Re: Riddles (was: Lateral Thinking)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Jan 02 2001 - 23:21:19 MST

Damien Broderick wrote:
> The announced point of the exercise was to *burst free of the traditional*
> (while, presumably, honoring it).

Um, I never announced that. You're probably thinking of Dale Johnstone.

As far as I'm concerned, the riddle had its genesis for me when Douglas
Hofstadter himself asked whether there was such a thing as a
self-answering question. I am frankly amazed that Hofstadter managed to
miss that. ("What is an example of a self-answering question?")

The riddle isn't quite as elegant as that, but it's still, as 'twere,
*the* self-referential riddle. (Obviously there can only be one
self-referential riddle, since even if they have different texts, they all
have the same answer. Right?)

> My reply above is a limit case: the
> answer, untraditionally, is the riddle itself. (The text of the riddle, if
> you wish to be pedantic, but that is what a riddle *is*, unless you are a
> Platonist.)

Did you read Godel, Escher, Bach? Did you *like* Godel, Escher, Bach? I
naturally tend to assume that everyone on the Extropians list read it and
loved it and is totally up to speed on self-reference, but it occurred to
me that the theoretical possibility exists and should be checked. You
seem to be exhibiting waaay too much shock over a simple bit of fun...

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

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