RE: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

From: outlawpoet - (
Date: Mon Jan 05 2004 - 11:44:13 MST

--- "Harvey Newstrom" <> wrote:
>One of my pet peeves is people misusing statistics or "science" to prop >up unsupported claims. I have often argued on the Extropians List >against Lott's gun claims, the use of suspect profiling, the >"statistical" Simulation Argument, and other bad statistics. People >just don't know how to apply logic, the scientific method, or proper >statistical methods.

This is more than a pet peeve, I think. As time goes on in lists like this and Extropians, I become progressively pessimistic about progress within the list. It seems sometimes that folk are more interested in just saying something than finding out truth under any circumstance. Despite it's avowed affection for things scientific, the Extropians list has very little accepted common facts despite three years of talking(that I've witnessed). The same affliction involves SL4, FoRK and other lists I read. It often seems that such 'technical' lists are more interested in a scientific vocabulary than methodology.

It's perhaps characteristic of discussion lists, but I worry about the time I spend reading. Perhaps the ones posting are not the accomplishers, the early-adopters. It's all very interesting, but I scan quickly through posts more and more, looking for those rare posters that sum up the arguments for both sides, allowing me to reach conclusions, and terminate reading a thread.

Scientific progress, is churning through possibility, and building upon semi-stable ground. The interesting thing about it, is that the more you build, the more stable your foundation becomes. Hypothesis become theories. But such progress seems missing in my daily diet of discussion. There is little common ground, it seems, despite much thrashing of possibility. And while it's all fun to have a rich pool of chaos from which to invent, I would like to see more agreement and conclusion. Because conclusions allow one to build upon them, and make meaningful the time spent. Perhaps I am being too ends-focused about discussion.

One of the foundations of SL4s attractiveness to me, is that it's explicitly not for 'rehashing the basics'. This is the expert's pool, the description page seems to say. But what exactly do we experts agree upon? What are we experts about? It sometimes seems that no conclusions are ever reached, people just get tired of fighting.

I'm not sure there is a solution to this. But I would like to try. Perhaps wiki pages, or a RESOLVED: xxx post after each thread. I think that any formal solution would be forced and artificial. But when I think of the problem of reaching common ground, I can't but be helplessly impressed by Wikipedia. Somehow, they have managed to build a collabrative encyclopedia of facts, while we transhumanists have yet to really conclude whether we agree with each other about some statistics, be they suspect gun numbers, or whether selection pressure acts on self-determining nonbiological beings.

Justin Corwin

"Around computers it is difficult to find the correct unit of time to measure progress. Some cathedrals took a century to complete. Can you imagine the grandeur and scope of a program that would take as long?"
                -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

"Oh man, death and poverty liked me so much, they brought friends!"
  --Vash the Stampede

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:43 MDT