Re: Different View of IA

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Apr 23 2002 - 07:04:46 MDT

Will Pearson wrote:
> Having read some of the archives this list seems very hostile to any memes that try to suggest any other scenario than Friendly Ai/sysop. I had hoped that this would be a place for all future shock. But it doesn't seem to be. For example I haven't found a single thread that has been fully discussing a different way to the singularity apart from sysop. Any threads that have been started are all destroyed by the sysop memes, they are not given constructive criticism. This is what I feel, I may be wrong.

It may be that the "sysop" meme, or more properly the "intelligent
substrate"/"singleton" family of memes, is killing off other ideas simply
because more work has gone into visualizing intelligent substrate
scenarios. Hopefully this is not the case and the intelligent substrate
scenarios are winning because they are, in fact, the best ideas discussed so
far on SL4. If not, eventually someone will come along with an idea that,
being stronger, kills and devours the intelligent substrate scenarios.

But SL4 tends to be a place for people with fully developed arguments to
test those arguments against the strongest criticism available, not a place
where weak new ideas are nurtured in the light of approval. There are other
mailing lists for that. Weak ideas here tend to be killed off instantly,
not because the list members are intolerant of any ideas except the one idea
they hold, but because we have had a lot of experience in detecting weak
ideas. I find that this is a frequent point of confusion with people who
are used to an environment where all ideas are equally plausible because the
state of knowledge is insufficiently advanced to rule out ideas that seem
initially attractive. Usually "futurism" is like this. People just make up
whatever scenario appeals to them, because nobody knows enough to rule
anything out. At least that's the way it is at cocktail parties or random
online IRC channels when the topic drifts to futurism. In such forums, if
someone doesn't like your idea, it may be because that person is intolerant
of any ideas except their own.

On SL4, speculation about futurism has gotten a lot farther than it has in
other forums. I don't need to believe that mine is the one true way to
shoot down a wide range of constructs that would seem superficially
plausible on a random IRC channel. We know about more constraints. Now it
may be that eventually someone will come along who knows about even more
constraints, and that my own ideas will be either destroyed or devoured.
But such is life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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

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