Re: Diaspora, the future of AI & value systems, etc.

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Mon Dec 11 2000 - 19:28:44 MST

Patrick McCuller wrote:
> > Did you ever read "Bartlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials"?
> I have it right here; what's important about it?

Sorry! Nothing transhuman about Bartlowe's Guide; it's just a fun book
for people who are interested in aliens. They have a picture of a Soft
One, and also a picture of what a Guild Steersman *really* looks like.

> The basic problem here is that psychology is a dying field. It is being
> replaced by cognitive science. Ultimately, by a physical understanding of the
> nature of the human brain and its functions and dysfunctions.

I disagree; functional understanding is physical understanding only
insofar as pieces of mindware happen to correspond to particular chunks of
brainware. It may be fun to know what the amygdala does, but it's also
important to realize that it would be just as much fun if the amygdala
were shaped like a dodecahedron and located in the occipital lobe. Again,
there are exceptions; as you move closer to the computational level,
topological properties of neuroanatomy can become important. Still, I
think that calling this a "physical" understanding of the brain is
overstating the case.

> 'Posthuman psychology', then, becomes posthuman cognitive science. Hard to
> speculate about...

All posthuman speculation is speculation about posthuman cognitive
science. Those who do not realize this tend to come up with lousy
speculations. (At least, speculations that are lousy when judged by what
we know of cognitive science.)

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

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