From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Oct 10 2001 - 10:12:50 MDT
"Aikin, Robert" wrote:
> Are you kidding? Who's not paying attention here?
> A pyramid? Hebrew lettering? Am I missing something here? The concept
> submitted was a symbol for conscious AI (an eye with no style smacking of
> religion, e.g. Egyptian Ra) within a unicursal geometric star. Neither is
> Jewish. I'm not sure how you managed to find Hebrew lettering in such.
> There are no characters whatsoever from any linguistic family. I take it
> your parents are (or were) Jewish, and perhaps your upbringing has something
> to do with subliminally reading Hebrew characters.
Robert Aikin is here referring to a suggestion he submitted to the
Singularity Institute privately.
The "eye in a pyramid surrounded by Hebrew writing" was an archetype for
"maximally mystic symbol" that I constructed based on memories of having
read the Illuminatus Trilogy and having watched "End of Evangelion", stuck
in my mind as the symbols of literary and visual mysticism respectively.
I think I'd have picked that archetype regardless of whether Aikin had
sent a suggested symbol that happened to have an eye in it. If Aikin had
posted his suggestion to the list, I'd have picked an archetype that
didn't have an eye in it, so it was clear that I wasn't making fun of
him. Since he didn't post his message to the list, I assumed that it
wouldn't even occur to anyone that I was making fun of him. The thought
that Robert Aikin might take offense, post his suggestion to the list and
that people would *then* misinterpret my post did not really occur to me.
Well, live and learn, I guess.
As for the massively doomed attempt by my parents to raise me as an
Orthodox Jew, that failed so completely that today I can incorporate the
Hebraic lettering concept from NGE into a parody without being anxious
that someone will take it as a product of an attempted Jewish upbringing,
just as I'm not worried that someone will take the reference to the eye in
the pyramid as indicating Illuminati membership. Maybe I'm wrong not to
worry. Maybe I need to go through the rest of my life carefully never
referring to anything Jewish just in case someone thinks I'm still somehow
contaminated. Personally, though, I think the ideal is to live out your
life just as if nobody had ever attempted to give you a religious
upbringing. And if so, I have no reason to avoid mentioning Hebraic
lettering in the context of mysticism - it's one of the most popular
mystic marks anywhere that silly memes are sold, and is certainly not
confined to Judaism.
> Here is a suggestion: Forget about a mark based upon an object and focus
> upon creating a graphic based upon the (English) letters SIAI. Or even
> incorporating the first characters of code proposed for Friendly AI as a
> symbolic representation.
-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky http://intelligence.org/
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
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