Eliezer's Sequences and Mainstream Academia

by lukeprog3 min read15th Sep 2012157 comments

129

PhilosophyRationality A-Z (discussion and meta)Site Meta
Frontpage

Due in part to Eliezer's writing style (e.g. not many citations), and in part to Eliezer's scholarship preferences (e.g. his preference to figure out much of philosophy on his own), Eliezer's Sequences don't accurately reflect the close agreement between the content of The Sequences and work previously done in mainstream academia.

I predict several effects from this:

  1. Some readers will mistakenly think that common Less Wrong views are more parochial than they really are.
  2. Some readers will mistakenly think Eliezer's Sequences are more original than they really are.
  3. If readers want to know more about the topic of a given article, it will be more difficult for them to find the related works in academia than if those works had been cited in Eliezer's article.

I'd like to counteract these effects by connecting the Sequences to the professional literature. (Note: I sort of doubt it would have been a good idea for Eliezer to spend his time tracking down more references and so on, but I realized a few weeks ago that it wouldn't take me much effort to list some of those references.)

I don't mean to minimize the awesomeness of the Sequences. There is much original content in them (edit: probably most of their content is original), they are engagingly written, and they often have a more transformative effect on readers than the corresponding academic literature.

I'll break my list of references into sections based on how likely I think it is that a reader will have missed the agreement between Eliezer's articles and mainstream academic work.

(This is only a preliminary list of connections.)

 

Obviously connected to mainstream academic work


Less obviously connected to mainstream academic work


I don't think Eliezer had encountered this mainstream work when he wrote his articles

129

148 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 1:17 AM
New Comment
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

Why is this only in discussion?

[-][anonymous]8y 40

Because the distinction between main and discussion is really confusing.

0[anonymous]8yBecause it's only a discussion.

Wow this is awesome. Some comments and questions:

  • Spohn's decision theory does look very similar to Eliezer's, but Spohn couldn't give a good argument for the plausibility of rational cooperation in one-shot PD (he tried in the 2003 paper) because his didn't have the concepts of decision making as an algorithm, and of logical correlation between instances of such algorithms.
  • The kind of AI cooperation discussed by Eliezer is not the type discussed as "program equilibrium". Instead "program equilibrium" is very similar (essentially the same?) as cousin_it's initial approach to AI cooperation, which he came up with in part due to dissatisfaction with Eliezer's approach. (cousin_it later moved on to "Lobian cooperation", which is closer to Eliezer's idea, and as far as anyone knows those results weren't previously discovered in academia.)
  • In your research, did you fail to find previous academic work for some elements of the sequences? In other words, which other elements are not (known to be) expositions or reinventions of previous academic work?
6lukeprog8yFixed, thanks. I didn't look very hard. I merely thought about the stuff I already knew about, and then picked a subset of those things to list here.
[-][anonymous]8y 22

Some readers will mistakenly think that common Less Wrong views are more parochial than they really are.

This one is probably important. With non-LW newcomers to my meetup, I find explaining that we draw most of our ideas from LW kind of weird in the sense that 50% of my simulations of them conclude "these guys are some wacko internet cult". Only some of them come back.

I'd like to see at least some work on how to talk about LW without implying insularity. We can't just drop the LW affiliation, because nowhere else really compares (even if everything on LW exists somewhere else, it doesn't exist anywhere else all in the same place).

HI WE'RE AN INTERNET MEETUP GROUP!

The internet is low status due to the low barriers to entry. Mention higher status things than the internet.
Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford (Hey I've heard of Oxford)
Vinge (a published author many have heard of)
Center for Applied Rationality which does real things in real life with real people

Talk about cognitive science. Talk about economics. Talk about anything but the internet. LessWrong? Oh it's just for coordinating all the interesting people who are interested in these interesting things.

I'd like to see at least some work on how to talk about LW without implying insularity.

Name-drop like a motha...

  • "Did you read Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely or Thinking Fast and Slow by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman? We study their field of predictable human thinking errors and try to figure out how best to apply those lessons to everyday human life so that we can learn how to make decisions that are more likely to achieve our goals.

  • "We talk some about Alan Turing's idea that machines could one day become smarter than humans, and how shortly thereafter we might expect them to become more powerful than humans. One of the mathematicians who worked with him to crack the German Enigma Code, I.J. Good, explained that a smarter-than-human machine could use its intelligence to improve its own inteligence. And since neuroscientists like Paul Glimcher at NYU and Kent Berridge at U Michigan are learning that what humans care about is incredibly complex, it's unlikely that we'll be able to figure out how to program smarter-than-human machines to respect every little detail of what we care about."

4siodine8yOr, more meta-ly, you're not going to be very persuasive if you ignore pathos and ethos. I think this might be a common failure mode of aspiring rationalists because we feel we shouldn't have to worry about such things, but then we're living in the should-world rather than the real-world.
0[anonymous]8yName dropping is good solution for this but in my experience people very seldom read what you name drop and in certain circles this comes off a bit pretentious.
-5Kawoomba8y

Some readers will mistakenly think that common Less Wrong views are more parochial than they really are.

I think the parochialism comes from high handed smack-talk like "The obvious answer to philosophically recondite issue is X, and all you need to see this is obvious is our superior rationality". Best example here.

One of the easiest hard questions, as millennia-old philosophical dilemmas go. Though this impossible question is fully and completely dissolved on Less Wrong, aspiring reductionists should try to solve it on their own.

I get a similar vibe regarding QM (obviously many worlds), religion (obviously atheism), phil of mind (obviously reductionsim), and (most worrying) ethics and meta-ethics.

The fact the candidate views espoused are part of the academic mainstream doesn't defray the charge of parochialism due to the tup-thumping, uncharitable-to-opponents and generally under-argued way these views are asserted. Worse, it signals lack of competence on the part of LW: given the views of virtually all domain experts on any of these things, your degree of confidence is better explained by inferior, not superior knowledge, and even if you happen to get the right answer, I doubt you're p-reliable or tracking.

I don't think there's much value in pretending that issues like God (and the absence thereof) or the compatibility between determinism and (any logically coherent view of) free will haven't been decisively answered.

Seriously now, the compatibility between free will and determinism is something that I was figuring out by myself back in junior high. Eliezer with his "Thou Art Physics" expressed it better and more compactly than I ever did to myself (I was instead using imagery of the style "we're the stories that write themselves", and this was largely inspired by Tolkien's Ainulindale, where the various gods sing a creation song that predicts all their future behaviour), but the gist is really obvious once you get rid of the assumption that determinism and free will must somehow be opposed.

In every discussion I've had since, in any forum, nobody who thinks them to be incompatible can describe even vaguely what "free will" would be supposed to look like if it does not contain determinism inside it.

I think this is a case of exactly the problem I diagnosed above.

