Aug 03, 2021 2:59 AM
some dath ilani are more Chaotic than others, but
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"Yeah!  Like that!  That is exactly what I am talking about!  Current exchange rates on true-deaths per labor-hour, Civilization will pay you at least a million labor-hours per soul you can save that way... though..."

Civilization lives in an extremely and to all appearances perfectly regular mathematical universe.  Being able to descend causally from it and copy people out of it does not mean you can send information back and execute trade arrangements.

"...though I'd bet at 4 to 1 that you can't actually get a two-way arrangement with Civilization.  I'm guessing Golarion can see dath ilan but dath ilan can't see Golarion.  But if we can manage to exploit any of the knowledge I have that this world doesn't, I will pay Asmodeus for his impact in grabbing any dath ilani souls that would otherwise get lost.  I've deliberately avoided fantasizing about what I'll do after I'm a billionaire because becoming a billionaire is the hard part, but I'm not actually averse to the part where I spend whatever I can't manage to spend on my own personal happiness on producing public goods."  It is said, for one thing, that this tends to impress members of the opposite sex, and so also contributes to personal happiness in the end.

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" - all right, sounds good. Asmodeus is a god and I don't actually know that He would want a billion dollars but I am sure He'll want something. I can, uh, get a priest, and let them know, about this - is it urgent, you must not age if you just stop existing when you die..."

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"Dath ilan's got about a billion people, ten million die per year, about a hundred of those are true deaths, so Poisson-process expected three days until the next dath ilani death... except that the plane I was on just crashed which is going to double the true-death rate this year.  If Asmodeus can grab lost dath ilani from deaths that happened an hour ago, but not a day ago, that's pretty urgent.  I'd ask 'what's a god' but that is much less urgent."

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"I don't know but maybe a priest will." She starts walking out the door and towards another building. "Gods are entities that are much smarter and much more capable and very different from humans and they set up the afterlives, Asmodeus is the one who is the patron of my country and also the most powerful one. What're ...untrue deaths, does that just mean you're able to raise them?"

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Keltham takes a breath of warm air, puts his hands in relatively warmer places, and follows her out into the FREEZING COLD.  "Not yet, gonna take a much higher tech level.  If they're dying under controlled circumstances we pump enough vitrifactants through them to prevent ice crystal formation, chill 'em down to liquid nitrogen temperatures, atoms move around but they move in one-to-one flows which seem pretty likely to map cognitively distinct start states to physically distinguishable end states.  Later, when we can, we'll scan the brain and figure out who the person was and rematerialize that person.  True death is when your plane crashes and splatters your brain all over the place and lets the pieces rot in the sun or burns them in jet fuel, a process which maps many distinct possible people onto overlapping entropized ash heaps."  Keltham has, a quite short time previously, spent some very long minutes contemplating this fact and trying really hard to think of some incredibly clever way to have it not happen to him.

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"Your language is really oddly optimized," she says, hurrying over to the towering, somewhat ominous-looking building with a red pentagram etched into the archway above the door. "I do know Asmodeus gets souls from other worlds sometimes because Barbatos, the ruler of the first level of Hell, got the appointment by bringing a whole world of souls for Asmodeus."

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"You know anything else about the circumstances?  Were they from a world that didn't previously have an afterlife of their own, or translation 'spells'?"  Keltham isn't sure how to parse 'ruler of the first level of Hell' but he can ask later what a 'ruler' is.

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"Uh, I heard that they became the barbazus, but that's all I know. Barbazus have spells now but I have no idea what they had when they were alive." She knocks on the door and enters the ominous building; it is symmetric in black stone, with a large stone altar at the center.

 

 

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Oh good, WARMTH again.  "I think it's gonna be high-expected-value to at some point very soon spend a lot of time explaining to me a whole lot of locally assumed knowledge that I don't have.  I can't figure out what knowledge I have that can be deployed to profit in this world, if I don't know how this world works."

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"Yes, the spell lasts fifty minutes but I can do fifty minutes of trying to explain things, and then tomorrow prepare better ones for this."

 

She switches languages to have a hasty conversation with a robed man, who listens, his eyebrows rising steadily.

"- he says he'll pray to Asmodeus about it."

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"Does that mean we completed the time-sensitive part of this in terms of notifying Asmodeus that there's a hundred dath ilani he can pick up, if he can only do that for a limited time afterwards, and then on-average one more every three days?"

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"Yes. I mean, I don't know how soon Asmodeus will hear but there isn't more we can realistically do about it."

