RE: The Future of Human Evolution

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Oct 02 2004 - 08:23:52 MDT


> >My skepticism about the solidity of this kind of
> philosophical thinking
> seems to be borne out by the history of Eliezer's
> thinking so far -- each
> year he argues quite vehemently and convincingly for
> his current
> perspective; then, a year later, he's on to a
> different perspective.... I
> don't think he's wrong to change his views as he
> learns and grows, but I do
> think he's wrong to think any kind of near-definite
> conclusion about
> Friendly AI is going to be arrived at without
> significant empirical
> experimentation with serious AGI's... Until then,
> opinions will shift and
> grow and retreat, as in any data-poor area of inquiry.
> -- Ben Goertzel
> Agreed. It looks like Eliezer has consumed a huge
> amount of science books and papers, and then had a big
> rush of blood to the head, fooling himself into
> thinking that excellent general knowledge about a
> topic can substitute for deep understanding. When
> fact all that is present is a half-arsed 'pop
> understanding' of many disconnected bits and peices.

Hey -- this is a much stronger critique of Eliezer's work than I made, or
would make.

I think Eliezer's thinking is often deep and excellent, not half-arsed or
even half-assed.

I just think it's very speculative -- and that a really solid understanding
of Friendly AI and related issues is very unlikely to be achievable via
theorizing alone, but is more likely to be achieve via a combination of
theorizing & careful experimenting...

To put it another way: based on what I've seen of his work so far, I think
Eliezer is a very good *philosopher*, but I don't think philosophy is all
that's needed. I know he's trying to move beyond philosophy and make his
work more mathematical and rigorous and definite, but I have my doubts about
how far this can go without significant empiric input...

But I don't want to diminish the power and importance of philosophy either.
Philosophy is essential, it's just not enough. Not even when it's
philosophy that's strongly guided by science and adopts much of the language
of science. And I say this as someone who spent many years working hard on
science-guided philosophy, esp. philosophy of mind...

-- Ben G

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