Re: Better people

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Tue, 08 Jun 1999 01:03:00 -0500

Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> Now try this one: A large corporation who gives me my security consulting
> assignments just changed the definition of "meeting objectives" for the
> year. Our new objectives are that "we will exceed objectives." I'm not
> sure if by exceeding objectives, I am now merely meeting them. Nor am I
> sure how to exceed them anymore. The explanation of the new policy also
> stated that unlike last year, because of the higher standards, most
> employees will be rated below average, while only a few will make it up to
> average ratings.

Okay, this is what you do. I don't know what kind of metrics you're using; let's say you get a metric of 23%. In this case you declare that the objective was 15% and you have thus exceeded your objective. If they say that you were supposed to exceed the objective, explain that you were only supposed to exceed the objective by 20%, while you actually exceeded it by much more. Likewise, with respect to the higher standards, what you do is take some kind of token retraining course and then declare that now 73% of your employees are above average, even for the new standards.

The key is to realize that these people do not grok objective reality. The sentences are not supposed to be representing truth or even a self-consistent model. They are supposed to sound nice. You are supposed to output nice-sounding sentences that fit with the input sentences. Think of it as a problem in sentence-writing, not fiction-writing.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way