Rational nursery tales

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Date: Wed Jan 19 2000 - 20:32:20 MST

The common story of "The three little piggies" - building houses of
straw, wood, and brick respectively - fails to realistically model
rational planning.

(A): The first two piggies survive in the third piggy's house, thus
deriving the same benefit for less cost by mooching, clearly the wrong
lesson to teach our young children. The first two piggies should be eaten.

(B): The strongest house was the only one to survive. This teaches
absolutist rather than probabilistic thinking. What this nursery tale
needs is a fourth little piggy, who built his house out of prestressed
reinforced concrete, and wasted a lot of money relative to the third
little piggy, but was nonetheless not eaten by wolves; on the whole, a
net positive.

               sentience@pobox.com      Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Typing in Dvorak         Programming with Patterns  Writing in Gender-neutral
Voting for Libertarians  Heading for Singularity    There Is A Better Way

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