Re: Gender Neutral Pronouns

From: Arctic Fox (
Date: Fri Mar 30 2001 - 12:44:39 MST

At 19:48 30/03/01, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>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:

A ship is so unlike a human we can safely use "she" without falsely
implying a link between ships and people. What to call an AI has to be
considered much more carefully. Do we want an AI to be anthropomorphized -
this could give people a false impression of what an AI is. I suppose it
depends on how the AI is coded. Is the intention to create an AI with a
human type personality (ie a hyperintelligent and super fast brain using
alternative hardware) or something with completely different intelligence
structure. (Sorry if you have answered this already Eliezer. I'm still
going through your Low Beyond resource).

>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

If we truly believe that Singularity will end all suffering is it unethical
to not select memes that will aid acceptance of Singularity? I suppose by
this I mean the way of presenting facts, certainly not falsifying evidence
or covering up facts.

>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...)

My personal view is to use Eliezer's gender neutral pronouns for technical
articles and discussion groups like this where it clarifies and speeds
debate but keep it out of lay articles where it would confuse and alienate
the uninitiated.



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