Compatibilism (and related views) have been mentioned at least since Hume, and have been discussed extensively in modern analytic philosophy. Although it commands a slender majority of philosophers of action, it is not like the entire philosophical community considers compatibilism obviously or decisively the 'right answer' (see here, and here for a long index of reasons/objections etc.). You'd be pretty hard pressed to find a single philosopher of action who considers free will a 'solved problem'.

Yet it seems the less wrong community considers it solved based on a sequence of blog posts which merely explicates compatibilism: I couldn't find any discussion of compatibilism which goes beyond undergrad philosophy level, no discussion of common objections to compatibilism, engagement with any thinkers arguing against, nothing.

The two best explanations I have for this is either compatibilism is just obvious and people of sufficient rationality can be confident that domain experts on free will who don't buy compatibilism are wrong, or that the LW 'solution' is frankly philosophically primitive but LWers are generally too f... (read more)

3ArisKatsaris8yThanks for that poll. It's a slender majority, but a very strong plurality, since the next most favourite option is less than half as popular, and if you examine only the 'Accept' answers instead of the 'lean towards' answers, the compatibilists are also much more certain in their belief, while the libertarians and no-free-willers tend to be uncertain much more often. And the faculty is more definitely compatibilistic than the students, which seems to indicate education correlates with acceptance of compatibilism. But more importantly: these people also seem to prefer to two-box in Newcomb's problem. So why should I put much weight in their opinion?
8Thrasymachus8yA weak majority/strong plurality of relevant domain experts does not make the question decisively answered. I don't have survey data on this, but I'm pretty sure none of the compatibilists (even those who 'accept' it), take the question to be obviously answered etc. etc. The majority of decision theory specialists two-box. I'm sure you can guess what I'm going to say about doman expertise and dunning-kruger effect here, too.
3ArisKatsaris8yTell me, do you have any criterion over whether something is "decisively answered" other than how many "relevant domain experts" agree with it? If your definition of "decisively answered" is solely dependent on this, then we can just agree that we were using different definitions for the term. So much for the decision theory specialists. Implement a real life version of Newcomb's box, where you fill in the opaque box based on whether they said they'll one-box or two-box. Assuming everyone follows what they said they should do, the one-boxers will just win, and the two-boxers will be weeping.
9Thrasymachus8yI take 'decisively answered' to mean something along the lines of "here is an account, which, properly understood, solves this problem to the satisfaction of reasonable people". So (near) unanimity among relevant domain experts is necessary but not sufficient for this. I can't think of anything in natural language we would call a 'decisive answer' or similar in which 40% or so of relevant domain experts disagree with. This is recapitulating a standard argument for one-boxing, and it is well discussed in the literature. The fact the bulk of people who spend their time studying this issue and don't find this consideration decisive should make you think it is less a silver bullet than you think it is.
2ArisKatsaris8yI should update slightly towards that direction, yes, but I have to note that the poll you gave me are not just about people who study the issue, but people who also seem to have made a career out of discussing it, and therefore (I would cynically suggest) perhaps wouldn't like the discussion to be definitively over. e.g. Theologists and Priests are perhaps not the best people to poll, if you want to determine the existence of God. Ah, but I just remembered atheism was one of the things you complained about being treated as obviously correct by most of us here? Because the domain experts about God (Theologists and Priests) haven't come to same conclusion? I don't feel a pressing need to be non-standard: One-boxing wins, two-boxing loses -- that's all one needs to know for the purpose of choosing between them.
2Thrasymachus8ySure, but I gather there are other things you can discuss in decision theory besides Newcomb's problem, so it isn't like the decision theorists need an artificial controversy about this to keep their jobs. There are dissimilarities between decision theorists and (say) theologians, priests etc. Decision theorists are unlikely to have prior convictions about decision theory before starting to study it, unlike folks who discuss religion. The relevant domain expert in 'Does God exist' would likely be philosophers of religion, although there is a similar selection effect. However, for what it's worth, I doubt atheist philosophers of religion would consider the LW case for atheism remotely creditable.
0DragonGod3yThis is an elementary logical fallacy. Because someone is bad at completely unrelated task X, tells you zero information at task Y. We are however given that they are domain experts, and as such are competent at the task at hand.
6Peterdjones8yThere are plenty of reasons for putting forward you conclusions as non decisive: (edited) 1. Not sounding as though you are suffering from the Dunning Kruger effect [http://en.wikipediacom/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect] 2. Academic Modesty. 3. You might actually be wrong. No one who calls themselves a rationalist should confuse "Seems true to me" with "is true".
4ArisKatsaris8yAre those separate points? I 'might' also be wrong about the Earth not being flat. That still doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider the shape of the earth decisively answered.
5Peterdjones8yThey may overlap. Are they bad points? The pertinent point is that all informed opinion considers it decisiley answered. That is not the case with the two issues you cited as having been decisevly answered by EY.
2ArisKatsaris8yThey're insufficient for me. Other people may find them sufficient. So, according to you, it seems I shouldn't pronounce something decisively answered unless "all informed opinion" considers it decisively answered. Don't you see the paradox in this? How is the first person to consider it 'decisively answered' supposed to call it 'decisively answered', if he/she must first wait for all other people to call it 'decisively answered' first?
5Peterdjones8yNo they needn't. They only need wait for the point to be reached where an overwhelming majority agree with an answer. Having noted that , they can correctly state that it has been decisevely answered. They only need others to agree with the anwer, not for others to agree that the question has been decisvely answered.
1ArisKatsaris8yI don't think that "decisively answered" need have anything to do with democracy -- for example I'm sure that if you poll Czech scientists about the existence of God, you'll get a different distribution than if you ask Iranian scientists. Even if they're equally informed, political considerations will make them voice different things. The policy you suggest seems designed to minimize conflict with your academic peers, not designed to maximize effectiveness in the pursuit of understanding the universe.
0Peterdjones8yChurchill said democracy was the worst system apart from all the others. Do you have an alternative way of establishing Deciiveness that improves on the Majority of Informed Opinion? Neither of those subsets would get me the majority of informed opinion. I believe I have already solved that problem.
2ArisKatsaris8yChurchill's exact quote was "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" He was talking about forms of government, not methods of understanding the universe. As a sidenote, let me note here that even on the issue you argued about, this "majority" seems to actually exist. The majority of philosophers are compatibilists, according to Thrasymachus's linked poll above. And there seems to be an > 80% percentage (an overwhelming majority) against libertarian free will. According to your own argument then, even if you don't find compabilism a "decisive answer", you should find libertarianism a "decisive failure of an answer". But getting back to your question: "Do you have an alternative way of establishing Deciiveness that improves on the Majority of Informed Opinion?" Well, even if we don't speak about things like "Science" or "Testing" or "Occam's Razor properly utilized", I think I'll prefer the "Majority of Informed Opinion that Also Has IQ > 130 And Also One-Boxes in Newcomb's Dilemma".
3Peterdjones8yI was only drawing a loose analogy. Then Hobbes decisively solved it, not EY. OTOH, if you are talking about EY's specific form of compatibilism.. then he has no majority on his side. Why is it an improvment to make it parochial? Can't you see that it trivialises the claim "EY has decisevely solved FW" to add the rider "..by the LW/EY definition of decisivness". I could also claim to have solved it by my definition. Parochialism devalues the currency.
