And so the world ends, not with a bang but with slightly differing timekeeping standards and unclearly documented functionality.

Glitching technology: Hitting the button would be a reasonable choice now.

Seattle rationalists, utterly failing to internalize the lesson of Petrov Day: Well, okay!

not to call out my people but yeah

Wish I knew the context for this.

Seconding the request for context because this is kind of existentially terrifying to read without context and while that works with your name, @existentialterror, please explain just what the fuck???

Sadly, the first part is out of context, so we’ll never know that.  

Petrov Day is a celebration of one man’s decision to trust his own logic over a glitchy system for detecting nuclear missile launches.  Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov of the Soviet Air Defense Forces disregarded standing orders and did not report the alerts for what appeared to be up to six singular missile launches, thus preventing a likely retaliation leading up to a full nuclear exchange.  Hitting the button in that case would have been a pretty bad idea.  

Hope I wasn’t just explaining things you already knew, but this incident is not common knowledge.  

Sorry I should’ve said – was specifically wondering what the fuck happened wrt seattle rationalists

Hah! So to celebrate Petrov Day, my boyfriends made a website for coordinating a simulated nuclear crisis between two different Petrov Day parties. To make this work, each party has a computer open to the screen, which has a “detector system” and a bright red Launch Button, from which you could launch a nuclear attack on the other Petrov Day party. The system is also, true to real life, very buggy, and would often report incoming missiles that didn’t actually exist.

Each party also had a delicious cake. If you got nuked, you had to burn your cake without eating it. If you made it to a certain time (~3 hours out) and nobody’s system was reporting missiles in the air, you “won” the Cold War and everybody got to eat their cake.

So Seattle and Oxford were playing “against” each other. Via a facebook messenger “red phone”, everyone handled the fake launches and coordinating with each other really well. That is, until the last minute, when Seattle’s interface said it was a couple seconds after the Cold War window closed, and somebody hit the Launch Button as a joke. Unfortunately, the server wasn’t syncing the timers up exactly, and it ended up being ~5 seconds before Oxford’s clock registered the window closing, so Seattle mistakenly ended up nuking Oxford, and making them burn their cake.

“If our extinction proceeds slowly enough to allow a moment of horrified realization, the doers of the deed will likely be quite taken aback on realizing that they have actually destroyed the world.  Therefore I suggest that if the Earth is destroyed, it will probably be by mistake. ” – Eliezer Yudkowsky

Seattle wins by defecting in the last round of a known-bound iterated prisoner’s dilemma while tricking their opponent into cooperating.

Was there any reward for nuking the other country? Because if so, it seems like the way to do this was to shut off the screen and just not even worry about it. Then, when it’s cake time, turn it on and see if you’ve been nuked in between.

That this completely obvious solution did not spontaneously get generated by both parties is probably the biggest strike against acausal trade and timeless decision theory I’ve ever seen.

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