can't exactly call up, say, the President of France and get him to do a diavlog, but they have some street cred with mid-rank celebrities and academics.  With that in mind, how would you fill in this blank?

"I would really love to see a diavlog between Yudkowsky and ____________."

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Scott Adams -

Scott is brilliant, funny, and has posted extremely original and creative ideas on his blog. But he has revealed a surprising cluelessness about matters of science and philosophy considering the amount of time he spends thinking about them. The Bloggingheads conversation can include religion, evolution, and affirmations.

Would be excellent! I'm sure EY and SA could find a large set of topics on which they disagree.

Hubert Dreyfus, about AI. Although, now that I think about it, he's probably too old to do this kind of stuff.

Tell 'em to call Hofstadter. He doesn't think much of the Singularity, so it should be a fun diavlog.

I second Hofstadter. Unless Eliezer will feel too awed by the occasion. In this case Ben Goertzel

I third Hofstadter.

I'm sure that would be a very interesting conversation.

Not to namedrop, but that dude is sleeping in my house right at this second. Just thought I'd share that amusing coincidence.

Also seconded. Considering Scott's humorous remark ( to rename his blog to "Wallowing in Bias" and respond to OB posts!

Robin Hanson, on the meta-topic of different approaches to answering the question, "what is the most likely route to greater-than-human intelligence, and how likely is it, and when?".

I disagree. I think the real benefit in something like this is to is hear a discussion with a community outsider. A discussion between Elizer and Robin would be interesting but wouldn't offer anything substantially different than existing LW/OB content.

Said question is essentially the topic of their disagreement on OB late last year, is it not? I recall that discussion reaching no satisfactory conclusion. My impression from that was of a great deal of talking past one another, not so much a matter of of approach to the question as subtly differing implicit assumptions.

Would the meta-topic be likely to shed more light on the subject, or would it result in the same stalemate?

I suspect there are more interesting and fruitful topics that the two could discuss.

I think i might go well - at least it would seem to wrap things up in a personable way. And it is harder to talk past one another in person - the other person can interrupt.

It is much easier to talk past each other and generally avoid the central points of disagreement when communication is written rather than oral and in essay style rather than conversational style.

I am pleased to see that many of the first names that popped into my head (e.g. Daniel Dennett, Scott Aaronson, Richard Dawkins, David Chalmers -- and of course Robin Hanson) have been mentioned.

But, surprisingly, no one's yet suggested Steven Pinker. He is one of the public faces of evolutionary psychology, and (nevertheless?) has some sympathy toward mysterianism about consciousness. (And considering that yesterday I came across an old comment by Eliezer in which he said that the English language has no rules, Pinker may be just the person he needs to talk to.)

Um... I am very well aware of the concept of linguistics, thank you. I was speaking rhetorically.

(EDIT: Though Steven Pinker is still a fine suggestion.)

I was speaking rhetorically.

Be that as it may, a wise person once wrote:


Plenty of people are less acquainted with linguistics; surely, then, it's a good idea to avoid saying things that are actually false (especially when they would reinforce a common misconception that experts in the subject are constantly trying to stamp out).

I'd love to see a Steven Pinker diavlog! He just hadn't occurred to me to suggest.

David Chalmers has done BHtv. Maybe he could be enticed to debate whether his "Hard Problem" exists.

Eliezer, in the ones I've seen so far I don't think you comes across very well. In particular you tend to ignore the point (or substance) of your partner's arguments which makes you look evasive or inattentive. There is also a fine line for viewers between confidence and arrogant pomposity and you often come across on the wrong side of that line. Hopefully this desire of yours to keep doing it reflects a commitment to improving, in which case keep at it. Perhaps asking a number of neutral parties about specifics would help you train for it... if you're willing to accept that you are being watched by human beings and that the audience reacts differently to different styles of presentation (it seems you do care to some extent; for example you wear clothing and appear well groomed during the conversations).

