JOIN: Deniz

From: Deniz Sarioz (
Date: Tue Jun 12 2001 - 17:02:46 MDT

This will be my only post of a personal nature, and since it's a JOIN one,
can't flak me. I didn't use PGP for this message, although I can if you
really really want--I just don't see the point, and don't really see other
people use it either.

Best way to pronounce name: D.  PSA: Never, ever spell my first name with 
an S or two Ns.
	High School: Robert College '97
	College: Middlebury '02 (Math), Columbia SEAS '02 (Comp Sci--AI and Theory)
Work: Currently underemployed as research assistant in Natural Language 
Processing group hacking Perl on better days, no off-campus US work permit.
Gender: Male
Intelligence: 99%ile (says some test)
Slowness: occasional
Attitude: Usually unpretentious.  Try to be not-rude, telling the truth 
never qualifies as "rude" in my definition.  Learned not to point out some 
people's mistakes although it helps them on the long run--convincing myself 
that those who can't take that kind of a favor do not have ethical 
significance.  I have no place among people who burst into tantra when you 
show them their deficiency.  Or so I realized recently.
Political Orientation: volatile.  But always have been in favor of personal 
liberties.  One that I am iffy about is the right to believe in and spread 
obviously false things.  I am ethically kaput as far as the 
benevolence/builtin-morality discussion goes.
Religious Orientation: very vocally atheist and 
Shock Level: I'm a mathematician, enough said!  I find some of the 
methodology in Eliezer's and Ray Kurzweil's writings unscientific, but 
overall, I approve.  My hesitation is not about what can be done as much as 
what should be done.
Propaganda: immune since 15 years old.  Make a point of seeing through 
every ad/commercial (almost, e-mail or ICQ me if you are interested in 
talking about them), deconstructing every song, and every scene in every 
popular movie/sitcom from a "how's this supposed to take over my brain" 
point of view.  Chomsky says most people don't do that, to my 
incomprehension (although it makes sense in an a priori way, since 
propaganda would probably phase out automatically if no one buyed in--since 
it takes resources to support, whoever uses it would use their resources 
otherwise unless it generated revenue).  One of the things I am usually bad 
at is not overestimating other people (probably does not apply to most of 
you here).
Outlook: usually cynical.  I see no reason why transitions to SI would not 
just fall into the hands of major corporations, which would do as they 
pleased with them.  I don't see why the BIG ones would not buy out any 
attempt of building some sort of worthy AI.  I don't understand why anyone 
in the world would invest to set up an ethical sysop (a huge 
investment).  I see a lot of potential for human slavery--which already 
exists (humans of humans) IMO.  "My political orientation" means my 
reaction to my assessment of the world--my overall assessment of how the 
world works does not change year to year.  Well, I am very cynical about 
issues not pertaining to AI as well, so I ain't no technophobe (duh!).
Hobbies: reading books, magazines, good stuff on the web; music, arguing 
(civilly, not as opposed to some widespread sense of the term), hanging out 
with intelligent people.
Taste in books: Isaac Asimov rules.  Also, some sciency non-fiction.  (a 
textbook on QM, i.e.) Bash: I should read more.
Are fun: abstract algebra, graph theory, AI, learning languages (human and 
programming), sex.
Philosophy: Scientific materialism.  I'll never be a Randian "man" (see 
above: oh my Freud, i'm guided by my animal instincts!) since I can not 
find a goal using reason only.  (How can I define "self-interest" if I 
don't have goals?  Money means nothing to me, as long as I have enough to 
eat and a place to stay.  Reproduction of my memes is also instinctive and 
do not see it as self-interest, although it can serve to reduce my stress 
level by making me get along better with other people if they spread 
enough.)  Finding goals using reason sounds to me like a contradiction 
anyway--there has to be seed desires (I use desire in a generic term which 
includes ethics, what I really means is a utility function) in order to 
build one that is guided by reason (i.e., not totally random).  I could 
just devote the rest of my life to, say, increasing the racially Asian 
percentage of the US population (this is just an example, I'm not Asian) 
but I guess that would not be a "rationally-derived" utility 
function.  Because nothing can.  Survival and reproduction blah blah are 
good for the organism, which I see myself as a function of--therefore have 
no obligation towards it except for sustaining me, etc.  I believe that 
rationality can come into play only for satisfying a (might be implicit or 
even quasi-defined) utility function (and based on observation).  I don't 
understand this talk about using reason to find our real goals--and as my 
father has advised, ideally speaking, I am a hedonist, but philosophically 
it's not very fulfilling.  I believe in the mind as well as the brain.  So 
ICQ UIN: 1517804 (I'm not always on.)
Relationship with parents: I like them, they're pretty bright folks, 
although a little bit narrow-minded.  "Why are you still making such an 
effort for me?" "You're our child--we love you." "But how can you love me 
without understanding me?" "We do understand you." "How can you understand 
me if you don't even know what recursion is?"
Reason to join, etc: read Eliezer's stuff on the web.  Sounded a bit too 
much like me and my thoughts, and ever since I've been lurking here and on 
extropians, realized that I was not the only person thinking about weird 
stuff--in fact, I had independently thought of a lot of similar 
concepts.  I, on the other hand, have managed to have a traditional 
education with a 3.0+ GPA despite my energetically/moodwise low points, 
thanks to self-imposed dictatorship in stressful situations.  Having fun 
lurking so far.
Till later,

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