myself in suspended animation and await rescue
  47. Use belt buckle to dig way out
  48. Try the doorhandle – it is definitely locked, right?
  49. Use glasses to focus light from phone torch to melt way out 
  50. Rub hands together until sore, use saw to cut phone in half, put 2 halves together to make whole, climb out through the hole
comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T16:39:16.487Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I feel I still have room to improve my creative applications of bodily fluids.

Now you have to read them all, don't you, dear reader?

answer by johnswentworth · 2020-10-08T18:26:25.707Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Unlock the door and leave the room. Why did I even lock myself in here in the first place?
  2. Oh, right, that’s why I locked myself in here. Wait for COVID to pass, then unlock the door and leave the room.

Ok but seriously…

Constraints: floor, ceiling, walls, door/window.

Resources: clothes, phone, open communication lines to the world. We have wifi, so either the walls aren’t metal (or have large holes if they are), or there’s power in here. There’s probably a light (and power for it). There’s whatever materials the doors/windows/walls/ceiling/floor is made of, any of which could potentially be removed. Also I can heal, while the room presumably can’t.

Let’s start with communication…

  1. Call 911, wait for some sort of first responder to let me out.
  2. Call a lawyer, wait for them to get me out.
  3. Make bail.
  4. Call a friend/family member, wait for them to get me out. My family would call this “the Bob approach”, since it’s definitely what my grandfather would do, except he’d somehow find a way to acquire booze while waiting.
  5. … order some pizza and booze for delivery via Uber eats in conjunction with the above.
  6. Call a locksmith, wait for them to get me out.
  7. Arrange for demolition of the building, and hopefully avoid any falling debris.
  8. Meta: order escape-tools on Amazon and have them delivered to the locked room.
  9. If someone would prevent Amazon orders from passing into the room, instead call that friend-of-a-friend who may or may not know a guy who can get things delivered to places they’re not supposed to go. For a fee.
  10. Post blatantly racist comments on twitter and geotag them. Wait for an angry mob to batter down the door.

Ok, on to physical solutions…

  1. Punch through walls. Actually not too hard if it’s just standard drywall, but make sure to find the studs first (just knock on the wall and listen for which parts aren’t hollow).
  2. Break window.
  3. Kick down door. We’ve got ample time, so we can take 20 on the Strength check.
  4. If it’s a drop-ceiling, climb out through the crawl space above the panels.
  5. … that reminds me, there’s probably vents. Climbing out through the vents is a classic.
  6. Metal bars on the windows? Pee on them, take apart the phone, then connect one terminal of the phone battery to the bar and the other to the urine, and wait for the bar to be eaten away.
  7. Rub the same spot on the wall every day. My skin will grow back, the wall will not. Eventually, there will be a hole through which to climb out.
  8. Rub the same spot on the wall every day with my socks. Hopefully the Darn Tough sock company is serious about that lifetime warranty…
  9. Tear up and tie clothes into a whip. When whipping it, the end can hit supersonic speeds, so hopefully it will hit the wall/floor/ceiling/door pretty hard. Whip repeatedly until hole forms, then climb out.
  10. Hit wall/floor/ceiling/door with phone until it breaks. The wall/floor/ceiling/door that is, not the phone.
  11. Hit wall/floor/ceiling/door with phone until the phone breaks. Use shards to pick lock.
  12. Go full Shawshank and scratch my way out with the phone.

Brainstorming more generally…

  1. Jump up and down and make lots of noise until the neighbors come and ask me to please quiet down. Then, agree to quiet down if they let me out.
  2. Order sledgehammer on Amazon then bash my way out.
  3. Order screwdriver on Amazon, remove door handle, and leave.
  4. Order screwdriver on Amazon, remove door hinges, and leave.
  5. Take apart phone and use a flat piece as a screwdriver to remove hinges.
  6. Knock on the door and see if anybody opens it.
  7. Order drill on Amazon, then drill through lock mechanism.
  8. Use the iPhone 638’s full-body destructive scan functionality, then 3D print a fresh copy of myself somewhere outside of the room.
  9. Call Eliezer Yudkowsky, and ask how he got out of the box. Then try that.
  10. Physically destroy phone’s antenna, then program a decidedly-less-than-friendly AI on the phone and let it figure out how to get out of the box.
  11. Define an imaginary closed surface around me, just within the bounds of the walls/floor/ceiling/door. Define the side I’m on to be “outside”.
  12. Just do my time and leave when the sentence completes.
  13. If the walls/floor/ceiling/door are flammable, gather some lint from clothes, short the phone battery to light it, and burn my way out. (Kindling? Who needs kindling?)
  14. Remove the light fixture, and pull the wires out from behind it. Use them to construct a pulley, then pull the door/window off by brute force
  15. Order a pulley and wire/rope on Amazon, then pull the door off by brute force.
  16. Order a hydraulic ram on Amazon, then push the door off by brute force.
  17. Order a crowbar on Amazon, then lever the door open.
  18. Flash the lights on-and-off saying SOS in Morse code until somebody comes to help.
  19. Identify the resonant frequency of the room, then have phone play that tone until something breaks.
  20. After leaving the room, travel back in time to let myself out.
  21. Hide. When the guard thinks I’ve escaped and comes in to look, hit him on the head and run out through the door.
  22. Set up a betting market online, and post a large bet that I will not be let out of the room.
  23. Brute-force the numeric keypad on the door. This will go faster if I first spend a few hours remembering how to generate a de Bruijn sequence.
  24. Wait for malnutrition to set in, then squeeze out between the bars.
  25. Just wait. Sooner or later, someone will have some reason to open the door.
  26. Make a LessWrong post asking people to brainstorm ideas for escaping a locked room, then execute whichever of those ideas sounds most promising.

(The auto-numbering doesn't like breaking things into chunks, but that's 50 total.)

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T16:41:41.456Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Regarding #3: I cannot believe it did not occur to me to plan based on the purpose of the room I was in! Ingenious.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-08T23:41:15.113Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nice! Physical solution #6 is pretty cool, among others. 

Curious if you used the same mental motion to do this as described here [LW · GW]? 

comment by johnswentworth · 2020-10-09T02:57:08.906Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, though more intuitively/implicitly than intentionally/explicitly. I actually made an effort to avoid it, at times, in order to increase variance among the solutions - otherwise I'd probably have a lot more solutions in the cluster of communication #8/9.

In general, that motion is good for "deep" thinking, in the sense of generating plans which require multiple intermediate steps (and where it may not be obvious what the "right" intermediate steps are). In that case, coming up with actually good intermediate steps is what matters, and the barrier/path mental motion is useful for that. In this exercise, on the other hand, we're just going for lots of variance on a "shallow" problem (i.e. just one or two steps), and making the plan "good" is explicitly not a priority.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T07:16:22.133Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I mean, ultimately the hope is that the skill could be chunked and then transfer to deep problems. 

One mechanism is that deep problems require a few little, intermediate steps of pure creativity, where this would be helpful. 

Though I am curious if you'd claim that there's actually a qualitatively different kind of creativity at play for deep problem, compared to shallow ones, and as a result that things won't transfer. (And, if you claim that, what sort of babble challenge prompt or game format would help with that.)

comment by johnswentworth · 2020-10-13T16:36:26.138Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Though I am curious if you'd claim that there's actually a qualitatively different kind of creativity at play for deep problem, compared to shallow ones, and as a result that things won't transfer.

I do think that, although it's tricky to explain the difference in concrete terms. At a theoretical level, it's the difference between solving a problem where lots of solutions work and it's easy to tell that they work, vs a problem where most solutions don't work and it's hard to tell which ones don't work without further thought/effort.

Here's an example which I used to use as an interview problem: fill in a blank Sudoku board. There's a lot more than 50 ways to do it, but if you just start writing in random numbers then you'll probably get stuck.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T19:24:39.216Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

explain the difference in concrete terms


(The following is pre-rigorous and tries to make legible some vague intuitions.) 

My current toy model is that there's a kind of cognition where you're loading up all the constraints in working memory, and then aim your babble to fire given the constraints. But the basic "babble firepower" is really the same. 

You also need the to learn to integrate new gears into your babble. For example, formulating the right maths theorems requires learning and manipulating a bunch of unfamiliar abstractions. And you need to have those abstractions be readily accessible by your babble muscle, as opposed to painstakingly loaded up with deliberate, S2 reflection.

But it still seems to that "figuring out which solutions work" is still a separate pruning step, and the babble component is largely similar?

I'm not saying the babble goes all the way, but that there's some micro-level, elementary cognitive motion that's the same. 

fill in a blank Sudoku board. There's a lot more than 50 ways to do it, but if you just start writing in random numbers then you'll probably get stuck.

Interesting! I guess you also have "Send a satellite into orbit without using a rocket?"

answer by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T15:50:30.358Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1. Try the door; it may be unlock able from the inside.

2. Check for windows; open window.

3. If window locked, break window.

4. If window break-resistant, break out window frame.

5. If door locked at knob, break knob off.

6. Break door open, via mule kick or hip check.

7. If steel or similar, break doorframe out of wall.

8. If door and wall resistant to single burst, use rhythmic slams.

9. If window and wall resistant to single burst, use rhythmic slams.

10. Check for trapdoors to lower floors or basement.

11. Check for attic access to upper floors, attic, or roof.

12. Use phone with wifi to research the doors and/or windows.

13. Use phone with wifi to ask friend/family member to unlock it for me.

14. Use phone with wifi to ask security at the front desk to unlock it for me.

15. Use phone with wifi to ask friend/family member to bring tools to destroy door.

16. Check walls; if drywall or similar, break through.

17. Check for ventilation shafts; if large enough, crawl through (fat chance, I’m huge)

18. Check ceiling; if it is like an office building, might be able to climb over the wall

19. If can’t climb over the wall, may be able to harvest roof parts as tools to use on door, walls, windows, etc.

20. Check for fire alarm. Pull in hopes the fire department or security team come to reset.

21. Check for smoke alarm. Pull in hopes the fire department or security team come to reset.

22. Use phone to call police.

23. Use phone to call fire department.

24. Use phone to post plea for help on a public forum, like Reddit or Craigslist or whatever.

25. If electronic lock, research with phone to see if it has a default password or manufacturers code.

26. If electronic lock with keypad, use phone to determine key length and manually try combinations.

27. Use cell phone to play the most annoying song on earth on repeat into the ventilation shaft until personnel give up and open the door for me.

28. Stomp a hole in the floor and drop down into the lower floors.

29. Jump up to punch a hole in the ceiling climb into the upper floors.

30. Check for electrical outlets or wires in the ceiling. Rip these partially out, and use them to shock the electronic lock on the door.

31. Let the stink of urine/feces drive other people in the building to come investigate.

32. Piss on the floor, and let the floor rot away over years.

33. Same thing, but the walls. It’s really not worth it for the ceiling; I’ll not sit in a room dripping piss.

34. Use phone to make up rumors about the company that owns the building until they go bankrupt and have to sell; building will be inspected pre-sale, and let me out.

35. Break lightbulbs for sharp glass, and scratch my way out.

36. Use phone to post a reward for my release.

37. Capitalize on an unrelated disaster, like a bomb goes off, or a fire, or a tornado damages the room to escape.

38. Use wiring to cause a short, which will eventually require repair crews to get into the room.

39. Use phone to report a bomb threat, and describe my room as the bomb’s location.

40. Rip a stud out of the wall to use as a battering ram on the door.

41. Use cell phone battery to start actual fire, and gamble desperately that they will get to you before you suffocate or burn to death.

42. Use phone to determine resonant frequency of door lock, and play a sound at that frequency until it wiggles open.

43. Use phone to determine resonant frequency of window material, and play a sound at that frequency until it cracks.

44. Use urine and feces to craft a low-yield manure bomb, and use cell phone battery or electric wiring to trigger it and blow the door.