1ArisKatsaris8yDownvoted, because I never made that claim, and nobody has made that claim. I said FW/determinism has been solved, I didn't present EY as the originator of compatibilism, any more than I would have assigned the invention of atheism to him. I may have tapped out, but don't you dare make this into an opportunity to misrepresent me. I will still disavow any false statement you assign to me. I'm very territorial about what I have actually said, vs what people attempt to falsely assign to me.
1Peterdjones8yDo you think there is any novelty to EY's compatibilism?
-3Peterdjones8yWe haven't met, then. I'm natuarlistic libertarian and therefore an incompatibilist. I may not be right, but so long as I am not completely wrong, EY does not have "the" answer. Anyway, on to the refutation of "FW requires determinism".. II.1.i Introduction Compatibilism comes in a stronger form, which does not have a traditional name; We will call it supercompatibilism. According to supercompatibilism, free will is not only capable of existing alongside causal determinism, it cannot exist without determinism. Here is case that free will requires causal indeterminism. PRO: "Free will requires the ability to have done otherwise under the very same circumstances, which is only possible in a universe with some degree of indeterminism." The following argument goes against the usefulness of indeterminism to free will:- ANTI: "Freedom of a kind worth wanting requires rationality, and rationality mean following rules. Causal Determinism would ensure that the rules are followed. Indeterminism would disrupt the process of rational thought, and result in a capricious, irrational kind of freedom not worth having. An individual cannot call an action his or her own unless they can account rationally account for it, and unless it was caused by their own intentions. Reasons are causes, so to be rational is to be determined. We will now argue against the ANTI argument, taking it a sentence at a time. II.1.ii Objection 1: "Freedom of a kind worth wanting requires rationality" Yes, but it is by no means limited to rationality. free will of a kind worth wanting must facilitate the whole gamut of human behaviour, including creativity, imagination, inventiveness etc. II.1.iii Objection 2: "Causal Determinism would ensure that the rules are followed." Casual Determinism only guarantees that everything follows the laws of nature, not that anything follows the laws of thought. If you believe the universe is deterministic, you have to admit that any lapse of rationally is just as
3ArisKatsaris8yDownvoted for being atleast twenty times more long-winded than necessary, and still failing to describe what a "free will" without determinism would look like. Pseudo-random, but I'll let that trivial point slide. The more significant point is that those random numbers are utterly meaningless in themselves -- the meaning and worth of a program lies in those aspects that are not random, or in how it deterministically uses a random variation. We can use a pseudo-random generator to use in a cryptographical program, or in an artistic program, or in a mutation-simulation program -- but that pseudo-randomness is only meaningful in how it's deterministically used.
2Peterdjones8y(Edit) Hmmm. Well, that's in the full lenght version of which this is an extract. I notice that EYs disquisition, which is problably longer, doesn't suffer from the problem of being "too long". Which instance of "random" do you think should have been pseudo random? Note that there are devices commercially marketed as supplying "real" randomness based on quantum physics. Says who? Are you saying that the use of randomisation in software is always a misttake, that programmers who feel it is necessary are just incompetent? It is true that a random number is no good in itself, but equally you can't solve every problem with pure determinism. So the value of a deterministic+random algorithm is in its determinsm+randomness.
2ArisKatsaris8yAccording to word count tool [http://www.wordcounttool.com/]: "Thou Art Physics" article: 1032 words Your comment: 1495 words But I'm not thinking of the number of words alone but the number of words per point of communicated meaning.
0ArisKatsaris8yThe instance I quoted. But as I said the point is trivial. I don't think I used the word "mistake", at all. I didn't even imply that it's sometimes a mistake, let alone always. Please name three [http://lesswrong.com/lw/5kz/the_5second_level/] problems you can't solve with determinism but you can solve with random-number generators. Besides encryption which depends on secrecy and therefore depends on not knowing what will come out, I can't think of any.
5bogus8ySince quantum algorithms are inherently random, these three problems qualify: 1. Solve the Deutsch-Jozsa problem [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsch%E2%80%93Jozsa_algorithm] in constant time. 2. Search an unstructured database [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover%27s_algorithm] in O(sqrt(n)) time. 3. Factorize integers [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shor%27s_Algorithm] in polynomial time. Moreover, randomized algorithms [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randomized_algorithm] are occasionally useful in a classical computer, since they give good expected performance even for some classes of degenerate inputs.
4Peterdjones8ySo you are saying that the sentence "Computer programmes can consult random-number generators where needed, including 'real' ones implemented in hardware." Should have read "Computer programmes can consult pseudo- random-number generators where needed, including 'real' ones implemented in hardware". Are you aware that your change renders the sentence contradictory? The point of real randomness generators is that, given certain assumptions about physics, they are not pseudo? If you had used it, I would have had no need to ask the question. I was trying to put you vaguely negative comments about the use of randomness in software on a more precise basis. I dont see why an example that works should be excluded becuase it works. Another example I like is the way ethernet works: when two MAC's try to send simultaneously, then result is garbled and they need to back off and retry. However, backing off according to a deterministic algorithm would lead to another collision on the retry, ad infinitum. Backing off for a random time solves that simply.
2ArisKatsaris8yThe reason encryption requires randomness is not relevant to free will. The reason MACs need to back off for a random time likewise does not seem relevant to free will either. I think I'll tap out at this point. I don't think there's anything I can contribute to this discussion beyond what I've already said.
3Peterdjones8yI don't see what you mean. Randomness is relevant to FW because determinism is, prima facie. (Compatibilists feel the need to argue that it in fact isn't, rather than taking it as obvious). Randomness is relevant to solving problems. A kind of FW that allows you to solve problems is worth having. If you want a more obviously relevant example, consider that evading a predator with random moves is more effective than adopting a potentially predictable "evasive pattern delta" [http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Evasive_maneuvers]
0[anonymous]8yTo have an opinion about free will, you must first observe the existence of the issue. Most people do this with introspection: The world outside you seem to conform to \ while inside you, it seems that indeed you control every movement and thought. Lord Kelvin has voiced the above statement quite poetically. Now, the keyword here is 'seem'. Your argument hitches on an anecdote from your own, non-optimal cognitive machinery. What EY did was point at this 'seem' and explain it. He did not point at free will and explained it, he explained why the cognitive machinery hands you the anecdote. And then from there you can crank the handle of modus ponnens and conclude that 'free will' goes in the same category as 'redness of red'. Also on a technical note you forego that you live 80 milliseconds in the past (sensory lag to synch toe-tips to retinas) and you have more subconscious processes than conscious ones, processes you can only rarely consciously affect. This gives nondeterminism a low prior.
1Peterdjones8yThere needs to be a prima facie case. I don't think it is restictied to intospection though. Which could include nondeterminism. It is not as though anybody can predict evey physical occurence. Movements occur on the outside. Where? I didn't base my agument solely on introspection. In fact, very little of the quoted passage leans on introspective evidence. And everything hinges on non-optimal congitive machinery, including what you are saying. Things would seem the way they seem if what he says is correct, and they would seem the way they seem if what I say is correct. You have no grounds for saying that he has the explanation other than that you happen to like it. Whatever that is. I'm a qualiaphile, BTW. I need an argument agains that, and I have one. I

Just want to give one piece of positive feedback: I've been meaning to get some recommendations for reading on many of these topics, and these citations are way awesomer than what I would've hoped to get before. Thanks, Luke!

