First a question, can those wish affect my family and descendants?
> "well what exactly are those limits in that case? 'cause I'm probably going to thread the very edge of them on order to exploit this opportunity maximally."
> powers equal to his, but without any restrictions on their usage or my actions that may usually follow. (essentially infinite wishes but slightly less likely to be explicitly forbidden + getting to micromanage the details to our liking ourselves)
Relevant quote: "there are three types of genie, the kind for which no wish is safe, the kind you can just tell "I wish for that which I should wish for", and the kind that isn't all that powerful." - Eliezer Yukowsky
"Ah... that is a very broad question, and not one I can easily answer. Suppose I asked you what your physical limits were? Could you tell me in a moment just how far you could run before collapsing, how heavy a weight you could lift with a leg, how thin the air before you could not breathe it?
"Nevertheless, I will try to give some guidelines. A wish that directly affects just you, or a small group of people, I am likely to be able to grant, but one that affects the whole world is likely to be beyond me. Ask for ten million dollars, and you will receive what you wish for. Ask for your dead grandparents to be restored to life and youth, and it is done. But ask for world peace, and as laudable as the wish may be, it is one I cannot fulfill.
"Even with regards to wishes that involve only yourself, I have my limits. I can easily make you a queen, but I cannot make you a god."
"They can, if you wish it so. But if you wish it not to be so, that too can be done."
"Ah. Yes. I knew this was coming. Everyone tries wishing for infinite wishes. Everyone. Just.. no."
"A clever wish! I am glad to see I am not dealing with one of those fools who squander their wishes on gold and other worldly goods.
"Alas, though, you have once again asked something I cannot grant. I have said I cannot make you a god, and while a genie is not a god, it is the next thing to it, especially a genie that can use its powers with no restriction.
"But great powers I can grant you, if not quite as great as mine. Perhaps if rather than asking for all my powers, you asked for a specific power, that would be within my ability to bestow."
((Aaaand so we get to the inevitable answer of superhuman cognitive abilities, which can't actually be wished for because no author can write a character significantly wiser and smarter than themselves credibly.))
> ask "how good predictive ability of the non-magical kind can you give, that while limited by things like indexical uncertainty, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and the second law of thermodynamics, is not limited by logical and metaphysical uncertainties nor afflicted by internal inconsistencies or barriers?", be frustrated at how you can't make every other word an hyperlink.
((edit: to clarify, we probably shouldn't actually wish for this, it's mainly to gauge the scope of his abilities))
Last edited by Armok; 06-20-2012 at 07:13 PM.
> Another genie, to be delivered upon the completion of the next two wishes.
"You're not going to give up until you figure out some way to get more wishes, are you?"
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: DESERT PALM
Induce a genie to facepalm!
"Well, it wouldn't be me granting the additional wishes, so you know what? Fine. Granted. That's your first wish."
You knew those books on philosophy and physics you read last month would end up paying off somehow!
"Um... well, I could certainly grant you magical precognition, though it would be imperfect; you could have glimpses of the future, or feelings about likely consequences of actions you considered, but it would not let you know of a surety the full course of future events... after all, such full knowledge of the future would, by its own existence, have the potential to change it. But non-magical predictive power? I could give you greater wisdom, judgment, and memory, to better observe, recall, and analyze your circumstances and surroundings, and to better use this information to assess probable events. Yet naturally, the conclusions you came to would not be certain; no matter how rigorous your reasoning, without a perfect knowledge of all things as they are now you cannot have a perfect knowledge of what is to come."
You're pretty sure from the genie's voice that, though he's trying to hide it, he's getting a little annoyed.
I think that predictive abilities sound kinda cool. Here's some additional ideas.
> Pure heart
> Steel will
> Maximim charisma
> Pet oviraptor
> go on an half-hour tangent essentially equivalent to http://lesswrong.com/lw/qk/that_alien_message/ adapted to oral telling, fail to actually specify even a preliminary wish.
Immortality. And not that crappy immortality where you live forever but can still be killed. Wish for the ability to choose when and how you will die, with the caveats that you cannot die unless you wish it, and you will live forever otherwise.
You launch into an incredibly lengthy digression about the limits of what can be determined with sufficient reasoning power. Using a sort of a parable of a civilization that receives an alien video one frame at a time over many years and is able, given sufficient time, from this limited data to determine much about the originating universe, you suggest that in fact the amount of information that can be extracted from sensory data is far, far greater than is generally supposed.
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: TWO HANDS OF JINN
Induce a genie to perform a double facepalm!
"Okay, first, now you're talking about determining physical laws and current phenomena. That's a completely different matter from predicting the future. No matter how much computing power you've got, trying to predict the future runs afoul of factors like sensitivity to initial conditions and quantum mechanical indeterminism. In fact, considering the latter, when I said earlier that without a perfect knowledge of all things as they are now you cannot have a perfect knowledge of what is to come, it was actually an understatement. Even with a perfect knowledge of all things as they are now it may not be possible to have a perfect knowledge of what is to come.
"Second, even determining present phenomena from limited data might be fine for basic physical principles, but would have problems when it comes to biological and social systems. Even if you could correctly deduce the first principles, how the organisms or organizations developed since then would have depended on contingencies that, for the reasons I just mentioned, may not be even in principle predictable. And even if you take the argument that the current status is correlated with data that you have, unless that correlation is perfect it can allow you to deduce only probabilities, not certainties -- and chances are the correlation is going to be very weak indeed."
