New edition of "Rationality: From AI to Zombies"

by Rob Bensinger 1 min read15th Dec 201824 comments


MIRI is releasing a new edition of Rationality: From AI to Zombies, including the first set of R:AZ print books. As of this morning, print versions of Map and Territory (volume 1) and How to Actually Change Your Mind (volume 2) are now available on Amazon (1, 2), and we'll be rolling out the other four volumes of R:AZ over the coming months.

R:AZ is a book version of Eliezer Yudkowsky's original sequences, collecting a bit under half of his Overcoming Bias and LessWrong writing from November 2006 to September 2009. Map and Territory is the canonical place to start, but we've tried to make How to Actually Change Your Mind a good jumping-on point too, since some people might prefer to dive right into HACYM.

The price for the print books is $6.50 for Map and Territory, and $8 for How to Actually Change Your Mind. The new edition is also available electronically (in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF versions) on a pay-what-you-want basis: 1, 2. The HACYM ebook is currently available for preorders, and should be delivered in the next day.

The previous edition of R:AZ was a single sprawling 1800-page ebook. I announced at the time that we were also going to release a paper version divided into six more manageable chunks; but this ended up taking a lot longer than I expected, and involved more substantive revisions to the text.

Changes going into the new edition include:

  • The first sequence in Map and Territory, "Predictably Wrong," has been heavily revised, with a goal of making it a much better experience for new readers.
  • More generally, R:AZ is now more optimized for new readers, and less focused on extreme fidelity to the original blog posts, since this was one of the biggest requests from LessWrongers in response to the previous edition of R:AZ. This isn't a huge change, but it was an update about which option to pick in quite a few textual tradeoffs.
  • A bunch of posts have been added or removed. E.g., The Robbers Cave Experiment was removed because while it's still a cool and interesting study, the researchers' methods and motives have turned out to be pretty bad, and it isn't particularly essential to HACYM.
  • The "Against Doublethink" sequence in How to Actually Change Your Mind has been removed, to reduce HACYM's page count (and therefore its price and its potential to intimidate readers) and improve the book's focus. The first post in "Against Doublethink" (Singlethink) has been kept, and moved to a different sequence ("Letting Go").
  • Important links and references are now written out rather than hidden behind Easter egg hyperlinks, so they'll show up in print editions too. Easter egg links are kept around if they're interesting enough to be worth retaining, but not important enough to deserve a footnote; so there will still be some digital-only content, but the goal is for this to be pretty minor.
  • A glossary has been added to the back of each book.

Oliver and Ben also plan to post the digital versions of M&T and HACYM to R:AZ on LessWrong — initially as new posts, though the URLs and comment sections of new and old versions may be merged in the future if LW adds a feature for toggling between post revisions.