Please vote for a title for an upcoming book

by listic1 min read20th Nov 201311 comments


Personal Blog

MIRI is conducting a survey to determine the best title for an upcoming book. Please consider voting on it to help us find out which title you would like best.

Click here to take survey

11 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 8:21 PM
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The best title for me would have been the combination of two of the options: "Smarter Than Us: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence".

"Smarter than Us" is a more memorable and more descriptive title when mentioned on its own ("Our Fragile Future" looks like it could refer to global warming, nuclear war, or any other global risk). But the "Promise and Peril" subtitle conveys the focus on AI risk which is absent from "Rise of Machine Intelligence". The other two options are much worse IMO.

I also liked "Smarter Than Us", it sounds a lot like an popular science book from airport store.

I don't like other titles as they seem to rely on a fearmongering too much.

I'm torn between fully supporting this, and supporting it with one suggestion.

"Promise and Peril" has a very good emotional/narrative "oomph" to it, and may retain attention more than alternatives. However, Desrtopa makes a very good point about the target demographics, and I think something less qualifiable as "dramatic" than the word "Peril" might be preferable. Small things, but bigger names, bigger publishers and bigger money have seen books make it or break it by their name.¹

(1. Personal conjecture and extrapolation - no formal study has been made or read to establish this belief. All I know is that publishers spend big money and lots of time on having the right title, from someone in the industry, and there's probably a reason for that, it having an effect on success of publication seeming the more plausible one.)

Vote cast.

Personally, I would steer away from titles which make it clear that the book is talking about the dangers posed by strong AI. Why? Because the audience that it's most useful to target is those who're already interested in AI, but not already afraid of it, and for most readers, fear of AI is more likely to pattern match to Luddism or vague "human dignity" concerns than anything resembling MIRI's position. You can bridge the gap of inferential distance in the space of a book, but not in the space of a subtitle.

Having the same link for the Mechanical Turk participants and LessWrong users seems like a bad idea. It would be useful to know whether the two populations differ in their opinions.

I intended to give one link to LW and another for the Mechanical Turk participants. I seem to have swapped the links. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

I was given a Mechanical Turk code when I filled it in (just now)

At the end I was shown a note with "your code for Amazon Mechanical Turk". There was no explanation of what this is for (is it some kind of voucher that's being offered as an incentive for completing the survey? are Turkers being asked to do the survey and having their participation checked by asking them to say what code they were given?) and I think it would be good to make this clearer. E.g., if it's the second of those things, it could say "If you are doing the survey as an Amazon Mechanical Turk task, here is the code you need: XYZ99." (That was not in fact the code it gave me.)

I'm not a fan of any of the options.

Agreed. I don't really want to vote for any of them.

Could we have a title that sounds less cultish? Or luddite?

...I'm not explaining this well, am I? They really don't look right, though.

I was pretty much exactly torn between "Smarter than Us ..." and "Our Fragile Future ...". I ended up casting my vote for the latter because my recollection was of the former being popular in the LW thread about this, which I thought might tip other wavering voters that way. You might want to reallocate half a vote from OFF to STU. (No, as it happens this paragraph is not a dishonest attempt to make my vote count 1.5 times as much by lying about how I voted.)

I think I agree with Alejandro's suggestion to splice those two options together. (But, to avoid double-counting, note that I already upvoted it.)