Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Stop Worrying About the Future Robocalypse.

You already died in the robocalypse when you became somebody who can't "live" without your crappy phone.


jimf said...

> Stop Worrying About the Future Robocalypse

But what about the coming Global Nanowar?
Reconciling Transhumanism and Neoreaction
Posted on May 23, 2013 by Michael Anissimov

. . .

When people understand the true extent of the feasibility and
power of molecular manufacturing, a grim attitude tends to set
in due to all the palpable risks. . .

Speaking for myself personally, my key motivation is not having
to witness or experience global nanowar. . .

You know, there was a catfight recently in the "rationalist"
blogosphere that provoked some interesting commentary.

There's a loosely-affliliated group of self-styled "Tumblr rationalists",
some of whom overlap with the LessWrong community, and some of whom have
become skeptical of LW-style rationalism. One of these
guys has the handle "su3su2u1" (it's a physics thing ;-> ).
So anyway, this guy often exhibits attitudes and opinions short
of the standard of respect (if not adulation) that some
of the hard-core LWers feel that they (and their guru) deserve.

So "su3su2u1"s Tumblr editorializing recently got up the nose
of a certain staunch defender of the LW/MIRI faith, one
Alyssa Vance:
Hey! This is the LinkedIn of Alyssa Vance,
President of MetaMed Research, Singularity Institute Visiting Fellow,
futurist, researcher, writer, programmer and aspiring rationalist. . .

who has a blog:
Promoting the reality-based community. . .

and who authored a post there blasting her ideological opponent, thus:
Don’t Bother Arguing With su3su2u1

su3su2u1 is a pseudonymous Internet author who posts to many places,
most notably Tumblr. He has argued, at great length, that MIRI is
not a real research organization and that Eliezer Yudkowsky is
a crackpot. . .

The impudence! Anyway, the comment thread of that post contained some stuff
about K. Eric Drexler's brand of nanotechnology (some of the sniping had
to do with the Richard E. Smalley vs. Drexler thing). That comment
was widely reposted by the LW-skeptical "Tumblr rationalists"
(including David Gerard of RationalWiki, who is "reddragdiva" on

It might be worth quoting here. (I'll start a new comment for
that. ;-> )

jimf said...
September 8, 2015 7:04 pm

Background: I am qualified to peer review nanotech publications and have
done so many times. I am a materials scientist who wears a lab-coat
almost every day.

I dislike relying on peer review as an unbreakable backstop. Yes, it’s
an important step in vetting material, but it isn’t the end-all. As
you know, the fact that a belief made it through peer review doesn’t
make it true. It also doesn’t reflect a general scientific consensus,
which is the actual thing you should most often trust. I can confirm
su3su2u1’s statement about actual lab-coat wearing materials scientists
and what they think of Drexler’s nanomachine stuff. His and my viewpoint
on this is not unanimous, but widely held. So why doesn’t it appear
in the peer reviewed literature? From my perspective: why the hell
would anyone go to the trouble? Most materials scientists are too
busy doing actual science to spend time publishing untestable opinions
about the future of nanotech. Smalley took the time to do this
(and he was an uncharacteristically philosophical materials scientist)
in the C&EN column. Beyond that there isn’t much reason to do so.
It won’t advance your career. It’s not worth arguing over such unlikely
hypotheticals. So you don’t find these refutations in the literature.
Most scientists consider it a matter of opinion (and frankly, it’s not
bad for your field to take on a mythical status, true or not. “Nano”
has gotten sooo much money just for being nano.).

So a question for you: what is more valuable in shaping your
opinion, the fact that no materials scientists have taken time to
publish their personal response to Drexler, or the fact that most
of them are highly skeptical of his point of view? Or if this is new
information to you, do you consider it relevant to your opinion?



jimf said...

September 8, 2015 8:26 pm

(Note: I’ve verified that AlkalineHume does have real science credentials.)

