Reading Yudkowsky, part 61

by Luke Muehlhauser on August 1, 2011 in Eliezer Yudkowsky,Resources,Reviews

AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky is something of an expert at human rationality, and at teaching it to others. His hundreds of posts at Less Wrong are a treasure trove for those who want to improve their own rationality. As such, I’m reading all of them, chronologically.

I suspect some of my readers want to “level up” their rationality, too. So I’m keeping a diary of my Yudkowsky reading. Feel free to follow along.

His 628th post announces plans for branching off Overcoming Bias into Less Wrong (which at the time did not exist). Next comes Rationality Quotes 25.

Value is Fragile is one of Eliezer’s most central:

Any Future not shaped by a goal system with detailed reliable inheritance from human morals and metamorals, will contain almost nothing of worth.

The next several posts contain Eliezer’s novella that illustrates his meta-ethical views, Three Worlds Collide:

  1. The Baby-Eating Aliens
  2. War and/or Peace
  3. The Super Happy People
  4. Interlude with the Confessor
  5. Three Worlds Decide
  6. Normal Ending: Last Tears
  7. True Ending: Sacrificial Fire
  8. Epilogue: Atonement

Next is The Thing That I Protect:

What does bring tears to my eyes? Imagining a future where humanity has its act together. Imagining children who grow up never knowing our world, who don’t even understand it. Imagining the rescue of those now in sorrow, the end of nightmares great and small. Seeing in reality the real sorrows that happen now, so many of which are unnecessary even now. Seeing in reality the signs of progress toward a humanity that’s at least trying to get its act together and become something more – even if the signs are mostly just symbolic: a space shuttle launch, a march that protests a war.

And Say No More of It warns that some subjects can be poisonous to the pursuit of rationality.

Moral Truth in Fiction recounts an interesting debate on whether or not fiction is good for rationalists.

Informers and Persuaders is a very fun post about one of my favorite subjects: how to write.

Cynicism and Ev-Psych (and Econ?) considers the differences in cynicism between two fields: evolutionary psychology and microeconomics. The Evolutionary-Cognitive Boundary advocates “for language that separates out evolutionary causes and clearly labels them.” Next are An Especially Elegant Evpsych Experiment and Rationality Quotes 26.

Next, An African Folktale that illustrates how different some cultures are from our own.

Eliezer is Cynical About Cynicism:

I’m cynical about cynicism. I don’t believe that most cynicism is really about knowing better. When I see someone being cynical, my first thought is that they’re trying to show off their sophistication and assert superiority over the naive.

Unfortunately, Good Idealistic Books are Rare. Against Maturity explains why Eliezer, supposed “sage of rationality,” likes to quote anime fanfiction. Eliezer also warns against Pretending to be Wise by suspending judgment indefinitely or staying neutral. Wise Pretentions v.0 is an earlier essay on that same subject. Next is Rationality Quotes 27.

Fairness vs. Goodness considers an early study on the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

On Not Having an Advance Abyssal Plan recommends having a plan for the worst case scenario instead of saying “We’ll figure out what to do when it happens, if it happens.”

About Less Wrong is the introduction to the purpose and use of Less Wrong, which had just launched. (Eliezer’s previous posts had originally been posted to Overcoming Bias.)

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Martin Freedman August 1, 2011 at 4:57 am

Yawn :-(

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soupsayer August 1, 2011 at 6:12 am

No, Martin, this is exciting… because there is like less than 10 of these banked Yud summaries left!

The question is, which T-Shirt slogan;

“I survived 67+ Yud Summaries on CSA!”

or

“I read 67+ Yud Summaries on CSA and all I got was 67+ mugshots of Yud !!!… and this lousy T-Shirt”

(of course the second slogan would include the stock Yud mugshot photo on the T-Shirt)

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Dan Brown August 1, 2011 at 11:33 am

NOT reading Muehlhauser part 61!

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Bret August 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm
Rufus August 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

@Dan Brown,

Hey, to each his own. I refuse to read The Lost Symbol. ;-)

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Adito August 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Why do people keep posting in these summaries just to say they don’t like them? Luke is aware he’s not posting a ton of content like he usually does. He’s been told a hundred times now. He has no obligation to supply interesting tidbits to people over pursuing his own goals.

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Luke Muehlhauser August 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Bret,

Yeah, some people enjoy them. Certainly, it’s much quicker than browsing through the entire archives of Less Wrong like I did. :)

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joseph August 1, 2011 at 8:22 pm

“I’m cynical about cynicism. I don’t believe that most cynicism is really about knowing better. When I see someone being cynical, my first thought is that they’re trying to show off their sophistication and assert superiority over the naive.”

I understood the drive of this, but found it funny that it leads to a regress:

“Well I’m cynical about cynicism about cynicism. I don’t believe that most cynicism about cynicism is really about knowing better. When I see someone being cynical, about cynicism, my first thought is that they’re trying to show off their sophistication and assert superiority over the naively cynical.”

Realistically i think we all consciously and subconsciously assign a level of cynicism, it’s just that to do it rationally we have to attempt to look into the black boxes of our subconscious and attempt to make our cynicism consistent, useful and logical.

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soupsayer August 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Adito,

You’re totally right, I shouldn’t post just to say that I’m no Yud fan. I tell myself not to post, then I read more of Yud’s self-exalted drivel – and I just can’t help myself.

Plus, this week I noticed that Yud added another cog towards becoming a full-on, waco-style, fringe extremist cult. He already had the requisite cult traits of prophecy, armageddon, indoctrination courses (This one time, at rationality camp…. ), and the claim of not being a cult.

Now he has added massive fund-raising in the form of some $125,000 fund drive. That will buy a lot of Kool-Aid you know….

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Colin August 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm

““I read 67+ Yud Summaries on CSA and all I got was 67+ mugshots of Yud !!!… and this lousy T-Shirt”

(of course the second slogan would include the stock Yud mugshot photo on the T-Shirt)”

Oh man, that’s rich.

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Dan Brown August 2, 2011 at 7:41 am

@Rufus
I haven’t read it either but I’d gladly bank the proceeds.
I do like Chaka Khan though…
Tell me somthin’ good!

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Matt DeStefano August 2, 2011 at 10:28 am

Man, all this hatred for the Yudkowsky series! I enjoy them, although I usually end up reading his posts anyways.

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Adito August 3, 2011 at 12:41 am

soupsayer,

That kind of broad criticism isn’t useful either. At least engage with what he’s saying and point out where he goes wrong.

To accomplish anything on a large scale you need to organize and you need funding. There’s nothing suspicious about this.

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cl August 4, 2011 at 8:48 am

soupsayer,

You’re totally right, I shouldn’t post just to say that I’m no Yud fan. I tell myself not to post, then I read more of Yud’s self-exalted drivel – and I just can’t help myself.

Plus, this week I noticed that Yud added another cog towards becoming a full-on, waco-style, fringe extremist cult. He already had the requisite cult traits of prophecy, armageddon, indoctrination courses (This one time, at rationality camp…. ), and the claim of not being a cult.

Now he has added massive fund-raising in the form of some $125,000 fund drive. That will buy a lot of Kool-Aid you know….

LOL!

Adito,

Why do people keep posting in these summaries just to say they don’t like them? Luke is aware he’s not posting a ton of content like he usually does. He’s been told a hundred times now. He has no obligation to supply interesting tidbits to people over pursuing his own goals.

Why does the fact that people express their own opinions bother you? Are you Luke’s little defender??

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Rufus August 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm

@Dan Brown,

Per your request: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Doesn’t get much better than that!

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