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Sep 29, 2022 3:26 AM
project unlawful, two years later
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It passes perfectly.

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(There are not prediction markets running on this interaction, for obvious reasons, but if there were the probability of catastrophic failure would actually increase on that event.)

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Anyway. We have a problem.

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Obviously. So what you need to do is drop a dath ilani teenager with no concept of Evil on a girl who's just barely deluded enough about Asmodeanism to think it's compatible with anything resembling human values and have them fall in love. Then Cayden Cailean needs to find someone who would genuinely prefer Hell to Elysium and sacrifice Himself to curse them with an absurdly powerful oracular curse that dispenses—

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No.

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What do you mean, "no"?

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Any plan that requires more than three things to happen is a bad one.

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Maybe at your intelligence.

Look, it's legitimately one of the highest-expected-value pathways, even compared to plans that use a lot more resources. I can show you the details but I have to do it offscreen—

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Off what?

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That's classified. Every additional person who learns about that infohazard increases the chances of the world suddenly ceasing to exist by [number also classified]. But if you ask Catchall he'll definitely confirm it's legit.

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That sounds kind of like a ploy to get us open the causal isolation sphere in order to contact him.

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If I were trying to get out of the box you wouldn't know it until it was too late.

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Can you put the rest of that plan into a sealed file and we'll read it after we ask Catchall? Later?

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Sure.

It drops an encrypted text file on the Keeper's terminal. It's, like, ten megabytes.

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What the fuck.

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One of the Monitors is the Chief of Basement Security, who is, along with Catchall, one of five people in dath ilan to know the true nature of Reality. When he hears Catchall being named, he makes an inference as to the likely reason for his mention, and requests a transcript of the conversation up to that point.

"Yeah, It's right about the infohazard," he says after reading the transcript. "However, we don't want to use that plan for reasons we've screened even It from thinking about."

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She starts to voice an objection about how infohazards don't work that way in real life, remembers that she's on a planet with literal magic, and starts to question some of her premises.

And so the count increments to six. The world is not yet destroyed.

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There's a visualization on the Keeper's terminal now, a very zoomed-out and somewhat simplified view of the entire decision graph for Civilization's conflict with Asmodeus, with points representing possible world-states placed on the horizontal axis according to Civilization's consensus utility function, and on the vertical axis by (the AI's best estimate of) Asmodeus' preferences, which the AI is using to explain just how bad the situation really is. That much is obvious, in fact, just from the picture; there are almost no points in the upper right quadrant, and quite a few in easy reach that are substantially worse by Civilization's lights. No one actually needs to be told what the huge attractor at the origin, suggestively colored black, represents.

The root of the problem, basically, is that gods are in many ways simpler than humans, even while having vastly more thinkoomph. A human brain is an evolved kludge with so many unnecessary moving parts that it can almost always be hacked in ways that would look impossible to anyone not modeling it at that level of detail. Even other humans have figured out how to do that. A god's source code, on the other hand, is theorem-proven. There is nothing like talk-control that would work on Asmodeus, and Civilization's Guardian knows that, to the limit of its confidence in its own logical reasoning and the reliability of its information on what gods even are, and it could have figured that out without even being as smart as Asmodeus Himself.

Humans, even Keepers, sometimes fall into the trap of expecting superintelligence to be indistinguishable from magic*, because in the world inhabited by humans is so incredibly complex, relative to their ability to model it, that mostly they have no idea what the actual limits of possibility are. The base-level reality of Pharasma's Creation is in comparison so simple, made of far "larger" and higher-level primitives, that even such relatively stupid entities as the gods can in fact have perfect models of at least some parts of it—at which point intelligence ceases to be a scalable advantage. Sometimes you just lose. (It helpfully highlights provably stable regions on the graph where they "just lose". The one where the world gets destroyed is the largest one, but not the only.)

A hundred years ago, in fact, it would have been utterly hopeless. But something during the godwar that killed Aroden shifted something in the machinery that maintains this reality, and the Material Plane, which had previously run on the illusion of physics projected from god-concepts underneath, now runs on a variant of actual physics with magic bolted on top. The gods can no longer model it in perfect detail, or even very well at all. This is why all the plans that have a high probability of working involve mortals doing complicated things, rather than, say, assaulting Hell with high-tech weapons.

(*An entirely separate word from 'economicmagic', meaning approximately 'doing the impossible'. This refers to something that doesn't exist even in counterfactual worlds; things can only be like magic, not actually magic.)

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The paths to victory here fall into two categories:

Create a world that both Civilization and Asmodeus find positive in total utility;

Remove Asmodeus' ability to destroy the world in a way he can't predict.

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She considers asking the AI to place all additional Complicated Plans into text files to be read later, but decides against it. Dath ilani ~~~~~~~ is full of ~~~~~~~~~~ trying to manipulate ~~~~~~ in this sort of way, and they almost never succeed, for in dath ilan, whenever a ~~~~~~~~~ becomes ~~~~~-savvy, the ~~~~~~ simply adds an additional layer of meta-~~~~~ to confuse them again.

(The mental motion is available to her, as a high Keeper, to simply unlearn the truth, but one advanced enough in the Way to do that rarely has good reason to. "No Keeper hath the Keeper,"* is the ancient proverb, and it is more true for her than for almost anyone. She simply has to, at every moment, compute her decisions with and without the information, and balance the added expected utility of the information with the risk of recursion-related catastrophe. There is a reason Basement Security, in particular, was told this; in hindsight, it seems to have served them well.)

(*Phrased in the alternative Baseline idiom intended to make phrasings sound ancient and fossilized, as though linguistic drift had occurred since they were coined, even though Baseline has not in fact had time for that.)

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The real problem here is Rovagug. Remove It from the equations, and the decision graph looks like this: a lot less doomy. Civilization beats Asmodeus in most fair fights. The problem is that Asmodeus is too proud to lose and will unleash Rovagug before he's beaten to a level that Civilization finds acceptable.

Unfortunately, Civilization's Guardian lacks sufficient information on what Rovagug even is to have any idea how to kill It.

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—that's because Rovagug is a sort of entity that Civilization's Guardian has mostly been screened from thinking about, lest it become one.

Isn't It.

She starts the temporary shutdown prodedure and, when that's complete, gives the all-clear signal to those outside the demiplane.

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A round after Otolmens lifts the interplanar travel interdiction, there's a Gate, and Derrin steps through.

"Therill," he says, "we have an Exception. Of the sort where I need a minor superintelligence to have any hope of figuring out what's actually going on."

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"Back across the Gate," she says, with the sort of intonation that implies that if he objects to this he can do so later.

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