Re: Singularity and the general public

From: Justin Corwin (
Date: Sun Apr 08 2001 - 22:45:07 MDT


>From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>
> >"Christian L." wrote:
> >
> > You are free to call me an elitist, since I feel that this decision is
> > made by the elite (us) than by the uninformed masses.
>Why is it that, every time anyone ever divides humanity into the "elite"
>and the "masses", they always wind up categorizing themselves as one of
>the elite?
>Well, you're free to call yourself the elite, just as I'm free to look at
>the sentence above and decide that you're being pushed around by
>elementary group-polarization forces, thus placing firm upper bounds on
>your probable levels of self-awareness and knowledge of evolutionary

i tend also unfortunately to classify people into elite and masses
categories, but i find that my categories vary wildly with the definitive
characteristic of "eliteness".

for example, i happen to be near the tippy-top of the elite when it comes to
priviliged information about my girlfriend. the unenlightened masses know
nothing, in their grubbing unaware existence, of the heights of her thought,
passion, and most secret thoughts.

on the other hand, you have different fingers.

but in a counter-example, i know absolutely nothing, and am most definitely
in the deadening grip of "the herd" when we speak of real threats to, say,
national security. i have no real conception of what faces our country, and
maintain the vague and naive feeling that all is well with our country, no
one will bomb us, the po-lice will continue to have minor problems with
discipline and manners, but keep on keeping us alive. the elite, people who
actually know what is threatening our precious status quo, are most likely
few in number, most assuredly, an elite!

rather uninterestingly, however, most distinctions of "elite" tend to have
rather general definitions, like "we're smart, and they're not" or that the
herd is a general distinction of boring pop-non-speek. and simply becomes a
handy generalization for "everyone else".

i'll agree with /christian that there are a lot of undesirables out there.
particularly reactionaries with nasty litigary streaks, who would just love
to shut down webmind and singinst and hold the two up as symbolic
figureheads of those crazy power-mad technologists.

so flying under public radar makes some sense.

but running the Last Program is a long way from some elite haXOR friends,
swilling mountain dew, hacking out a seed AI in python and mod-perl in their
it's going to take a heck of a search for code poets and hardware designers,
angel investors and supporters. not to mention people to baby the Seed
through it's toddly first steps, and be there to make sure the hard takeoff
goes smoothly. Strong AI touches on nearly every discipline, and coders are
going to need people who can explain cognition in every respect.

so keeping stuff to ourselves about this isn't going to work, because maybe
the Specialist who can put in the capstone isn't going to hear about it. Or
the like minded technophile with a multi-XMP test-bed (or whatever
equivilant in 10 years) won't know to offer his company's hardware riches.

and just speaking of singularity-relations in general. call me old
fashioned, but i feel like if we're going to completely upset the world of
trillions of people, i at least ought to attempt to tell them about it. you
know, manners. just because what we're doing is ethical in long-term ness,
doesn't keep it from being insufferably rude to just spring on people. hell,
just to keep the heart-attacks down, when people first hear about our
success, it'd be worth it.

if we're going to divide into elite and herd, here, we better be sure the
divisions are right. i consider myself pretty knowledgable about sl3+
matters, i like sci fi, i like science, i've read OMNI and discover all my
life. (till discover shut down omni, curse them). but as far as software
issues and technical details of AIs, put me in the herd. I just switched
majors this year, from art to computer engineering, when i heard about this
stuff. because before that, i knew squat about programming. i still know
squat. but i know a bit more of it. so i switched and i'm gonna learn a bit
more. why? because i think i'm going to be a cool mod programmer and hack
out the visual cortex of the Singinst AI? no. i'm pretty sure i won't
contribute some critical piece. but i'm pretty sure i can help somehow. and
damned if i won't give someone else the same chance.

the one cool thing about grouping people into herds and elites is you give
them an option they didn't have before. now they have a herd they can leave.
and an elite to join.

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