9lukeprog8yThanks for bothering to give "lowly" positive feedback! :)

What about Drescher's Good and Real: Demystifying Paradoxes from Physics to Ethics? Eliezer said it's "pratically Less Wrong in book form."

1Manfred8yNot a source, but definitely a parallel. We have talked about Newcomb's problem with transparent boxes on here a few times - I'm pretty sure that's originally from Good and Real.
0betterthanwell8yYep. Gloriously lucid and quite readable book. Encapsulates good chunks of the sequences. Much more accessible than I had anticipated.

I'd also mention

  • Hayakawa's Language In Thought and Action
  • Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation
  • Rawls' Theory of Justice (though the Sequences don't discuss CEV much)
  • maybe Peter Singer?
6Manfred8yCould you connect them to the sequences like Luke did please? To the extent that I am familiar with your list, I'm having a hard time seeing it.

Eliezer has explicitly mentioned Hayakawa in Intensions and Extensions. Axelrod is important to understanding the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. Singer is one of the better-known proponents of a "shut up and multiply" approach to utilitarianism, agreeing with Eliezer's conclusions in various places (eg). Rawls' notions of the "veil of ignorance" and "reflective equilibrium" have been mentioned in connection with Coherent Extrapolated Volition - when I first came across CEV the similarities with Rawls stuck out like a sore thumb.

2Manfred8yThanks!
5lukeprog8y...is not what I'd call "mainstream academia." Its program of "general semantics" is instead what Martin Gardner labeled as "cultism and pseudo-science" in one chapter of Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science [http://www.amazon.com/Fads-Fallacies-Name-Science-Popular/dp/0486203948/]. Despite this, Language in Thought and Action is pretty good.

It's posts like this that remind me that the sequences are vast, excellent, and most importantly of all, not particularly organized at the moment.

Every so often, Lukeprog or others will make a small effort towards collating the sequences, but the resulting product disappears into the ether of Discussion archives.

Talk is cheap, but somebody really needs to do something about the sequences to make them more accessible and visible to a newcomer. The LW wiki index of the sequence is incomplete, and seems like it hasn't been changed since 'Tetronian' created it six months ago.

2Rain8yThey're compiling a book-format edition of the Sequences, and there's quite a bit of work into an alternate pop-sci edition.

Likewise, much of the Quantum Physics sequence can be found in quantum physics textbooks, e.g. Sakurai & Napolitano (2010).

I don't think Sakurai is the best reference here - most of an introductory QM book will be about what particles do in the presence of forces, and treats identical particles in a more complicated language because they can be either fermions or bosons.

A better text would be an introduction for people who want to do quantum computing - those people get to use all the nice abstractions and let the physicists worry about the particle... (read more)

This is good. Getting people to read lots of quality stuff by a wide variety of authors can put them on the path of being able to produce high quality output themselves, after overlearning the concepts and ways to present them from many viewpoints.

People who just stick with the sequences can end up parroting the surface jargon and alienating people who expect familiarity with a bit wider range of literature for someone whose opinion they would value.

I think it would be beneficial for this list to be put on a wiki page, so that there can be more comprehensive and collaborative cross-referencing.

And remember, billionaire friend Peter Thiel financed this immense production, which E.Y. wrote while on Thiel's payroll at SIAI. It's immensity isn't a product of original thought but, in the end, of a pampered parasite with too much time on his hands.

Seriously? DevilWorm is criticizing Eliezer for managing to find financial support while producing his intellectual output? That's how most intellectual work gets done---both within and without formal academic establishments and in various forms across time. This criticism is utterly pathetic.

I don't unde... (read more)

5metatroll8yOwing to my low karma, I can't respond directly to DevilWorm's comment. But this is for you, my friend. DevilWorm, I don't like to judge a person too harshly. I acknowledge that in principle your trolling has the potential to make a positive contribution to the community. It would be cruel to just say "go back to troll school until you measure up". But to be honest, I do have my doubts about whether you have what it takes. To be brutally honest, the world only needs good trolls and bad trolls, and you are neither. Bad trolls (in the good sense of bad) are the ones who are born to trolldom. They are the griefers, the naturally vindictive spirits. But among genuinely evil trolls, you wouldn't last a day. If you enrolled in the Sith Academy's trolling masterclass, they would end up using you for target practice. Good trolls have trolldom thrust upon them. Through a mysterious mutant strain in their makeup, they see something that others cannot, and they are driven to the status of troll just by bearing witness to truth. But you are that sad case of someone who mistakes their own blind spot for superior vision: you think you can see that there is nothing to see here. Finally we have the ugly trolls, the wannabes, the ones who aspire to trolldom. My advice is, give it up. Don't use boldface, don't use italics, don't call people semiliterate when you don't know where to place an apostrophe yourself. Be humble, accept your station in life as just another commenter who occasionally makes a valid point. It's better to be an ordinary person who makes a small but genuine contribution, than a blowhard who contributes nothing at all. Your concerned friend, metatroll
5Vladimir_Nesov8yI'm actually moderately alarmed by the level at which their comments are upvoted (with all the bold face and whatnot). This event potentially adds motivation to the "Don't let users with low Karma upvote things" change [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ecr/call_for_agreement_should_lesswrong_have_better/7bvi] .
0mrglwrf8yIf a non-negligible number of people upvote comments expressing negative opinions of Eliezer Yudkowsky or the Sequences, what leads you to the conclusion that the best response is to label these comments "slander" and cast for roundabout ways to suppress them? If you want an echo-chamber (a reasonable thing to want), that can be easily and non-disingenuously accomplished, for instance by making it explicit policy that disagreement with local authority figures is not permitted.
5Vladimir_Nesov8yI'm afraid of the acceptance and approval of low quality comments, irrespective of the positions they express.
-2mrglwrf8yI am not calling you a liar, because I accept that you are sincere, but I don't believe you. The claim that you determine the quality of comments without regard to the positions they express is outlandish, for at least two reasons. One, that you are human, and therefore subject to the same biases as every other human known to have ever existed, meaning that you will inevitably tend to appraise posts that agree with your views more favorably than those that disagree. Two, that if you aren't judging comments' quality by the positions they express, there's little of substance left by which you could judge them. The vast majority of comments and posts are neither formal nor rigorous enough for their reasoning, when considered solely on the comments' own merits, to hold up to any serious scrutiny. So that leaves presentation, and...?
5Vladimir_Nesov8y...is not one I've made. Caring about quality of comments doesn't require having perfect perception of this quality that is unaffected by other things. But I'm quite confident in my judgment of the quality of the comments that started this conversation. They should be amenable to steel-manning, not impossible to criticize (though this is not what I was talking about).

