[extropy-chat] an(other) Aussie visits Texas

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky sentience at pobox.com
Mon Jan 29 17:48:02 UTC 2007

Emlyn wrote:
> "... after careful analysis I have developed a sophisticated theory to 
> explain the existence of ... bizarre workplace behaviour. People are 
> idiots. Including me. Everyone is an idiot, not just the people with low 
> SAT scores. The only differences among us is that we're idiots about 
> different things at different times. No matter how smart you are, you 
> spend much of your day being an idiot. That's the central premise of 
> this scholarly work."
> Scott Adams, "The Dilbert Principle"

"'Outside the laboratory, scientists are no wiser than anyone else.' 
...It seems much too pessimistic to say that scientists are literally no 
wiser than average, that there is literally zero correlation.  But the 
proverb does appear true to some degree, and I propose that we should be 
very disturbed by this fact.  We should not sigh, and shake our heads 
sadly.  Rather we should sit bolt upright in alarm.  Why?  Well, suppose 
that an apprentice shepherd is laboriously trained to count sheep, as 
they pass in and out of a fold.  Thus the shepherd knows when all the 
sheep have left, and when all the sheep have returned.  Then you give 
the shepherd a few apples, and say:  "How many apples?"  But the 
shepherd stares at you blankly, because they weren't trained to count 
apples - just sheep.  You would probably suspect that the shepherd 
didn't understand counting very well."

- Eliezer Yudkowsky, "Outside the Laboratory"

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

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