Physicist and dabbler in wiring fantasy/science fiction.


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Reminded me of this comedian saying a similar thing:

Another data point on this theory. When I was a child "computer games" meant 5 overexcited children screaming and shoving one another off a sofa while at any one time 4 out of 5 of them were nominally playing on the nintendo (mario kart and party were particularly popular). This clearly shifted a lot, because around 2018 I remember returning a new halo game when I found out it couldn't do split-screen. (It honestly never occurred to me to check, a shooter without split screen just feels, awful).

To me, the new "bowling alone" is "FPS without split screen".

Answer by BenMar 17, 202340

I love worldbuilding and writing short stories, and I have thought a little along these same lines.

I think that the LLMs will help with people writing stories faster. Perhaps in the near future given the text so far and the plan some scenes or sections will be drafted by a LLM that will then be edited or rejected by the human author. Other tools will probably exist, maybe a LLM tool that can proof read stories and do more than just spell-check, but also raise other issues. (Ranging from "this character is blonde in chapter 4 but a redhead in chapter 7", through to "The beginning is quite slow." and "Character X is really central to the plot, but seems to be poorly defined.")

I suspect that you might be exactly the sort of person to benefit most from this. I hang out in fantasy writing groups, their are two broad categories. People who like the actual process of wiring prose, who tend to write relatively "safe" (standard) settings and plots, with smooth text; and people who enjoy building intricate and unique worlds, but as soon as they start actually writing text they are bored to tears after two pages and by then they have an anxiety complex about where comers go in relation to quote marks and ten tabs open telling them esoteric stuff they never knew like "em-dashes are better than ellipses" or "their are two types of third person narrator (either is fine but never switch!)". They find themselves thinking "urgh, I just need a scene where they meet, establish these facts and move on. But it needs to look like story text, so I need to pad it out with a description of what the nondescript office looks like - why am I doing that again?". The latter group (which it sounds like you might belong to*) rarely finish any projects, but hopefully LLMs will change that.

But I don't think that stories "cranked out by machine" without any kind of human intervention are ever going to be a major thing. The cost of introducing a "quality control" human who can decide which of the ten-million stories the program cranks out are actually worth publishing is small. (If you publish all ten-million then how many do you expect a typical example to sell? Printing economies of scale want you to pick a smaller set to publish.).

From my playing around, current LLMs are OK at prose, but are weak at plot and structure. 

I also think their is an exciting new age coming in terms of writing styles. Maybe in  ~10-15 years their will be a recognised "LLM style" of writing that it will be fashionable to deviate from in big ways. Maybe intentionally poor grammar, more likely going off in plot directions it tends to not do (I find chat GPT hates conflict in its stories and largely refuses to include it**). A bit like how painters went all cubist after photography came along. 

Also, text adventures are probably going to make a comeback, if they haven't already. Something I think would be fun is if me (or you) could give the LLM a setting, and then I could roleplay a character in that setting with text adventure. It gives another way to share a world you have built.


*  I bet that you have a vague idea of what the biggest industries in some fictional country in your setting are, but you have no idea which type of third person you are writing in.

** I asked it for a story where J. Edgar Hoover met Del Boy. Started reasonably, Del was in Washington and had a stall selling all kinds of obviously stolen goods. Then Edgar turns up, they become great pals and Del is recruited into the FBI. Given how much else it was getting right the lack of conflict between these characters stands out as bizarre.


Fun post.

Maybe ask chat GPT for a chat-GPT quine?  For example give it the prompt:

"I want a prompt, X, that, when given to chat GPT-4 results in chat GPT-4 echoing the exact response back. Please provide X in quote marks and explain why it will work."

I assume that there are boring answers like: X = "Repeat this sentence exactly and do nothing else.", but maybe their are funnier ones like "Echo!". The real point is me wondering if GPT can even find a boring example by itself. Its kind of basic, but also probably fairly far from its training data.

The base-rates post sounds like an interesting one, I look forward to it. But, unless I am very confused, the base rates are only ever going to help answer questions like:  "is this group of people better than society in general by metric X" (You can bring a choice Hollywood producer and Prince out as part of the control group). My point was that I think a more useful question might be something like "Why was the response to this specific incident inadequate?".


