Re: SIAI seeking seed AI programmer candidates

From: Michael Wilson (
Date: Wed Jun 02 2004 - 10:28:06 MDT

> I can see how someone who is a young supersmart programmer, AND is
> rich enough to know that (s)he will never have to worry about money,
> may prefer joining your project instead of doing other things with
> her/his life. But how many young supersmart AND rich programmers do
> you know?

The SIAI will certainly pay living wages and if funds were available
would be be happy to pay enough to keep the programming team from
any material want. The idea isn't to take self-supporting candidates
only. The problem is that joining the SIAI for the $250,000/year salary
would be joining the SIAI for the wrong reason, and making a salary
like that available would give people a very strong motivation to
fake caring about the real issues. If that happens then five years
later when the programmers get ready to pull The Switch the greedy
faker has a nervous breakdown when he realises that it's Really
Happening. The seed AI programmer job description page makes it clear
what does and doesn't count as a right reason; money isn't on there.

> But lack of money can force you to stop doing what you like and start
> doing something else that pays better.

Again the SIAI won't ask anyone to starve, but letting the programmers
buy extra toys is a use of cash with strictly marginal utility.

> Especially if you have a family to support.

A strict rationalist would ditch the family, because saving six billion
lives is more important. However the SIAI realises that people are in
fact human and wouldn't expect this in practice. Of course people with
families may get marked down for not being able to put in as much time
and mental effort as people who don't have them, not being able to move
to another country at a month's notice and getting squeemish and
complying with the demands of the Butlerian Jihad when they kidnap their
kids. Such bad stuff may not seem likely, but it's certainly possible.

 * Michael Wilson


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