Re: "Someone ought to do something" posts

From: Simon McClenahan (
Date: Thu Sep 20 2001 - 17:03:02 MDT

Speaking as one of the list lurkers and Singulitarian wanna-be's, I want to
sincerely encourage you, or someone (else not me) to properly maintain this
to-do list. Your initial list is extremely general of course, so maybe if a
discussion thread was started to address each task that is added to the list, it
would give some of us a clue as to how we could possibly fit in. I would like to
make some comments on your short list of tasks though:

> * Code a Transhuman AI.
Um, sure. How do we do that, exactly? In one short paragraph, please ;-)

> * Figure out how to program Friendliness into an AI.
Pre-requisite before even thinking about beginning this task is to read a very
long paper, several times.

> * Write a Seed AI.
Is this before, or after the Transhuman AI? ;-)

> * Get funding!!!
This is definately worthy of a new discussion thread or even a new forum set up

> * Write articles about Singularity related topics to make sure they
> are fully understood (for example, take some involved discussion on
> this list, sort out the conclusions, and write it up in a coherent
> manner).
This one truly makes me cringe. As much as I appreciate the in-depth discussions
and the papers being written, I am personally overwhelmed by it all to the point
of feeling useless, and one could assume that most lurkers are too. Maybe it is
more of a presentation issue. Not enough pictures and diagrams, and too many

> * [Your items here].
Regarding writing articles about The Singularity, they seem to be oriented
towards an elite SL4 group. How about introductory texts or summaries that would
appeal to the other levels, all the way down to SL0? The purpose of writing
about The Singularity is to increase understanding by all humans, not just the
SL4. Ideally, the more people at the SL4 level, the more resources we have to
achieving the rest of our goals towards the Singularity.

I would also like to see a SL4-list member profile page. When someone
subscribes, they can enter public profile information that includes information
on their enthusiasm, skills, and availability as a resource for the Singularity
project leader(s).

I hate to keep the "do something" banter going, but I think I can summarize it
so far and how it could end up thus:
Anonymous: Somebody ought to do something!
Singulitarian Activist: Don't tell us what to do, do something yourself!
Anonymous: I can't do anything, I'm busy doing other things. You do it. I'll
"support" you.
Singulitarian Activist: You can support me by becoming an Activist. You ought to
do something!
Anonymous: You obviously don't appreciate my support, I give up, good luck with
The Singularity.

The point I'm trying to make here (and in fact this whole posting) is that "do
this very complex task, faster!", is going to cause any meaningful communication
between current and potential activists to balk. Here's how we would like to see
Anonymous: Somebody ought to do something!
Singulitarian Activist: I'm trying, but we need help. If you can do this very,
very small task that practically anyone at your skill level can do quickly, you
would be appreciated.
Anonymous: Well, I dunno, I'm a bit busy right now...
Singulitarian Activist: OK, can you do this even smaller task? Or can you donate
up to $1? You'll be forever recognized in the README file ...
Anonymous: Well, OK, I guess I can do/donate that...
<time passes by ...>
Singulitarian Activist: Hey, remember when you did that thing? We really
appreciate it. Can you do it again? Or even better, do this more important task
Anonymous: Well, since I had such a positive experience with my last
contribution, I think I could make an effort to manage my busy schedule to fit
in this task ...

I guess this falls under the category of persuasion techniques and people
management. Hold a competition, a sweepstakes, and most importantly, find small
easy tasks that you can hook people in to the cause so that you can ask them to
contribute slightly more again next time. Don't ever expect anyone to see
"create complex procedure" and expect them to have it done 6 months later.

I'm also curious as to what certain people's day jobs are, and how they manage
their time to balance work on the Singularity and the rest of "real life".

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