Thanks for your comment – I think it’s good to hear from someone with
real experience in a relevant field. Of course, I agree that wrong
ideas sometimes get through peer review. For that matter, as I’ve
said in earlier comments, I wouldn’t be all that surprised myself
if Drexler turned out to be wrong about the practicality of nanoassemblers.
But the problem isn’t that su3su2u1 thinks Drexler is wrong – scientists
think other scientists are wrong all the time. The problem is that
su3su2u1 dismisses Drexler as a “crackpot” who isn’t even worth taking
seriously, in the same way one might dismiss Gene Ray’s Time Cube,
despite Drexler having every conceivable qualification in the field
he largely invented. The problem is that su3su2u1 claims to have
identified basic, fundamental science errors in Drexler’s work, without
even directly citing any specific paper by Drexler, and without any
explanation as to how these fundamental errors weren’t caught by the
six separate MIT professors who reviewed Drexler’s thesis, any of the
peer reviewers who looked at Drexler’s dozens of publications, and
any of the thousands of academics who have cited Drexler.

I’ve heard the “everyone is too busy” theory before, but I’m frankly
skeptical of it. As I noted in my edit to the main post, Drexler’s
book Nanosystems (an edited version of his PhD thesis) has been cited
over 1,700 times per Google Scholar. His nontechnical book,
Engines of Creation, has been cited over 2,200 times. His original
1981 paper in PNAS has been cited over 500 times. Clearly, many,
many people have seen his work and think it’s worth discussing. And,
quite frankly, it seems pretty likely that many scientists now working
in nano wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for funding caused by Drexler’s
advocacy during the 90s. I feel like a standard which lets Drexler
be dismissed, on the grounds that “it’s clearly wrong, but nobody
has the time to write a paper refuting it”, is so broad that it
could be used to dismiss almost any idea, even foundational ones
like the Big Bang theory. How can science ever arrive at the truth,
if everyone simply dismisses any new idea, no matter how well-argued
and well-supported, without bothering to write a real refutation?

And yes, I feel that, if someone has gone through the trouble of
writing up detailed, technical literature that makes it through peer
review, it’s academia’s responsibility to reply in kind, before
simply dismissing the author as a “crackpot” who isn’t even worth
talking to. Daryl Bem’s work on ESP is, by any standard, far more
radical than anything Drexler has written. If Bem is correct,
we need to throw out several fundamental laws of physics (and for
that matter biology), like the unidirectional flow of time. But
Bem took the time to do his experiment, and he wrote it up with
statistics and technical details in place of anecdotes, and he got
it through the official peer review process. And so Wagenmakers
looked at his claims, and wrote a detailed, thorough, technical
refutation, which he also had peer-reviewed
( And I think the
world is much better off for him having done so – even though I
think Bem is obviously wrong, Wagenmakers’ paper pointed out
several major changes that we ought to make to psychological
research generally.


jimf said...

September 8, 2015 9:13 pm

“But the problem isn’t that su3su2u1 thinks Drexler is wrong –
scientists think other scientists are wrong all the time. The problem
is that su3su2u1 dismisses Drexler as a “crackpot” who isn’t even
worth taking seriously, in the same way one might dismiss
Gene Ray’s Time Cube, despite Drexler having every conceivable
qualification in the field he largely invented.”

In his debate with Drexler, Smalley accuses Drexler of being
“in a pretend world” and selling “a bedtime story.” I might be
misreading this, but that sounds like Smalley politely telling
Drexler “you’re nuts,” as directly as possible given the venue.

On top of that, Julius Rebek, who was part of MIT’s chemistry
department at the time Drexler got his Ph.D., has been quoted
in Wired magazine saying that Drexler’s thesis, “showed utter
contempt for chemistry. And the mechanosynthesis stuff I saw
in that thesis might as well have been written by somebody on
controlled substances.”

So su3su2u1’s assessment of Drexler doesn’t sound like it’s
outside the range of things respectable scientists have said.


jimf said...

September 8, 2015 11:41 pm

Thanks for your reply. I can appreciate that it’s difficult
to swallow that no materials scientists are down for this debate.
Perhaps it is a little strange, but I think that’s partly due to
a disconnect between the general materials science perception of
Drexler and the more lay-person perception. The general materials
science perception of Drexler is, and I quote, “who?” His nano-related
work is mostly non-technical and sort of meta-sciency. When I think
of the “founders” of nano, Drexler doesn’t crack the list by a
long shot. Besides the Feynman talk, you have Smalley, Louis Brus,
Paul Alivisatos, Moungi Bawendi. They all have boatloads of students
who’ve gone on to make big contributions. (My list is very
chemist-biased, so if there are any top-down nano people in the
crowd I apologize.) But Drexler isn’t a scientist, frankly. Not
that that’s a condemnation, just that it’s hard to found a science
field without doing much science. That’s why the “everyone is too busy”
argument holds up. Yes, they’re too busy to take on a debate with
someone in a totally different non-science field that honestly isn’t
all that relevant to what they do. (And note that to debate that point
you have to argue that most materials scientists don’t agree with my
position, which I assure you they do.)

jimf said...

