RE: Volitional Morality and Action Judgement

From: Michael Wilson (
Date: Sat May 29 2004 - 00:51:47 MDT

Mark Waser wrote:
> 1. Everything is too dangerous to attempt until it has been fully
> thought out.

The actual principle is 'you shouldn't do anything you think might be
an existential risk until you've worked it through and proved to
a few relevant experts that it probably isn't'. This won't prevent you
from destroying the world, but it will prevent you from doing it in an
aggressively stupid way. This principle failed for Trinity because of
extreme management pressure to get the job done quickly and flawed
'someone else will do it if we don't' thinking; it failed for Eurisko
because no one in AI academia even thought it could be relevant. However
if you intended to actively ignore it then congratulations, you are
officially advocating 'risks above and beyond the call of mad science'.

> 3. We should just trust that you'll figure it out and single-handedly
> save the world.

You may have noticed that quite a few people on SL4 /aren't/ whining
about not understanding the theory and how this isn't their fault. Or
perhaps you missed that?

> My belief is that YOU took a wrong turn very early in the process and are
> rabbit-holing at an amazing rate.

Teenagers aren't qualified to judge existential risks or do serious science,
period. It is unfortunate that the pathetic state of academic AI forced one
to do some of the vital intermediate work. Since everyone else did and for
the most part continues to do noticeably worse, this criticism while relevant
does not strike me as calling for a change in roles.

> Relying upon a single point of failure (meaning both a single FAI and a
> single you) is incredibly foolish.

This is the best strategy we have for now. However you may have noticed the
SIAI seed AI team recruitment call in the last newsletter, so if you think
you can improve on this by all means send someone in or get in touch

> Of course, since you don't exhibit these behaviors . .

SL4 is in theory an information-dense debating forum and news feed, not a
chummy chat list. While in practice we're pretty informal anyway, if you
want a lighter atmosphere and on-demand snappy explanations please try the
#sl4 IRC channel.

 * Michael Wilson


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