So, you approve of the practice of disappearing comments without any notice of the fact or the reason?

Not as such, but I approve of disappearing anything everything from known trolling sockpuppet accounts.

(I feel like I should be paying a 5 karma troll-feeding-toll to write this but for some reason there are upvotes where I expected downvotes. I'll wait a day to see how things stabilize then consider if my model of lesswrong users needs to be updated.)

I edited the sequences page to add a link to this post.

It looks as though there is also earlier work on cooperation in one-shot prisoners dilemmas - e.g.:

Harrington, Joseph E. Jr. (1995) Cooperation in a one-shot Prisoners' Dilemma.

Heiner, Ronald Asher (2002) Robust Evolution Of Contingent Cooperation In Pure One-Shot Prisoners' Dilemmas

And why was it deleted, when I've posted far more "objectionable" matter?

Because the moderators don't have access to a "ban account' feature for accounts that only post 'objectionable' material.

If you were an honest person (not one feeding at the trough of Thiel/Yudkowsky), you would vote yourself down.

Assuming we disregard ownership of multiple accounts, the consequent of your conditional is impossible.

1wedrifid8yIt is easy to see why DevilWorm wouldn't disregard ownership of multiple accounts as a possibility.

And lo, people began tweeting:

Eliezer Yudkowsky's "Sequences" are mostly not original

Which is false. This pushes as far in the opposite wrong direction as the viewpoint it means to criticize.

Evolutionary biology, the non-epistemological part of the exposition of quantum mechanics, and of course heuristics and biases, are all not original. They don't look deceptively original either; they cite or attributed-quote the sources from which they're taken. I have yet to encounter anyone who thinks the Sequences are more original than they are.

Whe... (read more)

the OP is vastly overstating how much of the Sequences are similar to the standard stuff out there... I think Luke is being extremely charitable in his construal of what's "already" been done in academia

Do you have a Greasemonkey script that rips all the qualifying words out of my post, or something? I said things like:

  • "Eliezer's posts on evolution mostly cover material you can find in any good evolutionary biology textbook"
  • "much of the Quantum Physics sequence can be found in quantum physics textbooks"
  • "Eliezer's metaethics sequences includes dozens of lemmas previously discussed by philosophers"
  • "Eliezer's free will mini-sequence includes coverage of topics not usually mentioned when philosophers discuss free will (e.g. Judea Pearl's work on causality), but the conclusion is standard compatibilism."
  • "[Eliezer's posts] suggest that many philosophical problems can be dissolved into inquiries into the cognitive mechanisms that produce them, as also discussed in"
  • "[Eliezer's posts] make the point that value is complex, a topic explored in more detail in..."

Your comment above seems to be reacting to a differ... (read more)

[-][anonymous]8y 19

Most people won't read my references. But some of those who do will go on to make a sizable difference as a result. And that is one of the reasons I cite so many related works, even if they're not perfectly identical to the thing me or somebody else is doing.

FWIW, Luke's rigorous citation of references has been absurdly useful to me when doing my research. It's one of the aspects of reading LW that makes it worthwhile and productive.

Luke is already aware that I've utilized his citations to a great extent, but I wanted to publicly thank him for all that awesome work. I'd also like to thank others who have done similar things, such as Klevador. We need more of this.

I am trying to counteract these three effects

I think a valid criticism can be made that while you were trying to counteract these three effects (which is clearly an important and useful effort), you didn't take enough care to avoid introducing a new effect, of making some people think the Sequences are less original than they actually are. (For example you didn't ask Eliezer to double check your descriptions of how the Sequences posts relate to the academic works, and you didn't give some examples of where the Sequences are original.)

This is bad because in addition to communicating various ideas, the Sequences also serve as evidence of Eliezer's philosophy and rationality talents/skills, which is useful for potential donors/supporters to judge the likely future effectiveness of the Singularity Institute in achieving its goals.

4lukeprog8yI agree I could have spent a paragraph reinforcing the originality of The Sequences. As for asking Eliezer to check the article before posting: I've sent Eliezer things for feedback before, and he usually doesn't give feedback on them until after I stop waiting and post them to LW. But as a result of this post, we've arranged a new heuristic: If I think Eliezer plausibly disagrees with a thing I'm going to post to LW, I'll give him a chance to give feedback on it before I post it.
2TimS8yFrom a donor point of view, the question is as much whether Eliezer has made relevant lessons a true part of him [http://lesswrong.com/lw/la/truly_part_of_you/] as whether he has done original work. The Sequences are neither necessary nor sufficient to get funding to do actual research (although I hope they are helpful in obtaining funding for research).
5CarlShulman8yYvain has posted [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1lb/are_wireheads_happy/] more than once [http://lesswrong.com/lw/6kx/wanting_vs_liking_revisited/] on this, although with less detail and referencing.
6lukeprog8yOops, fixed. Thanks. Though, note that the second Yvain post you linked to was a follow-up to one of my reference-packed posts on the subject.
3Eliezer Yudkowsky8yAll readers have a Greasemonkey script that rips all the qualifying words out of a post. This is a natural fact of writing and reading. Not the post you wrote - the post that the long-time LWer who Twittered "Eliezer's Yudkowsky's Sequences are mostly not original" read. The actual real-world consequences of a post like this when people actually read it are what bothers me, and it does feel frustrating because those consequences seem very predictable - like you're living in an authorial should-universe. Of course somebody's going to read that post and think "Eliezer Yudkowsky's Sequences are mostly not original"! Of course that's going to be the consequence of writing it! And maybe it's just because I was reading it instead of writing it myself, without having all of your intentions so prominently in my mind, but I don't see why on Earth you'd expect any other message to come across than that. A few qualifying words don't have the kind of power it takes to stop that from happening!

All readers have a Greasemonkey script that rips all the qualifying words out of a post... I don't see why on Earth you'd expect any other message to come across than ["Eliezer's Sequences are mostly not original"].

Do you think most readers misinterpreted my post in that way? I doubt it. It looks to me like one person tweeted "Eliezer's Sequences mostly not original" — a misinterpretation of my post which I've now explicitly denied near the top of the post.

My guess now would be that I probably underestimate the degree to which readers misinterpreted my post (because my own intentions were clear in my mind, illusion of transparency), and that you probably overestimate the degree to which readers misinterpreted my post (because you seem to have initially misinterpreted it, and that misinterpretation diminishes several years of cognitive work that you are justly proud of).

