[extropy-chat] Re: What _is_ it with the WTA board, anyway?
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
sentience at pobox.com
Sun Jan 15 20:14:41 UTC 2006
Hughes, James J. wrote:
>>Jose Cordeiro, Bruce Klein, Harvey
>>Newstrom, and Eliezer Yudkowsky are each to blame, when each
>>and every one of them ran afoul of James Hughes
> Uh, for the record, Mr. Cordeiro just withdrew from running for
> re-election, Bruce Klein and Harvey Newstrom resigned from the Board,
> and Mr. Yudkowsky lost a re-relection.
> So I don't know how I can be blamed for 'driving out' Yudkowsky. And
> yes, the other three Board members and I had many disagreements. But
> neither I, nor any Board member, moved to have them removed from the
For the record, James Hughes did drive me out of the WTA.
First, about the election. When the WTA first formed, the five founding
directors who received the largest number of votes - that is, the five
most popular directors - were all lumped together into the even-numbered
years. As a result, I was routinely running for re-election against the
likes of Nick Bostrom. So at one point I was bumped out of the Top Five
group (by Harvey Newstrom). However, I certainly would have run for
re-election in the subsequent odd-numbered year, since an umbrella
organization for transhumanist groups (which is how the WTA was proposed
to the founding Directors) should surely represent Singularitarians and
the Singularity Institute; I liked the work WTA was doing, and my
presence on the Board would continue to attract Singularitarians to the WTA.
Except that I'd just spent the entire preceding two years using my own
reputational capital to try and patch relations with transhumanist
groups Hughes had offended, and objecting to the sly spins and digs that
Hughes would slip into WTA publications. I wanted to make sure
transhumanism didn't end up polarized. Hughes's own agenda was, and
appears to still be, to create and drive a wedge between transhumanists
of different political orientations. I presume this is because Hughes
wants to be the big fish of a leftist transhumanism, even if that means
splitting off a smaller pond. And if Hughes picks a fight, why, you'll
have to pick sides, and once you pick Hughes's side he can get away with
anything because he's on *your* side; an old, old, trick. I am still
strongly opposed to this, but I have more important things to do with my
life than fighting Hughes. It's *tiring*. I could be re-elected to the
Board any time I wish, I'm pretty sure; I left the WTA because I just
didn't have the energy anymore. That, too, is an old, old, trick.
I can't back Jose Cordeiro on the accusations he made against any of the
WTA Directors who were present during my own tenure. It is implausible
that so many bad apples would end up on the WTA Board. One may well
suspect that Cordeiro himself is also at fault. I never had trouble
with anyone except Hughes.
From time to time, I find it necessary to say nasty things about
someone, for example, James Hughes. When I do, I am forthright about
the fact that I am doing it, and I present my reasons for doing so. I
don't blink cutely and say "Who, me?" James Hughes seems to think he
can say nasty things about SIAI or drive Directors off the Board, and
then stand around with an innocent look on his face. Maybe Hughes has,
by repeating it often enough, convinced even himself that he is the
offended party. So let's be clear about this: Hughes is systematically
offending other transhumanist organizations and he cannot possibly be
doing it by accident. If you call Natasha Vita-More a "wife", or
Yudkowsky a millennarian apocalyptic, you know full well they'll be
offended; no one is that stupid.
If the WTA kicked out Hughes, the WTA would probably fall apart because
Hughes is doing all the volunteer work.
Good luck solving that one; it's up to you. I've served my time in the
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky http://singinst.org/
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
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