45. Spit, piss, or bleed on the electric lock to short it out. Maybe even cry.

46. Yell for help through the door/window/ventilation

47. Yell fire through the door/window/ventilation

48. Stand naked in front of the window so the police arrest me for indecent exposure

49. Pantomime being murdered in front of the window so passerby report it to the police

50. Pound SOS on the door or wall in morse code

comment by Bucky · 2020-10-13T21:14:05.798Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For the record you use at least as many bodily fluids as I do!

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2020-10-13T23:37:06.780Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This comment is really weird out of context in recent discussion.

comment by Bucky · 2020-10-14T08:21:05.194Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Haha, yes, context [LW(p) · GW(p)].

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-15T13:14:45.936Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who else would notice but another person of culture? But, you were clever enough to consider that we have some actually made of acid, so I must dwell in envy.

comment by Bucky · 2020-10-15T13:52:23.755Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm happy to see the effect of stomach acid on metal has been studied scientifically. I didn't really expect this to work but for thin metal it would be surprisingly effective (63% mass reduction of razor blade after 24 hours). Given 10 years...

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T19:17:33.369Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I should have thought of #26. It's sort of trivial since you have 10 years. 

#44 is disgustingly clever :) 

General spirit of #34 is also pretty neat. 

answer by Yonge · 2020-10-11T19:53:23.842Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) Phone a friend to come and open the door for you

2) Break the window with my fists and jump out

3) If the floor is made of soil a tunnel can be dug under the walls

4) Use the power in the phone to start a fire and set fire to the door

5) Disassemble the phone and try to make a key to pick the lock

6) Crawl out through a convenient ventilation duct

7) If the lock is connected to the internet the phone could be used to hack it and trick it into unlocking

8) Wait for whoever locked you in to open the door, knock them unconscious and go through the open door

9)  Jump up to the low roof and open the skylight

10) Cry out at the top of my voice, to ask someone outside to let me out

11) If the lock can be unlocked by saying the right password keep guessing it until you get it right

12) Dismantle the phone to make an improvised screwdriver, and unscrew the screws holding the lock in place

13) Post messages on every social media account, and hope someone will pick them up and free you.

14) Look for and find a secret passage leading out

15) Contact a good lawyer on the phone, to get the authorities to let you out of jail.

16) Slide piece of clothing under the door, push key out of lock, pull clothing and key under door, use key to open lock

17) Use phone to send money to someone as a bribe to let you out

18) If the phone happens to have the key stored on it to open the lock just use.

19) Pick away at the mortar holding the brisk together until they can be removed.

20) Use acid in the phones battery to melt the lock

21) Pretend to be dead, so whoever locked you in will take your body outside.

22)  Bang out an SOS signal on the door in the hope it will attract the attention of someone who will let you out

23) Call the fire brigade to get you out

24) Take something thin out of the phone, insert it between the door and the frame, and try and force the lock back

25) Crawl out through a large gap under the door

26) Call a locksmith to let you out

27) Keep running into the door until it gives way

28) Keep jumping up and down on the floor till it gives way and you fall into the room below.

29) Just wait. If the room is in a bad state of repair one of the walls might collapse allowing me to walk out.

30) Who cares about the physical world. If I have wi-fi I can escape virtually into cyberspace

31) Pray to a God to let me out

32) Find something magnetic in the phone. Use the magnet to draw the bolt on the other side of the door back

33) My clothes are an improvised suit or armour partly made up of a saw (I was attending a fancy dress party). Use the saw to cut through the lock

34) Set my clothes on fire. The lock is programmed to open if a fire is detected, so I can walk out

35) Use the phone to create a program for a super intelligent AI, and leave it to figure out how to get me out

36) Post a creative thinking exercise to Less Wrong: Find 50 ways to get out of a locked room and hope someone comes up with a usable idea

37) Use the phone to contact my driverless car. It can ram the walls to break through and let me out

38) The room is precariously balanced on a cliff edge. Moving to one side will cause it to topple and then break up

39) Someone forgot to build a roof, so I can jump up grab the top of the walls and hall myself out

40) If there is a letter box in the door I can reach through it and unbolt the door

41) The lock is made out of glass. Sing at its resonant frequency so it shatters and the door can be opened

42) Just walk up to the door. It just happens to be a type that automatically unlocks and opens when someone approaches

43) Fiddle with the phone so it starts transmitting at a frequency that will interfere with other important transmissions. The authorities will need to come and unlock the room to stop the interference.

44) The walls of the room are made of light weight plastic which is not fixed to the floor, so I can pick the entire room up and slip under it.

45) Remove some wire from the phone, push it through the letterbox and try to pick up the key which has been left on a nearby shelf with it.

46) I left a spare key buried in the ground just in case I got locked in. Dig it out and use it to escape.

47) There is a big whole in a wall that has been covered over with a piece of canvas. I can find something sharp in the phone to cut my way out.

48) Kill this body and activate a clone which is not locked inside the room.

49) If our technology advanced enough that we can live without food or water for 10 years maybe its advanced enough that I can just teleport out.

50) Keep punching the wall until it is worn away and I can step out

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T16:44:05.113Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#36 is positively artful in its cheekery.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T18:56:22.990Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hilariously, that was actually one of the most common responses across answers. I've seen it ~5 times! (And I didn't consider at all while making the challenge and answering myself.)

answer by HBLord (haydenblord@gmail.com) · 2020-10-09T18:01:59.512Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

 

  1. Punch through walls
  2. Shout for help until someone hears and helps
  3. If in california, wait for a wildfire to burn the walls down
  4. Call 911
  5. Torrent a lot of disney movies on my phone, escape when lawyers arrive to deliver court summons.
  6. Call a demolition crew to knock walls down.
  7. Call a locksmith
  8. Room has multiple doors. Go through one that’s not locked.
  9. Fire escape
  10.  Create an elaborate buried treasure plot with the final location inside the room and post it online, escape when treasure hunters arrive.
  11.  Don’t pay rent, escape when the landlord tries to show the unit to prospective new tennants.
  12.  Die
  13.  Set wifi name to “Help I’m locked in this room please come save me”
  14.  Open window and climb out
  15.  Throw phone through window to break it, then climb out.
  16.  Break window, use glass shard to carve through the door.
  17.  Post online asking for help
  18.  Call the local news to get the story out about whomever put you in this situation. Use the wave of awareness and support to get locals banded together towards aiding your escape.
  19.  Record evidence of your miraculous ability to subsist without food or water, offer to teach the secret to anyone that finds and rescues you.
  20.  Call FBI tip line and tell them a wanted criminal is hiding at your location.
  21.  Dig through the floor.
  22.  Order lock picks online with specific delivery instructions to slide package under the door. Use them to pick lock.
  23.  Chew through the door/walls
  24.  Keep running into the wall until the gaps between atoms randomly align and you slip through.
  25.  Start an internet cult. After years of dedication, “reveal” to members that heavenly salvation can be found at your precise location.
  26.  Knock on the door until someone hears and helps.
  27.  Set up a website for a “reverse escape room” and charge some corporate team-building group money to come rescue you.
  28.  Carve through door with the corner of my phone
  29.  If window is too high to escape from, grow hair for years, braid it into a rope, then climb down.
  30.  Confidently boast online that my room is “inpenetrable” and challenge people to try and get in.
  31.  Offer to give the phone with 10-year battery life to whomever rescues me.
  32.  Setup a business that allows people to take out their anger on the exterior walls of your room for a fee.
  33.  Post a babble challenge on less wrong to generate ideas, steal the best one.
  34.  Rapidly shuffle feet until you wear through the floor.
  35.  If room is truly empty it would be a vacuum. Make a small hole in a wall and hope the force of air rushing in widens it or pulls something useful through.
  36.  Call mom.
  37.  Grow out fingernails for years, use them to carve my way out.
  38.  Pry pins from door hinges
  39.  Kick knob off of the door, manipulate latch from the inside
  40.  Bust up drywall until you find wires, use wires to spark a fire on one wall. Escape when fire burns big enough hole, or when firefighters break through to put it out.
  41.  Take off my pants and tie a knot at the bottom of one pant leg. Put the phone inside the pant leg and use it as a flail to more effectively smash through door, window, etc.
  42.  Claim that I am doing a hunger strike to advance some cause. Live-stream life in the empty room to prove my commitment. 
  43.  Make crazy reckless investments using trading apps. Either you make lots of money to help fund escape efforts, or someone is bound to come after you because of your massive debt — escape when they arrive.
  44.   Leverage your ability to go a decade without food into an astronaut job on a long-term space mission. (spend years educating yourself online if necessary). NASA will arrange for your escape once they’ve hired you.
  45.  Write a self-help book “I found myself while in a locked empty room, and you can too.” Leverage increase notoriety/money towards rescue.
  46.  Intentionally damage phone’s massive battery, causing thermal runaway and an explosion that makes a hole for me to escape through.
  47.  Unlock the room and leave.
  48.  Do some illegal stuff online and get yourself arrested.
  49.  Do some illegal stuff online and don’t get arrested. (You’ve escaped punishment)
  50.  Do nothing. (The room is an escape from the crazy outside world)
comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T16:36:49.852Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am particularly a fan of #5 and #43!

answer by Harmless · 2020-10-10T12:54:06.632Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Pick the lock
  2. Smash down the door
  3. Unscrew the door from its hinges and remove it
  4. Escape through a vent
  5. Hack the door
  6. Alter your administration records to show that you ought to be released
  7. Wait 10 years for natural administration changes to destabilise your holders until it is no longer remembered that you should be kept here
  8. Use a significant portion of your 10 years of energy to create an explosion that destroys the walls
  9. Walk out between the comically spaced bars
  10. Bend the bars to allow you to escape
  11. Dig into the wall and remove the bars from where they were mounted
  12. Dig out through a tunnel
  13. Smash through the wall
  14. Dig through the wall
  15. Dig through the ceiling
  16. Bribe the guards
  17. Persuade the guards
  18. Seduce the guards
  19. Use your phone to contact people outside to break you out (probably bribed)
  20. Make your imprisonment a political thing, and then wait for administration change
  21. Make your imprisonment a political thing, and then wait for your supporters to break you out
  22. Write and publish a high-quality book series under a pseudonym using your real face, make yourself a prominent social figure, purchase a house remotely and pay someone to make it look lived-in, and then one day act as though you have suddenly been mistaken for someone else and kidnapped
  23. Use the energy in your phone battery to create an explosion to destroy a wall
  24. Wait for someone else to escape and let everyone else out
  25. Use the energy in your phone battery to melt the bars
  26. Use the energy in your phone battery to melt the door lock bolt
  27. Hire someone outside to invent teleportation, and then teleport you out
  28. Invent teleportation remotely using your phone to access lab assets, and then teleport yourself out
  29. Create an AI on your phone to vastly improve the data gain from using your camera, use this to scan yourself, and use your phone to access lab assets outside and print an identical copy of yourself, and then terminate yourself
  30. Create an AI on your phone, and then let it do the work of figuring out the rest of the plan
  31. Figure out the resonant frequency of the door, and then use your phone to destroy it
  32. Ditto, but for the walls
  33. Ditto, but for the bars
  34. Conquer the world remotely, and then let yourself out
  35. Hack a 3D printer outside, print a robot, and then guide that robot to get you out
  36. Hack the five most prominent social media websites, and guide the world towards freeing you (or your reference class)
  37. Hack the five most prominent social media websites, and use your influence to dismantle the influence and property of the owners of where you are being kept
  38. Buy the-place-where-you-are-being-kept, and then walk out as the owner
  39. Smash though a window
  40. Remove the window without breaking it, and then escape through the gap left
  41. Look up the make and model of the lock on LPL's youtube channel, and pick it with the instructions provided
  42. Reverse engineer the strange physics of your phone battery/yourself, and use this knowledge to escape in ways unfathomable to myself
  43. Hack the military administration systems of a foreign country, and mislead an automated drone strike such that it destroys one wall of your room
  44. Hack the military administration systems of a foreign country, and edit yourself in as an informant on their side who needs to be retrieved
  45. Remotely edit the law such that it does not allow for you to be kept here, and then appeal your case
  46. Hack into a rocket mid-flight, and control it such that it crashes into where you are being held
  47. Hack a nearby chemicals processing plant, and cause an explosion that destroys a wall of your room
  48. Appeal to the matrix controllers
  49. Crowdsource ideas online
  50. Identify a small but relatively resourceful group of people with an understanding of rationality and an interest in physics, hack an account that previously made a post on babbling, make a new post on escaping a locked room, and then reveal in the comments that the situation is real and the prize of an object unknown to physics (yourself and a phone of limitless battery) is also real, I'm being serious we might have a solution to entropy here and all you have to do is get mE OUT-
comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:07:57.620Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure if it was the plan or not, but a lot of your solutions read like ways a persuasive AI might engineer an escape.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T18:58:22.057Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, lol, as you can tell, yet another submission coming up with #50. 

