Re: Singularity Objections: SIAI, General Objections

From: Joshua Fox (
Date: Wed Jan 30 2008 - 13:21:42 MST

Tom and Kaj,

Thanks for this effort, and I look forward to seeing this online. Be sure to
do copy-editing first, though, for style and brevity.

Some comments:

* SIAI will just putz around and never actually finish the project, like all
> the other wild-eyed dreamers.
> o This, I think, is a real, serious risk. - Tom

The SIAI needs hard-headed business-like management alongside the wild-eyed
dreaming. Tyler with the team has made good progress -- more is needed.

> * There's no idea in treating seriously an institution whose leader and
> only full-time researcher is a middle-school drop-out without a single
> peer-reviewed publication.
o Incidentally, this might be one of the rare objections that it's better to
> just quietly ignore than try to answer...

Of course, you can't just ignore an objection, if it means the SIAI will get
suffer in various ways like not getting donations.

> I don't know if any answer will satisfy those who only look for formal
credentials before
> respecting someone, and there's no point in highlighting the issue. - Kaj

I very much respect Eliezer (and donate to SIAI), but that's because I read
hundreds of pages of his and other's writings. You can't expect all
potential supporters to do that.

If I heard of an innovative but off-beat cancer research institute whose
lead researcher is a middle-school drop-out with no peer-reviewed
publications, I wouldn't have the time or ability to compare his approach
against with more mainstream and credentialed scientists. I'd prefer to
direct my donations to the latter, and I'd be right to do so.

> those two chapters for Global Catastrophic Risks, which were technically
In academia, book chapters are considered to be at a lower level of prestige
in terms of peer review.

SIAI has addressed the issue of credentials by adding Ben Goertzel and other
PhD's to its team. A further step might be to publish SIAI-funded work in
peer-reviewed journals.

The scientific community demands that researchers pump out articles for a
reason -- it is a metric of performance; not a good one, but one of the few
we have. I am not suggesting that Eliezer pumps out low-quality work, but I
am suggesting that we treat the mainstream "establishment" scientific
process with respect and see if SIAI can (partially) fit into it.


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