Re: Singularity Institute - update

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu May 01 2003 - 00:21:30 MDT

Barkley Vowk wrote:
> In many cases "researchers" who are self-described geniuses (or perhaps
> just more X than most people), dismiss journals because their "peers" that
> do the reviewing toss their papers (or use them for lining bird
> cages/cleaning up coffee spills). Usually this is followed by the author
> stalking legitimate researchers to get their ideas heard. This step is
> generally followed by a restraining order or meds being administered.
> Sometimes the above is marked with statements like "Academics in this
> field are filled with anti-knowledge!", or "Those reviewers aren't smart
> enough to understand my paper!", or even "There is a conspiracy against
> me, my ideas are just too good, and are being suppressed".

It would help if you would actually address your comments to me, rather
than other people whom have said things that you find annoying.

I'm a rationalist, born and raised; science runs in my family for at least
three generations that I know of. One of my earliest memories is of my
father, a physicist, complaining about how people invent their own
theories of physics - I was cautioned against crackpotism from a very
early age. I know the scientific method well enough to describe it as a
cleverly disguised form of Bayes' Theorem. I am not aware of any case in
which I have ever contradicted an experimentally established hypothesis.
(The field of AI is in a state of chaos and has no established
interpretation to contradict; a highly promising state of affairs, of
course.) When writing for a technical audience I write in the language of
those fields that I draw upon, make statements consistent with the
evidence in those fields, strive for consilience across fields, build on
established work, and cite my sources.

Okay, I don't do a *lot* of writing for a technical audience - so far I've
been bothered to do it exactly once. That is because I am not in this for
the tenure and I am not going to spend all my time writing papers.
However, if you want to see a paper, "Levels of Organization" is out
there. I wrote it, I gave something back to science, and now I have other
things to do. If anyone has specific objections to it, I will respond.
Otherwise I consider myself to have fulfilled my responsibility.

My dispute is solely with the field of AI as it exists in modern academia.
  Instead I draw upon other branches of cognitive science, which I
consider to be far more solid, and would not argue with them unless I had
an extremely good reason to do so. I would not hesitate to describe
myself as squarely orthodox with respect to most such fields.

I get the strong feeling that you've never read anything I've written that
was intended for a technical audience. Frankly, your comments strike me
as being addressed to someone else.

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

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