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"You mention to the guy that on the 1-in-5 off-chance you can actually trade with dath ilan, those hundred souls are worth a hundred million hours of labor?"

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"I told him that your world has a billion people and that you were ready in a heartbeat to trade to Asmodeus whatever he wanted for protecting your dead. It seems to me like it ought to get His attention but trying to understand gods with a mortal brain doesn't always work very well."

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"If gods are smarter than humans, shouldn't they be more understandable from a theoretical standpoint in the sense that they depart less often from the coherence theorems governing... never mind, if you don't have math about inexploitable equilibria you definitely don't have math about gods.  Yeah, don't worry, it'll get Asmodeus's attention, unless he already knows or immediately computes that he can't do it."

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- Carissa's going to try not to feel insulted! Lots of people have done lots of studying of gods. Admittedly not usually with math, that she is aware of. "If we're needed for anything I'm sure we'll be informed. Should we sit down by a fire and I can try...explaining things to you...until my spell runs out?"

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"I don't have any better ideas.  Knowledge is definitely my rate-limiting-resource in how well I can exploit Golarion for mutual gain."

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"- sure. Okay. Uh. There are probably about a billion of us, too. I think lots more than ten million die in a year. I've heard people say that half of babies live to be adults? The age of majority's sixteen, in Cheliax, that's measured in time from the longest day of the year to the next one, I'm twenty five in those years. Humans who don't die of anything or have resurrection on demand generally make it to eighty before they die of their body just falling apart, it's called aging, it's said that the gods did it because they don't want us to stick around here forever and never go to the afterlives. Wizards can delay it, make 130 or 140 or so. Wizards are - people like me, who've learned how to cast spells."

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"I have so many Additional Questions before I can understand this world as mostly in equilibrium.  Gonna say them out loud so you know what they are, but I suspect the best strategy is for you to ignore it all and then move on to the next most important facts.  Like, what kills that many kids.  How much would your people pay per child saved.  Why would gods pick eighty years instead of eight hundred.  Why are humans an efficient way of making things that get to afterlives if those are valuable.  What's the rate-limiting difficulty in learning to cast spells that stops everybody from learning it.  Also, my reality has something that translated as 'aging' and zero gods, and we know where that kind of aging comes from that isn't gods, but I've got no idea if that's the same here.  Feel free to ignore all that confused babbling and just say whatever you would've said next anyways."

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"In what equilibrium? - uh, okay. Do you want to write those down so you remember them. There are nine afterlives. Afterlives go by attributes that the gods - use to see the world, attributes that are more fundamental to gods than to us. The attributes are Law versus Chaos and Good versus Evil. Law is - duty, obedience, authority, following the rules, Chaos is - doing whatever you want, hedonism, non-coordination. Good is - self-sacrifice. Evil is - pursuit of the interests of the self. The nine afterlives, then, are Hell - Lawful Evil - Axis - Lawful Neutral - Heaven - Lawful Good. Abaddon - Neutral Evil - the Boneyard - True Neutral - and Nirvana - Neutral Good. The Abyss - Chaotic Evil - the Maelstrom - Chaotic Neutral - and Elysium - Chaotic Good. Asmodeus rules Hell.

Until a hundred years ago, there was prophecy, which is - some kind of ability the gods and powerful wizards had to look into possible futures, and sometimes nudge them, make unlikely things come to be, or fix a point in fate so that coincidences would bring the world to it. But a hundred years ago it broke and there was a related worldwide catastrophe that toppled many empires and now things are sort of settling into a new way for them to be, geopolitically and in terms of what the gods do. I don't specifically know of any reason that's important but if you're interested in - well with tombs they've been around for thousands of years so the reason they haven't been robbed must be good, but if a tomb is new, that's the reason, and the current world situation is new. 

Uh. The most common kind of magic is being chosen by a god to do miracles on their behalf. That's five people in a hundred, maybe? We call them clerics. The second most common kind is wizardry. The smarter half of people can learn a little bit but only people who are well above average can learn very much. Wizards used to be much rarer than clerics but now Cheliax has universal testing and education so we find the smart kids even if they're farmers and we're actually up to eight in a hundred people who can cast at least one spell, which is the highest in the world. Overall I think it's one in a hundred or so. Then there are lots and lots of rarer kinds. Blood-borne aptitudes for innate intuitive magic, pacts with powerful entities that aren't gods, hybridization with other species than humans which have innate magic, stuff like that. 

The thing north of us with the forcefield is the Worldwound. A hundred years ago when prophecy broke and Aroden died, a chasm between this world and the Abyss opened up. Demons started pouring through. Demons are chaotic and Evil and they mostly like eating people so we've been trying to stop them from taking over the whole world. It's going - stably. But people'd give you a lot of money to fix it, if you figured out how."

