...there is surprisingly little interest in (or citing of) the academic literature on some of Less Wrong's central discussion topics.

I think one of the reasons is that the LW/SIAI crowd thinks all other people are below their standards. For example:

I tried - once - going to an interesting-sounding mainstream AI conference that happened to be in my area. I met ordinary research scholars and looked at their posterboards and read some of their papers. I watched their presentations and talked to them at lunch. And they were way below the level of the b

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I love those quotes. The one about negatively useful AI doctorates is a favourite of mine. :)

15Vladimir_Nesov9y"Below their standards" is a bad way to describe this situation, it suggests some kind of presumption of social superiority, while the actual problem is just that the things almost all researchers write presumably on this topic are not helpful. They are either considering a different problem (e.g. practical ways of making real near-future robots not kill wrong people, where it's perfectly reasonable to say that philosophy of consequentialism is useless, since there is no practical way to apply it; or applied ethics, where we ask how humans should act), or contemplate the confusingness of the problem, without making useful progress (a lot of philosophy). This property doesn't depend on whether we are making progress ourselves, so it's perfectly possible (and to a large extent true) that progress that is up to the standard of being useful is not made by SIAI either. A point where SIAI makes visible and useful progress is in communicating the difficulty of the problem, the very fact that most of what is purportedly progress on FAI is actually not.
3benelliott9yYour definition of 'LW/SIAI crowd' appears to be 'Eliezer Yudkowsky'.

A Brief Overview of Machine Ethics

by lukeprog 1 min read5th Mar 201191 comments


Earlier, I lamented that even though Eliezer named scholarship as one of the Twelve Virtues of Rationality, there is surprisingly little interest in (or citing of) the academic literature on some of Less Wrong's central discussion topics.

Previously, I provided an overview of formal epistemology, that field of philosophy that deals with (1) mathematically formalizing concepts related to induction, belief, choice, and action, and (2) arguing about the foundations of probability, statistics, game theory, decision theory, and algorithmic learning theory.

Now, I've written Machine Ethics is the Future, an introduction to machine ethics, the academic field that studies the problem of how to design artificial moral agents that act ethically (along with a few related problems). There, you will find PDFs of a dozen papers on the subject.