Author’s Note 122: FINAL

And so it ends.

One way or another, I expect to write more, though I haven’t yet settled on Precisely Bound Djinni and their Behavior versus The College of Sunlight and various other options.

Please add yourself to this email list to be notified when I begin writing again:

If that form works for you, then you should see an “Almost finished…” page after you click. If it doesn’t work, try: http://eepurl.com/besNKX.  If you haven’t been getting notices of the recent Methods chapters, you are not yet on this list or your spam filter is intercepting it.

See here for ways to find Wrap Parties.

If you’re already missing HPMOR, and you haven’t yet read Terry Pratchett, then I commend to you once more the Discworld novels, beginning with Mort.

Rationality: From AI to Zombies, a compendium of my blog post sequences on Less Wrong as slightly edited and much reorganized by Robby Bensinger, is now available as a pay-what-you-like eBook and at Amazon.com. Proceeds go to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute.

Cassandra Xia, creator of Adventures in Cognitive Biases, is today launching an Indiegogo to fund a larger and more polished game, Timmy’s Journey, that trains probabilistic reasoning. This is a promising project that aims to get started on filling a rather large hole in human civilization – we need more computer games that train good epistemology, no really.

An attempt is in progress to contact Daniel Radcliffe. Please do not randomly bother him or J. K. Rowling.

It currently looks moderately probable that I may end up able to make at least five-figure angel investments. See here for my more detailed thoughts on whether it should be possible to make an excess return over the venture sector by being better than average at judging startup ideas (it’s a lot less obvious than it sounds).

There will be a final fanart collection at some point in the future, maybe at the same time I post Omake Files #5: Collective Intelligence.  I also have a series of short-short stories, mostly HP-fanfiction rather than HPMOR-fanfiction, entitled Not Your Usual Riddle Fic, which I will probably put up soon in a separate story.

I do intend to someday rewrite and post the epilogue, though not until I’ve given readers a chance to write their own continuations first.  If so, I will post the epilogue as a separate story; what has been written so far is complete as it stands.

But for now… good night, all my friends, and I’ll see in you in the metaphorical morning.

Author’s Note 119: Shameless Blegging

So!  HPMOR is ending, and there are two things I long ago decided I would do when that occurred.

First, the following request: I would like any readers who think that HPMOR deserves it sufficiently, and who are attending or supporting the 2015, 2016, or 2017 Worldcon, to next year, nominate Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality for Best Novel in the 2016 Hugos. Whether you then actually vote for HPMOR as Best Novel is something I won’t request outright, since I don’t know what other novels will be competing in 2016. After all the nominees are announced, look over what’s there and vote for what you think is best.

I decided long ago that once HPMOR was fully written and published, I would try to get in touch with J. K. Rowling to see if HPMOR could be published in book form, maybe as HJPEV and the Methods of Rationality, with all profits accruing to a UK charity. I’m not getting my hopes up, but I do have a rule telling me to try rather than automatically giving up and assuming something can’t be done. If any reader thinks they can put me in touch with J. K. Rowling, or for that matter Daniel Radcliffe, regarding this matter, I do hereby ask them to contact me at yudkowsky@gmail.com.

And I’ll just take this chance to mention that the Machine Intelligence Research Institute is looking for at least one new executive with the capacity to initiate and manage, fully self-directed, complicated new projects.  Furthermore, especially with Elon Musk’s recent commitment of $10 million to the Future of Life Institute for grants on work toward improving AI outcomes, we are very much looking for competent mathematicians who are interested in technical work on the value alignment problem for advanced agents.


Anyway! HPMOR is ending, and it’s time for me to decide What Next?

One obvious answer, from my perspective, is my ongoing work on the value alignment problem for advanced agents (the problem formerly known as Friendly AI). My current ‘real work’ project is to write an introductory minibook, or possibly an introductory wiki-style concept network, on what I think are the core parts of that problem.

Besides that, I would like to go on writing fiction and go on having other people read it – my brain definitely has a drive for that.  There are two obstacles to my writing fiction, and it’s possible that some reader may be able to help with the second one.

Obstacle #1: I need a mode of writing that costs fewer spoons and does not come out of my ‘real work’ budget.

HPMOR initially went fast, with 365,000 words in 9 months while I was working on other things. My writing then slowed down enormously after Ch. 63. Looking back, I think I made the following mistakes:

  • The mistake of reading reviews, and letting the pleasure of reading reviews replace the intrinsic reward of writing good text.
  • The worse mistake of having tried to commit to a schedule for chapters, so that the more addicted readers would stop repeatedly hitting F5 in desperate hope. In retrospect, I think the timed updates were good for those readers, but really really bad for my hedonics.
  • Trying to upgrade the standards to which I held my writing; thinking of HPMOR as something that other people were holding to standards, rather than as a wacky fanfiction I was doing in my downtime.
  • Bogging down in all the foreshadowing that had to be fulfilled and the parentheses that needed closing, often involving plot points that I’d developed earlier at a more primitive level of literary skill.

