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Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102 · 2014-07-27T16:51:51.688Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Harry seems to have neglected the possibility that the Philosopher's Stone is a general-purpose transmutation device, thus explaining why it would be able to produce both gold and the elixir of life.

And since Fullmetal Alchemist was plagiarized from wizard lore, you'd think this would be a reasonably common hypothesis.

Comment by jthm on [QUESTION]: Driverless car forecasts · 2014-07-11T05:21:14.725Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

My answer to question 3: The introduction of driverless cars needs to be sped up as quickly as possible. I think most people don't realize just how helpful these things will be. For starters, only a small fraction of those of us who used to own non-self-driving cars will need to own a self-driving car. Those who do own them will probably have them signed up with Uber or something, and their owners will be renting them out as driverless taxis when they don't need to use them personally. This means that taking a driverless taxi everywhere will be much cheaper than owning a car. Today, when you call a car on Uber, you pay for: the driver's labor, a fraction of the car, a fraction of the maintenance, the fuel you use, plus a small cut for Uber itself (this would be very small in a hypothetical future with perfect competition). This adds up to quite a bit. Now what do you pay for by owning your own car? As much fuel and maintenance as you would use with Uber, but the entire cost of the car. Because of the cost of the driver, this winds up being cheaper at present. Take the driver out of the equation, and it's easy to see that a fraction of the car plus all the fuel and maintenance winds up being a hell of a lot cheaper. Driverless-Uber would be a bargain-basement option. And if the car is electric, with low maintenance and fuel costs, but an equal-to-higher cost of the vehicle itself, the ratio of the cost of the driverless taxi to the cost of owning your own car goes even lower. If the regulatory hurdles are all cleared, taking an electric driverless taxi in 2025 will be cheaper than just the gasoline you would burn traveling the same distance today.

And think of what the driverless taxi could do for traffic! The decrease in accidents will help some, but the real gains will come from sharing taxis. Imagine that 90% of cars on the road are driverless taxis, and you request a ride to point A. Chances are, a taxi already carrying someone else will soon be going by your way that is already on a route that will go near point A, or is going to some point B which is on the way to A. So the app that you use to flag down taxis asks you if you want to share the taxi that someone else is already using. If you and the other guy both agree, you get a reduced fare. You can check to see how other riders have rated this person as a co-passenger, and the fraction of the fare for which you are responsible is inversely related to how highly others rate you. You both accept, and now there is one car on the road carrying the passengers that would otherwise have required two or three or four cars. (Or more; the economics of driverless taxis might encourage multi-row limousines to become commonplace.)

Now imagine what this does in rush hour. If surge pricing is allowed, then prices track the current demand for transport. People who don't really need to be on the road at that time wait until it's cheaper, and those who do need to be on the road have a higher incentive to share a taxi with other commuters. This means that you might have a quarter as many cars on the road at rush hour carrying the same number of commuters. And the time spent commuting is no longer wasted, either—all that internet-browsing, book-reading and movie-watching that you used to do at home can now be done on the road. This enables us to live much further from city centers than we used to, on much cheaper land where crime is lower and a middle class person can have 20 acres all to himself. Land in the suburbs and cities will be used more efficiently, since we no longer need all those stupid parking lots. Houses can be built more cheaply, too: we no longer need driveways or garages.

It won't just revolutionize short-distance travel either. Since you can sleep in the car, a long-distance trip can be taken overnight with very little lost time. It'll be like shaving eight hours off of any trip you take, which means that driving will be more convenient than flying in many cases. Once you factor in the time it takes to go to and from an airport, it probably won't be any faster to fly unless you'd need to drive for 14 hours or so. (And driverless cars might safely drive at 120mph or more.) When you do need to take a plane, connecting flights will be a thing of the past. Now, you just have a car drive you overnight to an airport from where you can get a direct flight to your destination.

