Author’s Notes: Ch. 87


  • Writing notes for Ch. 87
  • Further notes on Ch. 86
  • Update on the Singularity Institute
  • Miscellaneous notes
  • Fanfiction recommendations

Writing notes for Ch. 87:

Come on, you knew Harry was going to screw up that conversation.

Important science note!  The referenced work by Andrew Critch on hedonic awareness is not yet published science.  It’s his private work that he developed at the University of Berkeley for a course on psychology for mathematicians; brought to the Center for Applied Rationality; and then developed into a CFAR workshop unit.  Since the literary theory of HPMOR holds that Science Is Timeless, presumably in the MoR-verse Critch published in 1987 and Harry read about it.

Multiple people asked what would happen if Harry had taken the phoenix-ride to Azkaban in Ch. 85.  LinkHyrule5 answers with the fan-fanfic Innocence.

Cameos for Ch. 87:  Sir Gareth (donated by Mystic Marbles), Crozier (Mad Hatter LCarol), Tano Wolfe (Purely Sadistic), and Katherine Scott (Byakubyaku).

Further notes on Ch. 86:  I would like to point out that Snape’s behavior change is what I was trying to drive at with the Alissa Cornfoot aftermath in Ch. 28.  The point being that Alissa Cornfoot had been gazing longingly at Snape since the start of the year and yet he’d just now told her “I begin to find your stares disturbing”.  I’m not sure, but I think a grand total of zero people got this.  Have I mentioned that I often overestimate how blatant I’m being about something?

Due to Conservation of Confusion, there is now a new thing so subtle that nobody got it, the vrooping thingy (I did not mean that to be a Tardis, that is not what a Tardis looks like).  Pretty sure somebody’s going to correctly realize what Chloe’s theory is about, though.

Update on the Singularity Institute:

A quick update on the Singularity Institute (in case some substantial fraction of SI fans are reading this and are not on SI’s email list).  We’ve sold the Singularity Summit to Singularity University and are going to change our name to something that doesn’t have “Singularity” in the title (we’re still doing market research on what exactly – mainly we want to signal credibility to potential mathematician employees).  Trying to make the word refer only to I. J. Good’s intelligence explosion thesis and not refer to general technoyay was just a lost battle.

We’re looking to focus more on research going forward, and possibly even initiate primary AI research if we can find sufficient math supergeniuses to work on it.  If you are reading this and you are a math supergenius and you want to save the world, this might be a good time to get in touch with us again – we’re not ready to hit GO but we’re starting to look into it.  Please do not leave out the part of your email wherein you explain your impressive math credentials/accomplishments – yes, we know you’re shy, lots of mathematicians are shy, but you’ve got to tell us that you’re a good mathematician or we won’t know.  Also, the Singularity Institute is currently running a Matching Challenge and all donations to the Singularity Institute will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $115,000 until January 5th, 2013.

Miscellaneous notes:

A special shoutout to the incredible Russian translating team at  The “hpmor” keyword gets a lot of Twitter hits from Russia these days, so whatever you’re doing, it’s working.  Many thank-yous to Jack Dilindjer, Moira, Lavash, Loonyphoenix, Alaric, Xeye, StrangeCat, Sergcold, Klekle, Alexqwesa, Chaika.che, Polina, Baskakov, You_know_who, Anzy, and Yuliy.

A double bonus shoutout to the HPMOR Podcast, which has casted character voices and… everything.  The full credits list for the HPMOR podcast is here .

/r/HPMOR is still highly active and has now reached 2,400 subscribers.  Good job for starting it, jaiwithani.

Those of you who want to read every single paragraph I write, no matter how inane, should note that I, too, have given up and am now active on Facebook.  At some point I’ll probably give up and just Friend everyone who asks, but meanwhile, there’s Subscribe.

My friend Lindsey wishes it known that she has rooms for rent on Airbnb, in Berkeley, CA, (with room still available for the holidays).  You know where to rent a room if you want to be near rationalists!  My friend Shannon wishes to say once more that she’s offering life coaching / counseling, especially people with productivity problems or who are fighting depression, and that she has some idea of how to handle rational folks at this point.  🙂

Fanfiction recommendations:

At the top of the list is Harry Potter and the Natural 20 by Sir Poley.  Explicitly Methods-inspired, with a D&D Munchkin (minmaxer) transported into the canon Harry Potter universe, except that canon!Quirrell is smart.

I’ve also enjoyed reading the Mahou Sensei Negima manga – for the love of Cthulhu stay away from the anime – though it takes a few chapters to really get started.  Be warned, this should not be the first anime/manga you watch/read, it presumes trope awareness.

Further suggestions:

Still working my way through Prince of the Dark Kingdom (Voldemort won), a great fic for everyone who thinks HPMOR is too short.

And the oldies but epicies, though I’ve already recommended them:

And outside the world of fanfiction, if you haven’t read the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, you have no right to complain about there not being enough HPMOR.

Pro-tip:  When it comes to reading things from on your Kindle, you can’t beat FlagFic.  (Just don’t forget to leave a review afterward!)

Pro-pro-tip:  Being subscribed to a number of fanfiction works-in-progress, these days I handle chapter updates via the following process:  Click on the Gmail message; click through to the new chapter linked; click a Read Later bookmarklet to send the URL to Instapaper; wait a week for several such items to accumulate; use the development version of the Instapaper news fetcher on Calibre to download the collected items as a newspaper; use Calibre to send the newspaper to my address so it automatically and freely downloads into my Kindle.  After setting it all up, it goes a lot faster than it sounds, but it took a while to set up and there’s definitely room for somebody to make this easier for non-hackers.

The next Progress Report will post on February 1st, 2013 at 10pm Pacific Time.  (This gives us some time for actual Progress to have occurred, I hope.)

