Simulating hyper-intelligence

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Lemnoc
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby Lemnoc » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:17 am

CosmicGamer wrote: - Success by just a little and maybe the patrolling guards were a decoy and the real guards are in camouflage armor. Just an example.
- Success by more and maybe the "smart guy" only had this base as a decoy and was never here and there is nothing to find but a note in the safe that says "You'll never catch me".
- Success by a lot and maybe the "smart guy" let the characters bribe and get the uniforms but they actually have tracking and/or listening devices in them and... lots of possibilities.
I'm thinking this is a common enough trope when the adversary is some Brainiac computer.

HAL certainly led the boys down the primrose path with decoys. An old Star Trek episode featured M5 yanking down the trousers on even ol' Mr. Spock by some classic misdirection and sleight-of-er-circuit that got them to waste time. And then there was an old '60s chestnut, "Colossus: The Forbin Project," where the machine pursued world domination Skynet style while toying with its inventors.

Seems like the ol' fake-out and false gambit must be in the classic UNIVAC playbook.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby alex_greene » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:24 am

While we're on the subject of hyperintelligent computers - there was another movie that came out about that time, called Billion Dollar Brain, based on a work by Len Deighton. The bad guys plot to overthrow Communism using a sophisticated supercomputer to coordinate a popular uprising. Harry Palmer, an ex-spy turned private detective, stumbles upon the plot when he is given the task of delivering a McGuffin to a friend of his in Helsinki.

The patron is an electronic voice over the phone (the eponymous Brain), and it leads Palmer into all sorts of scrapes - and at the end, the whole plot falls apart because of one small detail ... ice over a frozen lake that can support maybe a thousand troops, with their weight distributed evenly, cannot take the weight of a hundred tanks all in one go.

There was an episode of Star Trek: Voyager where B'Elanna Torres had to defuse a massive smart bomb, guided by a program she'd designed to think of everything the enemy could come up with and come up with effective countermeasures against those measures - including the possibility that she could have been captured and her head turned by Cardassians. In the end, she defeated the Dreadnought by phasering the engine's containment wall - something the computer had not anticipated.

All the brains in the universe will come a cropper if its strategies and stratagems rely upon information which happens to be bogus, missing or considered too trivial for consideration ("The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain"); and if its operations are based upon a false premise (Communism in 1967 can be overthrown [well, it was, but not until 1989, and it took a Chernobyl to bring it about, not a Russian Spring]; B'Elanna wants to live; the PCs are small-time players, beneath contempt) then it can be as smart as you like, and still fail.

The dying words of such superintellects is invariably "No! How? How can this be?" or, more often, "Oh. I never thought of that."

I've always been a fan of hyperintelligent beings in science fiction. Trying to imagine how they think, and the scale at which they think, is always a challenge.
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rust
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby rust » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:44 am

CosmicGamer wrote: I think I understand what you are saying.
Well, after I had translated it from German to English I barely
understood it myself .... :lol:
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby alex_greene » Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:41 pm

Lemnoc wrote:My impulse is to do the Aliens thing
The Hunters of Men from SOTA episode 5, with their ability to learn a new skill to level-0 in a matter of combat rounds, and up to level-2 in a matter of a few hours, being a prime example of such.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby alex_greene » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:43 pm

A further thought as to how to demonstrate hyperintelligence in an organic entity - have the entity possess the most complete hyperthymesis they have ever seen - the ability to remember everything that they said to someone five years before, in a casual encounter, for example.

Other mental abilities could include complete recall of a poet's entire oeuvre by heart; lightning mathematical calculation; perfect pitch; perfect spatial and temporal awareness - the ability to judge distances and volumes accurately, and to measure the passage of time with incredible precision without a calculator, timepiece or measuring device; and the ability to draw, with draughtsmanlike precision, a detailed scene of a city scape after merely glancing out of a window of a vessel in flight.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby phavoc » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:24 pm

Lemnoc wrote:Looking for tips, thoughts, resources on running adversaries of extreme or alien or extremely alien intelligence. Guides on simulating this. I'm talking about a chess master style of intellect that is generally a step ahead of or beyond the capacity of PCs but still’ y’know, capable of being outmaneuvered and defeated. With difficulty.

