Archive for November, 2012


Friendship is Optimal is not a “My Little Pony” fanfic, but a SF story that starts with a procedurally-generated MLP MMO, and crescendos to what could very well be the Best Possible Outcome if self-optimizing algorithms are given /almost/ the right goals. Some readers are horrified by the implications; some want to move into “Equestria Online” anyway. Whichever camp you fall in, you’ll never forget the phrase “satisfy human values through friendship and ponies”.


HMCS Ojibwa — at Welland Canal
Photo: HMCS Ojibwa


Sub hunting — with Laurie Damon Boese at Welland Canals.
Photo: Sub hunting


The Scenario: Our protagonist estimates that present-day cryonics has around a five percent chance of leading to a successful revival. Since that’s better than the zero percent chance if he doesn’t sign up, and he can afford it, he makes the necessary arrangements. As part of those arrangements, he receives a lockable file-cabinet drawer, in which he can put any desired mementos, knick-knacks, or other objects; and which will be protected as securely as his own cryo-preserved body. The drawer is around one and a half cubic feet: two feet deep, one foot wide, nine inches high.

The Question: What should he arrange to have placed in his drawer?

Some of the more obvious options:

* Long-term archival DVDs, such as M-Discs, containing as much of his personal computer’s data as possible. With slimline jewel cases, around 400 such discs would fit, which could hold up to around 1.5 terabytes. (Secondary question: Which data to archive?)
* Objects of sentimental value
* Objects with present-day value: cash, gold coins, jewelry
* Objects with predicted future value: collectibles, small antiques
* In honor of previous seekers of immortality: a copy of the ancient Egyptian funerary text, the Book of Coming Forth By Day (aka the Book of the Dead).
* For the purely practical and/or munchkin approach: a weapon, such as a fighting knife or even a pistol


Posted to FimFiction here, I’ve already had the pleasure of reading the draft version. It’s completely different from “Myou’ve”, but if you like “Myou’ve”, you’ll probably like “Optimal”. It starts with Equestria being a MMORPG with procedurally-generated content… and, avoiding spoilers, ramps up to an ending that is, very possibly, the Best Possible Outcome. Iceman writes better than I do, too.


While I’ve been wrestling with the inspiration needed to turn my fanfiction into actual fiction rather than just an author’s tract… I have had an unrelated but fun thought, which I’m throwing into the breeze here for any improvements that can be suggested.


If our universe is more likely to be a simulation, a reconstruction of the past by our descendants than the base level of reality; then that reconstruction is likely to be imperfect, based mainly on surviving records (and memories of anyone whose brain survives intact long enough for upload-style scanning).

Therefore, if somebody precommits to only leave behind records which correspond to particular events… then it seems plausible (to within the bounds of ‘the brain is a quantum computer’ levels of plausibility) that those events become more likely to be experienced. For example, if a protagonist were to precommit to mentioning that during their walk, a bird landed right in their hand to eat a bread crust, whether or not such an event actually happened; then the probability that they will then experience a bird landing in their hand increases.

Continue reading ‘LessWrong: Simulationist sympathetic magic’ »


Yes, I’m playing with it in my various spare minutes. No, I’m not spending a cent on it.

There are in-game rewards for connecting with other players – and I’m using the same username there as here, so feel free to friend me.

Anyone want to start writing fanfic based on the game’s storyline and events, rather than the cartoon’s?


Borked computer; probably from a background Windows update. I’m laptop-less until probably tomorrow.


Crappity crap crap.

I finally managed to finish plotting out the next chapter of “Myou’ve”, I blocked out enough time to type it out, I hauled my laptop to my friendly neighbourhood coffee shop to avoid all the distractions of my bookshelves…

… And my laptop’s hard drive craps out.

Maybe it’s the temperature; maybe some cat hair; maybe it’s just gotten too old. I’ve let it warm up, pulled out the screwdrivers to pull it out and. Lean the connections, and so on… But it looks like I’ll be hauling the thing into the shop tomorrow. With luck, I’ll just have to pay for a bit of labour for them to run some disk-fix software. With less luck, I’ll need to buy a new hard-disk and copy my old data onto it… And I really hope I don’t have worse luck than that.

On a more positive note, I’ve gotten an idea for a one-chapter story, which could be doable as either a side-story to “Myou’ve” or be entirely independent; I might write it up to leave either option open. My preliminary title is “Hopestone”. I’m willing to try new ways of writing with it, such as editors or beta readers, if anyone reading this wants to suggest anyone.

(Man, it’s annoying to use an iPhone’s onscreen keyboard instead of touch-typing.)

Also posted here and here and here and here and here.

How much is your life worth to you?

If you suffered from a disease which might strike you down at any time; and a treatment was available, which cost six thousand dollars per year… would you be willing to scrape together that much cash for it? If the best available treatment only had a fifty percent chance of success… would you be willing to pay three thousand a year it? If the best available treatment only had a five percent chance of success… would you be willing to pay three hundred a year for it?

My own answers to all three questions are ‘yes’.

After reading and researching about cryonic preservation, my best estimate of its success – that is, eventual revival – is somewhere in the neighbourhood of five percent. I have also learned that arrangements can be made for one’s own cryonic preservation for around three hundred dollars per year. I have filled out the forms, signed the paperwork, sent in my first installment. (If you want to know how to sign up yourself, feel free to ask.) Put simply – I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

Medically, the procedure I have signed up for isn’t “freezing”, which involves ice; instead, it’s “vitrification”, which lowers the body’s temperature in a way that avoids the creation of tissue-damaging ice crystals.

Legally, according to the “Uniform Anatomical Gift Act” of my cryonic provider’s location, and the “Trillium Gift of Life Act” of my home province, what I’ve actually signed up to do is donate my whole body for scientific research. There’s no actual guarantee that, if vitrified, I will ever be revived – though that is the goal being aimed for.

Philosophically, I have not encountered any significant evidence in support of the idea of an immortal soul. The best conclusion I’ve been able to reach is that minds are processes created by brains, and when the brain is sufficiently damaged, the mind ceases to exist, like a candle blown out. If it’s possible to avoid dying, I’d rather avoid it; and for a number of causes of death, like getting hit by a car, there aren’t really any ways to avoid them, and only a few possible ways to even potentially survive such lethal levels of damage to the body… but people keep coming up with new tricks all the time, and it’s possible that whatever does end up killing me will be curable at some point in the future – and it’s also possible that the vitrification process will be reversible at some point in the future. I’ve already mentioned my estimate of that possibility.

So… if I don’t manage to live long enough for a technological Fountain of Youth to be discovered, then, if all goes well (or at least as well as possible, given that I’ll be dead), my body will be transformed into a glass statue – and, like Sleeping Beauty, like Rip Van Winkle, like the various Kings Sleeping Under the Mountain… like Han Solo in carbonite, like Dave Lister, like Khan Noonien Sing, like Ellen Ripley, like Philip J. Fry, like Captain America in the iceberg, like Buck Rogers… like Rana sylvatica… I will await the possibility of my eventual awakening.

And if it doesn’t work, then, worst-case scenario is that I just stay dead. Which is what would happen if I never signed up for cryo in the first place.