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Old 06-08-2008, 10:38 AM
Incompetence Dodger Incompetence Dodger is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 45
Default Re: Science Saturday: Singularity Edition

We're up to around 13 diavlogs per week, including a Science Saturday that is consistently worth watching twice. My record of listening to every diavlog since the beginning is in serious danger of being broken.

Meh, I'm not as put off by John's 'tude as some others are. He's been on SciSat long enough that we should all know that he's, to say the least, not a disinterested observer of the AI, neuroscience, etc. scene (much as we all know that Conn Carroll is not an impartial observer of the political world, and yet he has interesting things to say much of the time). Frankly I think everybody is just peeved because John threw the bhTV audience under the bus in the first three minutes (take a tip from Mickey and wait until the end of the diavlog to do that).

I was really impressed by Eli. In particular, there were three things he said that really set off a fire in my mind: 1) the idea that the reverse of stupidity is not necessarily intelligence: 2) the idea that the more brainpower you bring to bear on a misbegotten idea, the worse you can make things; and 3) that you need to bring most skepticism possible to bear precisely on those hypotheses that you want to be true (I've been beating the drum for this one for years).

However, precisely because Eli was so impressive, I'm going to have to call him out for this. Oh come on, Eli, that's a sub-David-Frum-level attempt at slight-of-hand. (The 10,000 years business is a bit of a cop-out, too).

I wish John had brought up what I think is one of the most effective notes of skepticism with regard to the singularity: namely, that it's an example of what I call the reverse Malthusian fallacy. By which I mean that you can take any existing accelerating trend and project it out to come to an absurd (yet compelling) conclusion. I worked on Wall St. at the turn of the century; believe me, I had a front row seat on one of the most notable recent examples of this fallacy. Given that a reverse Malthusian effect has never before in history continued on to the logical conclusion, I think the burden of proof is on the Singularitarians.
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