RE: Miller's The Mating Mind

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Sep 28 2002 - 16:09:28 MDT

> > 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.

Eliezer, whatever success I've had at raising funds myself in the past, has
been largely because of my obvious enthusiasm for the long-term implications
of my work. Whether or not I've always used the term "Singularity" to
describe these long-term implications. (let's face it, the term has some
real baggage associated with it, and is not always socially advisable)

It has been obvious to everyone who has ever worked with me, or donated or
invested money in things I've been involved with, that I am more than "sorta
interested" in AGI and its potential to transcend humanity and reality as we
know it.

But I am a bit tired of defending myself against your ongoing statements
that I'm somehow not as interested or dedicated or Singularity-aware as you
are. could argue that I've spent a lot more years devoted to
Singularity-relevant work than you have, so there is much more proof of my
own interest and devotion than your own. But what is the use of this sort
of yammering? I won't extend this paragraph any further.

> I know you don't believe there's an important distinction, Ben.

Well, I may not see the same distinction as you do, but I DO see a
distinction between

A) people who are spending the bulk of their lives on pushing toward the
Singularity, and

B) those who interested in the Singularity and consider it plausible and
potentially important, but not to the extent of focusing most of their
energies on it

However, I don't think that someone has to be in category A in order to
donate money to Singularitarian causes.

And I think this is fortunate, because category B is going to be a lot
larger for quite a while... probably until the Singularity is truly
beginning to unfold...

The distinction between MY distinction and YOUR distinction is

-- I place both you and myself in category A

-- You place yourself in your analogue of category A, and me in your
analogue of category B

It seems that you're setting up a category something like

A') Those who have convinced themselves that they are carrying out every
single one of their actions in the cause of bringing about a positive
Singularity, because this is the most rational way to carry out their
altruistic motives.

To me, category A is a lot more interesting than category A'. I can tell
what someone is doing, whereas I can't tell whether their convictions about
their own motivations are delusional or not. I judge your
Singularity-devotedness by what I see you do, not by what you say about your
motivations. I try to avoid making inferences about others' motivations,
because when you get beyond the obvious level, such inferences are of
necessity highly unconfident.

> 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
> planet.

I think that is a very, very narrow and idealistic fundraising strategy. I
wish you luck with it, though.

I agree that anyone likely to donate to Singularitarian causes is likely
going to be someone interested in rational altruism -- *to some extent*.

But this doesn't mean that all likely donors will fall into my Category A

And it definitely doesn't mean that all likely donors will meet your
criterion (A') for being a true Singularitarian.

-- Ben G

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