As others have suggested, trying to resolve or at least continue your debate with Robin Hanson would be interesting. A conversation with Ben Goertzel about AI safety issues and research protocols would be worthwhile to me but might not engage a broad audience. Most exciting would be Dale Carrico (

In particular you tend to ignore the point (or substance) of your partner's arguments which makes you look evasive or inattentive.

I think this is partly the by-product of a fundamental tension when conversing with someone in habit of making meaningless or incoherent statements. To directly address such "points", you basically have to ask the person to explain what they mean or rephrase their statement. If the explanation is junk, you're right back where you started, minus the time they spent explaining themselves. In the limit, indulging these non-terminating arguments equates to just letting them talk the entire time.

Robert Aumann, if it's possible to arrange.

that would be an interesting conversation.

EDIT: if nothing else, I'd like to see the discussion that arises when actually pressed on his theism. ie, I'd like to see someone ask him "I KNOW you know stuff about rationality. I know I don't need to use metaphors about mapmaking and needing to go out and look, nor do I need to introduce you to the concept if discounting the prior for a hypothesis based on its complexity, and so on, because I expect you actually really know this stuff, and know it well... So... why do you believe what you believe, especially with regards to religion?"

I'd really want to see what Robert Aumann would actually say in response to that...

I voted up robin hanson, but I would love either Cory Doctorow or Bruce Sterling because they are both smart scifi authors who are vocally skeptical of something like the singularity happening.

Whoever it is, in my opinion the best discussions would consist of people who share very similar worldviews yet strongly differ on some critical ideas. We don't need to see another religion debate that is for sure.

Now that would be reminiscent. Considering that I stumbled across Extropianism by way of Hyper-Weirdness by WWW. Also considering that I believe Cosma is the only person to use the phrase "Bayesian Conspiracy" before I did.

Considering 'bayesians' are one of his bête noires, this would be very cool, nevermind that as a teenager I learnt far more from reading Eliezer's posts at extropy and Shalizi's webbed notebooks than school.*

Another topic of discussion could be this appendage to his nanotech notebook : "Update, 13 March 2004: At some point in the last ten years I've come to no longer believe that"

Also, Hofstadter and Chalmers seconded.

*massive understatement

Peter Voss, Dharmendra Modha, Henry Markram.

Ben Goertzel on how he's research director for SIAI but Eliezer "does not consider his AI theory reasonable"

Ben Goertzel on how he's research director for SIAI but Eliezer "does not consider his AI theory reasonable"

All the more reason to see them talk. Should be educational.

For what it's worth, Ben Goertzel isn't SIAI's research director anymore (and said something to the effect that he never actually ended up directing much research there).

I wonder where the "does not consider his AI theory reasonable" quote comes from; no Google results for it other than this page, and davidr appears to be gone, so we can't ask him...)

(It does ring true anyway, since Eliezer has declared Ben "mostly harmless", despite Novamente not being based on Friendliness as a top priority. Though a debate between them on Ben's criticism of SIAI's approach, and Eliezer's disagreement with Ben's approach, may be interesting.)

Edit: Ah, here's the source of the quote.

Mildly interesting is that in response to the question "is he one of the people whom you classify as poor misguided fools?", Eliezer said "don’t publicly ask questions that I could not reasonably be expected to publicly answer", which I'm assuming means "yes".

Edit2: Oh, and "My dialogs with Ben are recorded in the ancient archives of the SL4 mailing list; I can’t say I’m really interested in continuing them."

Mildly interesting is that in response to the question "is he one of the people whom you classify as poor misguided fools?", Eliezer said "don’t publicly ask questions that I could not reasonably be expected to publicly answer", which I'm assuming means "yes".

Many would take the approach of giving that answer to all such questions, regardless of how they would answer in the specific instance. That allows them to avoid giving away information when questions come up that they particularly don't want to answer.

Douglas Hofstadter author of GEB. He is opposed to the idea of cryogenics AFAIK.

Seconded, this would be unbelievably interesting.

Regardless of who the conversation is with, I hope we get to see as many EY diavlogs as possible. They are extremely entertaining and educational.

Yes. I've witnessed how John Searle turns undergrad Cognitive Science majors against reductionism at UC Berkeley. Searle's "emergence" and Chinese Room argument would be very fertile topics for a diavlog.