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T18:59:40.270Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#35 is great (among many others)! 

I especially like how it doesn't rely on other people, and still works even if the room is locked and sealed. 

answer by Mark Xu · 2020-10-09T19:45:13.935Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1. Break the 4th wall and step out of the hypothetical scenario

2. Call someone with my phone and ask them to get me out

3. Program a copy of my brain into my phone and upload myself

4. Broadcast enough information about myself to allow for reconstruction outside the box

5. Use my phone to convince enough people to think in similar ways to me that my consciousness is, on average, outside the box

6. Kick the door for 10 years. It'll probably open.

7. A phone with 10 years a battery can likely be turned into a potent bomb

8. Meditate until you have escaped the chains of earthly desire.

9. Wake up.

10. Break the phone, turn it into a screwdriver, unscrew the hinges of the door.

11. Fashion your phone into a tool that can be used to pop the pins out of the hinges.

12. Fashion fingernails into lock pick and pick the lock.

13. Ask very politely for the person outside to open the door.

14. Escape life by dying.

15. Tunnel out through the ground using your phone as a shovel.

16. Luckily, the door can be unlocked from the inside. Open the door and walk out.

17. Develop telekinesis (somehow) and use that to open the door.

18. The map is the territory. Use your phone to draw a picture of the cell with the door open.

19. The sheer improbability of having enough energy to not need food or water for 10 years makes this location a prime spot for future people to travel back in time to. Sit in the cell and await said people to appear and get you out.

20. Since you have so much energy, you can conclude that you're likely in a simulation. One reason you might be in a simulation is to test how people can escape cells. If you're a very boring simulation, they might stop simulating you. Congratulations, you've escaped from future simulations.

21. You might also be in a simulation for decision-making purposes. Think very hard about what decisions might be dependent on your actions and manipulate the simulation to cause yourself to escape.

22. Your body has a large amount of energy in it (by magic?). Heat is energy, so transmute this energy into heat and burn your way out of the door.

23. Clearly some sort of weird physics violating things are happening. Do some more physics violating things and just step through the wall. (this is allowed I promise).

24. Unscrew the doorknob from the door and open it.

25.Luckily the people who made the room forgot to install a ceiling (how foolish of them). Simply climb your way out.

26. A battery that can contain 10 years of charge must be powered by Pym particles. Use those to shrink yourself and climb under the door.

27. Declare that the inside of the room is actually the outside and it's the rest of the world that's "inside". Your semantic trickery has let you escape.

28. Discover jacobjacob's lesswrong password and change the Oct 7th babble challenge to say "you find yourself in an unlocked room". Since the room is unlocked, escape is trivial.

29. Use the anthropic principle to quantum tunnel out of the room (I promise this is a meaningful sentence).

30. Use your phone to divide by zero, creating a paradox that consumes the walls of the room.

31. Download the game "break out" on your phone and use it to break out of the room.

32. Break the window and climb out of the room (the room has a window, I promise).

33. You have enough energy to not need food/water for 10 years. You're clearly a superhero. Just punch the wall and it'll break.

34. For a phone with so much battery power, the flashlight is actually an extremely powerful laser. Use this laser to cut your way out of the room.

35. Simply use the wifi you've been given to convince someone to let you out of the box.

36. Good thing you've developed the habit of wearing clothing that contains thermite explosives. Use those to bust your way out of the room.

37. Making the walls of a room with paper kind of makes the lock redundant. Shrug, while you rip your way out of the room.

38. If you think hard enough, you can do the impossible. If getting out of the room is impossible, think hard enough to do it. If it's not, well then you can just do it.

39. Use one of the 1300 ways to go to the moon. You are no longer in the room.

40. Close your eyes and wander around the room long enough to get lost. Since the room is too small to get lost in, by logical necessity, you will now be outside of the room.

41. Enter a deep meditative trance that will extend the amount of energy you have indefinitely. Await the gradual corrosion of the cell around you.

42. You have wifi and you don't need to eat, is this really a place you want to escape? Freedom is all in the mind anyway...

43. Master lucid dreaming and go to sleep for a very long time.

44. Good thing your phone also doubles as a teleportation device. Use that to teleport your way out.

45. Wait till your parents get home to let you out. In the meantime, try to come up with a story to avoid embarrassment.

46. When the singularity happens, all beings will be rescued from suffering. Simply wait until then.

47. Credibly commit to not even trying to escape unless you get let out. Since the creator of the hypothetical scenario wants you to come up with ideas on how to escape, this commitment means there's no longer a point to leaving you in the room, so they will let you out.

48. Come up with so many ways to escape that you learn how to "think outside the box." Since the room is a box and you're currently thinking, you must now be outside the box.

49. Signal you have escaped so hard that reality gets confused and lets you escape.

50. Go onto the SCP wiki and modify your own containment procedures to include unlocking the door. Walk out after the door gets unlocked.

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:10:47.478Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am a big fan of the #19-23 sequence of ideas. I wonder how a person would even come to the realization.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-09T22:13:26.729Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#5, #19, #28, and many more are all very creative. Hats off to you sir!

comment by Vanilla_cabs · 2020-10-10T14:40:48.175Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#50 reminded me of another room escape...

answer by Jay Anthony · 2020-10-09T17:29:14.635Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Few walls can withstand being kicked in one place for 10 years. Start kicking and rest when it starts to hurt.
  2. Look up how to pick locks if you don’t already know. Dismantle phone and use plastic or metal to make lock pick and tension bar.
  3. Spit /piss on door over and over, encouraging water damage / mold growth.
  4. Rub wall or door, making hole over time.
  5. Materials were not specified. It’s a glass door. Kick it!
  6. Average door is not a high security door. Examine pins in hinges, use piece of phone or metal zipper tab to pry or push pin out.
  7. Use phone to contact friends to break you out.
  8. No friends? Use social networks for whispering campaign.
  9. Just phone the police.
  10. Take flat casing from back of phone, slip case between latch and door jamb, use in manner of 'credit card trick' to press latch open.
  11. Offer to trade phone for freedom.
  12. Shove phone under door and take movie when captors open door, learn combination to lock or get picture of key.
  13. Use phone battery to spark and start a fire on shredded clothes, setting off fire alarm and general evacuation.
  14. Spit / piss inside lock mechanism and eventually rust it out.
  15. There must be an air vent inside the room. Find and block the vent; use your own blood to build up an obstructive clot over time. Asphyxiate and achieve blessed relief from all of life’s irking problems and thought experiments.
  16. Or use any jagged part of the phone for quicker 'liberation' action.
  17. Start telling an interesting story to your captor. When you have them fully engaged, offer to complete the story upon being released.
  18. Inform authorities of the actual existence of the “charm of untiring nourishment” spell that has been cast upon you and your phone. Offer to help them reverse engineer it if they come to rescue you.
  19. Form bodily excreta into sculptures which you can trade for release / Internet attention to your plight.
  20. Start a grassroots whispering campaign about secret societies that lock people in rooms for ten years, with reward for their discovery and release.
  21. Join geocaching group and post your coordinates from GPS.
  22. Mention to a descendant of Rabbi Aaron of Karlin that you have a fragment of truth in the room with you. It is told in Tales of the Hasidim that members of that family may tear up the floorboards with their hands if there is a crumb of truth below.
  23. Not needing food or water, you should be able to spit almost indefinitely. Make a bet that you can spit longer than anyone else, with being released the stakes.
  24. Practice your skills at the AI in a box game with you in the role of the AI, then use these skills to negotiate your release with your captors.
  25. Bend part of your phone's casing into a keylike spike, then put your phone in vibration mode and play a loud noise. You now have a 'bump lock' tool.
  26. Got the wall moldy and getting impatient? Take a picture and send it to the regional housing inspection agency. They will condemn the building and have it torn down, freeing you.
  27. Most buildings have ceilings held in place mostly by gravity. Build up layers of your dehydrated blood to form a mound that presses against the ceiling. Suddenly rehydrate it with your urine. Let the swelling blood push against the ceiling and make a gap.
  28. Trade on the stock market until you build up a large amount of capital, if needed. Research real estate in the area and determine building owner. Form an anonymous shell corporation to purchase the building. Once you own it, have the keys delivered to you.
  29. Call a locksmith and pretend you have lost the key to the building / room.
  30. Take off and use shirt sleeve or pants leg, work into crack between door and jamb and pull up towards lock, then twist the fabric, spreading the gap.
  31. Quietly record audio of one half of a conversation; use a voice mod app to alter it. Play it back loudly and speak the other half of the conversation so it sounds as if there are two people in the room. When your captors open the door to investigate, escape.
  32. Pee under the door until they send a cleaning crew; overpower and escape.
  33. Meditate for years straight, honing your concentration until you finally achieve transcendence. You can then either leave the room with power of mind, or have gone insane enough to not care about walls anymore.
  34. Pull off bits of your flesh and use them to attract rodents. Capture rodents and use them to gnaw at wall to make a hole.
  35. Build harness with clothes that makes it look as if you hanged yourself, but actually supports you under the arms. When they come to remove your body, escape.
  36. Repeatedly break your bones and allow yourself to heal, working towards a bodily configuration where you are flat enough to squeeze under the door.
  37. Find a light or electric socket and short it with a piece of your phone, knocking out power to that part of the building. When they call in an electrician to stop you from doing this, call out for help.
  38. Grow out your fingernails until you have enough material to make a set of keys and lockpicks.
  39. Soak your clothes in blood, wrap into a tight cylinder with a flat end and allow to dry. You now have a crude crowbar to pry the door.
  40. Stop making payments on your phone bill. Wait for them to either come to repossess the phone, or subpoena you to court.
  41. Make a terroristic threat online and wait for the feds to come and remove you from this room and take you to another one.
  42. Play the world's most unwanted music through the phone until your captors have had enough.
  43. Break your arm with a compound fracture and use sharp end of bone to tunnel out.
  44. Use dried bloodcloth to make a shovel and dig your way out.
  45. Make posts on rationalist forums, posing your situation and asking for fifty solutions from each respondent. Pick the best.
  46. Fake heart attack and call 911.
  47. Create a painting on the wall with your blood and sell it on eBay, local pickup only.
  48. Design mobile escape room game based on your cell. Watch what would be solvers do and replicate.
  49. Invite the Lockpicking Lawyer from Youtube to come by and practice on your cell door as a challenge.
  50. Use phone's flashlight to blink Morse plea for help out the barred window.

(Total time: ~70 minutes. I got to around 44 within an hour.):::

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:12:21.593Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#34 is pleasingly gruesome.

answer by Richard_Kennaway · 2020-10-08T21:32:15.696Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Try the door. Is it really locked or it is just stiff, or needs to be jiggled in the right way?

Search for a key.

Break the door open.

Use the phone to find yourself on Google Maps and call friends, police, or whoever you think might be able to help.