Parenting will also be made much easier by the driverless taxi. Children over the age of ten or so don't need constant supervision, but the do need a stay-at-home parent to take care of various chores that only an adult can do: buying groceries, ferrying kids to soccer practice, etc. But the only reason that many of these chores need an adult in the first place is because kids can't drive. They could, however, take driverless taxis. They can do the shopping themselves, and they can take a taxi to wherever they need to go. This means that the stay-at-home spouse can re-enter the workforce full time much earlier than would otherwise be possible and children can have much more freedom of movement than they otherwise would, they no longer having to depend on the availability and goodwill of a parent to take them places.

The driverless car is going to deliver major fundamental improvements to civilization itself. Bringing it about as soon as possible should be our single highest political priority at the moment.

Comment by jthm on [LINK] Elon Musk interested in AI safety · 2014-06-19T00:02:33.348Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Musk knows Peter Thiel from their days at PayPal, and Thiel is MIRI's biggest patron (or was, last I heard)—so it's hardly surprising that Musk is familiar with the notion of X-risk from unfriendly AI.

Comment by jthm on A Dialogue On Doublethink · 2014-05-09T02:43:28.318Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Lying constantly about what you believe is all well and good if you have Professor Quirrell-like lying skills and your conscience doesn't bother you if you lie to protect yourself from others' hostility to your views. I myself lie effortlessly, and felt not a shred of guilt when, say, I would hide my atheism to protect myself from the hostility of my very anti-anti-religious father (he's not a believer himself, he's just hostile to atheism for reasons which elude me).

Other people, however, are not so lucky. Some people are obliged to publicly profess belief of some sort or face serious reprisals, and also feel terrible when they lie. Defiance may not be feasible, so they must either use Dark Side Epistemology to convince themselves of what others demand they be convinced, or else be cursed with the retching pain of a guilty conscience.

If you've never found yourself in such a situation, lucky you. But realize that you have it easy.

Comment by jthm on Items to Have In Case of Emergency...Maybe. · 2014-04-13T14:05:52.958Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If a first-world country suffers a calamity in which half its population dies, it'll lose nine-tenths of its economic output at least.

Comment by jthm on Items to Have In Case of Emergency...Maybe. · 2014-04-12T21:04:58.571Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Too valuable in the current economy to measure in small quantities, sure. But in a postapocalyptic wasteland, the economy will have shrunk drastically while the available quantity of gold stays the same. Hence, gold is the new silver and silver is the new tin.

Comment by jthm on Items to Have In Case of Emergency...Maybe. · 2014-04-03T02:53:46.117Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Should civilization collapse to the point of law enforcement and electronic banking no longer functioning, I suspect gold in small denominations would be more useful than cash. You should also have acid handy to prove the authenticity of your gold and to test the authenticity of others'.

Comment by jthm on On not getting a job as an option · 2014-03-11T05:13:26.617Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Do you consider food, shelter, and clothing to be optional? You know those things cost money, right?

Comment by jthm on Amanda Knox Redux: is Satoshi Nakamoto the real Satoshi Nakamoto? · 2014-03-07T02:41:22.781Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I use two spaces after every sentence, and I'm 23. It's not a personal quirk either, it was just normal formatting in the American public schools I attended. (By the way, anyone who points out that this very post uses single spaces after a full stop should know that LessWrong messes with formatting. I typed double spaces; it's just not displaying as written.)

Comment by jthm on I Will Pay $500 To Anyone Who Can Convince Me To Cancel My Cryonics Subscription · 2014-01-11T20:26:44.132Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Let me attempt to convince you that your resurrection from cryonic stasis has negative expected value, and that therefore it would be better for you not to have the information necessary to reconstruct your mind persist after the event colloquially known as "death," even if such preservation were absolutely free.

Most likely, your resurrection would require technology developed by AI. Since we're estimating the expected value of your resurrection, let's work on the assumption that the AGI will be developed.