So you might ask, if they’re too busy to refute him why are they
citing him? I’d be curious to know how many of those citations are
from actual science papers as opposed to meta-sciency stuff. They
could all be, I really don’t know. But for those that are hard-science
citations, it comes back to incentive. If you’re writing an intro
to a paper you’re going to cite people who support you. Drexler clearly
thinks nano is a big deal, so it might make sense to cite him if
you want to support that viewpoint and if you like his work. A couple
thousand citations (modulo however many are meta-science) is honestly
not all that many for a “major” nano paper from decades ago. That’s a
hundred a year. There are thouuuusands of nano papers each year.
Nano Letters alone must publish 30 a week. So yes, he’s being cited,
but not all that much and it’s not clear by whom.

So let’s get back to the su3su2u1 criticism. I haven’t read Drexler’s
book, so I can’t really comment from a place of knowledge. But his
criticism certainly resonates with me. There are absolutely interesting
questions about what can be achieved. According to su* Drexler doesn’t
approach from that angle. So his non-technical criticism is of an
(apparently) non-technical book (again, haven’t read it). I don’t see
much wrong with that. I think the main thing to keep in mind here is
that Drexler not correctly categorized as a scientist. I don’t know
that his ideas merit a highly technical criticism. They are just so
far outside of what we can actually achieve technically that there’s
not honestly all that much to say about them. I think this is where
su*’s Drexler criticism and his MIRI criticism overlap. Both are
responses to the development of highly technical fields that
extrapolate along a very particular direction that may or may
not pan out as the field develops. I have to say I side completely
with su* when he says that the best way to figure out how to keep
AI/nano/whatever friendly is to engage with those fields where
they are, not where you think they might be in X decades. Because
there are so many ways either field could go that it’s like trying
to talk about what you should do in move 50 of a chess game that’s
currently at move 20. For what it’s worth, I think much more
important than the sticky fingers problem is a problem of symmetry.
It is incredibly hard to make free-standing low-symmetry nano-objects
out of anything but biomolecules. There are no really good ideas
around this. If you can’t get low symmetry you really can’t get
anything that looks like a tool. This is a big, big problem.

As always, YMMV.

Let him who has ears to hear. . .
Let him who has eyes to see. . .
Let him who hath understanding. . .

or, alternatively, Let him who boasts. . .

(Google came up with all these; all I did was type
"let him who". I guess that counts as AI, huh? ;-> )

jimf said...

> . . .some of the sniping had to do with the
> Richard E. Smalley vs. Drexler thing. . .

Apropos of which:
[extropy-chat] No rejection of science! Re: SI morality
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky sentience at
Fri Apr 30 16:05:29 UTC 2004

These are extraordinarily different things[:]
The practice of science is a social process.
The consensus of science is an opinion poll.

The actual working part of science is Bayesian probability theory, which
individual scientists and their social dynamics partially and imperfectly
mirror. . . .

Science intrinsically requires individual researchers setting their
judgment above that of the scientific community.  The social process of
science encourages people to do the work and recognizes when they have
done the work.  The social process is not an actual human brain, has not
the power of intelligence.  If individuals do not have novel opinions and,
yes, disagreements, for the scientific process to recognize as correct,
there is no science. . . .

The overall rationality of academia is simply not good enough to handle
some necessary problems, as the case of Drexler illustrates.  Individual
humans routinely do better than the academic consensus. . . .

Yes, the Way of rationality is difficult to follow.  As illustrated by the
difficulty that academia encounters in following.  The social process of
science has too many known flaws for me to accept it as my upper bound.

