Reality is broken, or, an XCOM2 review

Yesterday evening I went to the grocery store, and was startled to realize that I was suddenly in a totally different world. Computer games have difficulty grabbing me these days. Many of the genres I used to enjoy as a kid have lost their appeal: point-and-click -style adventure requires patience and careful thought, but I already deal with plenty of things that require patience and careful...

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Relationship compatibility as patterns of emotional associations

Much of relationship compatibility comes down to a fuzzy concept that’s variously referred to as “chemistry”, “clicking”, or just feeling good and comfortable in the other’s presence. This is infamously difficult to predict by any other means than actually spending time around the other. OKCupid-style dating sites, with their extensive batteries of questions...

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Simplifying the environment: a new convergent instrumental goal

Convergent instrumental goals (also basic AI drives) are goals that are useful for pursuing almost any other goal, and are thus likely to be pursued by any agent that is intelligent enough to understand why they’re useful. They are interesting because they may allow us to roughly predict the behavior of even AI systems that are much more intelligent than we are. Instrumental goals are...

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Social media saps more than just short-term attention

The prevalent wisdom about why social media is distracting is that it provides a constant opportunity for immediate distraction. There's a lot of truth to that, but in addition to sapping our short-term attention, it also affects long-term attention.

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Software for Moral Enhancement

An algorithm will never slip up in a weak moment. What if we could identify when we are likely to make mistakes, figure out what we’d want to do instead, and then outsource our decisions to a reliable algorithm? In what ways could we use software to make ourselves into better people?

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Teaching Bayesian networks by means of social scheming, or, why edugames don’t have to suck

As a part of my Master’s thesis in Computer Science, I am designing a game which seeks to teach its players a subfield of math known as Bayesian networks, hopefully in a fun and enjoyable way. This post explains some of the basic design and educational philosophy behind the game, and will hopefully also convince you that educational games don’t have to suck. I will start by discussing a...

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Teaching economics & ethics with Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker

Unusual ways to teach economics. I’m currently playing Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker, a silly but fun little game in which you run a dating agency and try to get your clients on successful dates and, eventually, into a successful relationship. Now one way of playing this would be to just prioritize the benefit of each client, trying to get them in maximally satisfying relationships as fast...

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Technology will destroy human nature

Human values, and human nature, are grounded in various constraints that keep us stuck in a relatively narrow space of possibilities. Once those constraints are relaxed, it seems likely that humanity will cease to exist.

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Thoughts on moral intuitions

Our moral reasoning is ultimately grounded in our moral intuitions: instinctive “black box” judgements of what is right and wrong. For example, most people would think that needlessly hurting somebody else is wrong, just because. The claim doesn’t need further elaboration, and in fact the reasons for it can’t be explained, though people can and do construct elaborate...

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Towards meaningfully gamifying Bayesian Networks, or, just what can you do with them

In my previous article, I argued that educational games could be good if they implemented their educational content in a meaningful way. This means making the player actually use the educational material to predict the possible consequences of different choices within the game, in such a manner that the choices will have both short- and long-term consequences. More specifically, I talked about my...

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Videogames will revolutionize school (not necessarily the way you think)

A lot of the hype around educational games centers around "gamification", and using game techniques to make the boring drilling of facts into something more fun. Which would be a definite improvement, but I don't think that it's ambitious enough.

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Why care about artificial intelligence?

So, AI might be developed within our lifetime, but why should anybody care? True artificial intelligence might actually be the number one thing in the world you should care about.

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Why I’m considering a career in educational games

Given enough time, we could replace our whole educational system with almost nothing but games.

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