Friendly AI is strictly more difficult to develop than AI with values orthogonal to ours or malevolent AI. Because the FAI developers are at such an inherent disadvantage, AGI tech will be most used by those least concerned with its ethical ramifications. Most likely, this will result in the extinction of humanity. But it might not. In the cases where humanity survives but technology developed by AGI continues to be used by those who are little concerned with its ramifications, it would be best for you not to exist at all. Since those with moral scruples would be the most averse to wantonly duplicating, creating, or modifying life, we can assume that those doing such things most often will be vicious psychopaths (or fools who might as well be), and that therefore the amount of suffering in the world inflicted on those synthetic minds would greatly outweigh any increased happiness of biological humans. A world where a teenager can take your brain scan remotely with his iPhone in the year 2080 and download an app that allows him to torture an em of you for one trillion subjective years every real second is a world in which you'd be best off not existing in any form. Or you could find yourself transformed into a slave em forced to perform menial mental labor until the heat death of the universe.

Likely? No. More likely than FAI taking off first, despite the massive advantage the unscrupulous enjoy in AGI development? I think so. Better to die long before that day comes. For that matter, have yourself cremated rather than decaying naturally, just in case.

Comment by jthm on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-08T07:37:30.053Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have said nothing of the left promoting the well-being of minorities, and I have said nothing of why minorities support the left. I have said that the left tries to place left-leaning demographics in positions of power and influence (which is not always the same thing as actually helping those demographics, although helping them may be a side effect), and that leftists try to populate their social circles with those same demographics. Obviously, the right tries to place right-leaning demographics in positions of power and influence as well. For that matter, anyone who identifies with faction X tries to place likely X-ists in positions of power and influence. However, an attempt to do such a thing rarely feels like a power grab from the inside, regardless of your political orientation. Inside the mind of a leftist, a power grab of this form feels like promoting the noble cause of diversity.

Comment by jthm on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-08T00:54:58.304Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

There would likely be more intellectual diversity among a demographically diverse group randomly selected from the general population than there would be among a homogenous group randomly selected from one demographic within that population. However, if the demographically homogenous group was comprised of specialists of diverse fields of study, they would likely be more intellectually diverse than the demographically diverse group selected from the general population.

What I said was, "There is likely to be more intellectual diversity between an exclusively middle class white male group comprising a physicist, a lawyer, a mathematician, a programmer, a chemist, a politician, an economist, and a businessman than there is between a demographically diverse group of eight people randomly selected from the general population." Please pay attention to the bits in bold.

And the qualities of supporting the left or right are not binaries, they are things that come in degrees, like a thing being hot or cold. When I say, "women support the left and men do not," I mean that more women than men support the left and more men than women support the right. Taken completely out of context, I suppose "women support the left and men do not" could indicate that I meant every woman supports the left and every man supports the right, but that is obvious nonsense. You are twisting my words to fit the most absurd possible interpretation.

Comment by jthm on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-07T18:41:16.139Z · score: 6 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Your argument is cogent, and yet I find the overwhelming majority of calls for diversity to be somehow underhanded. I suspect that your true motives are invisible to you. Consider this: is your motivation for valuing diversity really a product of your philosopher's thirst for pure, pristine knowledge, or do you just want every social group you see as important to be loaded with demographics which support your political faction? (Think carefully--the truth might not be obvious from casual introspection; we are masters at self-delusion when politics is at play.)

I say this because I cannot help but notice that the cry of "Diversity!" is invoked exclusively by those who are trying to import to a group those demographics which tend to offer political support to the left. What's more, the frequency which with this cry is invoked correlates positively with the degree to which that demographic supports the left. Consider the following data from the 2012 presidential election:

Whites voted 39% for Obama, and 59% for Romney. Blacks voted 93% for Obama, and 6% for Romney. Hispanics voted 71% for Obama, and 27% for Romney. Asians voted 73% for Obama, and 26% for Romney.