See you all around!

Author’s Notes, Ch. 86

Manifest for this Author’s Note:

  • Writing notes.
  • Update on the Center for Applied Rationality.
  • Massive combined fan-art update.

Writing notes:

85:  The new revised version of Ch. 85 is something I could not get right in time for the end of the last update string – I started by posting 78 before 85 was finished – so I gave up and wrote the previous alternate ending.  Also, I didn’t want to have the fic spend a long time with a current stopping-point quite that gloomy.

86:  I regret that I could not come up with any reasonable way to have Harry shout “Temporal fugue!” or “Kage bunshin no jutsu!” before attacking.

If you’re wondering why the heck Ch. 86 took so long, it can be summed up as:

  • 70%: Not enough hours to work on HPMOR.  86 & 87 arrived courtesy of my employer authorizing me to work full-time on Methods for a week.
  • 30%: Ch. 86 is (1) a bunch of fiddly things that needed to happen before the next arc so everything keeps moving in the right direction, (2) mostly in the form of dialogue affecting people’s states of knowledge, in (3) a ‘reaction’ chapter where momentum is naturally low.  I ended up deleting a good deal of what I wrote for 86 because it just wasn’t possible to pack in all the fiddly stuff, and I figured I was probably overestimating how much fiddly stuff was needed.

Ch. 87 (Hermione-centric) went much faster and will go up on Friday.

Ch. 88 must begin a longer sequence and the longer sequence has some fiddly bits.  So there’ll probably be another interval before Ch. 88 and its attached sequence gets posted.

Center for Applied Rationality update:

The Center for Applied Rationality is holding 4-day workshops on Jan 25-28 and Mar 1-4.  These are high-intensity workshops aimed at entrepreneurs, hackers, and other ambitious, analytic folk; no prior reading required, general backgrounds OK.  These workshops should provide a well-rounded spectrum of practice in the most critical cognitive skills that CFAR has developed and refined.  We should have at least one or two big names at these.

These workshops are aimed at people to whom it can provide a lot of value, and priced accordingly, during a time when CFAR hasn’t yet scaled up fundraising and is using these workshops to fund core operations.  Nonetheless, partial financial aid is available for the workshops on a needs basis.

This brings me to CFAR’s Inaugural Fundraising Drive, a $60,000 Matching Challenge in which your donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $60,000, until Jan 31st, 2013.

CFAR could make very good use of a lot more money than this while starting up.  I don’t work for the Center for Applied Rationality and they don’t pay me, but their work is sufficiently important that the Singularity Institute (which does pay me) has allowed me to offer to work on Methods full-time until the story is finished if HPMOR readers donate a total of $1M to CFAR.


CFAR is hiring.  Who, and how many people, will depend on how the fundraising goes.  Please apply regardless – it can’t hurt.

Mega combined fan-art update:

New inspired works (fanfiction with explicitly similar rationalist themes):

  • Harry Potter and the Natural 20 by Sir Poley (a D&D Munchkin is transported into the canon universe by a summoning gone wrong; smart!canon!Quirrell; author has confirmed explicit Methods inspiration).
  • Friendship is Optimal by Iceman (an Equestria MMORPG with a real AI built to play Celestia – more AI than cogpsych)
  • Myou’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me by DataPacRat (a rationalist arrives in Equestria… as a cow)

Cameos:  Ch. 86:  Samantha Crowley (Harry-Potter-Addict).  David Capito.  Beth Martin.  Colleen Johnson (donated by Tavoriel).  Pencil-Monkey, as Unseen University character Adrian Turnipseed.  Nancy Hua.  Nathan Rehfuss.  Sherice Ngaserin (Ilae).  Shehla (Shallandavar).  Chloe.

Ch. 87 will be posted on Friday, December 21st, at 7PM Pacific Time.

Progress Report: Dec 1st

This Report won’t be long, since I spent all day working on HPMOR instead of composing the Progress Report.  22,000 words into Ch. 86 which is proving incredibly difficult.  The True version of Ch. 85, which I could not manage to write to my satisfaction in time for the previous series of updates, has been completed.  I intend to post the revised Ch. 85 and the new Ch. 86 as soon as Ch. 86 is done – it won’t be the perfect reading experience that it would be if I had the other chapters ready, but HPMOR has gone too long without an update.  If I can manage to finish 86 in December, the update will be on 7PM Pacific Time of Sunday of whatever week.  (Probably not the 2nd or the 9th, though – I’m not that close to finishing 86.)

If there is no new chapter posted before then, the next Progress Report will be on 10PM Pacific Time of Jan 2nd, 2013.  (Not the 1st, this time, because I might be doing something else on New Year’s Day.)

Meanwhile, in hopes my own tastes can prevent you from starving, fics I’ve finished and enjoyed lately include “Naruto: Game of the Year Edition” (Naruto discovers he’s living inside a video game and begins to adapt accordingly) and “Big Human on Campus” (Ranma enters the Rosario x Vampire campus and nobody believes he’s actually a human), both of which are much better, and much funnier, than their premises perhaps sound.

It’s getting shockingly hard to find enjoyable reading material anywhere, including in mainstream science fiction and fantasy.  I think that reading fanfiction has trained me to expect a certain amount of funny and awesome in my stories, and mainstream SF&F, whatever its other virtues, is not delivering the quantity of hedons per second I have come to expect.  I mean, yes, have your characters suffer and character-develop, but also have them strap a solid-fuel rocket to a broomstick, ya know?  I try to read the mainstream stuff now and nobody in the novels is having any fun even when I’m a third of the way through the book.  It’s like they don’t even realize their readers might want sympathetic hedons along with the suffering and character development.

Signing off until next time, hoping it’s soon,
Eliezer Yudkowsky.