Re: Donaldson, Tegmark and AGI

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Aug 13 2006 - 00:54:37 MDT

Russell Wallace wrote:
> 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.

How kindly gracious of you.


Autrey then attempts to describe the ritual, with Mark nodding along in
sage comprehension.

"You have to throw in a pebble every time a sheep leaves through the
gate?" says Mark. "Take out a pebble every time a sheep returns?"

Autrey nods. "Yeah."

"That must be really hard," Mark says sympathetically.

Autrey brightens, soaking up Mark's sympathy like rain. "Exactly!" says
Autrey. "It's extremely hard on your emotions. When the bucket has held
its level for a while, you... tend to get attached to that level."

A sheep passes then, leaving through the gate. Autrey sees; he stoops,
picks up a pebble, holds it aloft in the air. "Behold!" Autrey
proclaims. "A sheep has passed! I must now toss a pebble into this
bucket, my dear bucket, and destroy that fond level which has held for
so long -" Another sheep passes. Autrey, caught up in his drama, misses
it; so I plunk a pebble into the bucket. Autrey is still speaking: "-
for that is the supreme test of the shepherd, to throw in the pebble, be
it ever so agonizing, be the old level ever so precious. Indeed, only
the best of shepherds can meet a requirement so stern -"

"Autrey," I say, "if you want to be a great shepherd someday, learn to
shut up and throw in the pebble. No fuss. No drama. Just do it."



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

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