Re: Dynamic optimism

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Mon, 18 Jan 1999 14:25:36 -0600

Max More wrote:
> Eliezer, before you say "screw dynamic optimism" and equate it with "raving
> optimism", please make sure you know what it means. If you read the
> relevant principle (and it's now called "Practical Optimism"), you'll see
> that it doesn't imply that the future is a playground with no dangers,
> problems, or challenges.

[Mission Statement? ExI has a *Mission Statement*? There goes your chance to recruit Scott Adams. A pity; "evolve into pure energy and become supreme overlord of the Universe" is a personal goal we could help him with.]

"Living vigorously, effectively, and joyfully, requires dismissing gloom, defeatism, and negativism. We acknowledge problems, whether technical, social, psychological, or ecological, but we do not allow them to dominate our thinking and our direction."

Okay, this is what I disagree with.

  1. I think that negative mental states invoke a higher order of intelligence than positive mental states; consider the evolutionary context.
  2. Problems *should* dominate our thinking. First, worry about survival/Singularity. Then, worry about creating the Culture.

In other words, I specifically object to, or "screw", the idea that enthusiasm enhances intelligence; and blathering about the rewards but refusing to acknowledge the dangers, and particularly the dangers of deliberate misuse.

Someone has to keep track of the threats.

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.