It would be interesting to see Searle debate anyone who didn't defer to his high status and common-sense-sounding arguments and pressed him to the wall on what exactly would happen if you, say, simulated a human brain in high resolution. His intuition pumps are powerful ("thought is just like digestion, you don't really believe a computer will digest food if you simulate gastric enzymes, do you?"), but he never really presents any argument on his views of consciousness or AI, at least what I've seen.

The Chinese Room argument seems to me so deeply misguided and silly that I doubt an interesting dialog on it is possible, any more than a fruitful discussion of religion with a well-educated theist.

I know little of his work other than the aforementioned argument, but it doesn't really paint a flattering picture of his ability to engage in clear thinking.

Searle's actually pretty brilliant and he's mostly on the right side on this one. When you cast the debate as between Searle and Dennett, Dennett is obviously right. But in a broader context, Searle and Dennett are on the same side.

But I agree that there's no reason to talk about the Chinese Room. Either you're convinced by Dennett, or there's no use talking further about it.

It doesn't really paint a flattering picture of his ability to engage in clear thinking.

He can probably do better than a team of Adam Frank and Jaron Lanier.

But he has lots of fans.

Admittedly, the fact that they're fans of his strongly suggests that they're lacking in the ability to engage in clear thinking. That probably has something to do with why they never seem to grasp the arguments demonstrating the problems with the 'Chinese Room'.

Searle has problems grasping that systems can be analyzed in terms of their constituent parts, and that various parts can be put together to create a system - thus, his criticism that the Chinese Room can't be said to understand because no part of the room understands it.

Aside from being an object lesson in cognitive failure, I don't see what any discussion with him could accomplish.

IDWYC but agree that Searle's emergence seems like a pointer to confusion and reveals a really basic failure to understand reductionism.

And since "reducing things to constituent parts" is involved with all of reasoning, it indicates a gross inability to reason.

I mean really, who only refers to the universe as a seamless whole? And who has produced anything of note by refusing to refer to distinct and separate things?

Searle would be a good example of the difference between being bright, and being intelligent. He is clever, but not smart.

You do plan to elaborate on your bright/intelligent distinction eventually, right? Until then, this is just you being unclear.

Yes, I do.

I don't think my point is really that unclear though. Consider: Rube Goldberg-like 'solutions' to problems require cleverness, but are so inefficient and overly complex that only a very foolish person would think that their design and construction would be a good idea. Seriously making such a design requires lots of raw brainpower and a lack of effective judgment.

I think the idea behind Rube Goldberg devices is to have fun, not to use them regularly to actually solve problems. Only in movies does anyone have a residence or business rigged up Rube Goldberg Style.

Certainly, but someone who actually thought they'd be useful would need to be foolish.

A person who created such a design would need to be very clever, yet very foolish.

Similarly, Searle must be pretty brainy, but his arguments make so little sense that they're absurd.

A person who created such a design would need to be very clever, yet very foolish.

I'm confused. Are you ignoring the faction that would be clever enough to create these designs and would do so for fun; calling such people foolish for having this hobby; or assuming that they don't exist?

I just didn't address them.

People who design and build Rube Goldbergs just for fun are (if successful) necessarily clever; very, very few of them believe that the resulting machines are actually useful in any meaningful sense, I think, so there would be no grounds for considering them foolish.

When you fully explain your bright/intelligent distinction you should also include a list of synonyms and antonyms for each. It seems like you're using "foolish" as an antonym for one and not the other, "brainy" as a synonym for one and not the other, etc.

This would have been a great suggestion if I hadn't just spent an hour talking to Hutter during a visit to a small workshop in Canberra; I think we said most of what we had to say to each other.

Can you elaborate on what was said, and why most of what you had to say to each other fits in only 1 hour?

I thought of Myers as well, particularly since PZ is a biologist and not a huge fan of evolutionary psychology it could lead to some informative debate.