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"Writing'd slow us down too much on the first pass.  Reactions to ignore.  The way the gods are parsing up these attributes seems very inhuman and probably isn't translating well, but if gods all see things the same way they probably share ancestry as species or constructs.  Hedonism and non-coordination seem uncorrelated to me, though in terms of what 'chaotic' translated to in my language we would definitely say I'm on the chaotic side of what we see as the law-versus-chaos tradeoff.  Good versus Evil makes slightly more sense but I don't know where 'Get rich, fund public goods, impress the prettiest people and screw them' is supposed to go on that.  We've got no idea what our world was doing a hundred years ago, but I expect we didn't have nuclear reactors then, so we're not in very much more of an equilibrium.  Who gets chosen by a god, what's an example of the simplest thing you have to learn to be a wizard.  Gee that Worldwound sounds incredibly interesting, could it maybe be closed if somebody knew more math, how much money is 'a lot'.  If there are 'gods' running around who are smarter than humans then why don't you already know about inexploitable equilibria and all of the other math, wouldn't the gods have invented it already... actually that last one sounds fundamental enough I may want you to pause and answer it."  It's sort of weird that Keltham doesn't already know a lot more standard theory about agents that would be smarter than human, now that Keltham thinks about it.  It seems like an obvious speculation on multiple levels.

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"I am sure the gods have invented all the kinds of math you're thinking of, they have very complicated god-treaties with each other that involve kinds of interlocking commitments and ability to verify each others' commitments and it was explained to me on a very simple level once just so I could understand what it was that I wasn't going to understand. Why they haven't taught us - maybe the version of it we could understand wouldn't even be particularly useful to us? Maybe they're working up to it? Maybe it'd interfere with us having our purpose in Golarion which is generally understood to be - as the product of one of those god-treaties actually - the gods disagreed about which afterlives souls should go to, and the souls growing up in Golarion is meant to - draw out their natural inclinations and also maybe give them a choice, depending who you ask? 

There are more complete accounts of what's Law and what's Chaos but they in fact don't hang together perfectly from a human angle because they're god-things not human-things. All the gods are in fact the same ...kind of entity, whatever exactly that means, some are more powerful than others but all of them have much more in common with each other than with a human, even one who has enhanced their intelligence as far as it can go and is almost as smart as a god.

I think if you want to get rich so you can attract pretty people and fund ...public goods...that's Evil, I think things have to be almost entirely purely selfless to be Good, like, if you were thinking 'I don't even care for money except that it'll let me help starving orphans' then I'd wonder if you were maybe Good but it's not enough to kick you out of Evil if you also do things that mostly benefit other people, we're all Evil and we're up here fighting the Worldwound.

Kids mostly die of disease. Smallpox and measles and flu and cholera and so on. Also some people kill their babies because they have babies and don't want them but that I don't think you could make any money stopping, the whole point is that they don't care to have a baby and they've nonetheless got one. People who do want babies would pay a large chunk of their annual income to save them, I'd expect? Especially once they're bigger and you've already invested in them. People get chosen by a god for being unusually aligned with the god's - values? Plans for humans? Needs from an actor on Golarion? I don't know that it's completely characterized but it's always someone close by in alignment and it's always someone who mostly agrees with the god's priorities and usually it's someone who can wax poetic about the beauty of the god's thing once you understand it even partially.

To be a wizard you have to hold a spell in your head and be able to manipulate it in space properly, I can show you in a bit."

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The number of questions being spawned per minute is increasing at a rate which makes Keltham worry about the overall convergence behavior of this process.

"Reactions starting to overload here.  Interlocking commitments and verification do not sound like math we'd call complicated, somebody first walked me through the surface results at age 10 and then since I'm planning on being an actual investor I walked through the proper proofs at 14.  It sounds like existence here begins as a multiagent equilibrium of gods negotiating, in the same way that dath ilan begins as an equilibrium of physics, natural selection, and human desires; possibly if I want to understand everything in proper order I should start with the gods.  Are souls a fundamental unit of value underlying all economics here.  Were humans here dying forever until the gods showed up, in which case we owe them, or do the gods culture humans in order to get more souls, in which case they owe us.  How do humans enhance their intelligence and end up almost as smart as gods.  Why does anybody spend money on anything else if you can spend money on that.  How smart are we talking about, exactly, use whatever units you like to give me any idea at all.  What do clerics do for gods, what do clerics get in return from gods, what if anything do humans get out of this whole system.