Source

When I encounter someone singing the praises of diversity, I more often find that they are lobbying for Blacks than Hispanics, rarely for Asians, and never for Whites. Blacks offer overwhelming support to the left, Hispanics are more lukewarm, Asians' support proportionally resembles that of Hispanics' (but they are a smaller group overall so it is less important for the left to signal respect for their faction), and Whites support the right. Coincidence? Unlikely.

Now consider gender (same source as above):

Men voted 45% for Obama, 52% for Romney. Women voted 55% for Obama, 44% for Romney.

Again, women support the left and men do not. Again, the cry of "Diversity!" is invoked for those trying to add women to a group, and rarely for men. I seem to encounter such arguments invoked as often for women as I do for racial minorities. While women do not favor the left as heavily as Hispanics or Blacks do, they are a larger group than all racial minorities combined, and so it is highly important for the left to signal respect for this demographic, and to ensure that they occupy positions of prestige and influence.

The overwhelming majority of people shouting, "Diversity!" are not motivated by epistemology at all. They are subconsciously (sometimes even consciously) making a power grab. That is all. You can tell by who, exactly, they are trying to include and in what they are trying to include them. For one, they are always lobbying for a demographic on the grounds that said demographic will bring additional knowledge to a discussion, but not for someone from a specific field of expertise which would be relevant to said discussion. There is likely to be more intellectual diversity between an exclusively middle class white male group comprising a physicist, a lawyer, a mathematician, a programmer, a chemist, a politician, an economist, and a businessman than there is between a demographically diverse group of eight people randomly selected from the general population. And you regularly see the pro-diversity crowd lobbying for their favored demographics to occupy positions in which being demographically distinct cannot possibly be an advantage, such as in the hard sciences. I find the champions of diversity disingenuous in the extreme.

Comment by jthm on Fascists and Rakes · 2014-01-05T05:58:48.503Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Huh. I think you might be right--that really never occurred to me, and I'm not sure why.

Comment by jthm on New Year's Prediction Thread (2014) · 2014-01-05T05:24:35.600Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The present value of a commodity reflects the market's best estimate as to the future value of that commodity. You are not smarter than the market; practically nobody is. If the market value of Bitcoin is X, then something not far from X is the best estimate of Bitcoin's near-future value. (The very best guess isn't exactly X because of cost of liquidity and time preferences.)

Comment by jthm on Fascists and Rakes · 2014-01-05T05:12:35.220Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Since this post is obviously mostly about abortion, you might as well just say so. The only moral dilemmas we currently face in the civilized world that hinge on whether or not something is a moral agent are abortion, and more rarely, whether it should be legal to euthanize humans in persistent vegetative states.

Comment by jthm on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-01-05T05:02:22.818Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Was I the only person who shamelessly defected only because the defect/cooperate choice isn't really a prisoner's dilemma at all? Obviously, if enough of us defect that the payout is diminished, the winner receives less, but whoever would be paying for the prize would have that much less money missing from his pocket. I would not have defected if I expected my defection were to result in a net loss of resources. For the 2014 survey, how about we try this again, with the modification if enough people defect for the payout to be reduced, a good of equal market value to the reduction in payout shall be purchased and destroyed? (You can't just burn the money, because that's not actual destruction of value, just redistribution of value to everyone else who owns units of that same currency.)

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 28, chapter 99-101 · 2013-12-12T14:22:10.929Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Grindelwald accepted the inevitability of his death, and did not fear it—hence the laughter. Remember, Rowling is a deathist, and considers this to be a mark of Grindelwald's maturity (he is a foil to Voldemort).

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T20:28:15.453Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, you're right. This raises the question: is this a plot hole, or is Eliezer giving us a subtle hint that the person we think is Moody was in fact someone polyjuiced as Moody, without the real Eye of Vance?

