Re: Special difficulties of AI terminology

From: Simon McClenahan (
Date: Wed Feb 20 2002 - 11:27:47 MST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 4:43 PM
Subject: Re: Special difficulties of AI terminology

> Well, my first reaction to this was to laugh and say, "I give up!" Some
> you just can't win...

And you're right, you can't "win". Or at least it is probably impossible to
"win". And if it is possible to "win", then you just don't have the
necessary skills yet to "win". Like the cliché goes, you can't please
everyone all of the time.

I put "win" in quotes as a form of markup in my message to you in the hope
that it becomes clearer. Markup and pretty pictures can greatly enhance a
large body of work that is dominantly textual. In email we use other forms
of text markup, like ">" for quoting, HTML encoding, _emphasis_ or *action*,
etc. These are all very important communication techniques that the sender
must use to try and communicate more clearly. I am suggesting that you add
more markup and diagrams to your papers to make them more "readable".

As for the implicit desire to "win", or please as many people as possible
all the time, you need to either give up on that ideal given your current
writing skill, or learn what it is exactly that everyone wants that will
make them understand. If you don't have the skill yet, or you don't
understand what everyone wants, you must narrow down your target audience.
If your audience is current AI researchers, then learn their jargon and play
by the rules. If your audience is Extropians, same thing. If your audience
is me and others like me, then put more diagrams in to fill up those pages
of long, dense, jargon-rich and neologistic text.



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