From: Dale Johnstone (DaleJohnstone@email.com)
Date: Thu Apr 05 2001 - 06:29:12 MDT
Rather than risk angry mobs with burning torches at my door, I sent a couple of new suggestions to Eli off-list. He thought the post was sufficiently new and interesting to bring to the list.
For the sake of brevity I've removed the tail section (where I urge him to write in a less formal style to help improve the clarity of his web pages). I've also taken the liberty of including Eli's reply so I can respond to it here also.
---- Original Message: ----
Couple of quick suggestions:
(1) How about using "It" with an upper-case "I" to distinguish the AI?
It's not as objectionable a modification as 'vis' et cetera, and Christians have been getting away with a similar stunt for years.
I may have a twisted sense of humour, but I quite enjoy the irony of using 'It' since we *really are* referring to something God-like. Additionally you neither have to anthropomorphize or invent any new language. A confused reader can easily follow the capitalization to figure out what you're referring to.
Yes, I like it. Simple and elegant.
(2) The other suggestion was to distinguish the different meanings of 'it' with colour or font changes. I really think colour could be put to more creative use in text. Colour-coding subjects at the paragraph level would really aid the reader in navigating a document. You could quickly skim ideas you're already familiar with and rapidly jump to the next point without having to read it first.
---- Eli's Reply: ----
Dale Johnstone wrote:
> (2) The other suggestion was to distinguish the different meanings of 'it' with colour or font changes. I really think colour could be put to more creative use in text. Colour-coding subjects at the paragraph level would really aid the reader in navigating a document. You could quickly skim ideas you're already familiar with and rapidly jump to the next point without having to read it first.
That's a *brilliant* idea. I'm not sure I'll adopt it, because,
intuitively, it seems too fragile (can't print out the document, can't
read it out loud, can't turn off document font changes, may not be able to
store it in auditory long-term memory, not sure how non-lexical
information interacts with syntax processing...), but it's still a
If you want to send the post, go ahead (you can say you've got my
authorization; it's definitely new and original relative to what's already
-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky http://singinst.org/
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
---- My Reply: ----
>That's a *brilliant* idea.
Well, I wouldn't go that far. I suppose if you read it in a darked room with a large white font on a black background it might be. :)
>I'm not sure I'll adopt it, because, intuitively, it seems too fragile (
> can't print out the document,
Why? Font changes & styles will be visible. Colours will be visible on colour print-outs, and grey scale on b/w printers. You can choose the form to match the medium. Aren't you already using some custom meta-tag processing anyway?
> can't read it out loud,
In spoken language there's more information for the listener to disambiguate the correct meaning from (stresses and pauses etc.). How often will you be doing that anyway? Switch to 'she' if you really have to.
> can't turn off document font changes,
Why not? Get better editing software if you can't, or do you mean the reader?
> may not be able to store it in auditory long-term memory,
When I read something, I generally remember the meaning of the information, not the string of words used to convey it, unless it's a particularly powerful quote or something similar.
> not sure how non-lexical information interacts with syntax processing...),
It probably doesn't unless you read a lot in colour/font encoded form. It's mainly there for when consciously looking for clarification.
> but it's still a brilliant idea.
Okay, if you say so! Just be warned - if you don't pick *something* other than the dreaded v-series - I will personally start an open source project dedicated solely to writing a variety of tools to post-process all your web-pages to remove the offending vermin and any other objectionables you invent now or in future!* :)
<clap of thunder> muhahahahaa!
*At least until the Singularity. After which we'll need new forms of communication anyway.
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