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T20:22:24.031Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

For those of you confused by this comment: I believe Manfred assumes Lucius suspected that Hermione was replaced by a polyjuiced Bellatrix Black. Lucius implies that he believes Harry to be a de-powered Voldemort in their discussion at the train station, and also believes Harry to be behind the rescue of Bellatrix from Azkaban. If you rescued your powerful minion, you would want to keep her close about you for your own protection and to accomplish tasks beyond your magical abilities. Hermione Granger is known to associate with Harry Potter, so she would be the ideal candidate for someone to replace with Bellatrix.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T18:23:18.715Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You are entirely correct. I mis-remembered the events of book four.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T18:20:27.334Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If Harry Potter already had the contract written before going into Gringotts, how did Moody's eye not see it? I suppose it is possible that Moody's eye cannot see into the folded space of Harry's pouch, but Harry has no reason to assume as much, and is smart enough not to take the risk. And whether or not Moody can see into folded pouch-space, this line makes no sense at all: "Moody paused as his Eye caught sight of the second half of the document as Harry Potter slowly, as though reluctantly, began to unfold the top upward." Moody's eye can easily see through mere paper. Why would he be able to see only the unfolded portion of the document?

This chapter would make a lot more sense if Harry committed the wording of the contract to memory beforehand and wrote it down at the meeting, and if McGonagall or Dumbledore was escorting Harry, not Moody.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T13:17:39.015Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Canon contradicts you: In book four, the house-elf Winky was able to conjure the dark mark with the use of a wand despite presumably never having wielded one before.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T15:19:34.151Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW · GW

At this point, it would be the greatest fake-out in literary history if Quirinus Quirrell was actually just Quirinus Quirrell.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T15:10:21.902Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The fact that Quirrell seemed not to know the symbol of the Deathly Hallows is very strange--the symbol is reasonably well-known in the wizarding world, as Grindelwald used it as his own. Which raises the question: was Quirrell's apparent failure to recognize the symbol an oversight on Yudkowsky's part, or an important clue?

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T05:28:00.469Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

For those who don't know, the actual origin of "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" is Corinthians 15:26, specifically, the King James version.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 24, chapter 95 · 2013-07-18T03:54:34.350Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure that Quirrell DID just update. This chapter seems to be a pivotal moment in his character arc: a cynic learns that there really is such a thing as love and friendship in the world.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-10T06:31:19.031Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it somehow relevant that Dumbledore said, "Fred and George Weasley are the Heir of Gryffindor", not "Fred and George Weasley are the Heirs of Gryffindor".

Admittedly, I don't know what it means, but at this point, I think we can safely say that even minor quirks of grammar mean something in HPMoR.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 22, chapter 93 · 2013-07-06T18:51:32.445Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Nicholas Flamel, who is already known to change identities frequently, is the obvious candidate.

(And Flamel could also be Quirrell; Of the canon characters, there are four people likely to be as powerful as MoR Quirrell is: Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Voldemort, and Flamel. He's not Dumbledore; Grindelwald is probably still in Nurmengard; Voldemort is a distinct possibility, but that-one-infamous-post-we-all-know-about is, in my opinion, more likely to be a red herring than truth; Flamel is most likely. If Quirrell were not Flamel, Harry would be correct in assuming that Quirrell would kidnap Flamel if the stone were genuine. Lack of access to the elixir of life would also explain Quirrell's illness and the accelerated aging that Harry observed when Quirrell was in the infirmary. It also explains why Flamel knows that the Stone is hidden in Hogwarts. And if Quirrel/Flamel is female, that would explain how an attacker managed to intercept Hermione in the girls-only staircase. This theory also explains Eliezer's hints that a future story development will make it obvious that he is in no way shortchanging the female gender.)

I suspect that, if Flamel is Quirrell, the presence of the stone at Hogwarts is some elaborate trap to draw out Voldemort, whom Flamel may believe resides in, or is, Harry.

