RE: SIAI has become slightly scary

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 10:46:16 MDT

Eliezer wrote:

> I'm sorry if it seems that I think I know vastly more than
> you do, but
> that's exactly what I think. The arrogance is useless and
> irrelevant,
> though not particularly harmful

I agree that your arrogance is not harmful right now. It's sometimes
entertaining and sometimes annoying, but not seriously harmful in any

However, I worry that, if you and your group actually succeeded in
creating a powerful AGI system, your overconfidence in your own views
and opinions could end up being very harmful.

> 3) If [AGI Project X] does not scare the crap out of [AGI
> Researcher X],
> he doesn't believe in himself, he's still processing the
> potentially lethal
> challenge using the part of the brain that handles movies and
> philosophy
> books, or he hasn't realized it's possible to screw up.

Yes, all AGI projects are scary to some extent.

However, an AGI project that is :

-- conducted and directed by people with extremely arrogant,
overconfident and immature attitudes

-- specifically oriented toward depriving people of free choice in favor
of some other value (in your case, estimated "volition")

is significantly more scary than the average AGI project. That was my
main point.

> I regard myself as moving
> to the beat
> of a partially formed technical theory that is different in
> kind from the
> wild guessing of my earlier days. For this reason must I
> sadly refuse many
> of the brilliant "intuitive" insights that people seem eager
> to offer me.

Well, I have been working on the basis of a partially formed (and
increasingly better and better formed) technical theory for many years
now -- not for a long time on the basis of "wild guessing" as you put it

In my view, the kind of confidence in your views that you display would
be more sensible if you had a FULLY FORMED technical theory and concrete
results obtained from it.

What makes you think your partially formed technical theory will
eventually be completed in a useful way is precisely your "intuition,"
according to the common usage of the word. It's of course your right to
reject others' intuitions and accept your own -- we all do that -- but
it's bizarre to me the way you place your own intuition in such a
*supremely* privileged category over everybody else's.

Yeah, you're very smart and insightful. I don't know whether you're
smarter than I am (nor if such a simple comparison really makes sense)
-- although I get a strong sense that you think you are! I do know
that, at maximum, you're only a LITTLE BIT smarter than I am, because
I've seen you make plenty of fairly obvious intellectual mistakes over
the years. I don't believe you're SO smart as to justify your
dismissive attitude toward the ideas of others, and your remarkably high
opinion of the quality of your own intuitive estimates.

-- Ben G

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