Robin Hanson on Facebook:

Academic futurism has low status. This causes people interested in futurism to ignore those academics and instead listen to people who talk about futurism after gaining high status via focusing on other topics. As a result, the people who are listened to on the future tend to be amateurs, not specialists. And this is why "we" know a lot less about the future than we could.

Consider the case of Willard Wells and his Springer-published book Apocalypse When?: Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive (2009). From a... (read more)

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Academic futurism has low status. This causes people interested in futurism to ignore those academics and instead listen to people who talk about futurism after gaining high status via focusing on other topics. As a result, the people who are listened to on the future tend to be amateurs, not specialists. And this is why "we" know a lot less about the future than we could.

I don't think that's the case. Most people who are listened to on the future don't tend to speak to an audience primarily consisting of futurists.

There are think tanks who em... (read more)

1Kawoomba6yIt might be a worthwhile endeavor to modify our wiki such that it serves not only as a mostly local reference on current terms and jargon, but also as an independent guide to the various arguments for and against various concepts, where applicable. It could create a lot of credibility and exposure to establish a sort of neutral reference guide / an argument map / the history and iterations an idea has gone through, in a neutral voice. Ideally, neutrality regarding PoV works in favor of those with the balance of arguments in their favor. This need not be entirely new material, but instead simply a few mandatory / recommended headers in each wiki entry, pertaining to history, counterarguments etc. Could be worth it lifting the wiki from relative obscurity, with a new landing page, and marketed potentially as a reference guide for journalists researching current topics. Kruel's LW interview with Shane Legg got linked to in a NYTimes blog, why not a suitable LW wiki article, too?
3VincentYu6yWells's book: Apocalypse when [http://lib.freescienceengineering.org/view.php?id=975947]. I took a quick skim through the book. Your focused criticism of Wells's book is somewhat unfair. The majority of the book (ch. 1–4) is about a survival analysis [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survival_analysis] of doomsday risks. The scenario you quoted is in the last chapter (ch. 5), which looks like an afterthought to the main intent of the book (i.e., providing the survival analysis), and is prepended by the following disclaimer: I think it is fair to criticize the crackpot scenario that he gave as an example, but your criticism seems to suggest that his entire book is of the same crackpot nature, which it is not. It is unfortunate that PR articles and public attention focuses on the insubstantial parts of the book, but I am sure you know what that is like as the same occurs frequently to MIRI/SIAI's ideas. Orthogonal notes on the book's content: Wells seems unaware of Bostrom's work on observation selection effects [http://www.anthropic-principle.com/], and it appears that he implicitly uses SSA [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-Sampling_Assumption]. (I have not carefully read enough of his book to form an opinion on his analysis, nor do I currently know enough about survival analysis to know whether what he does is standard.)

Open thread, January 25- February 1

by NancyLebovitz 1 min read25th Jan 2014318 comments

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If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.