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I did a calculation here:
and concluded that I would start to believe there was something to the universe-destroying scenario after about 30 clear, uncorrelated mishaps (even when taking a certain probability of foul play into account).

I like Roko's suggestion that we should look at how many doomsayers actually predicted a danger (and how *early*). We should also look at how many dangers occurred with no prediction at all (the Cameroon lake eruptions come to mind).

Overall, the human error rate is pretty high: http://panko.shidle...(read more)

<p>A new report (Steven B. Giddings and Michelangelo M. Mangano, Astrophysical implications of hypothetical stable TeV-scale black holes, arXiv:0806.3381 ) does a much better job at dealing with the black hole risk than the old "report" Eliezer rightly slammed. It doesn't rely on Hawking radiation (...(read more)

If this is not a hoax or she does a Leary, we will have her around for a long time. Maybe one day she will even grow up. But seriously, I think Eli is right. In a way, given that I consider cryonics likely to be worthwhile, she has demonstrated that she might be more mature than I am.

To get back t...(read more)

"If intelligence is an ability to act in the world, if it refer to some external reality, and if this reality is almost infinitely malleable, then intelligence cannot be purely innate or genetic."

This misses the No Free Lunch theorems, which state that there is no learning system that outperforms ...(read more)

<p>People have apparently argued for a 300 to 30,000 years storage limit due to free radicals due to cosmic rays, but the uncertainty is pretty big. Cosmic rays and background radiation are likely not as much a problem as carbon-14 and potassium-40 atoms anyway, not to mention the freezing damage. h...(read more)

I think Kaj has a good point. In a current paper I'm discussing the Fermi paradox and the possibility of self-replicating interstellar killing machines. Should I mention Saberhagen's berserkers? In this case my choice was pretty easy, since beyond the basic concept his novels don't contain that much...(read more)

Another reason people overvalue science fiction is the availability bias due to the authors who got things right. Jules Verne had a fairly accurate time for going from the Earth to the Moon, Clarke predicted/invented geostationary satelites, John Brunner predicted computer worms. But of course this ...(read more)

In think the "death gives meaning to life" meme is a great example of "standard wisdom". It is apparently paradoxical (right form to be "deep"), it provides a comfortable consolation for a nasty situation. But I have seldom seen any deep defense for it in the bioethical literature. Even people who s...(read more)

I have played with the idea of writing a "wisdom generator" program for a long time. A lot of "wise" statements seem to follow a small set of formulaic rules, and it would not be too hard to make a program that randomly generated wise sayings. A typical rule is to create a paradox ("Seek freedom and...(read more)