Academia is simply not that impressive, and is routinely beaten by
individual scientists who learn to examine the evidence supporting the
consensus, apply simple filters to distinguish conclusive experimental
support from herd behavior.  Robyn Dawes is among the scientists who have
helped document the pervasiveness of plausible-sounding consensuses that
directly contradict the available experimental evidence.  Richard Feynman
correctly dismissed psychoanalysis, despite the consensus, because he
looked and lo, there was no supporting evidence whatsoever.  Feynman tells
of how embarassing lessons taught him to do this on individual issues of
physics as well, look up the original experiments and make sure the
consensus was well-supported.

Given the lessons of history, you should sit up and pay attention if Chris
Phoenix says that distinguished but elderly scientists are making blanket
pronunciations of impossibility *without doing any math*, and without
paying any attention to the math, in a case where math has been done.  If
you advocate a blanket acceptance of consensus so blind that I cannot even
apply this simple filter - I'm sorry, I just can't see it.  It seems I
must accept the sky is green, if Richard Smalley says so.

I can do better than that, and so can you.

jimf said...

> Apropos of which:

In the comments of
I mentioned that "Michael Anissimov's 'Accelerating Future'
blog seems to have accelerated out of existence", to which Dale
replied "It is striking how incriminating fingerprints vanish as
the imperishable spirit-stuff of the cyberspace into which so
many of our foolish futurological friends want to upload themselves
breeze and break and bleed away in the buggy buzz. . .
The facile fallacies of the early transhumanoid web are endlessly
recycled, but only those of us with old-fashioned memories of
their nonsense remain to tell the tale."

Apparently, though, anything embarrassing is supposed to **stay** safely
hidden (or at least uncorroborated) in our fallible memories.
Quote mining (also contextomy) is the fallacious tactic of
taking quotes out of context in order to make them seemingly
agree with the quote miner's viewpoint or to make the comments
of an opponent seem more extreme or hold positions they don't
in order to make their positions easier to refute or demonize.
It's a way of lying.

Unless it's not. Tricky things, those logical fallacies.
(See Stephen Bond, "Your Baloney Detection Kit Sucks", 3 Sep 2012
"The Ad Hominem Fallacy Fallacy", 24 Apr 2007 )
Sep 10th, 2015

> Anonymous asked:
> I'm incredibly angry at my community. When XiXiDu [Alexander Kruel]
> was criticizing the SIAI, we shut him down because he attacked
> EY personally and mined quotes from SL4. When Richard Loosemore,
> who actually had some credentials, made his points in print we
> dismissed that criticism because it was strongly worded and gave
> derisive names to some of MIRI's ideas. Why bother responding?

. . .

that history of xixidu is not factually accurate either.
they attacked him for daring to criticise **at all**, and followed
him around the net calling him a lying liar who was lying. and were
unable to produce a single lie any time i asked them.

the reason he put up all the stuff about the basilisk? people
were emailing him asking for help too. so for helping people
yudkowsky and lesswrong refused to help, they hounded him until
he took his stuff down.

note the form of the present criticism: (1) refusal to engage with
the actual words of the criticisms (2) coming up with increasingly
contorted reasons not to engage with the actual words of the criticisms
(3) warning the donors not to read the critics’ words at all.
because a donor who reads the criticisms will. . .

these people.

(and cf. )

jimf said...

To the memory hole! Go!
XiXiDu 29 March 2011 11:28:49AM

> He's a smart 12 year old who has some silly ideas,
> as smart 12 year olds often do, and now he'll never be
> able to live them down because some reporter wrote a
> fluff piece about him.

Reminds me of this old article (04.19.01) about Yudkowsky. . .


Rain 30 March 2011 12:51:04AM

It truly is astonishing, the number of quotes that
XiXiDu has about Eliezer. It's like he has a thick dossier,
slowly accumulating negative content...


timtyler 30 March 2011 11:54:19AM

It would be interesting to see a list of all the material that has
been deleted in cover-up operations over the years. We really
need a SIAIWatch organisation.

some deletions that spring to mind:

Physics Workarounds (archived here)

Coding a Transhuman AI.(archived here)

Eliezer, the person (archived here)

The deleted posts from around the time of Roko's departure.

Algernon's Law: (archived here)

Love and Life Just Before the Singularity

Flare - though remanants survive.

SysopMind. (archived here)

Gaussian Humans (archived here)

The Seed AI page.

Becoming a Seed AI Programmer. (archived here)

The “Commitments” vanished from:

They used to look like this. . .

jimf said...

