Re: AI vs. uploading
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 14:59:34 -0700

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, <>, writes:
> I can't for the life of me remember anything in _GEB_, _Metamagical
> Themas_, or _Fluid Concepts_ that could be taken as arrogant. Even when
> he was ripping apart the "Structure Mapping Engine" in _Fluid_, he was a
> lot nicer about it than I would have been.

The main places I see what might be called arrogance in Hofstadter are his politically oriented articles collected in Themas. He writes about super-rationality and is just so disappointed in society that we don't see the truth and turn into a bunch of self-sacrificing altruists. Here is his comment after running his "Luring Lottery" to test whether people would cooperate in a symmetric situation. (They didn't.)

"Did I find this amusing? Somewhat, of course. But at the same time, I found it disturbing and disappointing. Not that I hadn't expected it. Indeed, it was precisely what I expected..."

Hofstadter goes on to announce,

"And with this perhaps sobering conclusion, I would like to draw my term as a columnist for Scientific American to a close."

When you read those together it makes it sound like Hofstadter was so embittered by the painful confirmation of the fundamental stupidity of humanity that he isn't willing to go on with the column.

This chapter is followed in the book by his infuriatingly moralistic "Tale of Happiton", a metaphor for the danger of nuclear war, with its lesson that if people would just spend 15 minutes a day working for nuclear peace, the problem could be overcome. Hofstadter's sad devotion to the terribly misguided nuclear freeze movement and his lecturing about how we all need to do something to make the world a better place sat very poorly with me.