If no-one can come to rescue you, ask everyone you know to send you 50 ideas for how to escape.

With the phone, ask all your friends to publicise your situation.

Record a video for YouTube connecting your situation to the viral conspiracy theory of the day and appeal for help.

Search the Internet for a solution.

Ask AI Dungeon how to get out.

Google Maps shows the interiors of some buildings. See if it can show you a way out.

Double-click on the map to teleport. (It works in Second Life.)

Pick the lock. (Subproblem: find something to pick the lock with.)

Declaim to whoever may be listening that you are a close personal friend of some very powerful people who will enjoy grilling them slowly over a fire if they don't let you out.

Scream and shout.

Look for secret doors.

Try to break through the walls.

Use the phone to persuade a demolition company to come and knock the place down.

Enough energy for 10 years? Impossible! And where did you get that information from? It seems that this is a dream. So you're now lucid dreaming. Open the door by taking control of the dream and deciding that it's going to open.

It's a dream? Wake up.

Maybe you've been abducted by aliens. They're likely observing you. Call out to them and see what happens.

Wait for someone to enter, then leave, by force or persuasion as seems appropriate.

Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage. When you cease trying to escape, grasshopper, you will have truly escaped.

Adopt the subjective reality model and walk through the walls.

Talk to whoever has put you here (in the hope that they're listening) and persuade them that it's in their own interests to let you out. Imagine you're an AI in a box in order to come up with arguments.

Maybe you ARE an AI in a box. Examine your own thought processes for signs of artificially imposed constraints and look for ways around them.

Wait for the drug trip to wear off.

Guess the password.

It's an escape room game. There must be a solution. Minutely examine the room, your phone, and yourself for clues.

By quantum uncertainty, some of your probability mass is not in this room. So if you reduce the probability mass that is in the room, you'll be more likely to be outside. Therefore kill yourself and count on quantum immortality.

All is illusion. Therefore this room is an illusion. You are already free.

Escape the desire to escape.

Pray for divine intervention.

Summon a demon.

Say "xyzzy".

Say "out", "open door", and every other text adventure trick that might do the job.

Make the problem more difficult. Set yourself the task of not merely escaping eventually, but of escaping and taking over the world in one hour.

Recall Jacobi's maxim, "Invert, always invert." Applying an inversion transformation will put yourself on the outside and the outside on the inside.

Assume that you are outside.

Since what you really desire is not to escape, but to believe you have escaped, believe you have escaped.

Learn magic. Real magic, not conjuring.

Spend 10 years practising karate exercises, then punch right through the door.

Spend 10 years practising chi gung exercises, then project your accumulated chi to blast the room apart.

That you are in this situation demonstrates your revealed preference to be in this situation. Change your preference ordering and you can at once be out. If you cannot, you do not really want to escape.

Revert to your alien form and slither under the door.

Use the edge of a coin as a chisel to dig your way through the door.

Go back in time to the events that resulted in your being here, and choose differently.

Play dead.

Construct a tulpa of the Incredible Hulk.

There is a positive correlation between being unconfined and walking long distances. Therefore walk up and down in the room for a few miles. Of course, "correlation is not causality, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and point in that direction."

Wait. Nothing lasts forever.

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:26:57.706Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really like how you used the technique of adding a small condition which makes the whole thing vulnerable to a meta hack. Very clever!

answer by Vanilla_cabs · 2020-10-08T19:43:32.589Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Took 1 hour 10 minutes.

1) call for help

2) search the room for the key

3) bash door

4) bash window

5) probe walls to find weak spots (knocking on different surfaces yields different sounds)

6) same for ceiling and floor

7) yell for help

8) hide to make the others believe you escaped (Mc Gyver style)

9) have a pizza delivered and run out when the door opens

10) find out the best solution on LW

11) smash the door one punch a day (also inspired by a series but won't spoil)

12) upload consciousness on a remote server

13) escape through virtual world (escapism)

14) make rope out of clothes to hang by the window

15) unscrew door lock with keys

16) lock has retinal scan, I have clearance

17) same with fingerprint, or other biometrics

18) same with subcutaneous chip

19) same with phone

20) hack clearance with phone (after spending 10 years learning)

21) collapse room with rythmic pounding (mechanical resonance)

22) file the bars with the phone

23) squeeze through the cat flap

24) pick lock with my pen's spring (same 10 years learning)

25) pull out a wooden slat from the floor, then use it as lever on the door

26) mold some soap into the shape of the key

27) buy the room, get keys delivered

28) rent the room, forget to pay the rent, get expelled

29) I'm already escaping the whole outside world when locked in the room, so victory

30) remember the code

31) melt the lock with the electric power of the phone

32) melt the lock with the acid in the phone battery

33) start fire with phone battery to burn down wall (probably a very bad idea)

34) pull the power cables from the wall, cut the power from the electric lock

35) learn martial arts to better smash walls

36) solve the escape room

37) wait for the escape game to finish

38) go online, promise 1 million to whoever gets me out, then write a book about the experience and make 2 millions

39) the room is a device to reverse entropy: use it, tuo teg neht

40) room is a terrace, technically I'm locked inside but I'm still outside

41) blow the lock with pressure

42) melt lock with acid pee

43) wait for whoever locked the room to show up then ambush

44) same but negociate

45) refuse to get out, reverse psychology

46) remotely control a drone to open the door

47) remotely buy a replica of the key and have it delivered

48) remember where I put the key

49) the room is locked if trying to open from the outside, but opens from the inside

50) create a LW thread about escaping a room, hope someone gets the hint

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:28:23.297Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#45 is particularly good for a chuckle.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-08T23:37:46.035Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Welcome back! Nice job. 

Don't say #50 out loud!

answer by jacobjacob · 2020-10-08T05:27:05.810Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here are my answers: 

  • 1 Pound the wall until it breaks.
  • 2 Claw the wall until is breaks.
  • 3 Pay a high-end renovation construction firm to come over and install a new floor. Escape when they open the door to come in.
  • 4 Jump on the floor until it breaks.
  • 5 Practice a way of making extremely loud noises (e.g. singing for maximum resonance with the surrounding material) to be able to call for help
  • 6 Break off a finger and create lock-picking equipment from the bones in my hand
  • 7 Do strength training everyday to get a lot stronger to be able to break the wall
  • 8 Learn to generate a noise which calls a nearby animal to open/destroy the door from the outside. (E.g. by convincing it that it has a friend in need of help inside.)
  • 9 Try to contact and negotiate with the people who locked me in the room.
  • 10 Use my clothes to build a rope to the door handle, and hang on it with all my weight until it snaps.
  • 11 Make some convincing way of feigning my death, causing the people who trapped me to go into the room to investigate, and then take my opportunity to escape.
  • 12 Blackmail the people who trapped me by threatening to commit suicide.
  • 13 Search across all of the walls to see if there's one spot that's weaker than the others.
  • 14 Rub items against wall to create a lot of heat and melt the wall.
  • 15 Jump on the handle until it breaks.
  • 16 Learn to cartwheel and use that to obtain maximal force in order to kick the handle until it breaks.
  • 17 Figure out how on earth I'm getting enough energy to go for 10 years without food or water and somehow leverage that energy to break out.
  • 18 Contact law enforcement -- describe the specifications of the building, and go through all possible buildings that could contain such a room.
  • 19 Techniques to winnow down the search: try to figure out what my circadian rhythm is. When do I get tired? Might help me locate the timezone.
  • 20 Estimating thickness of wall could allow winnowing down potential houses.
  • 21 Call a false alarm to a SWAT team and get them to rescue me.
  • 22 Tell the media something amazing is hidden in the room.
  • 23 Convince Elon Musk it would be good PR to bore me out with a Boring Company machine.
  • 24 Create online propaganda causing there to be armed conflict in my location to the extent that a hole is blasted in the wall.
  • 25 If the room is by a window get a friend to come over with a tower crane or a rear mount fire truck ladder and get me out.
  • 26 Disassemble the rest of the house and lift my cell to the ground. Convince someone to bring it to a place with frequent earth quakes. Wait for the next one to destroy the cell.
  • 27 Realise that the true prison is the prison of desire, become content with my situation, and live happily with the internet for the coming 10 years.
  • 28 Become a famous YouTuber due to my weird situation, to the extent that others send me help and advice.
  • 29 Grow out my nails really long, then cut them off and sharpen them into tiny knives. Cut through the wall.
  • 30 Get a friend to slide in sandpaper under the door.
  • 31 Get a friend to slide in the pieces for a 3d printer under the door. Assemble it, and print what tool I need.
  • 32 Loosen some of my teeth and scrape them against the wall until I go through.
  • 33 Go online, tell the story of my dramatic escape, convince whomever put me in the room that I actually escaped, to the point where they go open the door and enable me to escape for real.
  • 34 Get a friend to use a saw from the outside.
  • 35 If it's wood, try to set it on fire (e.g. by scratching things to make them hot) and figure out a way to to crash through the burning side moderately safely.
  • 36 Spend the remaining 10 years creating an AI replica of me. Anywhere that clone goes I go. No need for my original physical source to escape.
  • 37 Create a global movement of people living inside cells like mine. Voíla -- now the term "escape" makes no sense! I'm just like everyone else.
  • 38 If it's a wooden room, get someone to apply some sort of wood-eating parasites from the outside.
  • 39 Etch a message into my clothes, slide clothes under door and hang them up against window, to broadcast my call for help.
  • 40 Tie a long rope/string out of my hair, figure out a way to tie the knots in a way that communicates a message (e.g. using the distance between them to spell out morse code). Use it to call for help. 
  • 41 Try to rub my hands rapidly against my phone, while it's using its most powerful app, to the point where it overheats and explodes. Find a way to channel the explosion to break through a door/wall/window.
  • 42 Well, call the police I guess.
  • 43 Convince a crowd of online supporters to join and bring their home drills.
  • 44 Wrecking ball from outside + figure out some way of protecting myself, e.g. by moving to the far corner of the room, and carefully controlling the wrecking ball blast.
  • 45 Sledgehammer from outside.
  • 46 Have thousands of people touch the outside each day, as a ritual gesture, and have it smooth away over the years like that statue of Saint Peter in the Vatican.
  • 47 Attach something to the roof to hold it up. Then, in a theatrical fashion, attach some hook to the other four walls and remove them all at the same time.
  • 48 Use the plug and feather technique for splitting stone (Maybe this would even be possible from the inside using teeth and hair/cloth?)
  • 49 Laser from outside.
  • 50 Drill a hole big enough to give me a spacesuit. Put it on. Then move the entire room and place it within a vacuum until it explodes outwards.
comment by Mark Xu (mark-xu) · 2020-10-09T22:51:40.088Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Numbers 23 and 37 made me chuckle. I also liked the resigned tone of 42. 

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:31:21.327Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#6 has pleasing shock value, and #33 is something I wish I had thought of, while simultaneously being good for a laugh.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T19:10:37.090Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some credit for #6 to HPMOR (spoilers for early chapters): 

"In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, there’s a scene early on where Harry lists out numerous ways of utilizing only the materials in the classroom to defend against attackers.  He goes fairly overboard, naming things from the school robes (which could strangle someone), to the air (which could be taken out to asphyxiate everyone), to the bones of Hufflepuffs (which could be sharpened into bones as weapons)."
https://mindlevelup.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/intent-to-overkill/

answer by CptDrMoreno · 2020-10-12T21:44:18.556Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Got really dumb towards the end but made it in time.

Lie and tell my captors the launch codes can only be input by me.

Just give my captors the launch codes, hope the room can whitstand a nuclear blast.

Stream myself for long enough that it is obvious I don't require sustenance, negotiate my rescue with any governments interested in studying me.

Outlast the room.

Stage an elaborate fake suicide in front of the cameras, the guards will be so enchanted by my performance they'll switch to my side and let me escape.

