Re: Why bother (was Re: Introducing myself)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sat Apr 06 2002 - 22:27:50 MST

Evan Reese wrote:
> From everything I have read here and elsewhere, the Singularity seems to be
> coming along rather nicely without your efforts. So why do you think this
> special project is required? I have read many - but not all - of your
> writings, so I would very much like to know. Do you think the Singularity
> would not happen if you were to just drop the whole thing and go fishing?
> Or do you think a singularity not to your liking would occur instead?

I think this territory is more or less covered in:

> Do
> you see yourself as the potential savior of mankind a la Leto Atriades II in
> _God Emperor of Dune_ where we will all go horribly astray without your
> guidance.

Frankly, I've noticed that people tend to ignore my guidance and go horribly
astray in any case. Don't mind me, I'll just sit here quietly developing a
Cassandra complex.

> If so, what evidence do you have for this belief? Have you
> written up your case for the necessity for this project to save mankind
> somewhere? Point me to it so I can read it and respond intelligently. I
> have a post of yours from back in July of 2002 in which you seem to be
> stating that the death of humanity is the only alternative to the successful
> completion of your project, (I will be happy to repost it here or send it to
> you if you like). I guess I should have asked then, but I was busy with
> other things and let it drop. But your current post has brought it back to
> my attention, so I'm asking. If you think I might have the perception that
> you have messianic tendencies, you're right. What's the deal?

*Shrug.* It's not my job to be messianic, and it's even less my job to be
non-messianic. I want to accomplish the largest possible amount of good
with my life. In a pre-Singularity era, that means doing something that
relates to the Singularity, because those are the largest stakes currently
on the table. If I find a $1000 bill lying in the street, I'll pick it up.
If I find an opportunity to bring the Singularity nearer or make it safer,
I'll take it. I do see what looks like such an opportunity and I am taking
it. That's all there is to it. It doesn't take any complex hypotheses
about my psychology. I suppose it takes more knowledge than usual to see
that the situation really is that simple, but it doesn't take anything
besides that.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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