Magic Arena Bot Drafting

Epistemic Status: Attempting to be useful and to learn via exploration. Real proposals. Content assumes familiarity with Magic: The Gathering booster drafting, but does not much depend on a knowledge of deep Magic strategy, so it holds potential interest for those interested in game narrow AI and machine learning.

Reflections Partially Brought on By (Eric Moyer @ Channel-Fireball): Drafting Like a Computer Part 1Part 2

Part 1 – The Problem is Hard

I appreciated Eric Moyer’s articles because they show that building a good bot is hard. They do so by failing to design good bots. Eric’s proposed bots are overly formulaic and predictable, with obvious holes in their systems. If you are feeding one of these bots and know their rankings, you can narrow down their whole path based on possible first pick colors and strengths in highly exploitable ways. The proposed bots will reliably fail to take into account holistic information, they won’t draft playable decks or try to shore up their weaknesses or strengths, and so on, and so on.

That’s not because Eric isn’t making a reasonable first attempt here. It’s because the problem is hard! Programming a bot to draft reasonably is hard.

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Press Your Luck

Epistemic Status: Oh, we’re doing this.

Press Your Luck is back! Press Your Luck is back! Wednesday Nights on ABC! Woo-hoo!

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Some Ways Coordination is Hard

Response to (Raymond Arnold at Less Wrong): The Schilling Choice is Rabbit, Not Stag and by implication Duncan’s Open Problems in Group Rationality

Stag Hunt is the game whereby if everyone gets together, they can hunt the Stag and win big. Those who do not hunt Stag instead hunt Rabbit, and win small. But if even one person instead decides to hunt Rabbit rather than hunt Stag, everyone hunting Stag loses rather than wins. This makes hunting Stag risky, which makes Stag risky (since others view it as risky, and thus might not do it, and view others as viewing it as risky, making it even more likely they won’t do it, and so on). Sometimes this can be overcome, and sometimes it can’t.

Raymond claims that the Schilling point of this game, by default, is Rabbit, not Stag.

Whether or not this is true depends on the exact rules of the game and the exact game state, what one might call the margin of coordination. 

If you haven’t yet, click through to at least to Raymond’s article and his quote from Duncan’s original description, and consider reading Duncan’s full article.

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Moral Mazes and Short Termism

Previously: Short Termism and Quotes from Moral Mazes

Epistemic Status: Long term

My list of quotes from moral mazes has a section of twenty devoted to short term thinking. It fits with, and gives internal gears and color to, my previous understanding of of the problem of short termism.

Much of what we think of as a Short Term vs. Long Term issue is actually an adversarial Goodhart’s Law problem, or a legibility vs. illegibility problem, at the object level, that then becomes a short vs. long term issue at higher levels. When a manager milks a plant (see quotes 72, 73, 78 and 79) they are not primarily trading long term assets for short term assets. Rather, they are trading unmeasured assets for measured assets (see 67 and 69).

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Quotes from Moral Mazes

Reading and actually paying attention to Moral Mazes is hard. Writing carefully about it is even harder. I effectively spent several months forcing my way through the book, because it seemed important to do that. I then spent a month trying to write about the book, but that’s going super slow as well. The repetition, the saying the same thing from multiple angles, the detailed examples, seem necessary to get the points across, because one has the very strong instinct to avoid understanding it, to read without seeing, to hear without listening. At least, I know I did, despite these things also not only not feeling new, but resonating with my direct experiences.

So in the interest of getting something out there, and hoping that I’ll be able to address things in more detail later, here are all the 168 (!) quotes I highlighted from the book, roughly organized into categories. Locations listed are how to find the quote in the Kindle edition, and the quotes are numbered for ease of search and reference.

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Laws of John Wick

Spoiler Alert: This spoils central plot points of John Wick, John Wick 2 and John Wick 3. 

Should You See Those Movies: Yes. They’re awesome. Unless you do not like violence, especially gun violence, in which case they’re not for you.

John Wick exists in a special universe. Its criminal world has a unique economy and set of norms, laws and actions. Come for the stylized violence. Stay for the world building.

John Wick 2 presents one version of this universe. John Wick 3 takes place directly after, and engages directly with the events of John Wick 2, but presents an importantly different version of that universe. I want to explore that difference.

Beyond this point, the post will assume you’ve seen all three movies, and spoilers will be both massive and unmarked.

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More Notes on Simple Rules


Original Post by Robin: Simple Rules

Previously: Simple Rules of Law

Sarah Constantin on Twitter (if you are doomed to be on social media at all, you should follow her) offers a commentary thread of alternate explanations for the pattern pointed out in Robin’s post. It contains some ideas that I didn’t cover and deserve to be addressed, so this post will do that, and capture her arguments in an easier-to-find-in-the-future location. Quotes are from the thread.

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