Re: The Conjunction Fallacy Fallacy [WAS Re: Anti-singularity spam.]

From: Charles D Hixson (
Date: Fri May 05 2006 - 00:49:49 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
>> Kurzweil's TSIN is not a tiger. It is a book. Flaws that hit people
>> who read books are relevant - regardless of whether the biases arise
>> from heuristics shaped more by regularities of the ancestral environment
>> than by cognitive limitations.
> Regarding this point, I would need a lot more convincing to agree that
> Kurzweil has succumbed to the conjunction fallacy in his book.
> I understand your point that he argues for "AI will be realized soon"
> via arguing for "AI will be realized soon via understanding and then
> mimicking human brain structure" ---- but taking this line of argument
> does not immediately imply making a conjunction fallacy. The book
> had to have a finite length, and so he chose to present detailed
> arguments for only some of the possible ways that "AI will be realized
> soon" might be validated. I personally would have made different
> choices regarding which possible pathways to AI to present, but I
> don't think it was wrong of him to choose to present **some**
> particular representative ways that AI might be realized in moderate
> depth, rather than giving a lighter and shallower treatment to a
> broader variety of possible routes. In any event this was an
> expositional choice rather than an inferential error, so far as I can
> recall from my reading of the book...
> ...
> -- Ben
It's also true that he chose to present the ways he was most interested
in and involved in as the most likely. Sometimes he only presented one
way. If this were a work of academic science rather than a work of
rhetoric this would be a serious flaw, but I don't think that very many
people expect futurologists to be infallible prophets, and to me that
doesn't detract from the book (even if I disagree with how intelligent
computers will first appear). He's not just forecasting, he's trying to
create the future that he wants. Will he be successful? ?? I'm no
prophet either. I doubt he'll be truly successful, but he may well push
the technologies of his interest faster than they would otherwise go.

FWIW, I recently heard that ?USC? (some university in southern
California) had sequenced the genome of spiny lobsters. I don't know if
this is fact copying art, or whether Charles Stross has inside information.

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