The obvious lessons are that next time, I must:

  • Hold myself to a lower standard, somehow, even if many people are praising the work as Great Literature and my natural impulse is to try to live up to that.
  • Not commit to any schedule, just publish things as I feel comfortable with them. Torturing my readers with unpredictability, as much as I don’t enjoy inflicting that particular form of suffering, may be an unavoidable price of my being able to actually write.
  • Write to a more open-ended plot, where I can just take things where I want them to go; foreshadowing only hidden background facts that can be discovered at any time, not specific future events.

Some of the primary options I’m considering:

  • Try to write a more traditional-format novel, the sort that gets consumed in one sitting.
  • Dust off an old movie script of mine, and revise it to make the protagonist more agenty and intelligent in accordance with my current standards. I won’t do this unless some reader writes me with (a) an offer to possibly make a movie that would involve a pretty high level of special effects in the background, or (b) an offer to possibly produce an anime movie.
  • Try to produce a reader-choice-driven novel with readers bidding on options and my selecting whatever option I like (but having an incentive to pick higher-bid options). This would require software support, but it looks like that software might be something that can be made to exist. I liked the power of the Collective Intelligence of /r/hpmor, and I would like to interact with the CI again in a context where the character can actually do whatever the CI thinks is a good idea, where there’s few enough open plot parentheses that I can suddenly decide that yes they are still inside the Mirror of Vec. Does anyone have a recommendation for reader-driven story software that beats anonkun.com?

The final thing that would be natural for me to try would be writing something that is even lower-status than Harry Potter fanfiction, like say erotic romance, so that my brain will stop trying to Take It Seriously. (I don’t think this actually comes with a penalty to writing quality; it didn’t for the first 50 chapters of HPMOR.) Sub-obstacle #1 to this is that I worry I might have actually learned the true lesson that there is no such thing as a nonserious genre. But the larger problem with this particular tactic is that…

Obstacle #2 to my writing more fiction is that my writing so far has had negative, as well as positive, consequences for public relations.  My writing tends to be controversial and stomp all over certain sorts of minefields. Worse, there is some quality of it that seems to attract a certain sort of Sneer mindset – not just social-media sneertrolls, but the seething pools of corruption that are mainstream journalists. (I have theories of exactly what is happening, but it’s not worth going into here.) This has costs for the projects I’m currently associated with in the public eye. I don’t think I can write ‘safely’ without both destroying the integrity of my fiction and also destroying the satisfaction that I receive from it. A sense of joy in writing does not go along with constantly looking over your shoulder.

There is an epilogue to Methods. I plan not to publish for at least another year, so as to allow other fanfiction authors to write their own continuations of HPMOR first. And HPMOR’s epilogue was written years ago, and would need to be rewritten now; I didn’t think you would want me to delay the final chapters even longer while I did that. These are both sufficient reasons not to publish the epilogue right away… but the much more serious problem is that the epilogue takes place during the protagonists’ seventh year of Hogwarts, which means that there are now exciting new minefields that my writing automatically stomps in. I could try to rip out all those parts of the story, but it would leave a large hole in the epilogue’s plot and you wouldn’t get to see what really happened. I think you would be better served if I could, instead, get into a position where it’s possible for me to publish my real writing.

As for what I can potentially do to become able to write for you again… to say it abstractly, I have to perform some combination of (a) shifting the way that I am perceived in relation to important projects, (b) shifting the ‘role’ outsiders see me as occupying and the real status they attach to that role, and (c) locally or (d) globally ameliorating the worsening societal condition that lies at the core of the problem. This is a complicated topic and I can’t easily summarize my thinking on the subject, nor the sorts of plots I’m considering to address it; the margins of this Author’s Note are too small. (Imagine my trying to explain briefly to someone why blogging about rationality for two years was the best way to get a nonprofit into a position where it could produce mathematical progress on the value alignment problem for advanced agents, or why a Harry Potter fanfiction would be a good way to recruit International Mathematical Olympiadists for that project.)

Still, there are a few points where I could use help with projects that are relevant to Eliezer Yudkowsky being able to write more fiction in the future, though the relevance may not be obvious. The big picture here is large, and I’m still talking with my friends about it… but HPMOR is wrapping up now, so I’m going to skip over a lot of intervening steps and describe some potential or actual projects that some reader might be able to help me with. I’m not getting my hopes up, but I do have a rule telling me to at least try asking for help and seeing what happens.

