Re: Gender Neutral Pronouns

From: James Higgins (
Date: Fri Mar 30 2001 - 22:20:12 MST

At 11:39 PM 3/30/2001 +0100, you wrote:
>I think for the vast majority of those centuries, God has been very much a
>he. Patriarchal societies, women as property, 'Heavenly Father', big white
>beard in the sky, etc. The ethereal, chtonic, light the blue touch paper
>and sit back, gender-neutral God is a very recent invention, and nothing
>like as successful.

True, but I just wanted to point out that the general public already has
some exposure to non-gendered use of gender specific pronouns. And I've
never heard anyone complain about it...

> > 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.
>Interesting. I suspect that this is a general resistance to the concept of
>ungendered people, more than a particular hatred for the letter V. Perhaps
>a perceived overlap with political correctness is part of the problem. I
>suggest a quick & dirty search & replace as a temporary technical solution.

Not certain, but one individual in particular is very open minded and yet
still wanted to know what was up with all the weird v references. I just
think it distracts from the really important concepts we are trying to
inform people about. If they remember any one thing from reading this
stuff (and, unfortunately, many people don't retain much more on original
exposure) we don't want it to be the pronouns! Do we?

> > "When I was walking home from school a large, black, dog appeared ahead of
> > me. It came running at me while growling, which made me very scared. I
> > ran the other way as fast as possible and jumped a fence before it could
> > catch me."
>That is a dog taking the role of primal fear monster, of course 'it' works
>for that. Likewise insane hollywood AI (Shodan) and even enemy people when
>suitably demonised. That doesn't make 'it' suitable for dogs generally.
>Okay, here's a more human centric rule of thumb: 'It' means something that
>doesn't have a -name-. The seed AI will likely go through a ton of names.
>(And nicknames)

Well, admittedly it was a bit stretched. It was an attempt to dispel two
points with one paragraph and may have failed. However, 'it' is suitable
for animals in general, *if* you don't know their gender or it doesn't
matter in context. But I can see where 'it' doesn't work very well when
describing AIs. But I am warming up to the idea of using she for the Sysop.

> > Ah, but the question is, how many more would not dismiss it as loony if it
> > used standard pronouns? Using us as a sample is biased. This information
> > will eventually apply to, and need to be read by, the general public.
> > because we can look at the facts and say "this makes sense", doesn't have
> > any relevance on if the general public could do the same.
>No argument there, but eventually is the key word. Introductions will be,
>as you say, available in levels and stages, with appropriately targeted
>ideas and language, not merely as a raw text dump of the entire SL4 archive.
>Meanwhile, I'm still assuming that anyone reading this right now has already
>progressed through SL1-3 in their own time.

All bets are off there. It isn't like this information is hidden somewhere
where 'lay' people can't read it. Heck, I stumbled across "Staring Into
The Singularity" by complete accident. I wasn't even looking for anything
like this but it came up on an unrelated search. It looked interesting so
I left it open in a browser window for like a week before I read any of it,
and then holy s***. After reading the first page or so (at home), I spent
the rest of my day (at work) reading nothing but Singularity related
info. So I'm not so certain about people not getting it as a raw text
dump. Luckily I was already very comfortable with SL3 when I happened upon
it or my head may have imploded.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:36 MDT