Also: you seem to be focusing on the one tweeted misinterpretation and not taking into account that we have evidence that the post is also achieving its explicitly stated goals, as evidenced by many of the comments on this thread: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

9TimS8yIt is very easy to read the sequences and think that you think the philosophical thought is original to you. Other than the FAI stuff and decision theory stuff, is that true? What exactly is wrong with being thought of as a very high-end popularizer? That material is incredibly well presented. Additionally, people who disagree with your philosophical positions ought not be put in the (EDIT: position) of needing to reinvent the philosophical wheel to engage critically with your essays.
0wedrifid8yPut in the position of?
0TimS8yYes, thanks.
2Paul Crowley8yI'd take out the EDIT - people can see from the comment below that you edited in response to a comment.
7[anonymous]8yI don't. In fact, I sometimes insert [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity] such words.
5[anonymous]8yOnly a single conclusion is possible: LukeProg is a TRAITOR!

Only a single conclusion is possible: LukeProg is a TRAITOR!

I can understand why this would be negatively received by some---it is clearly hyperbole with a degree of silliness involved. That said---and possibly coincidentally---there is a serious point here. In fact it is the most salient point I noticed when reading the post and initial responses.

In most social hierarchies this post would be seen as a betrayal. An unusually overt and public political move against Eliezer. Not necessarily treason, betrayal of the tribe, it is a move against a rival. Of course it would certainly be in the interest of the targeted rival to try to portray the move as treason (or heresy, or whatever other kind of betrayal of the tribe rather than mere personal conflict.)

The above consideration is why I initially expected Eliezer to agree to a larger extent than he did (which evidently wasn't very much!) Before making public statements of a highly status sensitive nature regarding an ally the typical political actor will make sure they aren't offending them---they don't take the small risk establishing an active rivalry unless they are certain the payoffs are worth it.

This (definitely!) isn't to say ... (read more)

8Eliezer Yudkowsky8yThe thought that Luke was trying to sabotage my position, consciously or unconsciously, honestly never crossed my mind until I read this comment. Having now considered the hypothesis rather briefly, I assign it a rather low probability. Luke's not like that.
3TheOtherDave8yIt is perhaps worth noting that wedrifid didn't say anything about motives (conscious or otherwise). Whether I believe someone is trying to sabotage my position (consciously or unconsciously) is a different question from whether I believe they are making a move against me in a shared social hierarchy. (Although each is evidence for the other, of course.)

With both your comment here and your comments on the troll-fee issue I've found you coming across as arrogant. This perception seems to roughly match the response that other people have had to those comments as well, since most people disagreed with you in both areas (judging by number of upvotes). I hadn't perceived you that way before now, so I'm wondering if something happened to you recently that's altered the way you post or the way you think. This change is for the worse; I want my old model of Eliezer Yudkowsky back!

Frankly, I have found the sequences to be primarily useful for condensing concepts that I already had inside my head. The ideas expressed in almost all of the sequences are blatantly obvious, but they come across as catchy and often are reducible to a quick phrase. Their value lies in the fact that they make it easy to internalize certain ideas so that they're more readily accessible to me. They also helped clarify the boundaries of some concepts, to a certain extent. The sequences have provided me with a useful terminology, but I don't think they've offered me much else.

What ideas do you believe to be original that you've produced?

Is there a reason that defending the originality of the sequences is so important to you?

7IlyaShpitser8yYou only got this now?
0Randaly8yWhile it wasn't perfectly phrased, I understand where chaosmosis is coming from: I too get the sense that Eliezer is responding significantly less well to criticism, both by misinterpreting or straw-manning what other people have written and letting negative emotions influence what he writes. However, I don't think that one draw a line through two data points: after all, what I regard as Eliezer's best response to criticism, Reply to Holden on 'Tool AI', [http://lesswrong.com/lw/cze/reply_to_holden_on_tool_ai/] was written well after the Sequences.
7BayesLives8y"Is there a reason that defending the originality of the sequences is so important to you?" Yudkowsky may need to begin reviewing the literature on cognitive biases for his own sake at this point.
1atorm8yEliezer Yudkowsky is the supreme being to whom it is up to all of us to become superior!
-1wedrifid8yI think chaosmosis would prefer to perceive this as occurring through a change in chaosmosis than a change in chaosmosis's evidence about Eliezer.
0chaosmosis8yNo preference. I don't understand how your comment is responsive to atorm's though, so I might be missing something here.
-1wedrifid8yIt responds to the disconnect between the quote and the quoted quote, in particular the implication of the latter regarding the former.

I hadn't expected you to disagree with that tweet, so I'm clearly getting something wrong. I wrote that in the hope that it would encourage people to read the Sequences, not put them off - I think people imagine it as this million-word work of revelation, but a very large part of what it is is a work of popular science - turning people on to good existing ideas in psychology and philosophy and biology and physics and suchlike. There is a great deal that is original and valuable in there, but I don't think of it as the majority of the material.

[-][anonymous]8y 23

I get your point, but to lots of people the wording of that tweet would have the connotation ‘EY is a plagiarist’, not ‘EY is not a crackpot’.

0CronoDAS8yYes, this.
9ArisKatsaris8yThe word "original" has positive connotations. And therefore the words "unoriginal" or "not original" have negative connotations. So, yeah, I don't think you'd encourage anyone to read anything by calling it "not original".
3[anonymous]8yExcept on Wikipedia (where it's usually an euphemism for ‘crackpottish’). ;-) (As someone on a Wikipedia talk page once said -- quoting from memory, “if we aren't allowed to [do X] the allowed band between original research and plagiarism becomes dangerously narrow”.)
2Paul Crowley8yRight, but I had hoped that the result would be that someone would follow the link in the tweet, after which they find out some things that may cause them to feel more positively.
2RichardKennaway8yI don't know anything about the friends ciphergoth is attempting to reach, but I observe that in religion, "original" would be the greater turn-off. In religion, every innovation is heretical, because it is an innovation. To be accepted it must be presented as "not original", either because it is exactly in accordance with official doctrine, or because it is a return to the true religion that the official doctrine has departed from. It is rare for a religion to successfully introduce a new prophet with the power to sweep away the old, and even then ("I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil") the pretence is maintained that no such thing has happened.
0ryjm8ySomeone who doesn't want to read science-y stuff because they have that kind of mindset is not going to suddenly become curious when someone tells them it's based on science-y stuff from less than 30 years ago. I like to think of it temporally; that religion is much like rationalists facing the wrong direction. Both occasionally look over their shoulders to confirm their beliefs (although with theists it's more like throwing a homunculus into the distant past and using that for eyes), while most of the time the things we really care about and find exciting are in front of us. Original vs unoriginal with respect to modern thought is of no practical interest to someone with the "every innovation is heretical" mindset unless it is completely within their usual line of sight - heretical is code for "I don't want to keep looking over my shoulder", not "I hate the original on principle". So unless you put that "original" encouragement thousands of years ago where they can see it, where it's a matter of one in front and one behind, the distinction between which is the greater turn-off is not going to matter, or bait anyone into turning around - there is nothing in their usually observed world to relate it to.
7Paul Crowley8yThinking about it further though, this makes something of a nonsense of the original tweet, since it's hard to think what would count as "mostly original" by this standard. You might as well describe eg The Better Angels of Our Nature as "mostly not original" since it contains no original research but presents a synthesis of the research of others, building up to a common theme. The problem I have is that if I say something that sounds positive about the Sequences, that's going to turn my friends off, since they already know I think well of them. By saying something that on first reading sounds negative, I might get their interest, but that only works if they go on to follow the link.
7wedrifid8yFor example, they may be turned off if you came out and said "The sequences really aren't the parochial ramblings of an intellectual outcast, they are totally in accord with mainstream scientific thinking". But "mostly not original" conveys much of the same message by making a concession to the orthodoxy.
1RichardKennaway8yI do not understand this. What planet are your friends from? If you're tweeting to your friends, and they already know what you think of the Sequences, why are you tweeting about them to them?
3Paul Crowley8yThey are from Earth. Because it would be great for me and for the world if more of my friends took an interest in this sort of thing, and if they have misconceptions that stand in the way of that I'd like to clear up those misconceptions.
1RichardKennaway8yI understand the goal; but not the action taken to achieve it. Negging the Sequences will get them to take more of an interest?