First, I’ve designed an attempted successor to Wikipedia and/or Tumblr and/or peer review, and a friend of mine is working full-time on implementing it. If this project works at the upper percentiles of possible success (HPMOR-level ‘gosh that sure worked’, which happens to me no more often than a third of the time I try something), then it might help to directly address the core societal problems (he said vaguely with deliberate vagueness). My friend has enough runway to develop for at least a year and wants to conserve founder control, and hence is not interested in selling equity this early on – not unless someone wants to throw money at the startup regardless of price. If any accredited investor is interested in buying in at a ludicrous valuation or with open-ended convertible bonds, maybe because you’re also tired of constant horrible journalism and you want to push on anything that might help, then please go ahead and email me.

Second, if anyone knows John Paulson the hedge-fund manager, especially if they know something about his Puerto Rico development project, I’m interested in talking to him about the efficient design of cities, the coordination problems faced by the project of forming a startup hub someplace that isn’t Silicon Valley, and some ideas I’ve had about overcoming the potential energy barriers.

Third, I’m now reasonably certain that most venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are not using the style of thinking that I would use to analyze a startup, or at least they certainly don’t talk like they’re seeing what I see. I would like to test this capability that I think I might have, and see if it is real and can produce excess returns at angel investing. I also think the 2-and-20 system of traditional venture capital does not align interests well, and I would only ask 20% of excess returns over the S&P 500 or the Vanguard bond index fund VBMFX during the same period, whichever does better. Would any investor like to ascend me to angel status?

Also, if anyone is already working on any of the following projects, I would not mind being CC’d in on their email threads (especially if I can successfully ascend to angel investor):

  • All-robotic car fleets (cars that operate in environments where only other conforming robotic cars are around).
  • Cheaper pharmaceutical research and development outside of the US and European regulatory regimes.
  • Financialization of venture capital using non-US equity laws or cryptoequities.
  • Assaults on obesity that involve directly killing fat cells, rather than futile attempts to mess with the surrounding metabolic processes.
  • Movable houses that can be shifted between modularly designed house-foundations.
  • Trying to convince an otherwise residable country with available land to create a special district with econoliterate tax and finance laws (e.g., consumption taxes and land value taxes rather than capital-gains taxes and sales taxes, legal cryptofinance).
  • Cryptocurrencies that incorporate some form of inflation targeting or NGDP level targeting.
  • Continuously audited bank accounts.
  • Quadcopters armed with anti-mosquito lasers, especially if the same system is adaptable to target wasps/hornets/etcetera and other pests.

I would not especially recommend trying to infer what I might be plotting by trying to guess how all of these things fit together. Not all the elements belong to the same potential plots.

My contact info is, as always, yudkowsky@gmail.com.

Author’s Note 116: The Wrap Parties

I am running a few minutes late on this chapter owing to last-minute edits.  Please don’t panic.

As of March 3rd, the current list of HPMOR Wrap Parties on Pi Day, March 14th was as follows:

  1. Phoenix, Arizona
  2. Washington DC
  3. Portland, Oregon
  4. Brussels, Belgium
  5. Colombo, Sri Lanka
  6. Berlin, Germany
  7. New Orleans, Lousiana
  8. Sarasota, Florida
  9. MIT, Massachusetts
  10. Denver, Colorado
  11. Berkeley, California
  12. Lawrence, Kansas
  13. Seattle, Washington
  14. Mountain View, California
  15. Singapore
  16. Sydney, Australia
  17. Mumbai, India
  18. Melbourne, Australia
  19. London, Great Britain
  20. Cambridge, Massachusetts

Additional resources:

  • The Map.

    A quick overview of how many people in your area are strongly interested, and who might help you with organizing an event. Not even half of the people currently RSVP’d for facebook events have added themselves to the map, so this map is the absolute minimum level of engagement in your area.

  • The Facebook Group.This is the main location for discussion of the wrap parties and also the location at which all of the events are conveniently collected. You can find all events under the “Events” tab, and if you add your own event in this group you can conveniently invite everyone who has added themselves to this group.
  • The Less Wrong post, with even more information.

Author’s Note, Ch. 103

The final arc of HPMOR, chapters 104 through 120, will begin posting on February 15th, 2015, at 5PM Pacific Time, and finish on March 14th, 2015, at 9AM Pacific Time.  (The first draft of 104-120 is now complete at 88,310 words, most of it already edited, plus 2,300 words for Ch. 103.)


Oliver Habryka is coordinating wrap parties for HPMOR; please email him if you’re interested in having a wrap party in your city. There will at least be a major wrap party in Berkeley. Updates on this later.

If there is no specific wrap party in your city, then the fallback coordination point for meeting other HPMOR readers is any Pi Day celebration near you. (March 14th = 3.14 or Pi Day.  Yes, I know that Tau Day is cooler, but I’m not going to wait until June just for that.)  If a coordination time is required other than that of the Pi Day celebration, I declare it to be 6pm local time. I have no idea how well this will work, but it seems better than nothing.


