Progress Report, Jun 2014

No writing progress to report.  May was one crazy month—well, you don’t care about that.

Question to the general readership:  Does anyone have a quiet vacation home, not necessarily somewhere with good Internet access or more than 1x speed on Verizon, where I and my SO could spend 3-4 weeks while I just work on nothing but the final arc of HPMOR?  Maybe during September, say?  If so, please drop me a call at  You will get one of the last remaining cameo opportunities, and the eternal gratitude of many HPMOR readers.  For optimal productivity I’m looking for a quiet location, AC if the weather goes over 80 degrees, a shower stall at least the size of a bathtub, 2 bedrooms, and solitude.  Can take a plane trip in the US or Canada as required.  Will pay utilities.  And again, good Internet access is definitely not needed.  (EDIT:  I have an excellent offer!  Thanks, readers!)

If you’ve been dying to have something like a MIRI technical workshop with you and some of your friends trying to make progress on our open problems, we’re now sponsoring those at other universities.  Read up on MIRIx independent workshops for more info.

Upcoming CFAR workshops:  Jun 6-9 (Bay Area), Jul 25-28 (Bay Area), Sep 11-14 (Bay Area), Apr 23-26 2015 (Boston).

Things I am reading:  Carpetbaggers by cofax is a marvelously original-flavor continuation of the first Narnia book – what Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy went through to establish their reign over Narnia.  It’s complete, though I haven’t yet finished reading.  Alexanderwales continues to produce interesting rational fics, including A Bluer Shade of White (Frozen, complete) and Metropolitan Man (Superman, updating once/week).  I’ve very slowly started to read Ra at QNTM (I’m on Ch. 3).  And I’m sloowly making my way through the legendary Homestuck which is… Homestuck. That thing is not going to be everyone’s cuppa tea and darn me if I have any idea how to describe it; besides that it’s best read on a 10″ Android tablet using the Dolphin browser so you can read the Flash parts.

I estimate a >50% probability that the one-chapter short update, Ch. 102, will appear in July.  I… hope people don’t get too worked up about this, because it’s just one chapter.  But I know that far too many of you have nothing else to hope for.

Next Progress Report on July 1st, 2014, at 5pm Pacific Time.

Progress Report, May 2014

No new writing progress to report; moving to Berkeley ate everything.  I’ve been trying to write up a small guide to writing fiction with intelligent characters and other rare vitamins of HPMOR, but that’s not done yet and may not be done soon.  Next month is a MIRI workshop, but after May the pace of other imminent priorities should slow down a bit once more.

Recent good reads:  I am currently in progress on the non-fanfiction Sunshine by Robin McKinley and it seems quite good so far.  Back in the world of fanfiction, the Toasterverse, and particularly the first story In Which Tony Stark Builds Himself Some Friends, receives the honor of being the first fanfiction so hysterically funny that I read it even though it’s M/M slash, skipping the sexy parts so I could read more about the things Iron Man builds when he’s sleep-deprived.  The non-funny parts are nothing special yet; the humor is already Terry Pratchett level.  Also on the pretty-good list is the LOTR fanfiction Back Again by Waugh, featuring PeggySue!Bilbo.

There’s a large online fundraiser on May 6th for many different charities, in which the Machine Intelligence Research Institute is participating, featuring up to $250,000 in matching funding from sources that would not ordinarily give to effective altruist causes.  The gotcha is that this is $250K total, not per institution, and the rules for which charity gets it seem to be complicated.  If you’re interested in giving $500 or more on May 6th in a coordinated fashion, please contact Malo at, and see this blog post.

That’s it for now.  Next Progress Report as usual on June 1st, 2014 at 5pm Pacific Time.

Progress Report, Apr 2014

3,000 words into Ch. 103.  MIRI has just hired Benja Fallenstein and Nate Soares as the second and third full-time researchers, and I expect to spent most of April working with them.  While I do think that making some steady progress on HPMOR is important, I also think the main plan is going to be to spend some time with Benja and Nate, write up existing progress to a suitable tutorial quality for bringing in other minds, finish the Open Problems in Friendly AI writeups, and then, with something like a clear conscience because all important things are already in progress and moving forward, set aside a huge block of time to finish HPMOR.

This day I have written and published “The Confession of Eliezer Yudkowsky“.  Since this is April Fools’ Day, nothing in it is true.  Remember that if you find yourself tempted to take it seriously, because you shouldn’t take it seriously, because nothing in it is true.

At the top of my list of fanfiction recommendations is the Worm fanfiction Cenotaph, by ‘notes’.  You must have read Worm first, but if you have, Cenotaph is the most original-flavor thing I can ever remember reading.  Also on the pretty-good list are the warning incomplete Worm/Exalted fanfics Memoirs of a Human Flashlight, She Who Skitters in Darkness, and Goblin Queen; the Worm/Lovecraft Starry Eyes; and the Worm fanfics Tale of Transmigration and Bug on a Wire.  I’ve been on something of a binge.