Puppeteer, uplifted human, eugenic wunderkind, xenosophont, nonEuclidean interstices coterminous with time and space, etc., etc.
The system, with the right sensors, might know exactly where the PC's are, their path, etc. It would be possible to deploy or activate defenses in anticipation of their pathing.

But two things come to mind. The first is that intelligence does not eliminate the potential for guessing wrong. In the end pretty much everything comes down to probability. But say it activated the fusion furnace the players accidentally stumbled in. Oops, the power surge accidentally caused a firing circuit to malfunction (wiring that was damaged by womprats that were never detected). This causes an unpredictable cascade effect that shorts out the sensors in that part of the ship/facility. Bet the intelligence didn't predict that.

Secondly, doing something unpredictable will throw off potentially all the other plans. The PC's are trapped, and suddenly one of them jumps out, knowing he is going to die, but makes it so the rest of them escape. The uber-intelligence can't predict that type of thing, so it's master plans so well laid out have now fallen along the wayside and its forced to start thinking in real-time. So things like luck can't be quantified, no matter how 'smart' your opponent is. And, sometimes, doing something 'dumb' is totally unexpected and totally works because it is so dumb and nobody ever thought about how to stop it.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby alex_greene » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:39 pm

phavoc wrote:And, sometimes, doing something 'dumb' is totally unexpected and totally works because it is so dumb and nobody ever thought about how to stop it.
Except by sending in waves of goons to shoot them.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby phavoc » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:02 pm

alex_greene wrote:
phavoc wrote:And, sometimes, doing something 'dumb' is totally unexpected and totally works because it is so dumb and nobody ever thought about how to stop it.
Except by sending in waves of goons to shoot them.
No one ever expects the Spanish Goon militia!
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby mattman » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:42 pm

I once had to portray a dark and sinister hyperintelligence. I faked it by shamelessly stealing all the terrifying tests and punishments from Alastair Reynolds' Diamond Dogs story about the Diamond Spire. The players still talk about it to this day!
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby FallingPhoenix » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:56 pm

My usual method of running a master planner villain or hyper-intelligence is to change things on the fly.

For example, if you pre-plan the parts of the enemy's scheme and lay out his base and his goons and such, and the PCs bust in and start wreaking havoc in ways you hadn't anticipated, then change your map or your notes so that 'suddenly' there are things in place to thwart the PCs actions. Just because the villain would've had to know in advance to counter doesn't mean you have to have thought of it in advance to simulate him countering it.

Just don't do this every time they come up with a brilliant plan.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby Epicenter » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:22 am

A highly intelligent human opponent, who is intelligent in almost all ways can be surprisingly easy to play. The role is called the GM. I'm not kidding.

This smart opponent, but won't be one the players will ever directly confront ... they're too smart for that. Think about all the things you do get the players to do what you want in-character, especially if they're doing something you don't want them to do. The intelligence will probably manipulate others, dig up information of interest to the players (and then send it their way), and so on just so that the players have something else to do than to poke around in the intelligence's affairs.

Unless the high intelligence has lived a long time and has lots of memories/experiences, intelligence can be played off as the ability to thrive even in times of uncertainty. The opponent thrives on chaos (which isn't so chaotic to the opponent). Their primary strength is their ability to limit their vulnerability to the most likely threats, however they're not going to have a contingency for everything: they're smart enough to know they can't control every possibility and being able to strike at the right time is so very important so it's a waste of time planning for everything. So they plan for the most likely ones and rely upon their ability to roll with the punches for everything else.

Confrontation between the players and the opponent will occur through any number of third parties that the opponent has set up. These opponents will be challenging but not unbeatable. Some opponents will be deliberate distractions or things tossed to the players to make them go do something else. The opponent can never be directly (or really even indirectly) linked to these third parties, though the players will probably suspect the opponent is responsible, there's no way to prove it. Just this "gut feeling." Every third party the players beat, their opponent learns a little more about them. The opponent probably isn't doing anything illegal according to the law; what they're doing may be unethical but they won't be directly involved in anything illegal.