He's taken his toys and gone home.
ChrisHallquist 02 July 2014

. . .

Eliezer clearly doesn't care about LessWrong anymore, . . .
he seems to post more on Facebook. . .
[T]his is a major reason why this comment is the first
thing I've posted on LessWrong in well over a month. . .


> Eliezer clearly doesn't care about LessWrong anymore. . .

He receives a massive number of likes there, no matter
what he writes. . . [H]e needs that kind of
feedback, and he doesn't get it here anymore. Recently
he requested that a certain topic should not be mentioned
on the HPMOR subreddit, or otherwise he would go elsewhere.
On Facebook he can easily ban people who mention something
he doesn't like.



Given that you directly caused a fair portion of the
thing that is causing him pain (i.e., spreading FUD about him,
his orgs, and etc.), this is like a win for you, right?

Why don't you leave armchair Internet psychoanalysis to experts?



[T]he intended message seems to be "F you for daring to cause
Eliezer pain, by criticizing him and the organization he founded." . . .

[W][hen someone is a public figure, who writes
and speaks about controversial subjects and is the
founder of an org that's fairly aggressive
about asking people for money, they really shouldn't be insulated
from criticism on the basis of their feelings.



> If that's the intended message. . .

It was a reminder to everyone else of
XiXi's general MO, and the benefit he gets from convincing
others that EY is a megalomaniac, using any means necessary.



> Given that you directly caused a fair portion of the thing
> that is causing him pain. . ., this is like a win for you, right?

A win would be if certain people became a little less confident
about the extraordinary claims he makes, and more skeptical of the
mindset that CFAR spreads. . .

> Why don't you leave armchair Internet psychoanalysis to experts?

I speculate that Yudkowsky has narcissistic tendencies. Call it
armchair psychoanalysis if you like, but I think there is enough
evidence to warrant such speculations.



> I speculate that Yudkowsky has narcissistic tendencies. . .

I call it an ignoble personal attack which has no place on this forum.



> I call it an ignoble personal attack. . .

[T]he definition is: "an inflated sense
of one's own importance and a deep need for admiration."

See e.g. this conversation between Ben Goertzel and Eliezer Yudkowsky
(note that MIRI was formerly known as SIAI):
[ ]

. . .

And this kind of attitude started early. . .



> Sorry. It wasn't meant as an attack. . .

Well, **I'm** sorry but when you dig up quotes of your
opponent to demonstrate purported flaws in his character,
it **is** a personal attack. I didn't expect to encounter
this sort of thing in LessWrong. Given the number of upvotes
your comment received, I can understand why Eliezer
prefers Facebook.



Yudkowsky tells other people to get laid. He is asking the community
to downvote certain people. He is calling people permanent idiots
[i.e., Richard Loosemore ;-> ].

He is a forum moderator. He asks people for money. He wants to create
the core of the future machine dictator that is supposed to rule
the universe. . .

I believe that remarks about his personality are
warranted. . . if they are backed up by evidence. . .

I merely uttered a guess on why Yudowsky
might now prefer Facebook over LessWrong. . . Which resulted
in a whole thread about Yudkowsky's personality.

jimf said...

To the Ethics Office! Go!
Breaking the vicious cycle
XiXiDu 23 November 2014

You may know me as the guy who posts a lot of controversial stuff
about LW and MIRI. I don't enjoy doing this and do not want to
continue with it. One reason being that the debate is turning
into a flame war. Another reason is that I noticed that it does
affect my health negatively. . .

I hate this fight and want to end it once and for all. . .

I am also aware that LW and MIRI are bothered by RationalWiki.
As you can easily check from the fossil record, I have at points
tried to correct specific problems. . .



To be honest, I had you pegged as being stuck in a partisan spiral
[is that another LW technical term? Like "affective death spiral"? ;-> ]

Also, you published some very embarrassing quotes from Yudkowsky.
I’m guessing you caused him quite a bit of distress, so he’s
probably not inclined to do you any favors. Mining someone’s
juvenilia for outrageous statements is not productive – I mean
he was 16 when he wrote some of the stuff you quote. I would
remove those pages. Same with the usenet stuff – I know it was
posted publicly but it feels like furtively-recorded conversations
to me all these years later.



To make the first step and show that this is not some kind of
evil ploy, I now deleted the (1) Yudkowsky quotes page
and (2) the post on his personality (explanation on how that
post came about).