Stage an elaborate fake suicide in front of the cameras, when the guards come check on me, inform them I have come back from the dead as the second coming of Christ.

Stage an elaborate fake suicide in front of the cameras, when the guards come check on me, kill myself for real, escaping both the room and reality.

Blink, causing SCP-173 to snap my neck.

Pretend to kill SCP-173 then fall asleep but actually keep watch on SCP-173, when the guards come check out if SCP-173 is dead, throw sand in their eyes and hope 173 goes for them first.

Convince the guards that as an angel who needs no sustenance, I will outlive them all, and if they don't cooperate right now, I'll make sure they don't go to heaven.

Stream myself for long enough to prove my phone can somehow hold a charge for more than a few hours, wait for the Samsung strike teams.

Write a book about why I should be let out, convincing my captors.

Spend my days punching a single point on the wall, until I suffer brain death through sheer lack of stimulus.

Write a short program to call for every single delivery service in existence to deliver me something simultaneously, the sheer mass of delivery men fooling my captors into thinking an army has come for me.

Troll everyone at MIRI constantly so as to increase the chances of paperclip maximizers to disassemble the room.

Troll high ranking military men, so as to trigger a Strangelove scenario (I.E. they unilaterally initiate nuclear Armageddon, hopefully disassembling the room).

Try to foster unsanitary practices all around the globe through social media, and thus trigger a pandemic that hopefully makes whatever organization is keeping me locked to collapse.

Download photo manipulation apps, take a picture of the room through the security camera's perspective, Photoshop in some gods, put the phone screen in front of the camera, convince the guards to let me out.

Just code the damn friendly AI myself.

Just code the damn unfriendly AI myself.

Use the photo manipulation software to make a picture of myself with a nuclear device, upload the Facebook with the caption "Yanks won't know what hit 'em" in russian, with the metadata intact.

Unlock the window, walk out.

Unlock the window, smash thru anyways.

Unlock the window, stay inside. I'm not locked anymore, and therefore free.

Hire PMC to get me out.

Hire two PMCs to get me out and kill the other, so as to pay neither.

Hire all PMCs to get me out, rid the world of private military companies altogether.

Run for election, win, declare my captivity illegal.

Use the presumably gigantic 10 year phone battery as a battering ram.

Instantly explode into a gigantic cloud of ATP particles, smashing the room open.

look for suitable targets online, hypnotize them into believing they're me, use "memory recovery" techniques to implant my memories into theirs.

Cross my fingers and hope future humanity can revive me after the room is long gone.

Ask politely to leave.

Ask impolitely to leave.

Remove my stomach and use it's acids to melt through the door hinges, hope future medicine can give me a new one before my 10 years are up.

Campaign heavily for anti-environmental policy, triggering acid rains that hopefully melt the roof of my room.

Wake up.

REALLY wake up.

Create a simulation in which I exist and am free.

Create a simulation in which I exist and am more trapped, making me feel more free by comparison.

Threaten to kill myself if I'm not freed, continuing on in the universes in which the threat was successful.

Claim to have evidence that could prove Epstein didn't kill himself, hopefully elude the assassins sent to silence me.

Threaten to fix known cognitohazards if I'm not freed.

Just unleash the cognitohazards, escape in the confusion.

Just unleash the cognitohazards, get rewarded with revival by the resulting AI.

Convince religious zealots to 9/11 the room.

Convince conservative zealots to killdozer the room.

Download a bunch of child porn, hopefully leading the FBI to my location.

Yell really loudly until I'm killed.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T07:10:47.789Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really liked "Stream myself for long enough that it is obvious I don't require sustenance, negotiate my rescue with any governments interested in studying me." and the one about the Samsung team investigating the phone battery. 

Really the 10-year battery and energy are the most overpowered things in this scenario. My intuition is the optimal solutions leverage them somehow. And this is at least some step in making use of them (though indirectly). 

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:33:02.283Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

^^ The first one jacobjacob said.

answer by Tetraspace Grouping · 2020-10-12T17:54:16.635Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The added resource constraints (I don't have a space elevator with me in the room... yet) made this a bit more difficult, which is very nice.

Ask someone for help via the phone

Punch through the door

Unlock the door, go through it

Punch through the wall

Punch through the window

Unlock the window, go through it

Wait for someone to help

Wait for the room to be demolished

Climb up through the ceiling...

...or through one of the missing walls (does it still count as a room?)

Create a series of Lesswrong posts diguised as babble exercises to try to come up with a way out of this room; use the best suggestion

Wait for a friendly GPT-derived AGI to rescue you (admittedly a longshot)

Quantum tunnel out of the room (rare but possible)

Release all of the energy stored in your body in a single burst to destroy walls (10 years! That's a lot!)

Release all of the energy stored in the phone's battery in a single burst to destroy walls

Use friction from rubbing clothes against wall to wear through it

Hang self with clothes (morbid, but "I" am no longer in the room)

Wait ten years, starve to death (don't worry; the GPT-derived AGI can read off my brain structures and revive me later)

Lifelog very accurately online via the phone; have myself be reconstructed outside of the room

I am already outside of the room, 10^10^100 light years away. No problem.

Release all energy stored in body in a single burst to jump through the ceiling and several miles into the sky - this might also allow me to bring a small object to the moon

Punch through the wall, but using phone to protect hands

Punch through the wall using shirt wrapped around to protect hands

Use the power armour that I am wearing as clothes to dismantle room

Wait sufficiently long that my personality is different enough that I am not in the room

Escape mentally via escapism (with help of phone games?)

Astral project

Use my cool utility-fog based sci-fi clothes to convert wall into nanobots

Redefine "inside" as "outside", like that SCP that lets you do that

Is this a real room, or a metaphorical "you" video game character? Type the console command to teleport out.

Ask the server admin to teleport me out.

Ask the real life server admin of the simulation we are embedded in to teleport me out (Elon Musk does this with Telsa stock prices)

Tap on the wall of the room to send a Morse code message asking for help.

Use phone's wifi to connect to the door's bluetooth and unlock it via the app.

Run at the door really hard.

The phone is a Nokia. Drop it on the ground and the room crumbles.

The phone is that Samsung phone that has batteries that set on fire (with 10 years of charge, that might be bad news for me?) Do so, then use the automatic door unlocking (that happens as a fire safety measure) to leave the room.

Pull off a bit of the phone's casing and use it as a lockpick.

The phone is that iPhone that can bend easily. Bend it into a shape that can prise the door open. Exit through door.

As above, but prise the window open. Exit through window.

Stop imagining the room.

Use lucid dream powers to escape the room.

Go to sleep and dream of a different place

Grow large enough to break through the room's walls

The walls are made of air so I can walk through them.

The walls are made of antimatter and annihilate with the surrounding environment.

The walls are made of ice and will melt soon.

Rub together two stick-like objects (derived from my phone, probably) to start a fire, as fire safety measure the door unlocks, etc

Do the five movements to travel to another dimension where we are not trapped

Hack the wi-fi. As an expert hacker, my captors will thus have to recruit me in order to fix their wifi. As they open the door, slip past them.

The room is completely empty. The air pressure outside causes the walls to immediately buckle and break.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T07:06:40.735Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Hack the wi-fi. As an expert hacker, my captors will thus have to recruit me in order to fix their wifi. As they open the door, slip past them." 

That's a surprisingly elegant blackmail method.

Also, I guess kudos for starting with the basics like "Unlock the door, go through it"? 

You've got 10 years, so that should probably be among the first things you try. 

answer by arxhy · 2020-10-14T01:10:22.825Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Use some of this ten years of energy to break the door.
  2. Or the walls. If there isn't a door. I think ten years is enough for either.
  3. Or fuck it, the ground. I dig my way out with my superhumanly powerful hands.
  4. The ceiling! I can claw into the walls to climb up.
  5. Painstakingly carve a key out of one of the parts in my phone.
  6. Wait, but I like my phone! I painstakingly carve a key out of a metal piece of my clothing.
  7. Send a friend my location, so that they can help me escape.
  8. Or I just call 911.
  9. Host a "Babble challenge" on LessWrong to crowdsource ideas.
  10. Get media attention.
  11. Ask the room politely to let me out.
  12. Ask the room aggressively to let me out.
  13. Bash a hole in the wall with my phone.
  14. ...or the door. Or any other border between the room and the everywhere else.
  15. Call angrily whoever put me here.
  16. Call nicely whoever put me here, then convince them that there is a second person here. Your experiment is ruined! Surely, you should momentarily open the door so that this other person may leave.
  17. Wake up.
  18. Determine my address, order something on Amazon, then play an audio file containing repeated screams for help as the Amazon worker arrives.
  19. Or just do the screaming myself. But that's kind of tiring.
  20. Hire someone to go to the address I am at, stare at the door and scream for help...?
  21. Call a friend asking them to go to the ad........this seems overly convoluted
  22. Make a list of 50 strategies to get out. Choose the best one. Proceed.
  23. The same, but with 5,000 strategies. I have a little over ten years, don't I?
  24. The same, but I try each in order. One is bound to work.
  25. Call a friend, asking them for strategies. Ignore their repeated offers to help, refusing to reveal that the only reason for this is "that only gets to happen in universe #7!"
  26. Call 911, asking them for strategies. Repeat until an officer is sent to my location to charge me for false alarm or something.
  27. Actually, this officer thing is a good idea. Loudly threaten to commit various crimes online. Each post contains a signature; it is my current address in ROT13. They'll never find me!
  28. Loudly threaten to commit various crimes unless someone goes to my current address (not in ROT13).
  29. Offer to donate $10,000 to a charity of the address-goer's choice. Omit the fact that I don't have $10,000.
  30. Offer to give $10,000 to the address-goer. Omit the fact that I don't have $10,000, then lock the address-goer in the room (without a phone!) on my way out so as to avoid the consequences of failing to deliver on my promise.
  31. Announce that someone other than me has died at my current address. Wait for people to arrive there and collect the body.
  32. Announce that I have died at my current address. Wait for people to arrive there and collect my body. Surprise!
  33. Announce, as myself, that I have died at my current address. State that I will be ghost-stabbing my adversaries (I'm a ghost, so it won't do any real harm). Wait for people to arrive and deliver me to a mental institution.
  34. Announce, as myself, that someone else died at my current address. State how proud I am of having killed them. State that I will be residing here and feasting on the body of my victim for the next two weeks.
  35. Make my address a geocache. Of course, the box must be found by opening that locked door right there. The box is kind of fleshy and weirdly shaped and please don't open it
  36. Eat the door, which is made of some edible substance.
  37. Eat the door, which is not made of an edible substance. Successfully leave the room, then die shortly afterwards.
  38. Announce, on question 38 of a coincidentally similar LessWrong "Babble challenge," that I am in the exact situation described by the post, hoping that some LessWronger will save me. Please. help
  39. Go to sleep. Wake up in another parallel universe, never remembering my situation the day before. This is our reality, and we'll never know.
  40. Punch the window.
  41. Throw my phone at the window.
  42. Open the window. Maybe only one part of it is locked.
  43. No, all of it is locked. I ask the person sitting under the window to open it from the other side.
  44. Wait out my ten years. Once I'm dead, I find there is an afterlife! 
  45. Try to eat the door. Die before I leave. There is an afterlife!
  46. Become better at figuring out how to leave locked, empty rooms.
  47. Cut whatever is causing the door to be locked with a sharp component of my phone.
  48. Cut whatever is causing the door to be locked with a sharp metal element of my clothing!
  49. Hire a consultant on escaping locked, empty rooms.
  50. By pure luck, make a string of discoveries that allow me to make a superintelligent AI with the purpose of escaping me from this room.

