Re: SOC/BIO/POL: International Forum on Globalization conference

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Feb 06 2001 - 15:50:58 MST

Charlie Stross wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 06, 2001 at 02:59:28PM -0500, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> >
> > So technophobes, who don't even have the concepts to describe those kind
> > of scruples, much less be bound by them, can tear the living daylights out
> > of technophiles on television; a technophobe can fire off ten strongly
> > resonating arguments in the time it takes a technophile to describe vis
> > initial assumptions.
> Spot on.
> This also pinpoints the differentiating characteristic of propaganda,
> as distinct from rational debate.
> The answer is therefore to have both sets of arguments ready. (Yeah, I
> know this means doing more work than the technophobes!) Start out by
> sounding calm, cool, and rational -- but go for some below-the-belt
> "without antibiotics/GM foods/nanotechnology my baby girl/cat/AI would
> be d-e-a-d" emotional blackmail if the other side tries the emotional
> attack.

I'm not too sure that's a fight a traditional technophile can win. Both
sides in the fight feel ethically constrained to use arguments that they
personally feel to be true; this will hold universally and strongly true
of arguers from the scientific community, and somewhat and variably true
of the technophobic opposition, but it is a human invariant. The real
problem is that the scientific community has evolved all sorts of counters
for the human tendency to believe what you want to believe, and the
technophobes haven't evolved those counters and would probably regard them
as too "Western" or "intellectual" or "dispassionate" if they did.
Idealistic technophobes may be bound to argue the truth as they believe
it, but idealistic technophiles are bound to argue the actual truth, and
so technophobes will always have access to a wider range of more powerful

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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