[Exi-bay-chat] The mixed blessing of silence

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky sentience at pobox.com
Wed Jan 18 20:02:22 UTC 2006

It's easy to call for peace, an end to conflict, without blaming any 
specific parties.  It scores you points with everyone who's sick of 
hearing about it, usually the majority.  It sounds like deep wisdom and 
gets you a reputation as a nice guy.

But a population of doves is easily invaded by hawks.  When no one will 
protest, anyone can get away with anything.

There is such a thing as an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy.  There is 
also such a thing as yammering about the subject unproductively  because 
no side is willing to accept anything less than a complete victory.

So I don't feel too guilty about posting my opinions, *once*.  Playing 
flame tennis, on and on, is a bad idea.  Remember, though, that not 
everyone has the luxury of a standing, pre-built reputation good enough 
that they can afford to ignore attacks, confident that others know 
better than to listen.  Don't assume that other people can get away with 
ignoring attacks.  They're not responding to annoy you, they're 
responding because there are real penalties for not responding.

I know you're fed up with big messy public battles.  The alternative may 
be for things to go wrong silently.  That is the option you are 
presented with, when you hear the deeply wise, easy, convenient calls 
for everyone to just shut up.  It doesn't get rid of the problem.  It 
shuts off the sensor that lights up to indicate the problem.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                          http://singinst.org/
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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