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Been there, done that. Never noticed any result from it. Now what?

It's maps all the way up, not all the way down. At the bottom, outside of ourselves, is the territory.

Actually, I left LessWrong about a year ago, as I judged it to have declined to a ghost town since the people most worth reading had mostly left. I've been reading it now and then since, and might be moved to being more active here if it seems worth it. I don't think I have enough original content to post to be a part of its revival myself.

As Rick says, he can be pretty cranky, but is not a crank.

Well, that wraps it up. This post, and some of the asinine comments to it, have persuaded me that I have no further use for this site.

Orthodox Islamic apologists rescue Khayyam by interpreting "wine" as spiritual intoxication. (How well this really fits is another matter. And the Song of Solomon is about Christ's love for His Church.) But one can as easily interpret the verse in a rationalist way. Channelling Fitzgerald for a moment...

The sot knows nothing but the tavern's wine
Rumi and Shams but ecstacy divine
The Way of Eli is not here nor there
But in the pursuit of a Fun sublime!

Great literature has as many versions as there are readers.

The human translators hated it, because it moved from engaging intellectual work to painful copyediting. I think a similar thing will be true for article writers.

The talented ones, yes, but there will be a lot of temptation for the also rans. You've got a blogging deadline and nothing is coming together, why not fire up the bot and get topical article ideas? "It's just supplying facts and links, and the way it weaves them into a coherent structure, well I could have done that, of course I could, but why keep a dog and bark myself? The real creative work is in the writing." That's how I see the slippery slope starting, into the Faustian pact.

I'm aware of ELIZA, and of Yvain's post. ELIZA's very shallow, and the interactive setting gives it an easier job than coming up with 1000 words on "why to have goals" or "5 ways to be more productive". I do wonder whether some of the clickbait photo galleries are mechanically generated.

Now, you say you want to turn this to the light side..?

I'm just saying it's so technologically cool, someone will do it as soon as it's possible. Whether it would actually be good in the larger scheme of things is quite another matter. I can see an arms race developing between drones rewriting bot-written copy and exposers of the same, together with scandals of well-known star bloggers discovered to be using mechanical assistance from time to time. There would be a furious debate over whether using a bot is actually a legitimate form of writing. All very much like drugs and sport.

Bot-assisted writing may make the traditional essay useless as a way of assessing students, perhaps to be replaced by oral exams in a Faraday cage. On Facebook, how will you know whether your friends' witticisms are their own work, especially the ones you've never been face to face with?

Watson can already philosophize at you from TED talks. Someone needs to develop a chat bot based on it, and have it learn from the Sequences.

Actually, that could be huge. Rationality blogs generated by bots! Self-improvement blogs generated by bots! Gosh-wow science writing generated by bots!

At present, most bot-written books are pretty obviously junk, but instead of going for volume and long tails, you could hire human editors to make the words read more as if they were originated by a human being. They'd have to have a good command of English, though, so the stereotypical outsourcing to Bangalore wouldn't be good enough. Ideally, you'd want people who were not just native speakers, but native to American culture, smart, familiar with the general area of the ideas, and good with words. Existing bloggers, that is. Offer this to them as a research tool. It would supply a blogger with a stream of article outlines and the blogger would polish them up. Students with essays to write could use it as well, and since every essay would be different, you wouldn't be able to detect it wasn't the student's work by googling phrases from it.

This is such a technologically good idea that it must happen within a few years.

Suppose Alice and Bob are the same person. Alice tosses a coin a large number of times and records the results.

Should she disbelieve what she reads?

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