Re: Si definition of Friendliess

From: Jimmy Wales (
Date: Thu Mar 29 2001 - 12:31:27 MST

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> "Verself". Ve/vis/ver/verself. Check the glossary under "gender-neutral
> pronouns". Not that yours is intrinsically worse, or anything; just that,
> if we're going to violate the rules, we may as well violate them in a
> standardized way.

I would like to encourage everyone _other than Eliezer_ to avoid using his
goofball manner of speaking. It makes this list look like a bunch of kooks,
frankly, and there is absolutely no valid reason for it. (I've asked Eliezer
to explain it to me, and I think his explanation is not good enough.)

Gender-neutral writing need not be tortured. And gender neutral
writing about AIs is particularly easy, as compared to gender neutral
writing about humans. The difficulty with humans is that they *do*
have a gender, but we may not wish to specify which gender. That
makes for a _slightly_ difficult situation, particularly for
inexperienced or clumsy writers.

There is no such difficulty when writing about AIs. Because they are not biological
humans, they _do not have a gender_. Therefore, we can use 'it'.

Eliezer claims that using "it" gets to be too difficult and confusing, but I strongly
disagree. If anyone can come up with an example of a thought that can't clearly be
expressed using normal English words, but for which 've/ver' helps... please do so.

Otherwise, let's kill this monstrosity right here and now.

I'm happy to take this off-list if the powers that be feel it is inappropriate.
My argument that it *is* appropriate is that we need to move as quickly as possible
on this list to understand each other, and to make this list accessible to newcomers.
Having a special (and _pointless_, mind you) set of pronouns really doesn't help.

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