Re: How hard a Singularity?

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Jun 25 2002 - 20:33:43 MDT

Pat \"BUFF\" Hykkonen wrote:
> On Tue, 25 Jun 2002, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>> Humility should not be confused with modesty. Humility is a way to
>> conduct yourself in an interaction with Nature; modesty is a way to
>> conduct yourself in an interaction with others. I believe in humility
>> but not modesty. Humility is a form of rationality. Modesty is not.
> Eliezer --
> Could you please provide a reference to the dictionary you have used to
> define the words "humility" and "modesty"? Every search I have completed
> defines those words as nearly synonymous and as having different senses
> than the fashion in which you have used them.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to confess to a Humpty Dumpty on this one.
Sorry, but I often find that a concept with several synonyms conflates
several different underlying schema. In this case I usually assign one
synonym to each schema in order to keep my own mental tracking straight.
For example, the use of "ethics" to refer to good-behavior heuristics which
are means to an end rather than ends in themselves, "morals" to refer to the
final ends or desirability metric, and "philosophy" to refer to the causal
system that produces morals.

The point of the post wasn't to argue about the common usage of the term,
but rather to introduce a distinction between two different forms of the
conflated concept for which "humility" and "modesty" are ordinarily
synonyms. I confess that I didn't look in a dictionary before picking the
assignment, but my memory of common usage says that "humility" is slightly
more often used in internal contexts and "modesty" in social contexts.

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

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