Re: Everything I know is wrong

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Wed Jan 04 2006 - 12:10:19 MST

At 08:14 AM 1/4/2006 -0800, Eliezer wrote:

>So if psi was real, then there would be some way to integrate psi such
>that not everything else we knew would be wrong - apples would not stop

Self-evidently. I truly don't understand the panic. Of course, it depends
on the scale of the thing. Again, it seems to me that this FUD arises only
because people who haven't looked into the topic closely are making exactly
the same kind of mistake most civilians make when they confuse Hollywood
genomics or artificial intelligence with the real (or at any rate
scientifically plausible) thing.

>"Everything you know is wrong" has been true through quite a lot of human
>history, at least in the sense of being able to encompass things just as
>shocking as magic

The irony for SL4 is that this premise of serial and genuinely shocking
paradigm change, drawn from the history of science, underlies so much of
the discussion about singularity and beyond.

>In fact, most people still haven't come to terms with the total absence of
>magic, which tells you something about how shocking it is.

A deft rhetorical move, but it smuggles in an equation between traditional
contagious and sympathetic magic--and perhaps religious miracles--and the
generally small anomalies studied by contemporary parapsychologists. Those
anomalies are genuinely puzzling, and could indeed constitute a breach in
current paradigms equivalent to the ultraviolet catastrophe that led to
quantum theory -- but it seems very unlikely <coff> to me *even if psi
turns out to be real* that anyone will be teleporting or levitating by
sheer force of personality, or transmuting old bananas into uranium by
muttering a spell, or reviving the dead with an application of foetal
blood. No, that sort of thing will require ordinary unexceptional post
singularity technology, the kind everyone here is extremely comfortable with.

Damien Broderick

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