Re: Wilson's mental hierarchy

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 10 Dec 1998 23:43:22 -0600

Paul Hughes wrote:
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> > My bogosity detectors go off whenever I read "X levels of consciousness"
> > arranged into ascending order, because I know perfectly well that the "good
> > guys" will be operating at level eight and the "bad guys" will be operating at
> > level one. Wilson is making a moral distinction; I'm making a design distinction.
> Prove Wilson explicitly makes any kind of moral distinction.

I've learned to ignore those kind of requests, in the same way that I started ignoring requests for "documentation" when, on two separate occasions, I actually dug up the documentation and then had the demander claim he was "too busy" to read it. It strikes me as too much of a conversational tactic. I'm not saying that this is an invalid claim. It's just that before I put in the work necessary, I'd want a documented instance of you making that demand, reading the proof, and changing your opinion as a result.

My claim is very simple: That there is a humongous amount of bull out there, and that the reply "this is bogus" is a valid response, especially to anything written in 1977 hippyese.

Now, maybe there are some people on this list who think that "Singularity Analysis" is memetically driven and totally wrong from beginning to end, and there have even been (a few years back) words such as "Singularity-worship", but I really don't think that anyone would say it's not worth reading. You can learn from arguments you disagree with, as long as the author writes clearly and carefully, without contradicting known facts or using mysticism as an explanatory force. I demand this minimum standard of quality of any document I read; as Damien Broderick the SF author and I the Web author both know, having readers is a privilege, not a right. Now, if you think there's something worth knowing down there, you are welcome to extract it and present it in readable language and I will give it my attention.

> That is your assumption
> not his. Your assessment of Wilson is completely ignorant.

This is the same thing I hear from missionaries. I'm sorry if I don't fully appreciate the wonders of whatever it is you're trying to show me, but if you want me interested, I want the claims presented in clear language, rational justification for anything controversial, and hard evidence for anything challenging scientific consensus.

> Using your line of logic
> and emotional dismissal, I could just as easily claim you are making a moral
> distinction, and Wilson is making a design distinction. Have you proven otherwise, I
> don't think so. BTW, are you telling me your degree of consciousness is no greater
> than that of an insect? If so, perhaps that might explain your blind assumptions in
> this matter.

Flame all you want. It won't get anyone's attention.

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

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