[sl4] Re: studying at the School of Informatics in University of Edinburgh

From: Roko Mijic (rmijic@googlemail.com)
Date: Fri Mar 13 2009 - 07:57:39 MDT

I'm still not certain, but I think that AI/AGI research is the most
fulfilling thing for me to do with the next 6 years of my life.

Do remember that AGI research is a very hard scientific problem. This is
both a good thing and a bad thing: it is good because it is a very
interesting opponent to fight against; even if you fail, you will have
"lived" more than if you'd succeeded at some boring, run of the mill piece
of almost-settled-science.

It is a bad thing because you will fail a lot, and this will be
disheartening. Also, it has a poor intellectual reputation at the moment,
though this is improving.

Lastly, there is the issue of impact upon the future of humanity. This again
is a double-edged sword. It is good because you get to feel you are doing
something really important, and if you are part of an effort that succeeds
in creating a positive singularity, not only will you live forever in a very
nice world, but you will also be a hero for the rest of the age of the
universe, a kind of eternal celebrity. It is bad because the human mind (at
least my mind) finds it hard to cope with the immense cognitive dissonance
that is created by this weight of responsibility, and the implication that
there is a significant chance that the human race will be wiped out by
someone's uFAI project. Also, merely contemplating the size of the stakes
(both the reward for success, and the penalty for failure) makes you think
that you are insane. I have found existentialist philosophy to be helpful in
this respect: humans must strive to create meaning in their meaningless
universe, and pursuing a mad-sounding but potentially universe saving idea
*does* creating meaning, even if the idea really is mad.

cc: SL4 list, because others may want to read this advice, and/or comment

2009/3/13 Rui Costa <racosta@student.dei.uc.pt>

> Hi,
> So what are your planes to the future?
> Do you want to do research in AGI?
> Best regards,
> Rui

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