I have some room for additional cameos. If you’ve created HPMOR fan art or music, and have not yet received a cameo, please email me at yudkowsky@gmail.com with a description of which cameo names will work for you. Please make sure your email contains the word ‘cameo’, and include a link to the artwork or music for which you are to receive credit. Preference may be given to those whose allowable cameo names sound more like realistic Hogwarts students.


The Center for Applied Rationality is currently conducting their annual fundraising drive ending Jan 31st. As of now, people have donated $49,342 of the $120,000 CFAR needs to continue normal operations this year. Please consider donating to them! Without CFAR, there would be no organized attempts to actually develop, test, and teach the sorts of cognitive skills that I sometimes depict fictional characters as having.

For more on the latest developments at CFAR, please see their end-of-year update on CFAR in 2014.


Ch. 104 will post on February 15th, 2015, at 5pm Pacific Time.

Progress Report, Jan 2015

Ch. 118-120 remain to be written, but I am taking the tentative plunge and saying that I currently but not solidly plan to begin posting HPMOR Ch. 104 on February 15th, 2015, and conclude with Ch. 120 on March 14th, 3.14 or Pi Day, at 12PM Pacific Time.  The idea of a finale celebration has been floated.  I’m curious as to what readers think about declaring Pi Day celebrations as the Schelling Point for HPMOR readers to meet up if there’s no larger local meetup.  I’d also like to know whether there’s any off-the-shelf software anyone would recommend for organizing meetups all over the world.

If I choose to solidify this date, I will post Ch. 103 on January 28th, 2015 at 5PM Pacific Time to announce the fact.


Speaking of finishing writing HPMOR, I’m looking for an English-speaking Chilean reader to meet me at the Santiago, Chile airport noonish on January 12th, in order to help me to get on a bus to another city (where I’ll meet up with Brienne).  Since I am not a Spanish speaker, this brief guidance would make me feel significantly less nervous about my trip.  Also, thanks to Exosphe.re for helping Brienne find the place where she’s staying and where I’ll be visiting her.


The 13-essay sequence forming my abridged guide to writing intelligent characters in fiction is now complete.


I highly recommend to everyone that they read the most recent newsletter of the Center for Applied Rationality:

CFAR in 2014: Continuing to climb out of the startup pit, heading toward a full prototype.

This has important new information about what CFAR did and learned in 2014, and where they’re heading in 2015.  CFAR is also currently running their annual fundraiser and I highly commend this as an effective use of charitable dollars.


I’d like to take this moment to commend to you the products of the following companies started by HPMOR readers / effective altruists:

Bellroy (owned by active Effective Altruists) makes elegant and functional slim-profile wallets. (They are recruiting for several roles including a data scientist. Interested readers should send an effortful pitch to jobs@bellroy.com.) Matt Fallshaw is one of Bellroy’s founders and is an early CFAR alum and active member of MIRI’s Board of Directors. I have many complimentary things to say about Matt that this margin is too narrow to contain.

General Biotics is a recent startup that is producing a pill-based probiotic that may help to replenish gut flora aka the intestinal microbiome.  They intend to donate 10% of profits to effective charities.  If you are currently unhappy with your digestive system, this is a quick way to test whether your gut microbes might be the cause.  (If you don’t have a current pain point but are interested in trying general improvements, you might want to wait for v2.)


Either Ch. 103 will post on January 28th, 2015 at 5pm Pacific Time (yay!) followed by Ch. 104 on February 15th, or I will have been distracted by something going very wrong (boo!), in which case the next Progress Report will post on February 1st, 2015 at 5pm Pacific Time.

Progress Report, Dec 2014

76,800 words in and Ch. 117 is done.  3 chapters left to go.  My current plan is to post the final arc in February, but I’m not committing to a definite start date until the first draft is complete.  (Earlier chapters have also been significantly polished.)


I am currently reading Gate! Thus the JSDF Fought There, which appeared in response to my plea for manga with Level 1 Intelligent characters.  Gate! Thus the JSDF so far appears to be doing well in terms of characters acting like they have inner sparks of optimization, being self-aware, and thinking the same things readers are thinking.  (E.g., just as the Japanese Diet member is about to insult the Apostle of the Death God, the protagonist stands up and says, “Excuse me!  There’s something you really ought to know!” just like we in the audience are thinking.)  I would much appreciate recommendations for other manga of this sort – not manga with characters pretending to be exceptionally clever, because from my perspective this is never done well, but just manga with characters who think the same sorts of things we’d think in their shoes instead of being railroaded by the plot.  The Worm fanfiction Weaver Nine, which I liked, is now complete.

There is now a Rational Stories community on FFNet.


The next Progress Report will appear on Jan 1st, 2015 at 5pm Pacific Time.