Thoughts about HEX

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Thoughts about HEX

Postby anaid » Sat Jan 19, 2013 10:52 am

Some random thoughts about HEX have been bugging me, so I've finally decided to register here and bug other people with it ;)

One obvious thought: If any of the animals in HEX's system gets sick... would HEX be able to detect it and fix it, i.e. does HEX have a virus scanner?

Weird thought: Does HEX come with a "spell checker"? What if autocorrect is enabled?

And lastly: HEX seems to be able to interface with the discworld in a way that is exciting and disturbing: HEX is capable of adding new components to itself, which implies that HEX is capable of detaching an animal (like some ants or bees) and send them away on an errand. However, some added components are quite large, requiring an animal larger than ant or bee to transport them. How far would this capability to send a part of HEX into the world stretch? If HEX is capable of influencing small animals so that they bring stuff, where is the limit?

Would HEX be capable of influencing larger events in the Discworld, by deriving that some small event can influence larger things? Would HEX be able to derive that this is possible, from having observed that its output influences larger events, like when The Lady influenced HEX's output to miscalculate the coordinates for Rincewind's teleportation?

#end random thoughts :idea:
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:24 pm

Welcome to the site anaid! I like your thinking. :lol:

HEX seems to be able to ask for items/demand upgrades from the wizards - so maybe that's how they get other, bulkier items.

Ihave a feeling this thread could run and run.
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby anaid » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:08 am

Thanks for the welcome! :)

I distinctly remember Ponder Stibbons worrying about the fact that new components seemed to appear overnight. Can't remember which book, maybe The Hogfather... So, no, the wizards don't add things (if they would, the first candidate would be Ponder)

Edit: Found it, though it's a bit different from how I remembered it

"Every time he came in here, it seemed to Ricully, something more had been done to the... engine, or thinking machine, or whatever it was. Sometimes stuff turned up overnight. Occasionally, according to Stibbons, Hex hims-- itself would draw plans for the extra bits that he -- it needed."

Seems to me that sometimes HEX asks the wizards, but sometimes takes care of it hims-- itself.
Last edited by anaid on Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby anaid » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:14 am

Oh, and another thing, who lives at 14, Treacle Mine Road, Ankh Morpork?

+++Error At Address: 14, Treacle Mine Road, Ankh-Morpork+++
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby Tonyblack » Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:31 pm

Mrs Cake I think. :?
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby AgProv » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:55 pm

In one of the Science of Discworld books, there's this little snippet:

A mechanical eyeball about a foot across lowered itself carefully from the ceiling. Ponder didn't know exactly how it worked, except that it contained vast amounts of incredibly finely drawn tubing. Hex had drawn the plans one night and Ponder had taken them along to the gnome jewelers... (The Science of Discworld II: the Globe, p14).

This suggests the wizards themselves are often nothing more than the attendents of HEX, fetching and carrying at its will.

At the time, nobody knew the nacMacFeegle had the ability to restore wrecked things to their original pristine condition, the idea the little people could knuckle down to doing such small fine work was hard to assimilate - or indeed that they'd work for a jewellers for pay, rather than trash the place or loot it of shiny things.

After "I Shall Wear Midnight", though, this made more sense. And small nimble fingers, and all that... makes sense when you think about it...
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby AgProv » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:25 pm

Incidentally - just checked a few references - 14 Treacle Mine Road may have been the address of the cellar where Dibbler found the "snowglobes", the City Eggs that later mutated into wire shopping trolleys. ("Reaper Man"). So no wonder Hex picked up this - the Address Error is explained?
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby The Mad Collector » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:07 am

Dibblers cellar is only described as being by the Brass Bridge as that is where Colon is standing when Dibbler calls to him. The only reference to Tracle Mine Road in Reaper Man is as the directions to Elm Street Modo gives to Windle Poons.

Agnes Nitt lived at 4 Treacle Mine Road when she was in Ankh Morpork and that is the only specific address I can find until Nightwatch and the Watch House there
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby raptornx01 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:55 am

No, I think AgProv is right. while we don't always get specific addresses for places in the book I think we are supposed to infer that that is indeed the address where the globes first appear. Implying that HEX could detect them.

But I don't think HEX can build itself. but it can give ponder a grocery list :D
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby anaid » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:25 pm

raptornx01 wrote:But I don't think HEX can build itself. but it can give ponder a grocery list :D


Okay, so even if HEX cannot retrieve items by sending out one of its own components into the world, it interfaces with people. Take that and its capability for deriving the cause and effect of events (e.g. The Hogfather), it could derive the effect of an action. Roughly speaking, of course, HEX only does what it is asked/told to do, so on the one hand you could argue that HEX cannot 'decide' to actively cause an event. On the other hand, HEX does show initiative in the sense that it requests items from Ponder. This implies that HEX has the concept of 'need' or even 'want', which is just a small step away from having an urge to intervene with daily life on the Discworld. Furthermore, since HEX has the capability of calculating the statistical probability of an action having a certain effect, I think HEX could act like a butterfly on the Discworld, causing a storm without being visible as the cause.
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby KnightOfFewWords » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:29 pm

Interesting thread. HEX, with its self-tinkering, has parallels with a possible solution to the problem of building a real-world AI. The idea goes, if you could build a crude thinking machine with the ability to learn and re-design itself, it would evolve into a true, and eventually super-human, intelligence. However, there are technical reasons why this might not actually work in practise.

While HEX appears to have some degree of self-awareness, I never got any kind of sinister vibe from it in the books. However, it understandably makes Ponder somewhat nervous - building a mind is not an experiment he has any real control over. A Wargames type incident could be possible: a dangerous situation caused by a key flaw in understanding.
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby =Tamar » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:48 am

HEX was sentient enough in Hogfather to want an FTB, and to stop working if it was removed.
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby raptornx01 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:37 am

Odd that in most every kind of scenario of an AI becoming self aware it ends up killing us. wonder if we all secretly think we deserve it. :lol:
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby prajuvikas » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:13 pm

Which would be smarter...
HEX (as of its last iteration)
or
Detritus (when he is in the pork futures warehouse)?

If HEX ever goes rogue, Detritus might be the discworlds only hope?
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Re: Thoughts about HEX

Postby anaid » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:39 pm

Oh, I didn't mean I imagined HEX causing destruction or doing evil, at least not intending to. But in logical derivations may lie dangers. For example, in my view Rincewind is one of the most unhappy people on the disc. If something were to happen to him, the average happiness on the disc would go up. Yay for mathematics ;)

As for who is smarter, we know that HEX might take a while to come up with answers, whereas I always imagined Detritus in the pork futures warehouse calculating things quite fast, scribbling furiously to keep up with the thoughts that he was suddenly having. I think they're equally 'smart', in that they will come to the same answer to an equation, but that Detritus might be faster.. ?
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