Re: META: It's (not) About Free Speech

From: Philip Sutton (
Date: Thu Jan 29 2004 - 15:56:10 MST

Hi Andrew,
> There is no looming practical limitation on speech that will have any
> real impact on any of these areas. It is an excuse to make something
> political that isn't. Europe has far greater restrictions on speech
> than the US, yet I fail to see how that has "materially contributed"
> to *anything* supporting or suppressing things related to AGI. For
> virtually all purposes related to AGI, restrictions on speech that
> governments typically implement are transparent. VERY few political
> matters have any genuinely significant ramifications for AGI, and the
> few that I can think of are either so bizarre or improbable that it is
> not worth wasting any time on. There is little value in bundling in
> other pet issues into the topic of AGI, particularly when it largely
> revolves around "what if"s of dubious importance or probability.

There's plenty of paranoia and partisanship around, for sure. And I
have no special knowledge of this issue that is not available to the
average citizen.

But my thoughts run along these lines.....

After September 11, changes have occurred in the US (more so than in
Europe perhaps) that some people think are moving the US sharply in
the direction of reduced civil liberties (according to this view free
speech is just one dimension of this). Whether this is going to be a
continuing and perhaps intensifying trend I cannot say. Maybe it won't,
maybe it will. So let's keep our eyes posted to watch the trends.

If restrictions on civil liberties continue and intensify then you might
want to consider the line of logic I develop below. If the trend doesn't
continue or it reverses, then throw this email into the recycling.

The reason people restrict civil liberties is to restrict some people's
power in order to enhance the first group's power. AGI technology is
expected by many on this list to be vital to opening up a cornucopia of
capabilities. It will, according to the more optimistic assessments of
what it will enable, provide huge benefits and capabilities (ie. 'power').
*If* a society is suffering a significant and continuing erosion of civil
liberties then that is a sign that one group of people in that society is
trying to increase its power relative to others. If AGI technology is
under development it is most likely that this group of people won't want
the people they are restricting to have access to that AGI power. So I
would anticipate a strong move to control who does and who doesn't
get access to AGI power. If this restriction goes beyond the obvious
sensible restrictions like trying to stop real terrorists and crime
syndicates from getting AGI power then we have a situation where
some humans are wielding their own power in a not very
Friendly/friendly way. In such a climate I doubt that much effort will go
into making sure that the AGIs that *are* allowed will be scrupulously
configured and trained to be Friendly/friendly.

But this is just speculation. Only time will tell. Watch this
they say!

Cheers, Philip

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