Re: Extrapolated volition: oops

From: Michael Wilson (
Date: Thu Nov 10 2005 - 11:23:35 MST

Russell Wallace wrote:
> I suggested my criteria of "safety, diversity, fairness" as the best
> starting point.

When people pick three common English words that are supposed to contain
the secret of safely navigating the Singularity, I usually think of a
tribal shaman futilely shouting the 'magic words' into the path of an
oncoming tornado. No set of three words has anything like the descriptive
power to do anything useful. All they are going to do is cause you to
emphasise some parts of your own goal system over others; my interpretation
of 'safety, diversity and fairness' isn't going to be anything like yours
when implemented as a Singularity strategy, nor is my interpretation of
'joy, choice and growth' going to be anything like Ben's. When used as
a title for a long document that actually provides useful description
and formally defined implementation mechanisms, I'd /still/ suggest such
loaded terms are better avoided because it sets up strong expectations
that strongly affect how the document will be (mis)interpreted. Even as
a one-line summing up at the end you risk people quoting that one line
in isolation and /that/ being misinterpreted. When found on their own
like this, I think the whole idea of 'three magic terms that tell you how
to save the world' can safely be classified as 'worse than useless'. You
can't do Singularity strategy by employing the cognitive machinery humans
have to optimise our speech to sound convincing/impressive/intelligent
to other people, or our tendency to summarise complex positions into
manageable slogans.

That said, feel free to translate your three words into a detailed
description that actually imposes strong objective constraints on the
actions of whoever you think should build the FAI. You may well have
such a model in mind, but no three words however well chosen are going
to be enough to get other people to envision it. Indeed, if past
history is anything to go by it's going to be an uphill struggle to
be understood even if you're an excellent writer and write a book
length description.

 * Michael Wilson

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