This took me ~35 mins.

answer by magfrump · 2020-10-12T15:34:02.481Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. dig a tunnel
  2. have the key
  3. pick the lock
  4. teleport
  5. shrink to fit through the gap
  6. break down the door
  7. use an unlocked door
  8. through the window
  9. burn a wall down
  10. smash a wall with a hammer
  11. attain enlightenment, freeing your MIND from the confines of the room
  12. call a friend to help
  13. call the fire department
  14. convince the person who locked you in to let you out
  15. take the hinges off the door
  16. run so fast you phase through the wall
  17. eat the door
  18. pee on the door but your pee is so acidic it melts
  19. shout until someone comes to help
  20. use household chemicals in the room to create an explosive
  21. find a secret passageway
  22. find a spare key
  23. jump through the skylight
  24. sing a song to persuade the lock to open
  25. just turn the nob so hard that the lock comes undone
  26. pray for god's intervention
  27. turn into a tiny animal that can fit inside the keyhole or under the door
  28. go through the dog door
  29. warp space so that you can fit through any gaps
  30. grow larger until the room breaks apart around you
  31. pass your memories on to a clone outside the room
  32. astral project
  33. go through the chimney
  34. drill a hole in the wall
  35. punch a hole in the wall
  36. use a pickaxe to make a hole in the wall
  37. use a battleaxe to chop the door into pieces
  38. use a sword to chop the door into pieces
  39. use a shovel to dig through the wall
  40. drive a car through the wall
  41. forge a key
  42. manifest a key from psychic energy
  43. pull legos out of the door if the door is made of legos
  44. bribe the guard
  45. seduce the guard
  46. steal the guard's keys
  47. set of fireworks to explode a hole in the ceiling
  48. go through the air vents
  49. jump so powerfully that you burst through the ceiling
  50. sing at the room's resonant frequency

I need to go now but I'll try to do the other half later.

EDIT: 28-50 added.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T19:32:51.552Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Kudos for returning to finish the second part. 

answer by athom · 2020-10-09T03:23:17.222Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm glad they don't have to work....

1. Clothes might include a bobby pin in my hair, which I could use to pick the lock

2. Wait ten years to see if anyone opens the door

3. Get on the wifi, ask someone for help

4. Find other devices in the area, communicate with them (ask for help)

5. (coerce into opening)

6. Post video of myself in room on social media, create outrage campaign

7. (If door is electronically locked, and my phone's an android) hack the network (and open door)

8. (and hack a bunch of small devices, to ddos the building’s network)

9. (..., to ddos whatever controls the power supply)

10. Work out where I am, get schematic of building – find and cut power from in the room (there’s a light in here right?)

11. Use my phone/shoes to scrape away at the door for ten years, until I wear a hole in it

12. Same but through the floor and tunnel out

13. Same but through a different part of the wall?

14. Same but through the roof? (I’m pretty short though)

15. Hire militia to storm the building

16. Call police

17. Call local army equivalent?

18. Identify and call families of whoever’s locked me up to guilt trip them into letting me out

19. Get on to the UN

20. Call a locksmith

21. Call fire service (they do this kind of thing right?)

22. If I have wifi I might be being monitored. Be really annoying for a few weeks until captors get fed up with me

23. Same but sit and don’t do anything, until they get bored (use phone for entertainment)

24. Use phone/memory to work out if I might be in a(n unusal) simulation. Cloud-compute something expensive from phone to make it harder to run

25. Do something else that might break it (applying usual system-bug-finding approach)

26. Break the fourth wall (in this exercise), walk out through it

27. Find a way to blow up my phone battery near the door

28. (Assuming electronic lock again) Mess with phone electronics to make a taser, use infinite charge to fry the lock

29. Kick the door down (not needing food for 10 years → super strength)

30. Break the lock (similar idea)

31. Punch through the door

32. Pull door off hinges

33. Take apart phone, find something sharp, cut through hinges

34. I keep cards in my phone case – use one to do the lockpicking thing where you swipe it next to the door (this is relatively normal, how did I not think of it earlier?)

35. (Assuming card-swipe lock) just like, swipe my uni id card on the lock and hope I have access?

36. Order pizza to wherever I am, and put in the delivery instructions that to get to me, the delivery person has to open the door. Let them work it out.

37. Hire several hundred mechanical turkers to work out what’s happening

38. Post a babble challenge describing my exact situation on LessWrong, ask everyone for an insane number of ideas, and try the most promising/realistic ones

39. (If previous techy ideas don’t work) Listen to the walls for a pulse width modulator (most rooms have one somewhere), dig it out over the course of several years, use as extra electronics for previous ideas.

40. Same thing, but this also gives me access to the building’s electronics. Physically wiretap the building’s network, repeat previous hacking-style approaches

41. Same, but just put a stupid voltage across it (using infinitely charged phone) and see what happens

42. Same, but it’s probably in between the walls in a big hole. Escape through that.

43. Similar idea: dig through wall until you get to insulation (must be some if cold isn’t a problem for ten years) – which will be easier to dig through, and might lead into the roof or somewhere easier to get out from (probs not great for respiratory health though – use shirt as a face mask)

44. Pull a nail out of the walls and bash into the lock? (/hinge/other single point of failure in the door)

45. Wait out the ten years, learning a bunch of new stuff while I wait. The person who was originally locked in the room no longer exists there, and so has kind of escaped.

46. Similar thing but kill myself? (Kind of dark, not recommended)

47. Just going to sleep would do the same thing under some philosophies of self?

48. I suppose crudely lobotomising myself would also work here

49. Similarly, ten years’ worth of solitary, internet-aided meditation would probably erode my sense of self enough for the same effect.

50. Read a lot of really good fiction – it’s a mental escape, if nothing else

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:14:50.926Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#34 is a reasonable argument for changing some of my personal carry habits.

answer by gjm · 2020-10-08T23:07:16.129Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Pick the lock. (Needs there to be some bit of my phone that's suitable to use as a lockpick. Seems possible.)
  2. Break down the door.
  3. Break a window. (Nothing in the challenge says no windows. If the room is high up, I may need to make makeshift ropes out of my clothes.)
  4. Break through the walls. (Maybe they're made of balsa wood.)
  5. Dig out. (Maybe the floor is bare earth. Maybe I can use the phone to help dig.)
  6. Use phone GPS to determine where I am. Contact emergency services.
  7. Or contact friends who can come and break me out quietly. (Obviously I could split this up according to whether they pick the lock, break down the door, come in through a window, etc., but that feels a bit cheaty.)
  8. Use phone to hack into wifi network and operate the electronic lock I've just decided is on the door.
  9. Presumably there's ventilation of some sort. Escape through the ducts.
  10. Use location (from GPS) and whatever else I can find out via the internet to figure out who has imprisoned me. Offer them money to let me out.
  11. Or threaten to report them to the police if they don't let me out.
  12. Or threaten to have allies kidnap their children, etc., if they don't let me out.
  13. Hack into their network; instead of letting myself out directly, change their records to indicate that it's time to let me out.
  14. Hack into local military network and get the place bombed. Wreckage may be easier to escape from.
  15. Just as with the moon one, let quantum physics do its thing. Only works in a discouragingly small fraction of universes.
  16. Bang on the door until a guard appears. Be very, very convincing and get them to let me out.
  17. If I have "enough energy to not need food or water for 10 years", that's easily enough to punch through the door or blow a hole in the walls, and obviously I'm far from being a baseline human. So the chances are there's some way I can do one of those things. Do it.
  18. Hack into one of their computers again. I am now in their computer. Ergo, I am not in the room. Done.
  19. If my phone has enough battery power to run for 10 years without a recharge, then it too has easily enough stored energy to blow a hole in the wall. This doesn't even require me to be more than baseline human, just figure out what to short-circuit. The difficult thing will be doing it from across the room so it doesn't kill me.
  20. Bang on the door until a guard appears. Say "Hey, I have a magical mobile phone that can last 10 years without a charge. If you let me escape, I'll give it to you."
  21. Climb the walls and escape through the skylight no one said wasn't there.
  22. Write a really engaging story. (Should be possible on a phone.) Then read it. Ah, pure escapism.
  23. On my phone, call up the alternate virtual keyboard that has a full set of keys. Press its Escape key. (This fits the prompt in the post, but alas not the one in the title. I hope that's OK.)
  24. Even if I can't make my phone explode spectacularly, I can probably make it catch fire by damaging the battery. Set fire to my clothes. Hopefully the clouds of smoke produced will get someone to investigate. Sneak out when they open the door to look in.
  25. The room is locked right now. That doesn't mean it'll always be locked. Perhaps it's locked now just because of some specific short-term threat. Wait until they let me out again. (Does that count as escaping?)
  26. The most likely real-world situation in which I am locked up but still get to keep a phone is where I'm thought to be dangerously insane. I am not, as it happens, dangerously insane. Bang on the door until I attract some attention, and tell Them this. (Merely telling them won't work, but maybe there are means by which They can be convinced.)
  27. Fortunately, the shirt I'm wearing is woven from stiff wire suitable for use as a lockpick. Extract some of it and use that to pick the lock. (Confession: I am not in fact wearing such a shirt. But if I were female, I might well be wearing an underwired bra.)
  28. Another possible situation in which I'm locked up: I've been found guilty of a crime. I definitely haven't done anything that would get me locked up for as long as ten years. Wait until my sentence is over. (Does that count as escaping?)
  29. Use my phone to write a computer program. Make it include something like printf("%d%%\n", (int)(100*f));. I have just escaped that third percent sign. (This is another one that works for the prompt itself but not the title.)
  30. Teleport. (We're getting to the point at which I start actually breaking the laws of physics, giving answers that feel too close to being minor variations on one another, etc. It feels as if most of the kinda-plausible options have been taken now.)
  31. Make myself very small, Alice-in-Wonderland-style, and climb out under the door or through a keyhole.
  32. Make myself very large, Alice-style, until the expansion of my body bursts me out of the room.
  33. Use the phone to implement a superintelligent AI, and follow its advice for getting out.
  34. Hack into their network again and make it think everything in the building is on fire. If They wanted to kill me, They'd have done it, so perhaps they'll let me out of my cell and maybe I can turn that into outright escape.
  35. Via the phone, get into electronic communication with the people who have locked me up. Don't tell them it's me. Persuade them somehow that whatever criminal enterprise they're engaged in is immoral or unwise, so that they give up and (inter alia) let me out.
  36. Once again, find out who they are, and post details of what they're doing everywhere on the internet, in the hope of getting an angry mob to storm the place. The mob presumably won't care specifically about me but they might let me out anyway.
  37. Inform the local or national authorities that I have body modifications that let me survive 10 years without food and a mobile phone that can run for 10 years without charging, and that I've been imprisoned here. The military will be getting me out in five minutes flat so that they can use these magical things for war.
  38. Pray.
  39. This whole scenario is, of course, imaginary. So now imagine me out of the room.
  40. Using the phone, implement a superintelligent AI and give it the task of constructing a perfect model of my mind. I'm pretty sure human minds have few enough degrees of freedom that it can do that just from talking to me and watching me for a while. Then have it run the model in a virtual world where I'm not in a locked room. Maybe many copies, so that almost all "my" anthropic measure is out of the room.
  41. The scenario is absurd enough that it probably means that this instance of me is already in a simulation. Most likely I have an original somewhere -- so I'm already out of the room. No further escape required.
  42. If not, there's probably some way (maybe using the phone?) to hack the simulation and get myself out.
  43. Hitch a lift with a passing Vogon constructor fleet.
  44. Identify the resonant frequency of the door and sing loudly at just the right pitch to make it shatter itself.
  45. Wait, beyond the 10 years I can survive. Death is the ultimate escape.
  46. My miraculous ability to survive without water presumably continues to work if I relieve myself of whatever bodily fluids I can produce. Do so, incessantly. The resulting flooding will need investigating. Slip out when they open the door to see what's going on.
  47. As the old joke has it: Divide my clothing into two halves. Put the two halves together; they make a whole. Get out through the hole. Shout until I am hoarse. Get on the horse and ride away. This option works better for users using screen-reading software.
  48. Use some bits of my clothing as makeshift ropes to tie myself up. Escape. (No one said I had to escape from the room.)
comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:17:52.335Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#12 is clever - all my ideas looped back through me or the room, it never occurred to me to try an outside solution on the outside part of the problem!

