Re: Contemplating Money & Values (Was: Re: SIAI's flawed friendliness analysis)

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Wed May 21 2003 - 12:20:13 MDT

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzHi, Leonarda Wild wrote:

>> Yes, as Douglas Adams points out, it's just little colored bits of
>> paper, it's all just symbols, etc. (...)

LW> I take this is more or less in jest. Otherwise, your bringing up Douglas
LW> Adams as your reference to speak about "money" would be a completely
LW> unscientific reply to my longwinded paragraph. Up to sl4 standards? I
LW> mean, that's the reason I had to step back for a month, for bringing up
LW> issues refering to authors that are not considered, by certain list
LW> standards, to be real scientists.

I believe the issue was (and Eliezer can correct me) that whoever was
being cited was not doing real science, not whether they "are" real

Douglas Adams' observation about money is by no means unique, but it
is a nice compact formulation. Money only has value in people's
minds, but it has "real" value because of this -- i.e., other people
believe that my twenty dollar bill has value and act accordingly,
therefore I can act as if it has value.

LW> I'm not defending authors nor scientists, and I like Douglas Adams'
LW> work, and his references to money are quite on the mark in many ways,
LW> yet I would never have dared to bring up Douglas Adams as my "scientific
LW> proof" for anything related to the issue of money.

I did not cite him as "scientific proof".

LW> But I can understand
LW> that being new to the list my posts are more closely looked at and any
LW> half-degree deviation from the purity of science will be scolded, and
LW> that those who are better known and have had a chance to prove
LW> themselves in their knowledge-ableness have more leeway. So be it.

Oh dear. Do you often feel victimised?

LW> But
LW> it just points back to the issue that I seem to have understood Bill
LW> Hibbard as trying to make, i.e., that we need to further define what we
LW> mean by friendliness (and I add, "Not just that") in order to be able to
LW> agree on something, especially on things as volatile or bound to
LW> interpretation as values. As an example, you wrote:

>> So your longwinded paragraph above might be of interest to those
>> inclined to sit back and wonder about the meaning of it all, but
>> SIAI's mission is to achieve things, not contemplate.

LW> I see that you don't value longwinded paragraphs, or that your value of
LW> them is lower (if not in negative) than short paragraphs that go
LW> directly to the point.

You see incorrectly. I value paragraphs of the right length to make
their point. Yours did not, in my estimation, have any real point at
all: discussing the abstract meaning, underlying values, whatever, of
money in the context of SIAI's request for same seems completely
irrelevant to me.

LW> Also, the sentence says that "wondering about the
LW> meaning of it all" is, more or less, a waste of time to SIAI's mission.
LW> It directly implies, too, that "contemplation" is not a worthwhile
LW> activity. So, for SIAI's mission, it is put into the box of the "bad
LW> stuff" that will not allow SIAI to reach its goal.

Again, you misinterpret. Stating that contemplation is not SIAI's
mission is not the same as stating contemplation is not valuable to
SIAI's mission -- in fact, much of what SIAI has done so far could be
described as very deep contemplation of the issues of Seed AI. This
is contemplation in the service of its mission: achieving a friendly

LW> Let me be clear here. I'm all for the need for friendliness in an AI or
LW> else, as Eliezer clearly points out, we'll be considered disposable.
LW> Unnecessary? Not "good enough" to allow lurking about? It's about goals,
LW> right?

LW> If you have a goal, and you want to carry it out, it would be an
LW> "intelligent" thing to do to analyze what it is that you are after, as
LW> well as what means you need to make that possible. So it was said: "We
LW> need money." Okay, that's clear. But it is not intelligent, really, to
LW> go after the money without knowing what it is.

Come on, the money is a means to their goal, not SIAI's goal. You are
being willfully obtuse.

[rest of message snipped.]


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