In recent Terminal history, many significant events have taken place (such as the Season 1 competition) that have sparked many different conversations about various aspects of the Terminal competition, but a central topic that was discussed quite a bit was about the privacy and protection of a users strategy. In my mind, many ideas were presented and addressed, but personally, I find many of the points brought up remain unresolved (C1 is probably still figuring this out, so the intention of this post is not to get people riled up or anything like that ).
My goal for this topic is to summarize some of the issues and points brought up in a few other topics that became a little convoluted. I realize that this may seem a little belated, but I intentionally did not comment in the previous topics because I wanted some time to think about this and let the dust settle, so to speak.
The protection of ideas/strategies wasn’t something I had thought about much since my algo builds dynamically and can’t really be copied, something which is definitely a bias as noted by @kkroep.
Both @Aeldrexan and @kkroep brought up valid and pertinent points in the discussion. Prior to the Season 1 competition, I, like, @Aeldrexan (see here) believed that restricting replays was fundamentally a bad thing to do. Specifically, I believed (and still do) the strategy of copying other people’s designs is simply part of the Terminal game, whether intended or not. It is impossible to completely hide one’s design as highlighted by the final game of Season 1. It is one of the reasons I have never once uploaded a static, copyable, design. Yet it doesn’t seem quite right when you have users like @kkroep where their algos are
This is simply a different type of strategy. @Aeldrexan argued if a strategy has to be secret to work, then it can only work for a short term, so it should be considered as a bad strategy. However, I don’t think this is always true. A new design may be a good one, but once other people use it the creator no longer benefits from discovering an innovative, good design. In fact, pretty much everyone benefits from their good idea except for the person who created it after a certain amount of time. Furthermore, there really isn’t a way to test a strategy in full without uploading it. And once it is uploaded, even if you take it down very quickly, you cannot change that people will see that design and likely use it.
My main concern is that I feel there is little motivation to create a new impressive design since it will simply be used by everyone against you. Again, this does not personally affect me so I may be way off here, but the very fact that I (and others) have completely avoided creating designs shows there is at least some dissuasion from creating new designs. Certainly, at this point, I would not spend the time to create a completely new design, I would use the transistor as a template since it is such a great design.
Something I view to be a separate issue is the points about the accessibility of replay files. While copying ideas and replays may appear to be connected (particularly after the final game of the Season 1) I think @KauffK’s post explaining his win does a good job of showing how access to replays alone isn’t really an issue. Simply having access to a replay file does not suddenly enable you to copy/paste and win games. Thus I strongly support leaving replays fully accessible and available to all. I would argue that the problem that
isn’t related to replay files being downloaded, it’s the nature of other people being able to watch the games they play against you. One could argue that being able to watch any game makes this worse, and it may. But the problem would stay the same. Even if just one person watched your design, they then have the capability to copy and use that design and then others would see theirs, etc until the same result happens. The meta may shift at a slower rate, but I believe it would still shift even if replays were restricted. I would go back to my above section and claim that the issue is with being able to see any games at all, and restricting replays will not protect people’s original ideas.
The conclusion I have isn’t a very satisfying one: I’m not sure there is a perfect solution. Any creative, good idea that can be replicated will be replicated because people can see it. At the same time, being able to watch games (even if it just your own) is absolutely necessary when it comes to improving your own algo and iterating designs. It is impossible to improve an algo significantly without being able to watch it play. I have also ignored many other points that were brought up regarding ML and just the validity of statically designed algos.
I would like to end with the notes from C1:
So I’m sure we will get to see what C1 plans to do regarding this.
Lastly, I’d just like to make it clear that there were many more ideas discussed at the time and apologize for any comments I may have missed or left out since they were similar to ideas I summarized above. Thanks for all of your awesome thoughts, happy coding :).