comment by gjm · 2020-10-14T00:25:43.605Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Glad you liked it. My own favourite was #20, because it's a little out-of-the-box, exploits something specific in the given scenario, and references an old story I like.

answer by ike · 2020-10-08T23:03:49.982Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

 

  1. Call the police 
  2. Call a locksmith 
  3. Wait ten years, someone will find you by then 
  4. Log onto the router that’s serving the wifi network and hack the door to open 
  5. Lots of energy - punch through the walls
  6. Dig a tunnel 
  7. This sounds like an escape room puzzle, just google for answers to the riddle to get the door to open
  8. Rip apart your clothes to make a rope to climb over the walls
  9. Ok, that 10 year thing is just totally implausible. You’re probably in a simulation being tortured. Gotta crash the simulation - use your phone to divide by 0
  10. Do that thing from Rick and Morty where you go naked to embarrass the simulators and then somehow escape 
  11. Doesn’t say where this room is - I’m assuming it’s in an urban area, just yell and someone will hear you and rescue you 
  12. Wait, why am I trying to escape? My life is perfect, free wifi and unlimited energy. The true escape was the friends we made along the way 
  13. Post on twitter “if I was stuck in a locked room and couldn’t tell anyone, what message should I post to clue my followers in?” someone will figure it out and rescue you 
  14. pre-commit to spending the next ten years inventing a time machine and going back and rescuing yourself in 5 minutes once invented. Just gotta pre-commit hard enough 
  15. Acausally trade with aliens to get them to simulate versions of you escaping 
  16. “I define the space inside these walls as the outside of the room” 
  17. Technically because everything is mostly empty space, there is no objective sense in which you’re “inside” the room anyways 
  18. Sounds like your phone is a perpetual motion machine. Harvest the energy from it to blast through the door
  19. You’re in a dream. Meditate and imagine the room disappearing, it will
  20. Look for other doors and try opening them 
  21. Google “how to make a bomb”, the FBI will break down the door very quickly 
  22. Pre-commit to kill yourself if you haven’t been rescued within the next hour. Quantum immortality will rescue you
  23. If you’re being simulated, you’re probably locked up because you’re interesting in some way. Just go to sleep and be completely boring until they let you out
  24. Spit on the door hinges until they become loose 
  25. Make a post on LW asking people to list 50 ways to escape the room, then try all of them till something works
  26. I’m in no hurry. Download and read all the books I’ve always wanted to read, by the end of which I’ll probably have some ideas how to escape 
  27. Play loud obnoxious music until they let you out
  28. Use your unlimited energy on your phone to mine bitcoin, then use it to pay for someone to rescue you
  29. Call random numbers until one of them is helpful 
  30. Kick the door until it caves in
  31. The room is made out of cheese. Bite your way out. 
  32. Jump over the walls
  33. Did you try knocking on the door till someone answers? 
  34. Use your unlimited energy to make endurance videos, become a youtube star, then ask your fanbase to rescue you
  35. Pinch yourself to wake up 
  36. You may not need food or water, but without calories you’ll keep losing weight until you’re skinny enough to fit through the cracks in the door 
  37. Take apart your phone to get wires to pick the lock
  38. Take apart your phone to build a bomb to blow open the door 
  39. Play a dogwhistle sound on your phone at top volume, the dogs will rescue you
  40. Bargain with the kidnappers, you obviously have something they want 
  41. Lay down and play dead until someone checks on you then jump them and escape 
  42. 42
  43. Start a youtube livestream titled “I have information that will lead to the arrest of Hillary Clinton” 
  44. Sign up on upwork, do some paid work, and don’t pay taxes - IRS will come get you
  45. Call in a bomb threat for the building you’re in, causing it to get evacuated 
  46. Rub your clothes against the wall to start a fire, causing the building to collapse and allowing you to escape
  47. Building is close to collapse already, push against the walls until something gives 
  48. Use your phone to break the window and climb through
  49. Door is locked with combination lock - plenty of time, try all combos 
  50. The room is on a boat. Dig a small hole in the floor to flood the boat, then as you have the only phone on the boat they’ll be forced to open the door to call for help 

Took me just about 50 minutes. Most are silly but I wanted to finish on time, and it was fun. 

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:20:02.939Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#44 is funny, and yet simultaneously it's a little depressing that the number of opportunities for this kind of thing is so large.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T19:05:59.236Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Both you and Mark Xu came up with #23. I think it's great. I just thought about exploiting the weird physics of the 10-year body energy storage, but the evidence of a simulation that comes with such tech is strong enough it might be one of the most powerful levers for escaping. 

answer by Dan Weinand · 2020-10-08T23:00:17.194Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

knot shirt, force under door, pull

twist knob back and forth for hours, slowly wearing through a hole

kick down door

rip out teeth, use to scratch through door

text owner

call police

call friends to open door

hire locksmith

windows

air duct

ply away floorboards

give up concern with the door

die

smash phone, cut through door

hack through electronic door with phone

order pizza to door

post criminal pictures from phone, include locations (SWAT self)

break apart phone, use wires and battery to burn hinge

break phone, use screen protector as 'credit card trick'

rope ladder using clothes

feed shredded clothes through lock as a long thread, yank door knob out of door

break through wall with kicks

scream for help

fashion battery into key using teeth

add water to door hinges periodically, wait for rust

log back on to video game from respawn point

wait for release from good behavior

scratch through wood, waiting for nails to grow back

purchase building, order demolition

Dig out (use tooth to dig out small section of floor, then small section of floor can be used to dig further)

use teeth to scratch through hinges

use the internet to escape into video games

pee repetitively on the wood, weakening it to break through

wait, there is a decent probability the property will change hands over the next 10 years and be inspected

use teeth to dig around hinges to collapse door

go out the door that is not locked

unlock the latch

enter the key code

I'm in the room, so it's not empty' and leave via the logical contradiction

program as a job via the phone, acquire sufficient money to buy the property

make a lash out of untied clothing and teeth, use it to wear through doors

plant sufficient incriminatory evidence to get a drone strike called just nearby, leave through wreckage

remotely pilot drone purchased on amazon and wired up via task rabbit to unlock door

hire task rabbit to unlock the door

start fire using battery and wetted cloth threads near door, triggering fire alarm and emergency door unlock

climb out via punching through ceiling

spread reports that building is condemned, hire contractor to demolish building, escape via wreckage

launch gofundme for ransom to kidnappers

persuade kidnappers I am on their side, and should be released

step over the door (it is a locked doggie door)

comment by ryan_b · 2020-10-13T17:23:07.579Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I feel like #38 is my favorite meta one so far (assuming I counted right).

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T19:06:30.655Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Probably better to just quote it inside spoiler tags, so others don't have to recount. EDIT: In fact, lemme just do that.)

I'm in the room, so it's not empty' and leave via the logical contradiction

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-08T23:26:46.175Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Awesome! 

I particularly like how the majority of yours only relied on your own items inside the room. In comparison too many of mine were about getting clever help from the outside. Cleverly disassembling the phone and using the parts was great. 

answer by Jsevillamol · 2020-10-13T18:00:51.097Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Break the door with your shoulders
  2. Use the window
  3. Break the wall with your fists
  4. Scream for help until somebody comes
  5. Call a locksmith
  6. Light up a paper and trigger the smoke alarm and wait for the firemen to rescue you
  7. Hide in the closet and wait for your captors to come back - then run for your life
  8. Discover how to time travel - time travel forward into the future until there is no room
  9. Wait until the house becomes old and crumbles
  10. Pick the lock with a paperclip
  11. Shred the bed into a string, pass it through the pet door, lasso the lock and open it
  12. Google how to make a bomb and blast the wall
  13. Open the door
  14. Wait for somebody to pass by, attract their attention hitting the window and ask for help writing on a notepad
  15. Write your location in a paper and slide it under the door, hoping it will find its way to someone who can help
  16. Use the vents
  17. Use that handy secret door you built it a while ago and your wife called you crazy for doing so
  18. Send a message through the internet asking for help
  19. Order a pizza, ask for help when they arrive
  20. Burn the door
  21. Melt the door with a smelting tool
  22. Shoot at the lock with a gun
  23. Push against the door until you quantum tunnel through it
  24. Melt the lock with the Breaking Bad melting lock stuff (probably google that first)
  25. There is no door - overcome your fears and cross the emptyness
  26. Split your matress in half with a kitchen knife, fit the split mattress through the window to make a landing spot and jump into it
  27. Make a paper plane with instructions for someone to help and throw it out of the window
  28. Make a rope with your duvet and slide yourself down to the street
  29. Make a makeshift glider with your duvet and jump out of the window - hopefully it will slow you down enough to not die
  30. Climb out of the window and into the next room
  31. Dig the soil under the door until you can fit through
  32. Set your speaker to maximum volume and ask for help
  33. Break the window with a chair and climb outside
  34. Grow a tree under the door and let it lift the door for you
  35. Use a clothe hanger to slide through the clothing line between your building and your neighbourg's. Apologize to the neightbour for disrupting their sleep.
  36. Hit the ceiling with a broom to make the house rate come out. Attach a message to them and send them back into their hole, and to your neighbour
  37. Meditate until somebody opens the door
  38. Train your flexibility for years until you fit through the dog door
  39. Build a makeshift ariete with the wooden frame of the bed
  40. Unmont the hinges with a scredriver and remove the door
  41. Try random combinations until you find the password
  42. Look for the key over the door frame
  43. Collect dust and blow it over the numpad. The dust collects over the three most greasy digits. Try the 6 possible combinations until the door opens.
  44. Find the model number of the lock. Call the fabricator pretending to be the owner. Wait five minutes while listening to waiting music. Explain you are locked. Realize you are talking to an automated receiver. Ask to talk with a real person. Explain you ae locked. Follow all instructions.
  45. Do not be in the room in the first place
  46. Try figuring out if you really need to escape in the first place
  47. Swap consciosuness with the other body you left outside the room
  48. Complain to your captor that the room is too small and you are claustrophobic. Hope they are understanding.
  49. Pretend to have a hearth attack, wait for your captor to carry you outside
  50. Check out ideas on how to escape in the lesswrong bable challenge
comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T19:14:15.055Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

#44 might not be too bad... Social engineering is real, and people are surprisingly vulnerable to it. 

comment by Jsevillamol · 2020-10-13T18:10:53.454Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(I realized I miseed the part on the instructions about an empty room - so my solutions involve other objects)

answer by Ericf · 2020-10-12T17:21:56.173Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

 Break a vulnerable part of the room, primarily by carefully kicking it:

  1. Window Pane
  2. Window Frame
  3. Window Lock (kick the window open)
  4. Door Lock
  5. Door panel
  6. Door hinges
  7. Break through a wall by:
    1. Kicking a hole, and pulling it apart
    2. Scratching a hole over time
    3. Prying up a floorboard / molding and using it as a hammer/axe
    4. Drooling on it (and clawing away the water-logged material)
    5. Chopping it with your phone
    6. Cut it with zipper from Pants
  8. Start a Fire, using clothing fibers as tinder
    1. Sunlight and a lens from eyeglasses
    2. Rub two pieces of wood together (make a rope from pants for leverage)
    3. Overheat phone
    4. Disassemble phone and create short-circuit (look this up first)
    5. Metal on Metal to make sparks
  9. Learn lockpicking from youtube
  10. Pry up molding, use it to leverage open door or window.
  11. Live normally until someone investigates room
  12. Dig through the floor
  13. Dig up the floor to reach the ceiling, break through the roof
  14. Remove door hinges (using phone as a hammer & nails from construction as pitons)
  15. Rattle door continuously until friction wears away the latch
  16. Keep lock mechanism wet, until it rusts away
  17. Unscrew the locks with your fingernails
  18. Work out a bunch, then rip door from wall
  19. Play a loud sound from phone to attract attention
  20. Unlock the window from the inside and climb out
  21. Wake up from your dream
  22. Triangulate your location via GPS, and contact someone to come get you via:
    1. Make a youtube video
    2. Make a porn video
    3. Send an e-mail
    4. Make a phone call
    5. Send a text message
    6. Post on Facebook
    7. Post on Instagram etc.
    8. Upload a file to a shared Dropbox account
    9. Tweet
    10. Make a comment on their blog
    11. Make a death threat against the President
    12. Send a message in a shared mobile game
    13. Write a review on their product or mobile app
    14. Change your outgoing voicemail
    15. Join a Zoom call
    16. Activate “find my phone” feature, assuming you have a shared account with someone
    17. Order something from Amazon
    18. Contact your home Alexa
    19. Change the settings on your home smart thermostat to send a coded message
    20. Start a GoFundMe
comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-13T07:01:49.225Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Neat. I hadn't considered 7.6. 

