Re: Miller's The Mating Mind

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sat Sep 28 2002 - 15:42:49 MDT

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Ben Goertzel wrote:
> I fully agree with Eliezer here.
> I would add that what will change "interested potential donors" into
> "actual check-writing donors" is likely to be one of:
> A) demonstrable achievements, showing that the organization in question
> is really doing something moving toward the Singularity
> or
> B) greater popular acceptance of the Singularity notion (so the donor
> won't feel like as much of an ass when he tells his friends and
> neighbors where he donated his money)
> There are plenty of potential donors interested in hi-tech stuff out
> there right now -- people who are "sorta interested" in possibly
> donating to things like SIAI or Real AI Institute. It's just a little
> too offbeat and a little too speculative... it might not take that much
> of A or B to improve the situation significantly...

Well, yes, if you're going after the great mass of people who are "sorta
interested". But there *are* some people in the world who are capable of
being more than just "sorta interested". To be honest, Ben, I often get
the impression that you are "sorta interested" yourself, in which case
it's understandable that you'd want to work on this level. Going beyond
"sorta interested" requires being beyond "sorta interested" yourself in
order to be able to communicate that feeling to others.

I know you don't believe there's an important distinction, Ben. However,
for the benefit of those of us who do see a distinction, it's worth
observing that the donors we need may *not* be the great mass of people
who are potentially sorta interested and will probably not be actually
interested until after the problem is mostly solved. The people we need
to get started are probably the small percentage who are willing to walk
the path of rational altruism - the people who have personalities strong
enough *not* to need approving friends in order to donate. That small
percentage can still be a very large pool in absolute terms. It's a big

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

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