I realize that they were unnecessarily offending and apologize
for that. If I could turn back the clock I would do a lot
differently and probably stay completely silent about MIRI and LW.



The stuff that bothers me are Usenet and mailing list quotes
(they are equivalent to passing notes and should be considered
off the record). . .

Young Eliezer was a little crankish and has pretty much grown
out of it. I feel like you're criticising someone who no longer exists.

Also, the page where you try to diagnose him with narcissism
just seems mean.



> Also, the page where you try to diagnose him with narcissism just seems mean.

I can clarify this. I never intended to write that post but was forced to
do so out of self-defense.

I replied to this comment whose author was wondering why Yudkowsky is
using Facebook more than LessWrong these days. To which I replied with
an on-topic speculation based on evidence.

Then people started viciously attacking me, to which I had to respond.
In one of those replies I unfortunately used the term "narcissistic tendencies".
I was then again attacked for using that term. I defended my use of that
term with evidence, the result of which is that post. . .



So let me get this straight - you did a psychiatric diagnosis
over the internet, and instead of saying, 'obviously I'm using
the term colloquially' you provided evidence. . .

and then you are surprised when you get attacked. . .?



Yes, it was a huge overreaction on my side and I shouldn't
have written such a comment in the first place. . .

The point I want to communicate is that I didn't do it out of
some general interest to cause MIRI distress. . .

jimf said...

> Usenet and mailing list quotes. . . are equivalent to passing notes
> and should be considered off the record. . .

That's certainly an interesting take. Don't think it would hold
up in court.

BTW, the URL of xixiDu's original offending blog post (on his own blog,
not LessWrong) was:

The version that the Wayback Machine archived was already edited to
remove offending language like "narcissistic":

The comments on that post (including my own) were saved by the hosting
("RedneckCryonicist" is none other than our pal Mark Plus. ;-> )

jimf said...

What he said:
I know I my obsession with Big Yud / Less Wrong / “rationalists” / etc.
must seem like it goes beyond the bounds of all sense at times,
but really I’m just amazed at how much weird internet stuff I
can manage to find by mining this particular vein. It just never ends. . .

Just don't choke on the popcorn.

jimf said...
Come With Us If You Want to Live
Among the apocalyptic libertarians of Silicon Valley
By Sam Frank
January 2015

. . .

Some months later, I came across the Tumblr of Blake Masters,
who was then a Stanford law student and tech entrepreneur in
training. His motto — “Your mind is software. Program it.
Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it.
Extinction is approaching. Fight it.” — was taken from a
science-fiction role-playing game. Masters was posting rough
transcripts of Peter Thiel’s Stanford lectures on the founding
of tech start-ups. I had read about Thiel, a billionaire
who cofounded PayPal with Elon Musk and invested early in
Facebook. His companies Palantir Technologies and
Mithril Capital Management had borrowed their names from
Tolkien. Thiel was a heterodox contrarian, a Manichaean
libertarian, a reactionary futurist.

“I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,”
Thiel wrote in 2009. Freedom might be possible, he imagined,
in cyberspace, in outer space, or on high-seas homesteads,
where individualists could escape the “terrible arc of the political.”
Lecturing in Palo Alto, California, Thiel cast self-made
company founders as saviors of the world:

> There is perhaps no specific time that is necessarily right
> to start your company or start your life. But some times
> and some moments seem more auspicious than others. Now is
> such a moment. If we don’t take charge and usher in the
> future — if you don’t take charge of your life — there is
> the sense that no one else will. So go find a frontier
> and go for it.

Blake Masters — the name was too perfect — had, obviously,
dedicated himself to the command of self and universe. He did
CrossFit and ate Bulletproof, a tech-world variant of the
paleo diet. On his Tumblr’s About page, since rewritten,
the anti-belief belief systems multiplied, hyperlinked to
Wikipedia pages or to the confoundingly scholastic website
Less Wrong: “Libertarian (and not convinced there’s irreconcilable
fissure between deontological and consequentialist camps).
Aspiring rationalist/Bayesian. Secularist/agnostic/ignostic . . .
Hayekian. As important as what we know is what we don’t.
Admittedly eccentric.” Then: “Really, really excited to be in
Silicon Valley right now, working on fascinating stuff with
an amazing team.” . . .

jimf said...