Edit 5/11/2014 (Spoilers up to Chapter 101): Dhveeryy unf abj orra frra qevaxvat havpbea oybbq, gur nqirefr rssrpgf bs juvpu ner fgngrq va pnaba gb or artngrq ol gur Ryvkve bs Yvsr. Synzry jbhyq or bar bs gur srj crbcyr jubz jr pna or pbasvqrag jbhyq or fher rabhtu bs guvf cebcregl bs gur ryvkve gb org uvf urnygu ba vg. Ubjrire, Dhveeryy unf nyfb orra fubja gb unir n yvax gb Uneel'f zvaq, n yvax juvpu Ibyqrzbeg cbffrffrq va pnaba naq sbe juvpu V pna vzntvar ab cynhfvoyr ernfba sbe Synzry gb unir. Gur onynapr bs rivqrapr va snibe bs zl traqresyvccrq-Synzry-Dhveeryy gurbel vf abj zhpu qvzvavfurq.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-03T05:15:05.030Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

To make Harry Potter a worshiped celebrity.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-02T05:10:21.606Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

No, the abruptly-ended and grammatically-incorrect sentence preceding this passage indicates actual discontinuity:

"Dumbledore wasn't being very cooperative, and in any case this was several minutes after the critical location within Time"

Notice the lack of punctuation. The end of this sentence has been lopped off, and deliberately. Eliezer Yudkowsky does not make careless punctuation errors.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-02T04:32:14.139Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

"Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line..."

This sounds like an alchemy circle, which has to be drawn "to the fineness of a child's hair." I guess it involves the creation of a philosopher's stone.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-02T04:27:18.957Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Magick Moste Evile? (This is an in-universe book from canon, in case anyone forgot.)

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-07-01T20:07:29.733Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

80% probability that Hermione will make a horcrux; a mere 30% probability that everything will happen exactly as I specified above. It is a very specific prediction, after all.

...And a 90% probability that the plan will occur to Harry whether or not he pulls it off.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-06-30T20:41:24.054Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Prediction for Chapter 90: Time Pressure, Part 3:

"Wait a moment," you say. "Time Pressure, Part 3? Harry already lost his race against the clock. Why would Chap. 90 be called 'Time Pressures'?"

Because Harry's race against the clock to save Hermione's life has only just begun, and he has slightly less than six hours left. Eliezer mentioned that one of his most significant purposes of Chap. 86 was to update characters' states of knowledge before the next arc. If you recall, in that chapter, Harry learned the word "horcrux." And in Chap. 87, Harry learned of the philosopher's stone.

So what will Harry do? Get the shell removed from his time turner, or obtain a time turner from someone else. Learn about the Horcrux ritual as quickly as possible, travel back in time, get Hermione to create a horcrux, and erase her memory of doing so thus that her death plays out just as before. Then start working on the stone to restore Hermione to life. (He could also take the "bone of the father, flesh of the servant, blood of the enemy" route, but positively identifying Hermione's enemy could be difficult. Lucius Malfoy and Company, who were tricked into antagonizing Hermione, might not count for purposes of the ritual.)

The hard part, of course, will be getting Hermione to kill, but Harry can probably find someone in a hospital who has only days to live and convince Hermione that creating a horcrux is a net ethical positive.

Without Hermione's death, murder would have been a line Harry was unwilling to cross. I think that whoever is behind this plot really wants Harry to cross the Moral Event Horizon and/or create the stone (the second possibility is less likely though, since Hermione was already working on the stone, but that fact could have been unknown to the plotter).

Edit: As of Chapter 101, this prediction has probably been proven wrong, unless Harry's memory of executing this plan has been erased (not completely impossible; there's a moment when he becomes momentarily disoriented.) But I think this would make a totally awesome piece of recursive fanfiction. After HPMoR is finished, I might write this.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-06-30T04:31:11.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It could be House Malfoy and Friends, but if so, we would still need some reason why Quirrell would not have told McGonagall that the troll was likely after Hermione. If Quirrell did want Hermione dead, he would most likely have kept any other potential murderers away from her so that her death could occur at a time and in a manner that would suit him best. So the most probable explanation is that it was, in fact, Quirrell.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-06-30T04:16:02.827Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Harry knows how smart Quirrell is, and he knows that if it occurred to him that the troll was an attempt on Hermione's life, it would have occurred to Quirrell instantly. We (and Harry) know that Quirrell said nothing to McGonagall, from which Harry will soon infer that Quirrell could have saved Hermione yet did nothing. (Which makes it likely, but not certain, that it was Quirrell who was behind the troll.) In either case Quirrell has reached a point, or is about to reach a point, in his sinister plan where it no longer matters (or perhaps even requires) that Harry take him as a mortal enemy.

