Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby CaptainChewbacca » 2012-03-30 02:51pm

Check it out

Harry Potter isn't raised by the Dursleys, but is instead raised with two loving and incredibly educated parents, making him an intellectual to the point of savantism. I'm reading the pdf, and I'm 111 pages in.

I don't care for the Harry Potter books, but I can't stop reading this fic.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Panzersharkcat » 2012-03-30 03:45pm

It's damn good. "Lucius Malfoy? I've always wanted to meet you!"
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2012-03-30 06:05pm

That whole chapter is utterly brilliant. I am going to spend a lot of time reading this, thank goodness CaptainChewbacca posted this AFTER I finished my uni assignments :D
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby FaxModem1 » 2012-03-30 06:35pm

I've read it. I still think the writer has a bit of a grudge against Ron. And I think Harry is way too smart for an 11 year old. But it is a darn good read. I do like that the author has the policy, "If one side gets an advantage(Harry being much smarter and able to think things out), then the other side must as well. Which means no Mary Sue like plot as he wipes the floor with all of the villains harebrained schemes.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-30 07:19pm

I've read it. My take on the issues FaxModem mentions:

Harry is scarily precocious for an 11-year-old, but there are some children like that. They're really, really weird, but you do run into them- I knew a 13-year-old Comp Sci major my freshman year in college. What's making him really 'way too smart' is that he's growing up at unreasonable speed, which is actually consistent with the way Hogwarts operates even in Rowling's stories: there's a lot more 'sink or swim' education, and seventh-year Hogwarts students seem a bit better prepared for the adult world than real life high school graduates.

He does have certain distinctively 'childish' behavior patterns, I think, but they're modulated through prodigy-level intelligence.

As for Ron, I think Ron's just... pointless to the story. In Rowling his main virtues are to be a brave, loyal, but not especially bright friend. And Methods-Harry really has no use for such a person and doesn't connect or sympathize with them at all, because the mindset is outside his experience.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Ahriman238 » 2012-03-30 11:58pm

It is a very entertaining story, especially with the way time-travel is handled, the student armies/battles and the fun part where 'Quirrel' basically admits

[spoiler=]he made the Pioneer plaque a horcrux[/spoiler]

That... is a very clever use of that particular magic. Harry's plan to save Draco is also comedy gold, and I'm really wondering where this latest part with Hermione is going to go.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Ford Prefect » 2012-03-31 06:36am

For a story called 'Methods of Rationality', it sure as shit isn't rational. As usual it's self-congratulatory Yudkowsky stuff, but unlike his (conceptually way more interesting) short fiction, this is hundreds of pages long. Stop wasting your time and go pick up The Road.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby mr friendly guy » 2012-03-31 07:16am

Can anyone tell me what makes this so different from the Potter books? Keep in mind I haven't read it, and I have only seen the first few movies, using bits of pieces of it. I did however find the fan fic where Harry uses a gun to blow up Slitherins very entertaining. In an iconoclastic kind of way.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Serafina » 2012-03-31 07:37am

The good part about this story is how Harry tackles magic using scientific methods. Those are fun, the story itself is mediocre IMO.

Oh, and it also points out various inconsistencies in the books, such as:
Wizards have a three-coin currency, using gold, silver and copper-pieces. Gold- and Silver pieces have a fixed exchange rate. That exchange rate is much lower than the exchange rate between gold and silver in real life. So you sell your gold-coins for their metal value and buy silver with the resulting muggle-currency. You mint that silver into silver coins and trade them for gold-coins. Rinse and repeat for profit until someone catches on.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Crazedwraith » 2012-03-31 08:51am

Wow. That is so incredibly lame.

Because when I think 'big flaws in Harry Potter' my first thought obviously runs to 'exchange rates don't mesh with reality' and not, you know, any of the actual flaws of the books.

Yeah, This also has been recommended in the fanfic forum many times. The concept remains uninteresting to me. Just like all those fanfics that boil down to ' guns always win! hurray!'.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Starglider » 2012-03-31 08:57am

I recall Yudkowsky circa 2004 going on about how it was absolutely critical not to get distracted from Friendly AI research, then he goes and spends the next eight years doing anything but FAI research. While the SIAI rakes in donnations on the strength of organising popsci futurism conferences. To be fair they have now published a little bit of actually valuable research, but the time and money efficiency is pretty horrible. Meanwhile I have to raise funding for AGI research the hard way, actually earning it by selling AI consulting (well, that and algo prop trading). :P
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Lurks-no-More » 2012-03-31 12:11pm

Yudkowsky is a nut, if an intelligent and occasionally interesting nut, and this particular fic is horribly overrated.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Rabid » 2012-03-31 12:38pm

The fic has some interesting ideas.