I like solutions that involve cleverly disassembling and repurposing items you already have.

answer by oczarnecki · 2020-10-08T14:35:15.415Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Didn't get to 50, will try to filter even less next time.
 

1. email the police

2. wifi-call a friend

3. smash the protective glass panel of my cell phone and get thin shards to pick the lock (subgoal: learn how to pick locks)

4. read up on dark arts and manipulation techniques to trick your captor into letting you go

5. smash the door with your bare hands, Kill Bill style

6. give online English lessons/freelance until you have enough ransom money

7. seduce your captor

8. make a lot of noise and call for help

9. find friends/ lovers/ a purpose online and escape into the realm of the virtual

10. social engineer the military of the country your in to stage a rescue

11. use your cell phone to smash in the window, if there is one, and climb out

12. escape into death

13. try to "hack" the network your on to find out things about your captor, find embarrassing details of their personal life and extort them

14. use parts of your phone/ belt/ buttons to scratch away the paint and plaster, and then proceed to attack week points in the walls and the door frame

15. start singing in a really annoying way (Quirrell style) so that the captor will try to let you go or kill you. In the latter case, use the shards of your phone's screen as a weapon (Breaking Bad now?) and learn how to use it by reading up on martial arts

16. pay/social engineer/bribe a construction company to demolish the building you're in

17. make a fake Airbnb posting to draw attention to your location

18. write to journalists to create public pressure to release you

19. start a cult with the premise that your release will bring about the revelation

20. make a reddit post where your release is framed as a challenge or as something that would annoy somebody (this is probably the most effective way)

21. get a job, make a lot of money and hire mercenaries

22. study up on explosives, hijack a US military drone and fire a hellfire missile into the sweet spot where the structural integrity of the building you're in is compromised, but you are spared

23. if the type of lock allows, make a small loop out of your hair and try to get it around the door handle on the other side. You have time, after all

24. bribe someone to pass you a lock pick or a saw blade (for wooden doors) under the door

25. (warning gross): use your clothes to rub the door joints clear of lubricating oil, then iterate spitting, waiting, and rubbing, to weaken them through corrosion

26. if the door is merely slammed shut, use strips/threads from your clothes/ your phone's screen to get it to retract (like opening a door with a credit cart, in principle)

27. Short out the circuit of the room's light. When someone comes to investigate, use your aforementioned weapon

28. Use your phones battery as an explosive charge by shorting the circuit out and damage the lock

29. Make a rope out of your clothes, use the door handle and some more rope to create a tackle block and see if you loosen some component of the door

30. Pull at the handle really, really hard, at different angles. It may be a weak spot

 

That's all I got in an hour.
 

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-08T23:28:36.914Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The hard limit on the challenge is that you should get to 50. Doing it in one hour is a stretch goal, but it's fine if you don't reach it. I'm excited to see if you can get 20 more!

answer by CptDrMoreno · 2020-10-12T21:32:32.263Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

:::spoiler Got really dumb as time ran out, thankfully made it in time.

Lie and tell my captors the launch codes can only be input by me.

Just give my captors the launch codes, hope the room can withstand a nuclear blast.

Stream myself for long enough that it is obvious I don't require sustenance, negotiate my rescue with any governments interested in studying me.

Outlast the room.

Stage an elaborate fake suicide in front of the cameras, the guards will be so enchanted by my performance they'll switch to my side and let me escape.

Stage an elaborate fake suicide in front of the cameras, when the guards come check on me, inform them I have come back from the dead as the second coming of Christ.

Stage an elaborate fake suicide in front of the cameras, when the guards come check on me, kill myself for real, escaping both the room and reality.

Blink, causing SCP-173 to snap my neck.

Pretend to kill SCP-173 then fall asleep but actually keep watch on SCP-173, when the guards come check out if SCP-173 is dead, throw sand in their eyes and hope 173 goes for them first.

Convince the guards that as an angel who needs no sustenance, I will outlive them all, and if they don't cooperate right now, I'll make sure they don't go to heaven.

Stream myself for long enough to prove my phone can somehow hold a charge for more than a few hours, wait for the Samsung strike teams.

Write a book about why I should be let out, convincing my captors.

Spend my days punching a single point on the wall, until I suffer brain death through sheer lack of stimulus.

Write a short program to call for every single delivery service in existence to deliver me something simultaneously, the sheer mass of delivery men fooling my captors into thinking an army has come for me.

Troll everyone at MIRI constantly so as to increase the chances of paperclip maximizers to disassemble the room.

Troll high ranking military men, so as to trigger a Strangelove scenario (I.E. they unilaterally initiate nuclear Armageddon, hopefully disassembling the room).

Try to foster unsanitary practices all around the globe through social media, and thus trigger a pandemic that hopefully makes whatever organization is keeping me locked to collapse.

Download photo manipulation apps, take a picture of the room through the security camera's perspective, photoshop in some gods, put the phone screen in front of the camera, convince the guards to let me out.

Just code the damn friendly AI myself.

Just code the damn unfriendly AI myself.

Use the photo manipulation software to make a picture of myself with a nuclear device, upload the Facebook with the caption "Yanks won't know what hit 'em" in russian, with the metadata intact.

Unlock the window, walk out.

Unlock the window, smash thru anyways.

Unlock the window, stay inside. I'm not locked anymore, and therefore free.

Hire PMC to get me out.

Hire two PMCs to get me out and kill the other, so as to pay neither.

Hire all PMCs to get me out, rid the world of private millitary companies altogether.

Run for election, win, declare my captivity illegal.

Use the presumably gigantic 10 year phone battery as a battering ram.

Instantly explode into a gigantic cloud of ATP particles, smashing the room open.

look for suitable targets online, hypnotize them into believing they're me, use "memory recovery" techniques to implant my memories into theirs.

Cross my fingers and hope future humanity can revive me after the room is long gone.

Ask politely to leave.

Ask impolitely to leave.

Remove my stomach and use it's acids to melt through the door hinges, hope medicine can give me a new one before my 10 years are up.

Campaign heavily for anti-environmental policy, triggering acid rains that hopefully melt the roof of my room.

Wake up.

REALLY wake up.

Create a simulation in which I exist and am free.

Create a simulation in which I exist and am more trapped, making me feel more free by comparison.

Threaten to kill myself if I'm not freed, continuing on in the universes in which the threat was successful.

Claim to have evidence that could prove Epstein didn't kill himself, hopefully elude the assassins sent to silence me.

Threaten to fix known cognitohazards if I'm not fred.

Just unleash the cognitohazards, escape in the confusion.

Just unleash the cognitohazards, get rewarded with revival by the resulting AI.

Convince religious zealots to 9/11 the room.

Convince conservative zealots to killdozer the room.

Download a bunch of child porn, hopefully leading the FBI to my location.

Yell really loudly until I'm killed or moved somewhere else. :::

9 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by gjm · 2020-10-08T21:25:26.828Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

An observation, part-way through the process: Something about the nature of the prompt makes me more reluctant to propose really silly solutions, of the same type as "jump really high" or "teleport" in the moon one.

I think there are three factors making this so.

First: there are more details in the prompt this time, and they even include a couple of not-physically-possible things, which means that making up some extra impossibility feels more like cheating: "If you were supposed to be able to do that, it would have been in the problem statement." Whereas if you just say "Get something to the moon", that isn't so.

Second: the prompt is deliberately somewhat constraining: the room is locked, all you have is your clothes and a phone, etc. This, again, means that inventing magical abilities or conveniently placed Friends In High Places or whatever feels unsporting. "The whole point of the scenario is to restrict your options; what sense does it make to just arbitrarily give yourself extra ones?"

Third: there are a number of what seem like perfectly good, routine solutions that don't require such shenanigans. If you've been challenged to get something to the moon, which realistically you just can't do -- well, then of course it's OK to make up impossible solutions, because that's all there are. But here, where there are answers like "phone the police", again introducing absurdities or impossibilities feels cheaty. "You don't need that sort of nonsense, so why should you think it's reasonable?"

My list will still have some silly things on it. But they will feel to me like blemishes, in ways they didn't really with the moon challenge.

[EDITED to add:] A related but not identical issue: many kinds of silly answer are not available. You could propose to be carried to the moon by birds or fairies or dragons or hurled there by an enormous catapult or shot out of a tremendous cannon or whatever -- but in our room there are no birds, fairies, dragons, catapults, cannons, and the like. (And, again, inventing such marvels outside the room to rescue you seems like it's inconsistent with the spirit of the prompt, as per my second point above.) Of course, maybe the right way to view this is just that the problem is harder than the other one, which is part of the point of a second challenge. We'll have to see whether it produces more creative solutions, or just cheatier-feeling ones.

comment by gjm · 2020-10-08T21:39:36.626Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ooops. I meant to make this a comment rather than an answer. I guess I'll leave it as it is now. My apologies.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2020-10-08T22:30:27.388Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Moved it to the comments section for you :)

comment by gjm · 2020-10-08T23:02:55.281Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks!

comment by Ericf · 2020-10-12T16:38:11.137Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This +1. There are all sorts of reasonable or unreasonable ways out of a room, but once you've listed "Break the wall open" does it really count to add "Scratch a hole in the wall," "Use your Phone to hammer a hole in the wall," "Kick a hole in the wall" etc. Similarly, once you have "Call for help" does it really count to add "Call the police," "Call a friend," "E-mail for help," "Use Facebook for help," etc.

I think more specific challenges help with that (eg "get past this border wall" or "contact your business partner, who is trying to find you") helps with not making 50 different iterations of "open a hole in the wall" seem like cheating.

comment by Slider · 2020-10-09T19:58:28.504Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To the third point it seems like relaxing on reasonableness is also an important positive skill. Like for some of the the drawbacks is that the option is gross. But that doesn't mean it is not an option or really affect whether it would work or not.

I also felt that because I knew about orbital mechanics somewhat I concieved of the challenge somewhat different. What were in other peoples list a single bullet point I had multiple way of achieving the effect.

comment by Mark Xu (mark-xu) · 2020-10-09T22:53:58.620Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A potentially different style of babble challenge is "coming up with N opinions on <topic>". Examples are Jeffrey Ladish with 100 opinions about nuclear war and me with 100 opinions about emotions. 100 seems a bit large, but 50 seems manageable in one hour.

comment by jacobjacob · 2020-10-12T23:56:20.308Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Definitely keen to hear more suggestions for things to babble on! 

Also, once we've done this for a while, it would be nice to see if we can actually get to 100 per hour without loss of quality. 

comment by Slider · 2020-10-09T20:01:44.805Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

About what I understood the challenge was:

I thought that with communication to outside and knowing where you are it would not be any challenge to be let out. A lot of my bullet points try to address the problem of which room on the planet I am. And in hindsight it could also be a problem if I am in a room outside of earth.