Jonah Sinick (formerly at Givewell) and Vipul Naik (silver medalist, International Mathematical Olympiad) have started Cognito Mentoring.  This is targeted at gifted slash highly intelligent students, and tries to provide them with counseling to make the best of their lives.  Mentoring, help in selecting good places and ways to learn, help in locating the right online resources to get started on calculus or whatever, statistics about which college careers have which expected outcomes financial and otherwise, etcetera.  I have heard sufficiently good things about them to advertise Cognito Mentoring here, where it may be of some interest to certain HPMOR readers.  Sinick and Naik say that they’ve recently been shifting some focus away from additional tutoring to writing up (for free) the info that previous students have found most useful, which appears on the Cognito Mentoring Wiki.

As always, further Progress Reports will arrive on the 1st of each month at 5pm Pacific Time.

Progress Report, Mar 2014

Ch. 102 is finished and mostly polished at 3,874 words; and I’m 358 words into Ch. 103, meaning that I’m now beginning work on the Last Arc.  I used to think that the important thing was to begin things, because then they could continue.  Today I think the more important thing is to be able to find solid uninterrupted weeks in which to work on things, which I obviously haven’t been able to do so far, just a couple of hours here and there.  But nonetheless, I’ve begun writing the Last Arc.

Although I expect a certain amount of dissent to this decision, even though Ch. 102 is complete and is a standalone chapter I am not releasing it immediately, because, as hundreds of you have already begun to type upon your keyboards, I am pure evil and have no intentions in this decision other than to cause as much reader suffering as possible.  Actually, my reasoning is that it may be a while before the Last Arc is complete, Ch. 102 is kinda short, and hence I’m going to save it to release it during summer, in what will hopefully be the middle of the interregnum, if I can really finish up this year.  Go ahead and hate me.  I suppose I’ve earned it.

Fiction recommendations:  Have you seen BBC’s Sherlock?  Imagine that he’s Lord Voldemort, John Watson is Harry Potter, and the two of them meet after time stops just before a nuclear war starts.  That’s How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Lord Voldemort, by cheryl bites.  And another word to the ever-growing MLP Loops, which contains by far the best confrontation I’ve ever seen between Fluttershy and 40K’s God-Emperor of Humankind, and is now up to 69 chapters and 638K words.  If your tastes run to seeing Louise de la Valliere summon Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of Zero by Nietzschian is surely the best work in that particular category.

In sadder news, we, his readers, all mourn the passing of Brian Randall, author of the now-forever-unfinished “Kyon: Big Damn Hero“.

As always, further Progress Reports will arrive on the 1st of each month at 5pm Pacific Time.

Progress Report, Feb 2014

I did not have time to work on HPMOR during January, due to life hecticness.  With any luck my life will be less hectic during February.  So still 3,341 words into Ch. 102.

On the other-reading front, I recommend the short but amazing The Last Christmas (original) by alexanderwales, and the slightly longer Branches on the Tree of Time (Terminator) by the same author.  Both of these were brought to my attention by /r/rational, a small nascent subreddit devoted to collecting the Internet’s tiny supply of rationalist fiction, as well as attempting to produce it, and also posting a number of links whose rationality might well be disputed.  But if you know of any fiction that you consider great rational reading, do go and post it there!

Further Progress Reports will arrive on the 1st of each month at 5pm Pacific Time, as always.

Progress Report, Jan 2014

Currently 3,341 words into Ch. 102.  I don’t know if I’ll post this chapter immediately upon its completion; after that starts the Final Arc which may take a while to write, so I may save 102 as a brief interlude during that long drought.  (Ch. 102 is shaping up to be short.  But not boring, rest assured.)

Among the guilty pleasures of my recent reading is MLP Loops (an endless series of one-shot stories about increasing numbers of Equestrians in a Groundhog Day Loop; this idea really should not have worked for 445,000 words, but I’m still reading).  If you don’t know the series, don’t try to start with this story.  I’ve also been working my way through City of Angles (non-fanfic, original world).

The Center for Applied Rationality is now at $47,840 out of $150,000 in its matching fundraiser, and your donations will be greatly appreciated.  Please read this post (which went up a few days ago) for a more detailed account of what CFAR did in 2013, and what it hopes to do in 2014.  In particular they hope to focus more on epistemic rationality training (better modeling the world); and more formal experimentation, including some potential academic collaborations, to verify what works.  (Also good news for scaling up: yesterday the Wall Street Journal published a positive article on CFAR.)  CFAR’s workshops are net-cash-positive and subsidize CFAR’s ongoing research and non-revenue endeavors, but not completely; CFAR still needs your donations to keep going.  We can live in a saner tomorrow – if we all pitch in.

The next Progress Report will be on Feb 1st, 2014 at 5pm Pacific Time.  (Sorry for forgetting to mention that previously!)