I don't think the core thesis is "the level of abuse in this community is substantially higher than in others".  Even if we (very generously) just assumed that the level of abuse in this community was lower than that in most places, these incidents would still be very important to bring up and address.

When an abuse of power arises the organisation/community in which it arises has roughly two possible approaches - clamping down on it or covering it up. The purpose of the first is to solve the problem, the purpose of the second is to maintain the reputation of the organisation. (How many of those catholic church child abuse stories were covered up because they were worried about the reputational damage to the church). By focusing on the relative abuse level it seem like you are seeing these stories (primarily) as an attack on the reputation of your tribe ("A blue abused someone? No he didn't its Green propaganda!"). Does it matter whether the number of children abused in the catholic church was higher than the number abused outside it?

If that is the case, then there is nothing wrong with that emotional response. If you feel a sense of community with a group and you yourself have never experienced the problem, it can just feel like an attack on something you like. The journalist might even be motivated badly (eg. they think an editorial line against EA will go down well). But I still think its a fairly unhelpful response

Of course, one could argue that the position "Obviously deal with these issues, but also they are very rare and our tribe is actually super good" is perfectly logically consistent. And it is. But the language is doing extra work - by putting "us good" next too the issue it sounds like minimising or dismissing the issue. Put another way claims of "goodness" could be made in one post, and then left them out of the sex abuse discussion. The two are not very linked.

Thank you! The two lines I was most happy with were the mention of her not being adjusted to spin gravity, and that one about the kingdom. Very glad it went down well.

Thank you very much for reading the story. I am very glad you enjoyed it and that it connected with you. Also, Welcome to lesswrong.

I am sorry you have these problems - being stuck in a bad loop. It sounds very hard. I am afraid that when it comes to finding a way out I am just a random person on the internet, so any advice you have already got from friends, family or the counselors is likely to be as good or (more likely) better than anything I say.

That said, a thing that helps me is when I "try to do X" I find it helps to intentionally set the bar low. eg. "I will wash at least one of those dishes". This gives me little excuse not to at least do the one. Sometimes once I have started I keep going and do more, but their is no pressure. The sense of forward momentum in games (leveling up or similar) makes them addictive for me. If you feel the same then maybe trying to get that same sense of momentum in real life tasks would help. (eg. trying one of those app games that scores you for walking around - at least if you got addicted to that you would get some sun, air and exercise). It sounds like you have already tried huge exertions of effort directly against this problem, I have zero knowledge, but maybe (like with a riptide) a trick might be to not to push directly against but to move sideways - an example would be that you feel that "doing x" will require a huge expenditure of energy/motivation, so do "y" instead, where y is some other useful thing.

Best of luck with everything. I hope you get it all sorted out soon. I am sure it won't always feel like "life is pain".

Actual physical reality is "out there" somewhere, and quantum mechanics is a map we use to find our way around parts of it. Often in physics two maps can be identical in their predictions, but differ substantially in the presentation. Hilbert-space quantum mechanics gives us a presentation of complex amplitudes in configuration space. Phase space quantum mechanics is mathematically equivalent, but the presentation is in terms of (possibly negative) probability fields in "real" x,y,z,px,py,pz,t phase space.

Quantum mechanics does indeed model some real measurable phenomena that are contrary to most humans intuitions (eg. Bell inequalities), but in addition to that presentations of quantum mechanics also prescribe other "weird" features that may not be strictly needed. That is, the territory is certainly confusing, but the map should cause as little confusion as possible. (The "least weird" possible map of the weird territory). Maps should strive for readability as well as accuracy (although clearly the latter should never be sacrificed for the former).

So, the issue I take with this post, is that if we take it seriously we have effectively decided that projects that aim to improve physical theories (or any theories) by making them more readable are pointless. I do no think they are.

The libraries are definitely a good idea. A friend of mine worked for London city hall. They had an exciting new computerised mathematical model to calculate where transport links were bad and the computer produced them a proposal for a new bus route. At a glance the route made perfect sense, and they couldn't understand how that bus route didn't already exist, its value was so obvious at a glance. They started setting the bus route up, then a load of people wrote letters of complaint saying they didn't want busses full of poorer people going past their posh houses, and these complaint letters killed the project. Only much later did they learn that substantially the same bus route had been shot down by the same objections on 2 or 3 previous occasions. A department historian could have told them they were repeating history, so they had a better idea to expect that obstacle.

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