A long-time survivor with high intelligence probably has some long-term goal, one that might be unfathomable to the players or simply something the intelligence doesn't wish to discuss. Morals and ethics are alterable to such an intelligence. For instance, if the intelligence is constantly in opposition with the players and keeps losing his or her pawns to the players, the intelligence might actually just abandon its profitable (but now opposed) paths and do something else. The intelligence can just wait until the players get bored and move on or the odds of the universe catch up to the players and they die.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby locarno24 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:13 am

The Hunters of Men from SOTA episode 5, with their ability to learn a new skill to level-0 in a matter of combat rounds, and up to level-2 in a matter of a few hours, being a prime example of such.
They are genuinely nasty, aren't they.

The problem with 'smarter than you' is that players will rapidly get discouraged by the bad guy having retroactively thought of everything in advance (the easiest way to do it).

I think the best plan is recruiting some of the players - but not all of them. Get one or two on-side and don't tell the others. This works wonders for 'the thing' type games where one or more players are duplicated/possessed/etc. Or are they?
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby tanksoldier » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:28 am

CosmicGamer wrote:
Mithras wrote:I always told my players, play someone as intelligent as you or less, because I just don't think it works the other way. You can't simulate what you cannot conceive of
So how can one role play being a pilot, medic, engineer, scientist or anything they are not? I guess because they can "conceive" it. they also should be able to conceive someone that is more intelligent.
Conceive it, yes. Play it? No.

When the player does something stupid is the GM supposed to say: "No, that's dumb. Your character wouldn't do that."? Having characters that are more educated or differently educated is possible by use of skill rolls, but more intelligent would require constant intervention by the GM. Might was well have the char be an NPC.

_GM_ing a more intelligent character is possible, due to the GM's fiat ability. "Nostromo predicted that you would..." Have the big bad's henchmen prepared for special weapons or abilities the chars might have. If the players have SOPs, have the baddie be prepared for them.

Here you have to be careful not to take it too far and turn an intelligent adversary into Deus Ex Machina.

As mentioned above, direct confrontations should be rare. An ancient vampire didn't get that way by fighting vampire hunters every day. Criminal masterminds know that intermediaries are the way to prevent ever having anything pinned on them. Mob bosses don't tell someone that Johny needs to be kneecapped, they mention to a mini-boss that Johny's been causing some trouble and let events take their course. Minions, and mini-bosses, should be what the players face 99% of the time... and a big chunk of the adversary's intelligence should go towards escaping or avoiding confrontations.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby CosmicGamer » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:09 pm

tanksoldier wrote:When the player does something stupid is the GM supposed to say: "No, that's dumb. Your character wouldn't do that."? Having characters that are more educated or differently educated is possible by use of skill rolls, but more intelligent would require constant intervention by the GM. Might was well have the char be an NPC.
First, what is "stupid"? If it is acting hasty or emotional then maybe it's just good role playing and not stupid?

Why, in a given situation, is what the player doing stupid? Can this only happen when the character is of high Int?

If the character has medic 4 and a low Int do you allow the player to do something that is medically "stupid"? Since it is a skill you say nothing and let the roll decide? GM: "Ok, the roll succeeded. I guess putting a tourniquet around his neck did heal the head wound."

In general, whether it's based on a characteristic or skill or just a characters background if a player does something "stupid" that the GM thinks is not proper role playing I think they should point it out. You do still need to keep in mind that people can make mistakes - but isn't that what the failed roll is for?

So in most cases I'd say no to:
tanksoldier wrote:When the player does something stupid is the GM supposed to say: "No, that's dumb. Your character wouldn't do that."?
Instead, I'd say something like "Bob thinks he should consult his medical journal" and then let the roll decide if Bob does something "stupid".

I see no reason this can't be the case for high Int issues. Same goes for low Int. As a GM, I wouldn't allow a genius player to play their low Int character improperly either.