The execution however is not that good.

It has the merit, though, to have introduced me to Fanfiction.net and more interesting works in the genre (like the weird things coming from Rorshach's Blot, or the really out there "Shinji and Wh40k")

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-31 01:03pm

Starglider wrote:I recall Yudkowsky circa 2004 going on about how it was absolutely critical not to get distracted from Friendly AI research, then he goes and spends the next eight years doing anything but FAI research. While the SIAI rakes in donnations on the strength of organising popsci futurism conferences. To be fair they have now published a little bit of actually valuable research, but the time and money efficiency is pretty horrible.
That's a very fair point.

I bet if you asked him, he'd say he was trying to pull a von Braun- the man was really only a mediocre rocket scientist, and he accomplished a lot more by organizing other rocket scientists than he ever would have done with his own hands and a drawing board.

But I don't really think that's a convincing or worthwhile excuse, so meh.

mr friendly guy wrote:Can anyone tell me what makes this so different from the Potter books? Keep in mind I haven't read it, and I have only seen the first few movies, using bits of pieces of it. I did however find the fan fic where Harry uses a gun to blow up Slitherins very entertaining. In an iconoclastic kind of way.
In the books, Harry Potter is a basically normal child, with somewhat neglectful and hostile parents (I don't think they really went into full-on abuse of the "lock the kid in the basement/beat the tar out of him" variety). Also, various parties make sillier plans. That makes all the difference.

Crazedwraith wrote:Wow. That is so incredibly lame.

Because when I think 'big flaws in Harry Potter' my first thought obviously runs to 'exchange rates don't mesh with reality' and not, you know, any of the actual flaws of the books.
It's something that was mentioned but not dwelled on, except as a background "I have an idea for making a lot of money very quickly, but that's for later." Basically, it comes up the first time Harry visits Diagon Alley, and is mentioned at most in passing after that.

I'm sure there are other flaws in the work, but I don't think mentioning something like that is one of them; in theory gaming precious metal exchange rates would be a workable way to make a lot of money in a hurry in magical Britain, and that's all it's ever treated as.

Yeah, This also has been recommended in the fanfic forum many times. The concept remains uninteresting to me. Just like all those fanfics that boil down to ' guns always win! hurray!'.
For the really devoted fans, I think part of the interest comes in the way the author fiddles with the motivations and behavior of the characters- a lot of them act very differently, and the environment reacts to them accordingly. There are certain people who don't come across well- Dumbledore is written as one of those characters who's supposed to be at least sort of intelligent and competent, but is too mysterious and inactive and cryptic to look competent. And I think that's one of the real flaws, not the exchange rate things.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Darth Tanner » 2012-03-31 01:24pm

This is actually really interesting, at least the bits where it looks at the magic world through a scientists mind are , the take over the world and manipulate everyone is a bit boring. It reads more like a what if the author (in his own most positive view of himself) was harry potter rather than if Harry was a child genius. I find it near impossible to actually picture any child acting as Harry does but it’s still a good read.

Harry is a bit of an arrogant shit at the moment though but I'm not that far in.

EDIT: Also the 'lolzscience wins bastard' theme is a little repetitive and unimaginative, I think it would be better if magic wasn't painted as such a mediocre and self absorbed art, but I guess that’s the Harry character arrogance coming through perfectly
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby JME2 » 2012-03-31 01:28pm

I read this a while back. Different take on the wizarding world, but still fun. I love how it's implied later that....

