RE: Anti-singularity spam.

From: Bob Seidensticker (
Date: Tue May 02 2006 - 15:24:33 MDT

Eliezer: Yes, good disctinction between predictions made by people who are
actually on the front lines vs. those who aren't.

As for AGI, maybe I've just been duped by predictions in newspaper stories
and missed those by people who should know. We had Newell and Simon the the
50s, fresh from the success of their General Problem Solver, predicting big
things for AI (and quickly). They certainly had me going. Was it wrong to
listen to them?

Let me ask another way: what predictions (or predictors) do you favor today?
Who is in a position to know and is giving reliable forecasts of what's to
come in the area of AGI?

On a related question, I agree that we should ignore predictions from people
who are in no position to know. But even if we flatter ourselves by saying
that we can tell the difference, the public can't. What do we do to raise
the alarm? Can we spread common sense? Or is this impossible? (Or is this
beyond the scope of the SL4 discussion?)


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Eliezer S.
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 1:55 PM
Subject: Re: Anti-singularity spam.

Bob Seidensticker wrote:
> For example, AGI has certainly proved
> a lot more tricky than we expected, given early successes.

Than *who* expected? More importantly, *based on what*? A scientific
prediction is not one that a famous scientist makes.

There were famous scientists who said that heavier-than-air flight was
impossible, but they did not do any actual math. They just verbalized their
instinctive reactions.

The Wright Brothers, in addition to having a bicycle business on the side,
were also competent physicists - they built a new experimental instrument,
the wind tunnel, to test their quantitative predictions, and discovered a
flaw in Smeaton's coefficient of air pressure, an engineering constant which
had then been used for 150 years.

The Wright Brothers did the math. The eminent scientists didn't do the
math. Moral: Science doesn't work unless you actually use it.

Now who was it that calculated quantitatively, based on previously confirmed
theories, how long it ought to take to build an AGI? And if the one did not
do this, but dared a prediction anyway, why are you surprised that they were

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

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