Re: Cultishness as a high-entropy state

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Thu Dec 01 2005 - 06:39:48 MST

Hmmm... This dialogue is getting rather silly, although
certainly amusing (according to my, perhaps perverse,

Eliezer wrote:
> >If I remove Marc Geddes, then someone *else* will
> stand out as the most disagreeable person - should I
> remove them too? While Marc Geddes stays on the list,
> other people will feel that much more comfortable
> about disagreeing - there's an example to follow,
> someone who dared to disagree, who is in fact clearly
> an idiot, yet was not struck down for his sins

Marc Geddes wrote:
> Cleary an 'idiot' huh? AS I told you, I haven't even
> looked properly into this AGI stuff yet, yet to lack
> of resources. But even so, if I get my 'bottom line'
> initial assertions correct, you're the one that's
> going to end up getting cream pied.


FWIW, I will give my personal reaction to the writing
and thinking of these two very interesting individuals.

First of all: Clearly, Marc is a highly intelligent person
and not an "idiot."

He has, in my view, posted a few really idiotic
statements on this list. But so have I (though
not as many, IMO), and so
has Eliezer, though we each have our own particular
variants of idiotic-ness.

I do find that the signal-to-noise ratio in Geddes's
posts is disturbingly low sometimes. On the other
hand I have also observed a number of deep
philosophical insights in some of his posts, though
often obscured by a confusing style of presentation.

It's worth remembering here that
what a thinker is remembered for is, usually, their BEST
thoughts, not their worst or even their average thoughts.

I have seen no evidence one way or another about
Geddes's technical work, but I have a feeling he
could be a really good *philosopher* if he approached
the task of philosophizing more slowly and

I also have seen no evidence about Eliezer's technical
work, except the Flare language which was IMO pretty
poor. However, I have seen plenty of evidence that
Eliezer's technical *ability* is very large. And, so far I
have been vastly more impressed
with Eliezer than with Geddes as a philosopher. Eliezer's
points may have been simpler and less encompassing
than the ones Geddes has tried to make, but he has
made them very clearly and convincingly.

Eliezer's philosophical essays did serve to convince me
that Friendly AI is really, really hard. I always knew it
was hard, but not THAT hard as I now see it is, thanks
to his writings and conversations over the years. I can't
 say that Geddes's writings have led me to any new
understanding -- yet -- but I'm open to the

-- Ben

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