Re: Gender Neutral Pronouns, one last time

From: Jimmy Wales (
Date: Wed Apr 04 2001 - 15:11:03 MDT

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> Just for the record, does anyone want to take a shot at redesigning this
> sentence without using "he", "she", "ve", or "it" to refer to the AI, or
> using tangled syntax?

Is that really the right thing to try to do? The natural way of speaking would
be to use 'it' in this context, as follows:

> When the AI can bind a high-level characteristic like "useful
> intelligence" through the multiple layers of designed cognitive processes
> to individual lines of code, it can redesign its own source code and
> increase its intelligence.

People naturally speak this way all the time.

Advocates of strange pronouns are right to point out that the language can
evolve dynamically over time. And it will evolve, but in a natural way, not
in a forced and artificial way. The connotation of "it" as "dumb matter" (if
there is such a connotation, which I doubt!) will soften and be lost over time.

We already see this taking place. People speak, quite naturally,
about the "intentions" or "desires" of their computers, VCRs, etc.

"Why is my VCR blinking like that?" "It wants you to set the time."
"Why is my computer cursor spinning?" "It's still trying to find that

This natural usage will be expanded as computers get smarter.


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