Draco (and maybe even Lucius) will most likely infer from the troll incident that Hermoine was not the one who attacked him, and he will align himself with Harry in the coming Roaring Rampage of Revenge. I would not be surprised if Lesath Lestrange also made an appearance.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T21:28:37.350Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's strongly implied that in MoR, just as in canon, Dumbledore is hiding a philosopher's stone in Hogwarts at Flamel's request. Dumbledore even tries to tempt Harry to use Alohomora on the door leading to the stone.

And if Dumbledore has had a chance to examine it, we can be assured that it is real.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T20:50:00.535Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, Flamel could just use the philosopher's stone to transmute base metals to gold. So I doubt he would bother with commodity-trading. But, yeah, Dumbledore should be a suspect at this point, though I assign a low probability to him being behind this. Dumbledore does not want Harry to be indebted to Malfoy (unless MoR Dumbledore is secretly completely different from canon Dumbledore), and so he would not hinder Harry in his quest to pay off the debt quickly.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T20:37:06.525Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There's no reason he can't work on both problems simultaneously.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T20:32:07.367Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In your own quote, you said:

'it's more important to get that sorted immediately than which one of us gets it sorted."

Regardless of whether it is urgent, Harry obviously believes it to be so.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T20:28:28.411Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But if he does remember the gold-and-silver scheme, then he's telling Hermione to go work on a problem that isn't necessary to solve--and there's every likelihood that she'd find out.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T20:25:46.118Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hermione ought to think that if Harry knew how to pay off the debt, he would already be working on it. We have every reason to think that as well. But he isn't. And that's what's very, very odd.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T20:21:57.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That could just as easily imply that Harry hasn't thought of a way to pay off the debt as it could imply that he has.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T20:12:54.075Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, yeah. slaps forehead. Still, my other points stand.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T19:57:46.170Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, yes, that would prevent Quirrell from being the occlumency teacher. But Mr. Bester could have been allied with or imperiused by Quirrell, and so Quirrell could use Bester or another person to do the memory modifications for him.

And Harry should have mentioned that gold-and-silver scheme here because if Hermione fails to make a philosopher's stone--which for all Harry knows, she very well may--then if Harry does indeed remember his original gold-and-silver scheme, he will use it anyway. And then Hermione would know that Harry deceived her into thinking that he was actually relying on her, and their relationship would be tarnished.

Moreover, we often hear Harry's thoughts. And he wasn't thinking about his gold-and-silver scheme during his conversation with Hermione.

Comment by jthm on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T19:15:36.732Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think this chapter just proved that someone, most likely Quirrell, has modified Harry's memory. Remember how Harry easily figured out how to quickly make large sums of money by trading gold and silver between the wizard and muggle markets? And now, he doesn't seem to recall that brilliant insight when Hermione mentions that they need a way to make lots of money fast. Moreover, the occlumency teacher with whom Quirrell set up a lesson (possibly Quirrell himself in disguise) mentioned that he would like to be able to remember that same trick after he read it in Harry's thoughts. Clearly, whatever the villian is planning, it requires Harry not having large sums of money.

The creation of a philosopher's stone would, therefore, pose a direct threat to this plan. Hermione is in even more danger than before.

Comment by jthm on Meetup : Atlanta LessWrong Meetups REBOOT · 2012-12-07T20:02:51.824Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be interested in attending, but how many other people will be there?