I recommend being wary of a point that needs to exist as part of a dialectical pair. What’s orthogonal to cynicism vs. idealism. What’s completely outside the set? What encompasses both? What has elements of both? What subversive idea or analytical framework is muted by discussing cynicism vs. idealism instead? I think these type questions are a good starting point when a dialectic is promoted, in general.
Although I think you’re overstating and misapplying your case, Eliezer (like Robin implies, a “cynical” critique of both cynicism and idealism seems to me to yield more fruit than an idealist critique of both), I agree with Richard that cynicism is a poorer epistemological framework than skepticism.
I think it’s also worth noting that it’s a common play for status to admonish people not to be so cynical, I think because (1) the crowd seems to award higher status to people who perform optimism as a general rule, and (2) there’s an element of power alignment, and (if one is powerful) power maintenance to convincing less powerful people not to be cynical about the reasons for power variance in a social group.
I encourage you to do one with Koch on consciousness, free will, and zombies. Be agressive with him like you were with that AI researcher with the dreads (not deferential like you were with Aubrey de Gray. I think it’ll be very useful.
“Here’s an odd bias I notice among the AI and singularity crowd: a lot of us seem to only plan for science-fictional emergencies, and not for mundane ones like economic collapse. Why is that?”
One hypothesis: because the value in the planning (and this may be rational, if nontransparent) is primarily for entertainment purposes.
Very good job, Eliezer. I recommend you do a BHTV tour of all the big blogging names in cryonics, life extension, and existential risk minimization. Kurzweil, Bostrom, and Hanson too, of course. They’re probably asking you to do this already.
“However, if any professor out there wants to let me come in and just do a PhD in analytic philosophy—just write the thesis and defend it—then I have, for my own use, worked out a general and mathematically elegant theory of Newcomblike decision problems. I think it would make a fine PhD thesis, and it is ready to be written—if anyone has the power to let me do things the old-fashioned way.”
I think this is a good idea for you. But don’t be surprised if finding the right one takes more work than an occasional bleg. And I do recommend getting it at Harvard or the equivalent. And if I’m not mistaken, you may still have to do a bachelors and masters?
His predictions were much better than I expected. Your headline is misleading given this data point.
wow there’s some haters in this thread. You can tell when Caledonian feels compelled to defend Eliezer. Peter? Apt name.
Some interesting, useful stuff in this post. Minus the status-cocaine of declaring that you’re smarter than Robert Aumann about his performed religious beliefs and the mechanics of his internal mental state. In that area, I think Michael Vassar’s model for how nerds interpret the behavior of others is your God. There’s probably some 10 year olds that can see through it (look everybody, the emperor has no conception that people can believe one thing and perform another). Unless this is a performance on your part too, and there’s shimshammery all the way down!
There’s a corallary mystery category which most of you fall into: why are so few smart people fighting, even anonymously, against policy grounded in repugnancy bias that’ll likely reduce their persistence odds? Where’s the fight against a global ban on reproductive human cloning? Where’s the fight to increase legal organ markets? Where’s the defense of China’s (and other illiberal nations)rights to use prisoners (including political prisoners) for medical experimentation? Until you square aware your own repugnancy bias based inaction, criticisms of that of the rest of population on topics like cryonics reads as incoherent to me as debating angels dancing on the heads of pins. My blog shouldn’t be so anomolous in seeking to overcome repugnancy bias to maximize persistence odds. Where are the other anonymous advocates? Our reality is the Titanic -who want to go down with the ship for the sake of a genetic aesthetic -because your repugnancy bias memes are likely to only persist in the form of future generations if you choose to value it over your personal persistence odds.
Don’t get bored with the small shit. Cancers, heart disease, stroke, safety engineering, suicidal depression, neurodegenerations, improved cryonic tech. In the next few decades I’m probably going to see most of you die from that shit (and that’s if I’m lucky enough to persist as an observer), when you could’ve done a lot more to prevent it, if you didn’t get bored so easily of dealing with the basics.
Eliezer it’s a good question and a good thought experiment except for the last sentence, which assumes a conservation of us as subjective conscious entities that the anthropic principle doesn’t seem to me to endorse.
You can also add into your anthropic principle mix the odds that increasing numbers of experts think we can solve biological aging within our life time, or perhaps that should be called the solipstic principle, which may be more relevant for us as persisting observers.
MZ, I disagree to a limited extent, for reasons I explained on my blog. I think Intrade may have specifically predicted McCain’s temporary lead in the electoral college before a reasonable expert could (about 1 week in advance of its occurence). Being able to predict events accurately one week in advance is about as good as our best weather prediction. It’s not trivial.
Eliezer, whatever you’re doing here with this post, it’s not enlightenment. In my opinion you’re pretending to understanding that you don’t have. It’s not to say that you’re position is wrong (I doubt either of us know enough to know conclusively), but that it’s presented in an overreductionist, unhelpful way. Take the best arguments for the short-sell ban seriously (some of them seem to be presented in the comments here), I feel intellectually dirty after reading your post as written.
It’s ironic that Murray is largely a myth-promoter posing as a politically incorrect empiricist attacked my pc myth-promoters. This quote is a good illustration of that.
Unsurprisingly I agree with Carl, especially the tax-farming angle. I think it’s unlikely wet-brained humans would be part of a winning coalition that included self-improving human+ level digital intelligences for long. Humorously, because of the whole exponentional nature of this stuff, the timeline may be something like 2025 ---> functional biological immortality, 2030 --> whole brain emulation --> 2030 brain on a nanocomputer ---> 2030 earth transformed into computonium, end of human existence.
I’m not saying the irony is intentional (although I would claim it if I was Eliezer) but note who the soldier quote is from, and also note the content of the quote it succeeds.
Michael, well-articulated. BTW I encourage you to start up your blog again.
Those quotes seem rather weak to me. Especially the last one. Armchair psychology, you’re worried about your own propensity towards irrationality, so you seek to master it by focusing on irrationality external to you, as by seeking to wipe it out. Kind of analogous to evangelical christianity. I’m not sure rational heroes and irrational villians in a morality play is as valuable to us trying to build our best models of the world, including of various irrationalities as natural phenomena. Whether we should expend effort to convince people not to engage in various irrationalities is an empirical question, and maybe one that has different answers in each instance.
What do you think of the philosophy faculty of MIT and Cal-Tech?
I ask because I suspect the faculty there selects for philosophers that would be most usual to hard scientists and engineers (and for hard science and engineering students).
“I await the proper timing and forum in which to elaborate my skepticism that we should focus on trying to design a God to rule us all. Sure, have a contingency plan in case we actually face that problem, but it seems not the most likely or important case to consider.”
I agree with Robin. Although I’m disappointed that he thinks he lacks an adequate forum to pound the podium on this more forcefully.