Progress Report, May 1st, 2013

Not much HPMOR progress this month – as previously warned, the 3-week April math workshop at MIRI ate my existence.  Lots of math progress there – more than I was expecting, a very pleasant surprise – and now I’ve got to write up my parts of it!

Things I’ve been reading lately include Tales of Mu (original, still reading this) and Black Cloaks, Red Clouds (Naruto, incomplete).  Dirty Old Men (Naruto, incomplete) was surprisingly funny but started out slow; I’d recommend skimming everything before Ch. 5, and even then it takes a while to get to the hysterical cackling parts.  All of these have adult themes somewhere, may the young and innocent be warned.

Shannon (Chaotic Shannon in Ch. 78) is once again offering life coaching / counseling, especially people with productivity problems or who are fighting depression.  I checked with some of the readers she previously got from HPMOR and they seem to have positive reports so far.

The current top post on /r/HPMOR is a proposal that using babies to make horcruxes is a net ethical positive.  You’d do well on, Ilverin.

I don’t have super high hopes for May but will definitely try to offer you a more exciting progress report come June 1st, 2013 at 7PM Pacific Time.

Progress Report, April 1st, 2013

I am now 6,500 words into Ch. 90 (plus 8,800 words for Ch. 88-89).  Please don’t expect much progress during April 2013 since MIRI is holding a major math workshop that’s going to consume basically all of my existence from April 3-24.  After that there should be more hope.  Writing has been going relatively fast on the few days I’ve been able to do it!

I was recently in the middle of a first read of The Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett; and then I switched in midday to rereading Harry Potter and the Natural 20 by Sir Poley and realized that HPN20 is funnier, more gripping, and just generally better.  Now The Truth is not shaping up to be the best Discworld novel Pratchett ever wrote and I wouldn’t necessarily say that HPN20 was funnier than Sourcery or more gripping than Mort but still, on side-by-side comparison HPN20 seems like it would be considered at least average for a Terry Pratchett novel if Terry Pratchett had written it.  I just thought Sir Poley might enjoy hearing that particular opinion of mine, which may or may not be shared by any particular reader.  And HPN20 just finished Harry and Milo’s first year, so it’s a good time to read or reread.

The next Progress Report will appear on May 1st, 2013 at 7PM Pacific Time.

Progress Report: Mar 1st, 2013

8,000 words into either Ch. 88, or Ch. 88-89, depending on whether I decide to agglomerate or divide them.  Almost done with those two chapters which do not form a complete arc and no you do not want me to just post them, trust me on this.

The new website of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute is up at

Metamed is a medical startup by some highly rational friends of mine:  Instead of just having “evidence-based medicine” in journals they will provide you with actual evidence-based healthcare.  If you have a sufficiently serious problem and can afford their service, they will (a) put someone on reading the relevant research literature who understands real statistics and can tell whether the paper is trustworthy (yes, a lot of the p-values out there are complete garbage); and (b) refer you to a cooperative doctor in their network who can carry out the therapies they find.  This is a new service and it has to interact with the existing medical system, so they are currently expensive, starting at $5,000 for a research report.  (Keeping in mind that a basic report involves a lot of work by people who are good with math and computers.)  This seems well worth it if you can afford it:  There are amazing things out there, in the scientific literature, that most doctors have never heard of – and Metamed will find them for you and find you a doctor who can implement them.  (The startup was partially inspired by the case of a woman who had her fingertip chopped off, was told by the hospital that she was screwed, and then read through an awful lot of literature on her own until she found someone working on an advanced regenerative therapy that let her actually grow the fingertip back.  Basically, Metamed will find this sort of thing for you if it exists, and you would be surprised how often it does.)

If you know somebody who’s sick and can afford it – especially if the standard healthcare system has failed them, and they want their next step to be better science instead of ‘alternative medicine’ – please do refer them to Metamed immediately.  We can’t all have nice things like this someday unless somebody pays for it while it’s still new and expensive.

On the lighter side, I recommend the recursive fanfic “Friendship is Optimal: Caelum est Conterrens” (Heaven Is Terrifying).  This is the first and only effective horror novel I have ever read, since unlike Lovecraft, it contains things I actually find scary.  You may or may not need to first read My Little Pony: Friendship is Optimal.  I would recommend reading FiO first to get acquainted with the Optimalverse, but Caelum est Conterrens was written by a much more experienced fanfic writer and you might consider moving onto Conterrens directly if Optimal isn’t doing it for you.  Also, you have no idea how hard it is not to write my own take on the Optimalverse, which is something I’m not doing so I can put all my available writing energies into Methods.  I want relationship credit for this.

The next Progress Report will be posted on April 1st, 2013 at 10PM Pacific Time.

Progress Report: Feb 1st, 2013

Currently 3,300 words into Ch. 88.  I suspect I won’t have any exciting numbers to report here until I get another chance to work on HPMOR for a solid week or two.  Still, it’s further along than I was at the same relative time after the Ch. 78-85 update.

Many correct identifications of Miss Chloe’s Epileptic Trees in Ch. 86, but still nobody’s gotten the vrooping thingy.  Win some, lose some.

I’m afraid I don’t have much new fanfiction to recommend – but did run across The Best Night Ever (Groundhog!MLP) and Imperfect Metamorphosis (Touhou, long).  In ‘mainstream’ fiction, Sanctum wasn’t bad but it won’t be everyone’s cuppa tea, so I recommend having a Kindle or a Kindle app so that you can download a sample first.  (I don’t understand why people ever bought books before they could download samples of things.  Libraries?  Physical bookstores where you’d sit around reading the few opening chapters?)

The organization formerly known as “Singularity Institute” is now the Machine Intelligence Research Institute.  We haven’t changed our actual mission, but since our organization was founded the word “Singularity” has become associated with toomuchotherstuff in general and Ray Kurzweil’s ideas in particular.  We’ll just talk about self-improving AI and I. J. Good’s intelligence explosion from now on.

Next Progress Report on March 1st, 2013 at 10pm Pacific Time.

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!