[extropy-chat] Name that system

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Wed Dec 20 00:19:41 UTC 2006

Robert Bradbury wrote:
> In my somewhat common "cut to the chase" perspective,
> let us be clear on several aspects -- what is being
> argued is to << 1% of the < 10% (of the really educated)
> which are of course < 50% (of the average) which are
> < 60+% of the majority of people on the planet. 
> Draw me a picture.  Does any of the discussion on this
> thread (or the related threads) make any actual
> difference?  As Giu1i0 pointed out only 30 people,
> presumably many on this list or related lists, attended
> Anders' discussion in Second Life on "raging against
> aging".  Presumably many of the participants have heard
> it all before at Extro III, Extro IV, etc.  Recycled
> memes are not propagated memes. 
Robert, thanks for your feedback. Let me try to be very low key here:

I really can't tell what proportion of those on the extropian list grok or value what I'm saying. I estimate that people who read it and immediately understand it are around 4-sigma wrt the general population.  I estimate that the extropian list is generally about 1-sigma ahead of the curve, with an asymmetrical distribution and probably a small hump around the 3-sigma point (wrt the general population), but I'm aware that people who know the most tend to talk the least (unless they feel they have something important to say) so this may skew my estimate, but probably not enough to matter.  With a few hundred people on this list, the likelihood is that no one immediately grasps the lot of it but that a handful could grasp it rather quickly if they become interested.

The importance to society is very significant, in my opinion, and as I've stated at various times in various ways.

I know that I would have paid A LOT in my twenties to have had a few of these issues worked out and handed to me. It would have saved me thousands of hours and I might have proceeded to implementation a lot sooner.  I also realize that understanding requires background and time to assimilate, and that there are currently no effective shortcuts.  Worse, a review of the current literature on topics of mind shows that the most prominent researchers are steeped in centuries-old misconceptions and they either don't realize it or they are aware but can't step outside and remain effective in academia!

When I see someone like Thomas, or Anna, asking sincere questions on these topics that have been hashed and rehashed here among the old-timers, I wish there were an effective resource to which we could refer them, but currently lacking that, I sometimes see value in spending an hour or two planting some seeds of thought in the hope that they might flourish.

When I see someone like Lee mounting a gallant charge, but with a piece of armor missing and a kink in his jousting lance, I naively expect that he would thank me for pointing it out, repeatedly forgetting that for some the pleasure is in the polemics.

When I see someone like Rafal clearly and coherently explain his point of view I feel great joy in the clarity, but trepidation over how we will overcome the problems of incongruent values and contexts.

Damien recently forwarded a link to a quite enjoyable book, _Blindsight_, that would be worthy of discussion in this same vein.  While showing excellent insight and technical detail, the premise was that a sense of self is not a beneficial adaptation, nor is it necessary one for advanced intelligence, but that it in fact tends to be detrimental to survival.  Do you think this would be a suitable topic for discussion here as it relates to humanity vis-à-vis AI? How many people here do you think really have a good grasp of the essential ideas?

Knowing that only a very few could relate, understand, or criticize these concepts, I've tested them by explained to a few deep-thinking friends and I've broached them on SL4, ExI and occasionally the WTA list.  A few have understood, and none have shown that they both understood and disagree.  Thankfully, I have yet to be labeled a crank, although that could be the likely outcome of continuing this path.

Another motivation for discussing these ideas online has been to try to gauge the effectiveness of meme propagation via such a medium.  That experiment is complete.

A few people have tried to help me understand that these days more that ever, attention means entertainment.  They've also repeatedly pointed out that the chunks I dish out are too large to digest.  I've taken this advice to heart and am considering how to move on to parable writing.


- Jef


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