Singularitarian Activism (was: Trans Guide.)

From: Michael Anissimov (
Date: Fri May 03 2002 - 11:50:02 MDT

>Actually there ARE (at least a few) SL3 types on the list who are
>and understand the concept of not spitting in the sandbox everyone
>else is playing in.
> I happen to be one of them.

Perfectly acceptable, I'm sure everyone agrees with me on that...but
any lower than SL3 should go read a bit first, in my opinion.

>Honestly, how many people on this list can seriously claim to
>understand the programming and cognitive science Eli and Ben throw
>around, at least well enough to know if they have even a remote chance
>of success?

Good point - I don't think any of us really do, that's why I wish Ben
and Eli would help direct us into the right areas of study and thought
to ever so slightly bridge the gap in knowledge between "us and them".
I've started reading what Eli recommended in his interview, I hope to
read MITECS within the next year, but I really think the
Singularitarian community as a whole would benefit if some people were
tutored in the semi-technical aspects of AI, so they would have
stronger arguments against Singularity naysayers. But since Eli and
Ben are very, very busy, the first group will have to start off by
teaching themselves.

>Which is more important,finishing my education and entering a
>lucrative profession (a fairly "sure thing" so to speak)
>or entering a Ph.D. program in cogsci so I can really figure out
>whether Friendliness is a pile of semantic horseshit or a Truly
>Brilliant Idea?

Which is more important, a human job making money in a human world
buying human toys, or the Singularity? Even if your model of choice is
a slow takeoff, and long as you believe it will be possible to build an
AI in the relatively near future (10ish years?), then your worldview
should be quite different than that of the average technophile. Just
look at the numbers in Moore's Law - that's a damn powerful argument
right there, in my opinion.

>Point being I don't claim to be a Singularitarian

You don't claim to be a Singularitarian in the "Singularitarian
Principles" sense? The Singularitarian Principles encompass a large
field of potential adherents; you don't have to advocate an AI
Singularity, or a hard takeoff, to be a Singularitarian in that sense.
But of course, some of us have different standards for what we
call "SL4" or "Singularitarian".

>Not to be a prick but "memetic engineering"
>and "PR" is a fine excuse not to work your ass off, at least for most

There's a horrible lack of material on the Singularity out there - we
need more web pages, we need more papers, we need more interviews, we
need more spreading of the meme(s), we need to greatly expand the
current pool of Singularitarians, and do so intelligently and
carefully. These are huge, extremely important tasks for anyone who
can't work on AI or move to Atlanta at the moment. They are not easy,
either. What's more worthwhile, spending your time, on, say, watching
a couple of hours of TV, or practicing your Singularity writing
skills? Which would humanity appreciate more?

>I would expect you to be trying to understand CATAI at least well
>enough to try to catch Eli's mistakes. But that isn't the sort of
>traffic that permeates this "SL 4"

I would expect everyone on this list to find the time to read CFAI,
GISAI, and LOGI and *try* to understand them. It really doesn't take
that long to read them once, at least. If everyone on this list did
that, I would expect a lot more conversation about these papers, and
frankly, it bothers me a lot that there isn't conversation already. I
want to keep making the point to people, Singularitarianism shouldn't
just be a hobby, like how I think Extropianism is to a lot of people.
A true Singularitarian not only understands the importance of the
Singularity, but behaves accordingly. This means spreading the meme.
If everyone on this list with an hour of spare time per day started
visiting a philosophy forum and diligently and carefully explained the
concept of the Singularity to a few open-minded and intelligent people,
we could double the pool of existing Singularitarians within 2 months,
minimum, I'd wager. One person can make a difference in the
Singularity, *especially* at the stage of development that we're at
now. I'm not telling anyone to do anything they don't feel like doing,
but just to be aware of the potential each of us has to truly make a
difference in a way that few humans have ever before had an opportunity
to make a difference.

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