Regardless I would be very interested to see a discussion with a physicist/biologist/chemist as opposed to a philosopher/economist/computer scientist. We seem to get a lot of the latter but not much of the former and I'd like to see their perspective on some of our brand of rationality.

what i'd actually like to see would be Robin Hanson v Mencius Moldbug

I would like to see Mencius Moldbug versus...

...Mencius Moldbug.

Not for insight or informational content, but perhaps as a sort of Théâtre de l'Absurde.

I think Robin has been right in not wasting his time further.

Robin made it clear that he will not continue a debate with someone who does not show proper deference to white papers.

perhaps an arm-wrestling contest would be acceptable... hmm, but not possible on bloggingheadstv... a face-pulling contest?

Yeah, Stumbling on Happiness is a pretty good book.

I haven't read Stumbling but i really enjoyed his essay in
Heuristics and biases: the psychology of intuitive judgement

He's neither celebrity nor academic, but I've always wanted to see a diavlog between Eliezer and PJ Eby.

Anyone interested in John C. Wright?

I, for one, would be very interested. What a tragically broken beautiful brain.

It's been almost a year and a half, but since you suggested the possibility yourself, I can't help but wonder: Was there some hint of a possibility of interest on JCW's part to participate in a diavlog with you?

Yes, and I wouldn't mind if you talked about religion, but I'd rather the majority of the diavlog be about stuff that you're on the same page about.

I take the opposite point of view. If there is a diavlog with Wright, I would like to hear sustained discussion of religion, as I am curious to find out what Eliezer will say, in real time, to someone who converted from atheism to Christianity at age 42.

Besides which, these things are surely more interesting in general when they focus on areas of disagreement.

He writes that he had a sequence of visions, and that he doesn't blame you if you think he's out of his mind. That pretty much deals with any interest I personally have in his conversion.

The founder of BloggingheadsTV, Robert Wright, would also be a good choice.

I would like to see you diavlog with Scott Atron or Jonathan Haidt -- both of whom, I think, pose stronger and more interesting challenges to your views on religion than Adam Frank.

I just watched Eliezer's second diavlog with Adam Frank, and I have to say his expression when Frank suggested he should love the book of Job is priceless.

Andrew W.K. (musician)

He's outside of your field but is a breakout in his own field. He's open minded and sensitive to argument. But he seems to believe in some kind of weird solipsism. Talking with Andrew W.K. would let you expound upon your materialism and reductionism. You would also reach well beyond your geek readership to the armies of slightly confused, self-conscious, college educated Americans called 'hipsters'---a lot of these people are standing around waiting for the next movement to happen, and your ideas could be very seductive to them.

Finally, Andrew W.K. would probably do it. Despite acting like a badass, he is fundamentally a nerd (a music nerd) and I think he would respect you and try hard to understand you. He also seems to have the intelligence and honesty for arguments about future technologies.

Andrew W.K. article in the New York Times

I cannot tell whether this is humour or sheer balls. Either way, I salute you sir.

Alison Gopnik (The Scientist in the Crib, The Philosophical Baby, Causal Learning: Psychology, Philosophy and Computation). She's done a diavlog with Joshua Knobe.

Charles Stross.

(Namedrop) If I see him down the pub tonight, I might mention it to him.

I'd prefer if Eliezer got to say more than five words in the diavlog...

Marilyn Vos Savant may have a very high IQ, but do we have any particular reason to think that she has anything to contribute to the topics LW is concerned with? Or even interesting ideas in general?

I think she has interesting ideas for sure but maybe they are not directly related to LW. On the other hand I think she has quite a bit to say about intelligence, at least human intelligence.

Worth a try.

I watched the old tv interview with her on youtube and liked it. With Langan - who I just heard about yesterday - the stuff he says in the TV piece shows a frightening failure of intelligence. And still it would be interesting, and maybe worthwhile to have a talk between him and EY.

I just read a partial interview with Michael Langan and he is also interested in the topic of AI and has some ideas on it.

