[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
> Board.

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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