One anecdote given the 'PR' worries raised:

I have never read the sequences. After reading Luke's post, I am much less likely to: the impression given is the sequences are generally idiosyncratic takes which recapitulate an already existing and better organized literature. I also think it is more likely the sequences are overrated, either through readers being unaware their (or similar) insights have already been made, or lacking the technical background to critique them.

It also downgraded my estimate of the value of EY's work. Although I was pretty sceptical, I knew there was at least some chance that the sequences really were bursting with new insights and that LW really was streets ahead of mainstream academia. This now seems much less likely - although I don't think EY is a plagiarist, it seems most of the sequences aren't breaking new ground, but summarizing/unwittingly recapitulating insights that have already been made and taken further elsewhere.

So I can see the motivation for EY to defend that their originality: his stock goes down if the sequences are neat summaries but nothing that new rather than bursting with new and important insights, and EY's stock is important for things like donations, public perception of him and the SI, etc. (Both my likelihood of donating and my regard for SI has been lowered a bit by this post and comments). However, EY's way of responding to (weakly implied) criticism with catty arrogance compounds the harm.

If you are at all interested in rationality it would be a huge shame for you to skip the Sequences.

Yes, a lot of the material in the Sequences could also be obtained by reading very very carefully a few hundred impenetrable scholarly books that most people have never heard of in five or ten different disciplines, supplemented by a few journal articles, plus some additional insights by "reading between the lines", plus drawing all the necessary connections between them. But you will not do this.

The Sequences condense all that information, put it in a really fun, really fascinating format, and transfer all of it into the deepest levels of your brain in a way that those hundred books wouldn't. And then there's some really valuable new material. Luke and Eliezer can argue whether the new material is 30% of the Sequences or 60% of the Sequences, but either number is still way more output than most people will produce over their entire lives.

If your worry is that they will just be recapitulating things you already know, I am pretty doubtful; I don't know your exact knowledge level, but they were pretty exciting for me when I first read them and I had college degrees in philosop... (read more)

4lukeprog8yFor the record, when I read Eliezer's comments [http://lesswrong.com/lw/eik/eliezers_sequences_and_mainstream_academia/7fys] about the originality of The Sequences, it sounds to me like he and I have pretty much the same estimate of how original The Sequences are.
3Thrasymachus8yFair enough. Your and Luke's recommendation are enough for me to read at least some to see if I have got the wrong impression.
3[anonymous]8yYou might want to link to "Yes, a blog [http://lesswrong.com/lw/33j/yes_a_blog/] " by Academian.
2Epiphany8yThe sequences need a summary like the one you just wrote, the way books have a summary on the cover. Maybe this should be taken as a hint that you'd get more mileage out of the sequences with a really good description placed prominently in front of them. That could quickly re-frame non-originality claims as being irrelevant by plainly stating that they're an accessible and entertaining way to learn about logic and bias (implying that the presentation is valuable even if some of the content can be found elsewhere), with (whatever amount) of new content on X, Y, Z topics. If you choose to write such a description, I'd really like to know what you got out of them that your philosophy and psychology degrees didn't give you.
1[anonymous]8yThe sequences need a second edition. It's sheer hubris to think that nothing has changed in four years.
6wedrifid8yThere would be room for improvement even without anything changing. They were produced as daily blog posts for the purpose of forcing Eliezer to get his thoughts down on a page.
5Peterdjones8yActually I think the sequences are worth reading even though I deplore the tub-thumping, lack of informedness, etc. What would you expect if someone bright but uninformed about philosophy invented their own philosophy? Lots of ground re-covered. Lots of avoidable errors. Some novel insights.

I agree that Luke's post might cause some people to update too much in the direction of "the Sequences aren't original". He was wrong or overstated things in the couple of bullet points that I checked out (and pointed out in my earlier comment). He probably should have showed it to you for error-checking and making sure it's being fair before posting it.

I do think having an index of related works is very valuable, for people wanting to do further readings, or figuring out exactly which parts of the Sequences are original.

So they won't actually read the literature and find out for themselves that it's not what they've already read.

I read Spohn right away, and I'm at least planning to read some of the other references. But I'm not sure how typical I am in this regard.

1[anonymous]8yThe reader really shouldn't have to figure it out; it's a bit intellectually dishonest to impose that burden on the reader--to the author's reputational benefit.
2Randaly8yIn general, Eliezer did a fairly good job of citing things that he actually was drawing from, ie he didn't plagiarize often. Much of LukeProg's post was simply providing references to similar or independently invented ideas in academia, which were not directly relevant and would have been somewhat inappropriate to put in the posts.

There's literature out there which is written in the same spirit as LW, but with different content. Now that's an exciting message. It might even get people to read things.

Maybe we can start to build up a repository of those things, too. So far, you've recommended:

  • Language in Thought and Action
  • Psychological Foundations of Culture
  • Good and Real
  • Rational Choice in an Uncertain World

Unfortunately, those works seem incredibly different to me, so it's hard for me to guess which other works you would also endorse as being in the "LW spirit." I'll try anyway:

5pjeby8yHow about: * Mental Traps [http://www.amazon.com/Mental-Traps-Stupid-Things-People/dp/0071477292/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347909518&sr=8-1&keywords=mental+traps] Written by a psychologist-philosopher (literally), it reads exactly like a Sequence on five-second approaches to a wide array of thinking errors, carefully cataloged and taxonomized with the information needed to get out of them... and most of them are not thinking errors that have previously been cataloged on LW. (Even what we commonly refer to here under the heading of "sunk-cost fallacy" is given a much more rigorous, "five-second level" analysis, showing how we get stuck in that fallacy all day long doing ordinary things. Forget sticking with a big multi-year project, he shows how we can get skewered by this fallacy in doing things that take five minutes.)
0curiousepic8yThere should be more (literal) philosopher-psychologists.
2Randaly8ySeveral essays by Paul Graham [http://paulgraham.com/articles.html]. (eg Keep Your Identity Small [http://paulgraham.com/identity.html] or How to Disagree [http://paulgraham.com/disagree.html])

There's a spirit in LW which really is a spirit that exists in many other places,

Yes, and pointing out those other places here serves two purposes.

