Re: Singularity Institute - update

From: Barkley Vowk (
Date: Wed Apr 30 2003 - 21:00:25 MDT

On Wed, 30 Apr 2003, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> > 1) Writing a book on your AI and FAI ideas?
> I have the feeling no one would understand them *snip*

> > 2) Publishing your AI and FAI ideas in AI journals?
> Evolutionary psychology journals, perhaps. "Brain and the Behavioral
> Sciences", perhaps. Even a journal on Bayesian information theory.
> Certainly not AI journals.

> > 3) Pursuing a PhD in AI? (which would force you to do #2)
> I've discussed this before and am really not all that interested in taking
> it up again. I don't consider this the best use of my time. I'm not
> getting a PhD. You can get a PhD if you like.

> > b) Giving you more direct credibility. Scientific publications,
> > technical books, and mainstream credentials all increase your ability
> > to raise funds from private sources, acquire funds in the form of
> > grants, and convince others of your ideas.
> They increase them very little. I'd rather talk directly to rationalists,
> than try (and fail) to persuade nonrationalists by arguments from authority.

> Having thought about exactly that problem, I concluded that a book on
> rationality targets such people far more precisely than a book on AI. If
> someone is currently interested in AI, it means they have a head stuffed
> full of the misleading information that currently predominates in the
> field - philosophicalish anti-knowledge. What's needed for AI work are
> abilities which are more likely to make their bearers interested in
> rationality than in the wasteland of modern AI. See:

So let me get this straight:

1) You consider mainstream AI research to be a wasteland, full of

2) You aren't sure anybody else can understand your grand vision. (my
words, sorry)

3) You consider academic credentials a waste of your time, But claim to
have a credible reseach agenda.

4) You dismiss journals of an entire wing of science for some reason I'm
not entirely sure of.

5) You claim to have amazing powers of rationality few men can match.

I've heard of this before, and usually it has involved campus security
dragging someone off their meds away. Granted, it has usually involved
free energy and ancient egyptian technology, but some would lump FAI in
that same category. Don't get me wrong, I've read much of the stuff you've
written, its clear to me that you are most likely not off your meds. But
your attitude is stupid, and it won't win you any respect from those who
have "wasted" their time with their PHd's (many of whom control the
pursestrings of granting agencies and foundations. Why? because a PHd is
a piece of paper that says "The bearer of this token is not completely
useless in the related field").

I'm sorry if this comes across as harsh, but your email hit a nerve.

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