Re: Gender Neutral Pronouns

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Fri Mar 30 2001 - 11:48:32 MST

Dale Johnstone wrote:
> I've always thought it rather silly to refer to a ship as a 'she'
> because it's not alive. However referring to an AI as a 'she' sounds
> quite reasonable. Okay, so there's the small technicality of it
> having no gender, but people naturally tend to anthropomorphize
> anyway - it maps rather well onto how people think.

This analogy honestly never occurred to me - to refer to AIs as "she" by
analogy with, say, a ship. Okay, now I'm seriously considering switching
to using "he" for humans and "she" for AIs. I just need to decide whether
it's worth the switch, irrespective of:

1) How much of a pain in the neck it would be to rewrite everything;
2) Whether the more foolish members of the male audience are likely to be
less afraid of something that's referred to as "she".

Both of these factors, of course, are ethically excluded from the

James Higgins wrote:
> May very well be true, but 've' still sounds goofy. I hear more stupid
> comments about those pronouns than anything else in the papers when I
> suggest others read them. That indicates to me that they are a problem.

Now *that* has an impact on me. (Why? Usually, when I hear someone say
"Other people won't like X.", my response is "Take responsibility for your
own reactions; if you don't like X, say so." But if you're actually
*seeing* other people react badly...)

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

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