Fiction: Letter from the End

post by AlexMennen · 2011-08-09T23:04:59.534Z · score: 21 (28 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 13 comments

http://alex.mennen.org/LetterFromTheEnd.pdf

I thought some LW-ers might find this interesting.

13 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Raemon · 2011-08-10T13:52:29.056Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As far as letters to your primitive, modern self about a post singularity utopia and inevitable heat-death go, this is pretty good. I think it conveys the information accurately and (I think) effectively, although I didn't feel much emotional involvement with anything.

comment by James_Miller · 2011-08-10T17:55:50.061Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Although I didn't feel much emotional involvement with anything.

I did.

comment by cata · 2011-08-11T20:31:18.259Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Me too. I thought the ending was quite poignant (maybe it gained strength through contrast with the otherwise unemotional tone.)

comment by nazgulnarsil · 2011-08-10T10:56:14.071Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

so half of matt experiences bajillions of years of post singularity awesomeness but half of him experiences only being plucked from normal experience, then the letter, then death? that sounds lie it is reducing your own utility.

comment by AlexMennen · 2011-08-10T18:42:16.932Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The "half" that gets the awesomeness is by far the larger half. I do feel that I would rather not be put in the situation I described, but I noticed that this could be interpreted as inconsistent with my expressed desire to know that I'm about to die conditional on it being true.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-08-10T12:47:28.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Only if you make all sorts of unwaranted assumptions about several things.

comment by Manfred · 2011-08-10T22:13:56.563Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The trick is to evaluate the future with your current utility, not by the utility of future yous. Similarly, don't wirehead or commit suicide expecting to live "quantumly."

EDIT: Actually this might be the wrong trick depending on what you meant. You might have to use the trick of representing multiple instances of a person as frequencies (i.e. not normalized until the end).

comment by Psy-Kosh · 2011-08-10T03:47:38.895Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Awesome story, though a bit of a downer ending, of course.

(Minor nitpick: The mere fact of entropy increase isn't what dooms us, as such. If entropy kept increasing but max entropy was arbitrarily high so that it could still keep increasing forever without bound, then it might still have been possible to perform arbitrary amounts of computation)

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-08-12T01:54:13.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I understand them correctly, some theories of cosmology imply that the maximum possible entropy increases as the universe expands - and the rate of increase of the maximum possible entropy is actually greater than the rate of increase of actual entropy, so maximum entropy is never actually reached. (If I don't understand them correctly, please correct me!)

comment by Psy-Kosh · 2011-08-12T21:06:11.909Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The catch though would be issues like "what's the maximum entropy of the largest region of space one could arrange to remain causally connected?"

comment by jhuffman · 2011-08-12T15:28:13.707Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe I'm vastly over-simplifying it but the way I am interpreting that is to say that even if all of the universe has decayed to heat radiation, that radiation will continue to be further disbursed with the expansion of the universe. So the maximum amount of entropy (amount of dispersal) does always continue to increase. But I don't think disbursed heat radiation could perform any computation.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-08-10T21:44:59.965Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A little jargon heavy, but otherwise very enjoyable.

comment by knb · 2011-08-10T02:39:48.631Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That was great!