Re: Volitional Morality and Action Judgement

From: Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed Jun 02 2004 - 11:22:53 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> Anyway, I must say, this display of egomania and unpleasantness on the
> part of SIAI folks makes me quite glad that SIAI doesn't actually have a
> viable approach to creating AGI (so far, anyway...).

In 2003 I tried to be Belldandy, sweetness and light. It didn't work. It
was not until that point, when I grew mature enough to for the first time
aspire to something that didn't easily fit my personality, that I
understood just how hard it is to cut against the grain of one's character.
  Striving toward total rationality and total altruism comes easily to me.
  Sweetness and light doesn't; I tried and failed. Now I have much more
sympathy for people whose personalities don't happen to easily fit
rationality or altruism; it's *hard* to cut against your own grain.

But y'know, this shiny new model of Friendly AI *does not require* that I
be Belldandy, or even that I *approximate* Belldandy. I can't be the
person I once aspired to be, not without hardware support. So while I am
human, I will try to enjoy it, instead of torturing myself. And ya know
what? I'm arrogant. I'll try not to be an arrogant bastard, but I'm
definitely arrogant. I'm incredibly brilliant and yes, I'm proud of it,
and what's more, I enjoy showing off and bragging about it. I don't know
if that's who I aspire to be, but it's surely who I am. I don't demand
that everyone acknowledge my incredible brilliance, but I'm not going to
cut against the grain of my nature, either. The next time someone
incredulously asks, "You think you're so smart, huh?" I'm going to answer,
"*Hell* yes, and I am pursuing a task appropriate to my talents." If
anyone thinks that a Friendly AI can be created by a moderately bright
researcher, they have rocks in their head. This is a job for what I can
only call Eliezer-class intelligence. I will try not to be such an ass as
Newton, try hard not to actually *hurt* anyone, but let's face it, I am not
one of the modest geniuses. The best I can do is recognize this and move on.

As Anissimov points out, there are three people in SIAI right now,
Anissimov, Emerson, and myself. I'm not the public face of SIAI. They
are. I am SIAI's cackling mad scientist in the basement. That is my job
function, and everyone needs to get used to the new division of labor. At
least some other people on the programming team will probably be arrogant
mad scientists too. Isn't it enough that we save the world? Do we have to
be frickin' *modest* about it? Now that just seems unreasonable. How are
we supposed to stay sane?

They laughed at my inventions! They thought that I was mad! They tried -
to take me away - from my machines - but SOMEDAY! Someday I'll show them

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

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