Re: Riddles (was: Lateral Thinking)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Jan 02 2001 - 21:02:48 MST

Damien Broderick wrote:
> Okay, finally: I misfired again, failing to appreciate that the `I' in the
> `riddle' DENOTES the riddle, not the riddler:
> >box this time being the *form* of the riddle-answer pair.
> I am two boxes, each inside the other;
> I am myself, I have no brother;
> I am exactly what I claim;
> If you guess this riddle, speak my name.
> If so, the *name to be spoken* is `This riddle', as Dale pointed out
> without quite saying so.

Yes, 'this riddle' would be a valid guess, though the answer per se is
technically the text of the riddle itself.

Damien, didn't you *ever* play the riddle-game? Or read about it
somewhere? It goes back to the Sphinx, for gossakes. The symbol 'I' in
the riddle denotes the *answer*, as has always been traditional, not the
riddle or the riddler. I mean, do you think that "Eliezer Yudkowsky" is
the path you keep inside and that you can walk two miles along me? Or
that the riddle is six feet long?

Now, in this particular case, 'I' happens to denote the riddle, just as
the 'I' in:

  My future is written in code;
  I write and the words shall awake;
  A barrier lies on my road;
  That only my child may break.

happens to denote the riddler.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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