[spoiler=]...Voldemort took a page from G1 Megatron and turned the Pioneer plaque into a horcrux. Makes offing the Dark Lord somewhat problematic, doesn't it? :twisted:[/spoiler]

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-31 01:32pm

There are a lot of ways to neutralize a Dark Lord without killing him, and the Potterverse contains enough exotic one-offs that it should be even easier.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Xess » 2012-03-31 04:58pm

I read this up to the point where Harry does the time-travel pie in the face romp and he goes on in Quirrel's class about he can think of dozens of ways to kill people. At that point I decided that the fun bits where Potter-verse was looked at with science was not worth reading a fic where Harry was a giant manipulative, if well intentioned, asshole. That was when it was still fairly newly written too and I have since lost any and all interest in the fic.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Alyrium Denryle » 2012-04-01 05:51am

I really really enjoyed the series. I... dont like the transhumanistic crap, but the humanist bit I really like. I also like the way it dissects and examines some of the fucked up nature of the potterverse. The inconsistencies, the inhuman horror of Azkaban*, the cultural isolation, and the removes the goofiness from the social structure** and treats it like a world that really exists

Keep in mind also: Harry in this story is both a character, and a device used to explore the world, and the literary and intellectual themes the author wishes to explore. Child prodigies can be fucking weird in a lot of ways. They are still children, so lack of experience and emotional immaturity are stumbling blocks, but they can also absorb a lot of information and really can be manipulative as hell. They are smarter than you. They are smarter than their parents. If they do not have social disorders (and a great many of them do) and especially if they have read Cialdini (like Harry has) they will know exactly how to manipulate you.


*[spoiler=]In the eyes of all that is good and decent, Azkaban is an abomination that really really does need to be destroyed utterly and its component atoms scattered to the cosmos, the product of a morally bankrupt culture. It is the embodiment of cruelty, hate, and disrespect for the dignity and inherent worth of sentient beings, the horror of which cannot ever really be imagined. This story treats it as such.[/spoiler]
**[spoiler=]The various noble houses actually acting like noble houses, and everything that entails including casual rape and murder[/spoiler]
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Starglider » 2012-04-01 07:57am

The story is of course intended to get young people who wouldn't otherwise look up singularity topics interested in transhumanism, probability theory and Eliezer Yudkowsky in particular. As such it is a 'detached component' of the SIAI's PR focus. A sensible strategy for raising funds, building support and finding staff, although I can't help finding it slightly irritating.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Rabid » 2012-04-01 09:40am

Starglider wrote:As such it is a 'detached component' of the SIAI's PR focus.

See the author's notes at the beginning and end of each chapters (particularly the most recent ones) for further proofs of this.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Skgoa » 2012-04-02 07:15pm

how is this supposed to get young people interested in AI? this story seems to be made for aging fattynerds who think they are clever for pointing out that a fantasy book series does not conform to reality. :lol:


Ford Prefect wrote:For a story called 'Methods of Rationality', it sure as shit isn't rational. As usual it's self-congratulatory Yudkowsky stuff, but unlike his (conceptually way more interesting) short fiction, this is hundreds of pages long. Stop wasting your time and go pick up The Road.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Alkaloid » 2012-04-02 08:43pm

I still think the writer has a bit of a grudge against Ron


Are there any Harry Potter fanfiction writers that don't have a grudge against Ron? I don't as a rule read any fanfic, but from all I've been able to gather thats the one thing they all have in common.

Just like all those fanfics that boil down to ' guns always win! hurray!'.


I dunno, I always thought the last few chapters in the book would have been better if the PM actually deployed the army to fight the armed gang of magical terrorists. That way there could have been artillery and AA guns mounted in the castle turrets, posh army officers getting to defend a castle and thinking it's the best thing ever and MBTs sallying from the castle to have running battles with giants in the grounds. Execution is almost always more important than concept.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Gandalf » 2012-04-02 08:55pm

Alkaloid wrote:I dunno, I always thought the last few chapters in the book would have been better if the PM actually deployed the army to fight the armed gang of magical terrorists. That way there could have been artillery and AA guns mounted in the castle turrets, posh army officers getting to defend a castle and thinking it's the best thing ever and MBTs sallying from the castle to have running battles with giants in the grounds. Execution is almost always more important than concept.


The only way for that to not suck would be if Rowling put in a moment where Voldemort and his cronies basically have a magical "off switch" for the tanks and such, rendering them useless. It'd shut up the damn gun wankers who ruin too many discussions, and be pretty funny to watch.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Postby Alkaloid » 2012-04-02 09:04pm

Well if you let certain people obsessed with realism and mathematical accuracy over storytelling write it then yes. Otherwise you have potential for comedy, black comedy, big flashy explosions, that scene from hulk where he throws a tank, only this time at a castle, hand to hand combat on the walls of a mighty fortress, dashing cavalrymen with feathers in their caps making mad assaults into the enemy lines, commandos infiltrating an enemy stronghold. Execution matters far more than 'guns beat magic' being the concept.


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