> ---------------
> Come With Us If You Want to Live
> Among the apocalyptic libertarians of Silicon Valley
> By Sam Frank
> January 2015
> ====

And cf.

Faith, Hope, and Singularity: Entering the Matrix with New York’s Futurist Set
It's the end of the world as we know it, and they feel fine.
By Nitasha Tiku 7/25/2012 8:45am
(there's an excerpt in the comment thread of )

For more, shall we say, **unrestrained** commentary, you can consult:

Kiwi Farms
Lolcow/Community Watch forum

Something Awful
General Bullshit 2: On The Move/The Less Wrong Mock Thread: The Big Yudkowsky

Mean-spirited, low entertainment? Sure. **Undeserved**? You decide.
(One or two of the participants in those threads do think it's undeserved.
The rest don't.)

There have been many, uh, eccentric people making spectacles of themselves
on-line since the ancient days of Usenet. There was once even a FAQ
that attempted to keep track of them all (the Net.Legends.FAQ, not updated
in 20 years ). A character
like the "Doctress Neutopia" must have provided plenty of somewhat
mean-spirited entertainment for her Usenet readers back in the day,
but it's unlikely that anyone ever worried that she might have the
slightest pernicious effect in the general arena of public discourse.

This is not the case with the LW guru. The connections with
reactionary politics, Silicon Valley wealth, uncritical journalism,
and impressionable 20-something students in STEM fields,
make this "reality distortion field" (as the late Steve Jobs' sometimes
baleful influence was once called) worthy of public exposure, and
even outright mockery.

jimf said...

There's a fossil of a fossil of a defunct blog post at
(via )

which contains:

The End of Rationality

. . .

I'm basically done with rationality. OK, seriously now. I've always enjoyed
XiXiDu's criticisms on LW, but for over a year now, whenever I read his
stuff I wonder why he **keeps on making it**. I mean, he has been saying
(more-or-less correctly so, I think) that SIAI and the LW sequences score
high on any crackpot test, that virtually no expert in the field takes any
of it seriously, that rationality (in the LW sense) has not shown any
tangible results, that there are problems so huge you can fly a whole
destructor fleet through, that the Outside View utterly disagrees
with both the premises and conclusions of most LW thought, that actually
taking it seriously should drive people insane, and much more for month
after month, and every time I wonder, dude, you're **right**, why
don't you let it go? Why do you struggle again and again to understand
it, to make sense of it, to fight your way through the sequences the
way priests read scripture? Why don't you **leave**? And then I
wondered why **I** don't leave. So now I do.

I barely have enough faith to serve one absent god. I can't also make
non-functional rationality work. Recite the litany of the Outside View
with me: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and
expecting different results."

So I guess this guy has fled the scene, in the wake of Roko Mijic
(and presumably others less famous).

That page image also has the following disclaimer at the top:


This page has been disowned according to the Condemnation of 2012.
The author does not endorse or deny any of the views expressed here,
even when it may appear so, and will not discuss them. . .

Wow. The author is "muflax" (apparently one Stefan Dorn), who was once
a user at LessWrong, but isn't anymore. He's had several blogs,
all now defunct ("buried"), and he took care in advance to prevent
them from being archived by using the "robots.txt"
protocol (,
which the Wayback Machine honors. However, folks have taken to making
their own backups of Web material that they suspect might turn out to
be from a volatile source. So in this case, we have the backup of a backup.

I find this whole notion that people (especially people who have
gone out of their way to make their views public, like by having
a blog or having participated in a publicly-archived mailing list)
should have the right to manage their Web footprints according
to their own whims and PR needs, and should be able to justly
accuse (or be able to rely on public opinion to condemn) others of being unfair
or impolite for digging them up (as in "I know it was posted publicly
but it feels like furtively-recorded conversations to me all these years later. . .
Usenet and mailing list quotes. . . are equivalent to passing notes
and should be considered off the record. . .") highly disturbing.
The idea that once-public communication should be retroactively privatizable,
at the whim of the original author -- that's right out of the Ministry of Truth's
playbook. Don't ever count on **me** to honor somebody's sensitivities
in that department! (Or the New York Times, for that matter, unless
this country really does turn into the Republic of Gilead, or
some such thing.)