"Third, there are limits to how much reasoning power I can bestow, especially if you want it to be nonmagical in origin. You're talking in your analogy of the total reasoning power of an entire planet-spanning civilization, and then by implication you're imagining speeding it up by several orders of magnitude. To be able to match that, either your brain would have to be redesigned to have circuitry more compact than may even be possible, or it would have to be the size of a planet. Actually, even that wouldn't work, because the time for the neural signals to cross between distant parts of the brain would be prohibitive.
"CAN WE PLEASE GET ON WITH IT!?
"I came here to grant you wishes, not to debate epistemology! Can you just make your other two wishes now? Please?"
"Okay, look, what you wish from the next genie is between you and him. But from me, you're only getting two more wishes. So you're gonna have to narrow that down."
Yeah, with the opportunities you have now, world peace seems like it may be an attainable goal after all. But you're still going to have to take it one wish at a time.
Where to start?...
"Very well! Granted! That's your second wish!"
Actually, it occurs to you you probably ought to include something about being able to heal from any injury or disease, too... you wouldn't want to spend eternity in a coma or paralyzed or something. For that matter, thinking of the Greek myth of Tithonus, you figure it wouldn't hurt to throw in something about not aging unless you want to, too.
"That's kind of a lot to cover with one wish, don't you think? But you know what? To get this over with and avoid getting into another long discussion, granted! There! That's wish number three!"
"Now, as stipulated in your first wish, here's another genie."
"But before you deal with him, now that I've granted you my three wishes there's one more matter we need to discuss..."
EDIT: NINJA'D! And just before a bad situation could have been avoided to.
Those are almost as bad as gold, in that it's trivial to come up with strictly better wishes that subsume both of them and then some. It does however give me an idea...
Again, we should check the feasibility of this, not hastily wish it before further consideration; turning us into a type of creature that innately have the following properties:
* Able to instantly and at no cost make a true independent duplicate of itself at will, with no special magical ties or labelling any as lesser, just like ordinary biological reproduction
* Able to take a form that works similarly to The Thing as described in http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/watts_01_10/
* Able to at will sync/send/receive cognitive content at the speed of light with no range restrictions other than practicality of the delay, including:
- specific memories
- all available memories, in batch
- thoughts, feelings, skills
- keeping copies synced well enough to work as a single large mind
- to and from other people without their consent
- marked and announced clearly with their source
- covertly planted as to be mistaken for originating more naturally
- to writings or recordings of all kinds
- to computer memory
* Able to take a "memetic form", copying it's entire self into any nearby mind in effect possessing it as a parasite. This form, despite being purely information and having no physical trace of the original organism, and despite not being inately magical in nature (and as such ot being subject to potential anti-magic), still magically possess all it's other abilities.
* Able to upload into a computer as an AI, including the ease of self modification, automated handling, speed up, copying, sending over communications channels, etc. that comes with that territory. This form, as well, keeps the abilities despite being physical and not having a physical trace of the original organism, as does any copies of the AI, even ones strangely encoded, encrypted, or transformed.
* Able to encode itself into text that is perfectly mundane with no magical traces, robust to copying and degradation, nor contains special keywords or the like easily targeted by automation or magic, that will infect whoever reads it with the memetic form.
* Fundamentally incapable of serious suffering.
* Extreme wisdom, intelligence, pureness of heart, etc. virtues.
Last edited by Armok; 06-22-2012 at 09:48 AM.
Heh... sorry for the ninjaing there (well, not entirely, since I was looking forward to the actual wishing part being done). For what it's worth, Armok, the wish you propose wouldn't have really worked as a single wish anyway. Each of the individual items in the list would have been doable on its own, but trying to tie them all into a single wish by wrapping them into a hypothetical type of creature to be turned into, the genie wouldn't have allowed. It's a moot point now, though, I guess. (Unless you decide to try to get those wishes out of the second genie... but you're going to have to deal with the first genie's payment first.)
It's not entirely a bad situation, though. Sure you might have been able to come up with broader wishes, but the wishes that were made could definitely turn out to be useful.
Shadow Phoenix: You make a good point, although I had wanted to leave it up to the players to come up with the wishes (which of course would involve somewhat defining her character anyway), rather than giving any pushes in specific directions. Since the wishes have already been made now, again, I guess your question is moot at this point, though... again, unless it comes to trying to get more wishes out of the second genie, after the more immediate concern of whatever the first genie means by his "payment" is taken care of.
What "after"? For this to make economical sense, whatever he wants is something harder to grant than any allowed wish. Since he can easily conjure any good or a mindless slave to do any service that's likely something along the lines of our soul or a contract that lets him do stuff he'd otherwise not be allowed to. Keep also in mind that genies are evil enough to not stop all the different kinds of suffering in the world that they trivially could, and that we've pissed this one of...
(Besides, I already know what payment this genie is going to ask for... though actually, there may be something else coming up I can still use this command for. )
> Shrug. "Sure. Whatever it is I can just wish it out of that genie over there."
"What, you didn't think the wishes were going to be free, did you? Oh, maybe some genies give out free wishes, to those they particularly favor, or to those who release them from captivity or win their gratitude some other way. But most of the time... no, there's a price to be paid.
"I said in the beginning that I was granting you three wishes in accordance with the terms of my service. By making the wishes, therefore, you agreed to those terms. And those terms include my right to demand payment for the wishes I grant."
Ok, fine. I guess that's our fault. We should've been paying more attention, but hey, it's not everyday you get three wishes, right? ANYWAYS, what do you want in exchange? A Peruvian false fig?