I suggest Christopher Michael Langan, as roland said. His "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU)" ( download it at ) is very logical and conflicts in interesting ways with how Yudkowsky thinks of the universe at the most abstract level. Langan derives the need for an emergent unification of "syntax" (like the laws of physics) and "state" (like positions and times of objects) and that the universe must be a closure. I think he means the only possible states/syntaxes are very abstractly similar to quines. He proposes a third category, not determinism or random, but somewhere between that fits into his logical model in subtle ways.

QUOTE: The currency of telic feedback is a quantifiable self-selection parameter, generalized utility, a generalized property of law and state in the maximization of which they undergo mutual refinement (note that generalized utility is self-descriptive or autologous, intrinsically and retroactively defined within the system, and “pre-informational” in the sense that it assigns no specific property to any specific object). Through telic feedback, a system retroactively self-configures by reflexively applying a “generalized utility function” to its internal existential potential or possible futures. In effect, the system brings itself into existence as a means of atemporal communication between its past and future whereby law and state, syntax and informational content, generate and refine each other across time to maximize total systemic self-utility. This defines a situation in which the true temporal identity of the system is a distributed point of temporal equilibrium that is both between and inclusive of past and future. In this sense, the system is timeless or atemporal.

When he says a system which tends toward a "generalized utility function", I think he means, for example, our physics follow a geodesic, so geodesic would be their utility function.

He appears to be an ID proponent, though that is probably a simplification of his actual position.

When he says "intelligent design", he is not referring to the common theory that there is some god that is not subject to the laws of physics which created physics and everything in the universe. He says reality created itself as a logical consequence of having to be a closure. I don't agree with everything he says, but based only on the logical steps that lead up to that, him and Yudkowsky should have interesting things to talk about. Both are committed to obey logic and get rid of their assumptions, so there should be no unresolvable conflicts, but I expect lots of conflicts to start with.

Someone with whom establishing a connection might make the difference in being able to get them to appear at a future Singularity Summit. Also, someone with whom an association enhances your credibility.

What am I missing about this comment? I think it makes a reasonable point, but it's on -2.

Can someone clarify what the issue is, or whether Mark's trolling and I'm just too stupid to realise?

I don't think downvotes should be that big of a deal. Figure simply that a couple of users thought "I would not like to see more comments like this," for whatever reason. For example, I've downvoted your comment because I don't think it advances the discourse to explicitly comment on how a seemingly reasonable comment has sunk down to -2. But it's nothing personal, really.

I am unable to articulate why, but for some reason I find it absolutely hilarious that my comment above is presently at -2.

Rodney Brooks, on whether or not anything useful about AI can be learned from robot experiments. More abstractly, how does one solve the problem of demarcation in AI (what line separates AI-relevant research from everything else)?

William Gibson?

He also thinks a lot - and cleverly - about the future but in a different way from Eliezer.

  1. David Albert ( Is Quantum Mechanics Really Magic ? )
  2. Scott Atran ( Is Religion even part of the Problem ? )
  3. Peter Singer ( Are all of our Moral Traditions Up For Grabs ? )
  4. Tyler Cowen

Will Wilkinson again. As a longtime reader of both, that was a lot of fun for me.

Or Paul Bloom, cognitive psych expert, wrote a book about the "God instinct". Perhaps too similar to the last blogginhead with Adam Frank, but still interesting I think.

Judge Richard Posner

You might be able to convince him to sign up for cryonics because he is willing to accept rationally supported ideas even if others think them crazy.

Jurgen Habermass or Saul Kripke would be cool.

Lee Smolin might make for an interesting discussion on MWI.

David Albert on the topic of quantum mechanics/ MWI. (Albert previously did one with Sean Carroll on this topic, but they didn't go as far into it as I would have liked.)

Jurgen Habermass or Saul Kripke would be cool.

someone theist. ramesh ponnuru. andrew bacevich. jim pinkerton.

On BHtv? Who was the theist?

I do agree that Ponnuru and Pinkerton wouldn't be interesting, though. (I don't know Bacevich). If Eliezer does debate a theist, I'd rather it be someone with a well-thought-out position to dismantle, such as William Lane Craig, whom I believe Eliezer has already expressed an interest in debating.