Notice of technical term: "Volition"

From: Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Jun 15 2004 - 08:53:35 MDT

This is an official notice that I have adopted the English label "volition"
to apply to a distinct, novel technical concept: an extrapolated decision
(or superposed probable criterions) of a human, human group, or other
decisionmaking entity, *after applying a set of transformations* ("knew
more, thought faster", etc.). The volition may be "short-distance",
"medium-distance", or "long-distance" as defined in

The dictionary definition of this term is no longer relevant. It now
possesses a new technical meaning. Anyone who feels that the new term is a
distortion of the Enlgish meaning is free to use the namespaced substitute
FAI::volition to emphasize that they are not speaking of the English word

For the love of Belldandy, please do not use this new technical word in
other than its new technical sense, the way "Friendliness" went down the
drain. Kidnap your own words. Don't kidnap my words, after all the
trouble I went to kidnap them originally. There are plenty of other
helpless, kidnappable English words to lure into the back of your primer
gray GMC van: "Will", "inclination", "intention", "disposition", "ideal
self", "purpose", "wish", "aim", "hankering", "velleity" - whatever best
suits your purposes.

It's not my intent to be Orwellian. But sometimes I invent new ideas, and
I have found it best to give them understandable labels.

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

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