From: Stathis Papaioannou (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Nov 16 2007 - 04:30:01 MST
On 16/11/2007, Gwern Branwen <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > The existence of an SI means that if such a joke is possible, the SI
> > will find it; but obviously it won't find it if it is impossible. You
> > need some justification other than the possibility of an SI to claim
> > that a universally lethal joke is possible.
> > --
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> Alright, I'll give it a go.
> 1) Dying of laughter is possible, and has probably occurred multiple throughout history (<http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/laughing.asp>, <https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Fatal_hilarity>).
It's possible that the people who allegedly died of laughter actually
died of some unrelated coincidental condition, or at least had some
rare quirk in their physiology which rendered them susceptible to
> 2) People are capable of endlessly repetitive actions, even self-injurious actions, and equally endlessly repetitive mental states (examples being common in schizophrenia and other mental disorders).
> 3) If one begins thinking in a mental loop, and said loop involves laughter, one will continue laughing (#2).
> 4) Laughter will eventually kill you if continued indefinitely. (Obviously. Either through dehydration or whatever kills in fatal hilarity.)
Yes, I suppose that continuous extreme laughter would kill you
eventually if it prevented you from eating and drinking.
> So now all we need to know is, can an SI create a joke that will cause one to laugh at all (yes - we can, after all),
Surely yes - and a very, very funny joke at that. But even finding a
joke that will be universally considered funny at all would be very
difficult, let alone universally lethally funny. The task would be a
lot easier if the SI were free to tailor the joke to each individual.
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World's_funniest_joke
>and could it also package in it the means to put you into a
schizophrenic state? This second proposition is weaker and easier to
show than whether an SI could create a lethal joke, I think, and
probably true. If people can be driven to suicide by what someone
says, surely producing a schizophrenic or paranoid loop would be even
I can imagine that talking someone into killing themselves is
possible, but psychosis is a hardware problem. You can't talk someone
out of a psychotic state and you can't talk them into it either.
-- Stathis Papaioannou
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