Re: SIAI: Donate Today and Tomorrow

From: Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Date: Fri Oct 22 2004 - 15:54:58 MDT

TC wrote:
> However, I am in total agreement with Wes; in fact, I think that ANY method
> of raising funds is a good idea, so long as it happens faster than sitting
> around and waiting for donations to amass. I might draw the line at running
> drugs across international borders, but only because my human side is more
> persuasive than my rationalist side.

Please don't. That action potentially has catastrophic public relations
consequences for SIAI, even if we never knew and never approved. I said it
in 1996 when I first published "Staring into the Singularity", and I'll say
it again: Don't go robbing banks!

If I had no ethics that I held to even in the face of existential risk, I'd
have no ethics at all, and I don't think that would work out well.

> My point is not "The SIAI should flood the internet with poker-playing AIs,
> with moral and possibly legal repercussions", but rather that this is a
> large and rich world, and I am VERY skeptical that the best
> effort-to-raising-capital ratio for the SIAI would be found through relying
> solely on donors. There are a zillion ways for intelligent people to make
> relatively easy (or fast) money.

Great. Step onto the stage and take up that role.

> It also occurs to me that there are a great many millionaires in the world.
> Rather than soliciting donations piecemeal from average-income enthusiasts,
> isn't it possible that time would be better spent targeting well-off
> eccentrics and shooting for a couple million in one clean sweep? There are
> plenty of people rich enough to not even notice that kind of money, or are
> already looking for tax-deductable charities to dump it on. A lot of them
> are in the tech sector, too, so I would imagine they're be more predisposed
> to this kind of thing.

It's damned near impossible to talk to these people. You don't go to them,
they come to you. But if you think you can do it: step onto the stage,
fill the empty role. Don't chide the actors for failing to fill it, when
you have your own hands.

People call out such brilliant advice for the actors upon the distant
stage. If it's a good idea, go ahead, don't let me stop you. It's your
planet too.

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

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