And, you know, I am on the extreme end of what my people call chaos and aspire to go further than that, when it comes to breaking the stultifying regularities that settle over human beings thinking and acting in groups.  I've been known to go by the Network handle of 'Mad Investor Chaos'.  But 'Decide you want kids, then change your mind and kill them' is fifteen hundred times more chaotic than - than I've ever - I mean.  How about if instead you think about your own preferences more clearly before taking yourself off contraception, and save yourself nine months of pregnancy?  Doesn't that constitute an outright preference reversal, where you could end up with more time and resources if you didn't have kids in the first place?  Isn't that prima-facie time-inconsistent behavior barring psychologically unrealistic arbitrary complexities of the utility function?  I, I mean, there's being chaotic, and then there's being so chaotic that it violates coherence theorems.  We have now answered the question of how much chaos it takes to make Mad Investor Chaos feel physically nauseated.  What is wrong with those people.  Why is anyone not buying the kids.  None of that seems like the actual info I need next and I probably shouldn't be asking."

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" - People buy orphaned kids but newborn babies are a pain to take care of so I don't think there's much of a market, probably if you wanted you could buy 'em and raise them, though not in Cheliax, which prohibits human slavery. People don't think they want a baby and then change their mind, they never wanted a baby in the first place but they still had sex because they thought they'd timed it well enough a baby wouldn't result or they're fifteen and impulsive or they wanted to have sex more than they dispreferred pregnancy or they were raped or they had an abusive boyfriend who'd beat them if they turned him down or they figured they could handle the baby but then the dad skipped town and now they couldn't, or they thought their family would help and then family circumstances changed, or they figured they'd abort the pregnancy but then access to that, which is not universal, vanished for some reason. Or I know someone who got an abortion and it had side effects and made her permanently infertile, freaked me right out, so if I'd gotten pregnant as a teenager I might've figured infanticide would be better, and instead I just didn't have the kind of sex that gets you pregnant but I have more options than your average teenage girl.

You get smart enough to be almost as smart as gods with magic items. It costs more than most people will ever make in their life; people who can afford it usually do do it. I have a headband. When I'm richer I'll get a fancier headband. People spend money on other things because....otherwise they would starve? Or because they like living in a nice house and having nice things and having servants and the costs of those things is negligible compared to the costs of intelligence enhancement? 

Souls are...valuable. I don't know if they're - like, they're mostly valuable to gods and people don't directly trade with gods very much, if you're trading with humans the most important things are food and textiles and on the high end diamonds and spellsilver, which are scarce components to magic items. I think the gods culture humans in order to get more souls, but I don't know in what sense that means they owe us, it's not like if we told them that they should be nicer to us there would be a compelling reason for them to listen. Clerics evangelize for a god and take care of their followers and run their churches and fight their wars. Gods give clerics the ability to heal injuries and resurrect the dead and fight people more effectively. Humans get...afterlives, and healing, and in the case of Cheliax Asmodeus supplies us with material wealth from Hell so we can afford a decent education system unlike all the other countries which are too poor to have that."

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"Yeah, so okay, either y'all are acting optimally with respect to alien problems I don't understand, or y'all got very different utility functions, or all y'all ain't got no idea what the ass you be doin'(*) and are ending up way below the multi-agent-optimal boundary, on levels where that goes from fun profit opportunity to not-so-fun emergency massive profit opportunity."

(*Extremely Chaos-aligned dath ilani are sometimes known, in moments of great gravity, to deliberately speak Baseline with nonstandard grammar.)

"But regardless of which branch of that trilemma if any is actualized, it sounds like you definitely have unsolved problems that are solved problems where I come from.  Like safe reversible contraception.  So either none of my world's solutions apply here, because the laws are different, or I bring with me knowledge and methodologies that are profitable.  Though more likely the first branch of that dilemma is actualized, if there are smart gods here who would've already worked out those solutions?  Except that you just said that gods have 'destructive-conflicts' that their clerics help them fight, which, either there's a translation difficulty here, or you just described the page-one-of-textbook result that should not happen between sufficiently smart entities who can do logical commitments and verify them.  If the strategies are ending up with overt destructive actions being carried out in reality and not just in decision-theoretic-counterfactual-threat-branches-of-reality(**), that's the page-one-of-textbook non-actualized-outcome where both entities could execute different actions and would both end up with higher payoffs."

(**This is a three-syllable word in Baseline.  Keltham has been trying to use those sparingly, so as to keep his sentences and concepts simple, and likely to pass neatly across whatever translation barrier exists.)

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