It serves to brand LW, so that people passing by can quickly see the kind of spirit here. Yes, there's a whole world out there, and many of us have spent some time in it, so seeing references to that world here serves to quickly communicate some of what LW is about.

References also server to point people here to other expositions of similar material.

For example, you say:

The only real way for people to learn better is to go out and read Language in Thought and Action

I'd recommend people at some point move on from Hayakawa to Korzybski, Science and Sanity, and the whole General Semantics literature. People have spent decades discussing these issues and organizing

It doesn't get people to read the literature. Why should they? From what they can see, it's already been presented to them on LW, after all.

That's not my reaction to references. When I first came here, the references to Jaynes didn't make me think "I've already covered this stuff, no need to read this web site." On the contrary, it made me want to read more.... (read more)

I don't understand what the purpose of this post was supposed to be - what positive consequence it was supposed to have.

I took the post to be Luke writing notes to himself, in public so as to recruit others' help, toward the kind of bibliography that might be included in an academically acceptable version of the Sequences, or of some parts of them.

The intention being, I gathered, to publish these bibliographies as an adjunct to the Sequences - perhaps in the "wall of references" style of Luke's early posts. (If so, I hope a more user-friendly way of displaying those is worked out first!)

(ETA: the specific positive consequence of that would be to help the reader "find the related works in academia" as per Luke's third numbered point in the OP.)

-1Eliezer Yudkowsky8yWhy would that actually be a consequence of the OP as written?
7Morendil8yI'm stating what I discerned of the intention - I won't presume to judge the OP either as a plan of action, or as a first step in its execution. Completely agree with your latter addendum that people should read Hofstadter, Hayakawa etc. not as footnotes to your work but for their own merits. Hofstadter I discovered in childhood and I wouldn't be the same person if I hadn't; I read Hayakawa on your recommendation, and am glad I did. Yay to more discussion of works that have the LW-nature, but are not otherwise alluded to in the Sequences. :)

TDT doesn't artifically sever decision nodes from anything upstream; the idea is that observing your algorithm, but not its output, is supposed to screen off things upstream.

Pardon me; I'm not yet much of an expert with LW decision theories. When you explained TDT on the whiteboard to Alex (with me listening), you kept talking about "severing" rather than "screening off." I'll try to find a way to modify the OP.

ETA: I remembered I have a recording of that tutorial, and I when checked the recording, and it turns out my memory was wrong. You did talk about how TDT "screened off" the information whereas CDT "severs" the causal diagram.

8wedrifid8yThankyou for clearing that up. Given your occupational affiliation with Luke I had been overestimating the extent to which you would endorse his position. That is, I wouldn't have expected Luke to write this without checking with you first so thought you must have agreed.
2Epiphany8yRegardless of whether it's original, you're the one making rationality popular. Inspiring this many people to take more interest in rationality is a profoundly worthwhile accomplishment. The world needs teachers who can motivate them to think more clearly. I'm heartened to see your progress.
2Emile8yAdded to my list! Do you have any more reading suggestions for people who have read the sequences? I read a few books recommended in the book recommendation open threads (or on irc), but was sometimes disappointed ("Thinking in Systems" is not very rigorous and formal, Nassim Taleb's "Fooled by Randomness" takes too much liberty interpreting various concepts, and I'm not a fan of books that start by telling me "don't worry I won't hurt your little brain with equations").
0CronoDAS8yGreat minds think alike?

http://lesswrong.com/lw/va/measuring_optimization_power/ and a couple of posts before and after are variations on the ideas of Daniel Dennett's The Intentional Stance. I loved both versions.

That's why he always refuses to summarize his conclusions.

It seems like his latest sequence is offering summarized versions of at least some of the previous sequences.

limp on for years

More like a few weeks.

All I can do now is be silent. I shall sink into the divine shadow, and will not know the troll or the metatroll, or anything else. Numquam novi nomen eius, nomen troglodytam.

What is originally his? AFAIK the FOOM and the Friendliness are his.

I am just curious.

Eliezer credits Nick Bostrom with coming up with the idea of Friendly AI first (and indeed while Eliezer was indifferent to AI risk on the assumption that either superintelligences would be automatically supermoral or it didn't matter what happened). FOOM probably goes to I.J. Good, or SF (Eliezer found out about the idea of a technological singularity by reading Vernor Vinge's science fiction, and closely related ideas are decades older in SF).

6knb8yFOOM (AKA Intelligence Explosion) was formulated by I.J. Good about 50 years ago.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky8y...and pre-formulated by John W. Campbell, a famous science-fiction editor.
-1Thomas8yMaybe it is just me. But as I understood I.J. Good's intelligence explosion is much more "Kurzweilian". Happens as a consequence of some large improvement all over the place. While for the Yudkowsky's FOOM, a right binary string in the RAM of the PC from 2000 would suffice to blow us away. I think, that the computer may need to be from today, or even from tomorrow, but this does not change much.
-2timtyler8yYou would need improvements in both software and hardware to compete with natural nanotechnology at its best. Improvements in software would catalyse improvements in hardware - and visa versa. I think most of the parties involved are on the same page about all this.
[-][anonymous]8y 0

Looking at the PhilPapers.org survey of philosophers, the pattern of views in the main sequences can be predicted rather well with one heuristic: select the option that (religious) philosophers of religion disproportionately reject. Or, alternatively, the option most compatible with Dennett-style naturalism. Exceptions include one-boxing on Newcomb, and perhaps personal identity (which is somewhat tied up with transhumanism, but judged differently by philosophers of computing vs biology).

However, the conjunction of all of these naturalist-favored views has... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

The sheer magnitude is what impresses gullible readers of the Sequences.

Wow. Deja vu. I actually have to follow this link and double check the date to see if this was the same comment we dealt with before or just a repetition of the same agenda by the same sockpuppet. If you check DevilWorm's user page you will see that this comment is a copy and paste clone of one he previously made that has now been deleted or banned (5 comments below on that page, to be precise). Once again it has received initial upvotes---either from his other accounts or from user... (read more)

Even when E ideas are extremely similar to some SEP article, he assumes: " If the words are not the same, then there are differences". This sentiment converge to point 2.

I suppose has to do with possible linguistic traps. If we use terms who has a focal points as a premisse, probably these words come with hidden inferences associated to specific groups. Avoiding academic parlance whenever possible is good, but obvious improvements could be done in the writings.