Re: Donaldson, Tegmark and AGI

From: Michael Vassar (
Date: Sat Aug 12 2006 - 22:56:19 MDT

Look Russell, we KNOW that there are superficial similarities between
hard-takeoff singularity and the Judeo-Christian world-view (though NOT, I
would add, that of many other religions). Sadly, your supposed negative
sympathetic magic (a-la Television would be like magic, thus Television is
impossible) doesn't actually work, so we have to keep believing in things
that our physical causual model tells us to. You don't have to, and are
free to leave. Really, if you dismiss hard take-off (which is, as stated
earlier, very close to the definition of SL4 belief a context which is
theoretically mandatory for posting here whether you accept it or not) as
"in the same ballpark as the belief that you can summon demons by chanting
phrases in Latin" you should leave, as it is grossly irrational of you to
try to debate with people who believe something in that ballpark.

>From: "Russell Wallace" <>
>Subject: Re: Donaldson, Tegmark and AGI
>Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 23:51:42 +0100
>On 8/12/06, Brian Atkins <> wrote:
>>I worry that subconscious factors involved with faith-based
>>reality-view belief systems could affect important decision making if one
>>not superhumanly vigilant in remaining unbiased.
>To expand a little on this: you remind me of a remark I think Eliezer made
>awhile back to the effect that religious belief puts an upper bound on
>rationality. I'm not sure the reverse isn't the case. It is true of course
>that some people hold irrational beliefs for religious reasons, the most
>notorious example in modern times being the creationism versus evolution
>debate. On the other hand it may be for some people that having a place to
>stand, so to speak, outside our world, may free them to look more
>objectively at empirical propositions within this world.
>I'm reminded of the remark, related to the popularity of New Age memes:
>"when people stop believing in God, it's not that they believe nothing -
>it's that they'll believe anything". That is, in the absence of religion,
>people may find they have to choose a place to stand within this world:
>their _empirical_ beliefs may have to be modified away from the function of
>reflecting reality in order to serve this second purpose. This can have
>significantly negative effects.
>Consider for example hard takeoff. Stepping back and taking a cold look at
>it, the belief that such power can be obtained by shuffling bits in a RAM
>chip is in the same ballpark as the belief that you can summon demons by
>chanting phrases in Latin: it's something whose source is very clearly the
>internal workings of the human mind rather than external reality. Even
>without applying domain-specific knowledge, it's not something an objective
>observer would ever have ended up with.
>So why did we, such smart rational people, ever take something like that
>seriously? Because in the absence of traditional religion we needed a place
>to stand; and my purpose here is to offer an alternative.

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