Remember, every little thing does not need a task check
The Referee should only call for checks:
• When the characters are in danger.
• When the task is especially difficult or hazardous.
• When the characters are under the pressure of time.
• When success or failure is especially important or interesting.
So some player "stupidity" can easily be overlooked as just part of the characters personality and a roll for Intelligence, whether the character is high, low, or average, should not often be needed.
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby alex_greene » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:13 pm

Remember: the hyper-intelligence is likely to be engaged in some cosmic activity, some incomprehensible deviltry which the character might have to try and put a stop to, and one hallmark of supergeniuses in sf is that they tend to think big. The bigger, the better.

Type 0 civilisation thinking: Tinker with the genetic structure of a harmless creature to turn it into a supersoldier. Build a new kind of energy weapon (e.g. meson beams at TL 7, disintegrators at TL 13). Usurp power over a continent by hiding nukes in strategic places in the capital and countryside and making demands of the government. Amass wealth by destroying the economy of a major industrial nation on the planet. Turn small asteroids into mobile bases.
Type 1 civilisation thinking: Induce global warming or global cooling through a network of solar mirrors or by means of an electrostatic dust cloud blocking the sunlight. Reshape a continent by stimulating tectonic activity along fault lines, or creating new fault lines by breaking up a stable kraton into smaller tectonic plates. Destabilise a planet's magnetic field by tinkering with the core, or induce a geomagnetic field in a planet which doesn't have one. Turn a planetoid the size of Mercury into a mobile base. Terraform Earth-sized rocky planets.
Type 2 civilisation thinking: Stabilise or destabilise a star. Create Dyson Spheres.

That's really the kinds of scales of thinking your hyperintelligent beings really should be preoccupied with. The comings and goings of Travellers hoping to earn a bit of scratch from shooting things and blowing them up should not really bother such beings at all, unless one of the things those Travellers blows up happens to be a favourite toy or keepsake, or even a minor part of the equipment the genius is running. ("If we sting them in a tender spot, maybe they'll stop for a minute to scratch.")

"Hey — put that down! That's the controls to my weather satellite! You just flooded Norway!" [short pause] "Well... it's only Norway..."
-- Barry Ween

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot this list.

And this one. I shall stop now.

Yeah, I grok hypergenius like you wouldn't believe. :D
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Lemnoc
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby Lemnoc » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:51 pm

I’ve always imagined your average hyperintelligent dialog would unfold a lot like Mystery Men:

“I knew you couIdn't change.”

“I knew you'd know that.”

“Oh, I know that. And I knew you'd know I'd know you knew.”

“But I didn't. I onIy knew that you'd know that I knew. ...Did you know that?”

“Uh, yeah.”
Last edited by Lemnoc on Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
alex_greene
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby alex_greene » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:56 pm

My best quote would be "You apes always surprise me by just surviving. I would love to know just exactly how you wormed your way out of the death trap I set for you, and how you figured out it was me who set it."
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Lemnoc
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Re: Simulating hyper-intelligence

Postby Lemnoc » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:04 pm

Good thoughts here on a thorny GM-y problem. When I first posed the question I was considering how best to present the creature in The Thing, which always seemed one step ahead of the protagonists.

Having had an opportunity to rewatch the film (thanks, Netflix!), I see the creature is not supernaturally intelligent; the characters are preternaturally stupid. MacReady chooses to isolate, sedate and incapacitate all of the really competent, skilled characters (the doc, the scientists)—the very people who could conceivably identify or lay a trap for an alien being—while surrounding himself with the dumb, violent, nonreasoning and nondescript, whom The Thing is able to easily mimic. Every other chararcter is in some kind of irrational panic or funk.* Getting whiskey-drunk in the midst of it, probably not MacReady’s most scintillating epiphany.

Definitely NOT Traveller.

Whether players are really acting smart, they are always damnedly resourceful in thwarting things (that if you could just pull off they would spend years talking excitedly about! :-) ) So the means is still needed to model a really deceptive and competent (yet fallible) adversary when the PCs are NOT behaving like complete boobs and noobs.

Good tips.

(* exactly at what point Blair gets absorbed is the big question and, from game simulation, probably the most interesting)

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