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

Friday, November 02, 2007

"I Am Fact Guy"

Oh, those wacky Singularitarians! A fellow named Brian Wang has taken special umbrage at some of the comments I have directed at Superlative and Sub(cult)ural Technocentrics in a long ongoing discussion taking place over at Michael Anissimov's place "Accelerating Future." For the substance of the actual critique that has so exercised poor Brian I recommend people nibble at the texts available in my Superlative Summary. For those who already have the substance down, but find themselves still craving something more, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, Brian Wang:
I know many things are incomprehensible to you. You are not very smart.

Why don’t you jettison your focus on high progressive taxes, guaranteed income and socialized medicine Dale? It is too long term and even more unlikely to happen in the United States than transhumanism.

Just so we're all on the same page now, by "transhumanism" here, I assume Brian means to indicate his faith in the looming arrival within the lifetimes of many now living of superlative technologies delivering techno-utopian free market superabundance, medical or even "digitized" Immortality and a Singularitarian "End of History" via the appearance of an artificial superintelligent Robot God. I am not joking, I think he probably really literally does believe something along these lines. And it this set of Superlative outcomes that he is assessing as more "likely" than the re-instatement of more progressive taxes and the implementation of universal healthcare (or "taxes as slavery" and "socialized medicine" for those among you of the reactionary wingnut set who like to rub elbows among the transhumanists).
Your relabeled extreme socialism makes you sound crazy.

Did you enjoy it when I freaked you out ? I know you did not. You told me yourself. Yet you did not learn anything from it. You are not a villain, but you are a pathetic immoral worm. A moral person who knows that it is bad for them to do something would stop doing it even if they enjoyed doing it. I enjoy rubbing your face in it. The reason it it is moral for me to do so is because you are not a moral person as you have shown and stated. I get to bully the bully. I own you.

I am fact guy who is immune to your manipulation. So if you want to have a survey of your explicitly offered reasons then you can dig them up and present them yourself.

I like the part where Brian suggests my advocacy of progressive taxes makes me sound crazy and then follows with a long deep dose of sane, Brian Wang style.

In a past exchange in which Brian was smugly explaining to me why nuclear proliferation was an issue overblown by lefty literary types who lack his own command of the relevant facts of the matter I found myself so disgusted I told him he really ought to be posting elsewhere than here. Given my description of Amor Mundi as "scattered technoprogressive speculations from a social democratic secular feminist vegetarian post-natural green anti-militarist cyborg queer academic" it is rather difficult to imagine that such a reaction would seem surprising to Brian.

But I admit it would be unfair of me to spotlight Brian's intemperate remarks in this way and forbid him space to respond…

So I have changed my mind: Do feel welcome to go right ahead and comment to your heart's content, Brian Wang, should you want to do so.

Honestly. Let it out, guy.

I might even upgrade especially choice bits for the front page.


Marc_Geddes said...

What a loon Brian is. Probably one of the Libertarian crack-pots (this crack-pot political ideology is still highly popular among the self-proclaimed 'super-genius' Singularitarians).

For the benefit of blog readers, let me put a swift foot up the pants of this nasty crack-pot political ideology (Libertarianism) so rampant along the circles the erstwhile Brian frequents.

Please carefully read this 'Scientific American' article:

The Social Welfare State, beyond Ideology

Are higher taxes and strong social "safety nets" antagonistic to a prosperous market economy? The evidence is now in


"Most of the debate in the U.S. is clouded by vested interests and by ideology. Yet there is by now a rich empirical rec-ord to judge these issues scientifically."

"The high-tax, high-income states are the Nordic social democracies, notably Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, which have been governed by left-of-center social democratic parties for much or all of the post¿World War II era."

"On average, the Nordic countries outperform the Anglo-Saxon ones on most measures of economic performance. Poverty rates are much lower there, and national income per working-age population is on average higher."

"Von Hayek was wrong. In strong and vibrant democracies, a generous social-welfare state is not a road to serfdom but rather to fairness, economic equality and international competitiveness."


An exchange I had with economist Robin Hanson from the 'Future of Humanity Institute' blog last year:

Thread: 'Why Are Academics Liberal?'

"In the US at least, academics are more liberal and Democratic than ordinary people. While among ordinary people the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is about 1:1, academia as a whole has a ratio of 5:1, and the humanities and social sciences have a ratio of 8:1"

The fact is that liberal positions are overwhelming the dominant academic view-point even among economists ;) It's not as if economics is a new field. It's a mature field with plenty of data. It seems hard to believe that (for example) there's some sort of systematic bias magically rendering 75% of all economists the inability to think straight (3:1 ratio of liberals to others in economics). Therefore a priori the suspicion of irrationality must fall on the dissenters (the non liberals).

Posted by: Marc_Geddes | November 27, 2006 at 11:24 PM


Marc, yes, if all we knew was that academics tended to favor a position, after correcting for any obvious self-interest, then we would think that view more likely than not to be correct. Knowing that the issue is a social one weakens the effect, but the effect is still there.

Posted by: Robin Hanson | November 27, 2006 at 11:30 PM


And in Yudkowsky's own recent words:

"Novices should agree with experts"

Time for Brian to listen to his leader.

jfehlinger said...

Marc Geddes wrote:

> And in Yudkowsky's own recent words:
> "Novices should agree with experts"
> Time for Brian to listen to his leader.

Ah, but which side of the leader's mouth?

The leader has also said (and this time from the heart,
[extropy-chat] No rejection of science! Re: SI morality
Fri Apr 30 10:05:29 MDT 2004

Science intrinsically requires individual researchers setting their
judgment above that of the scientific community. . .

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 [it].  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.  . .

It seems I must accept the sky is green, if Richard Smalley says so.

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

In other words, if you just **know** in your bones that you're
a Soopergenius (TM), then you can drop out of school after
8th grade and still count as an "expert". With the blessings
of the Midwest Talent Search, let us acknowledge.

"A Great Admiration"
"I always wanted to be a genius... Ever since my fifth
year I pretended to be thoroughly acquainted with issues
I had no clue about. This streak of con-artistry reached
a crescendo in my puberty, when I convinced a whole
township (and later, my country, by co-opting the media)
that I was a new Einstein. While unable to solve even the
most basic mathematical equations, I was regarded by many -
including world class physicists - as somewhat of an
epiphanous miracle."

jfehlinger said...

"Letters to the editor in defense of Ayn Rand dismiss
her critics not just as 'hoodlums' and 'thugs,' but
as 'cockroaches.' Rand herself deploys 'vermin' in one
letter and her orthodox heirs would dismiss Barbara Branden,
until late 1968 ranked number three in the Objectivist
movement, as 'lice.' Considering that lice and cockroaches
are owed no moral consideration, and that in any case,
as Nathaniel Branden put it, 'once somebody is declared
an **enemy** of Ayn Rand, all morality is suspended,'
one shudders at what **some** literal-minded Objectivists
might do to an enemy they saw as posing a threat to the
future of the Objectivist movement and hence of civilization."

-- Jeff Walker, _The Ayn Rand Cult_
p. 18
> Did you enjoy it when I freaked you out ? I know you did not.
> You told me yourself. Yet you did not learn anything from it.
> You are not a villain, but you are a pathetic immoral worm.
> A moral person who knows that it is bad for them to do something
> would stop doing it even if they enjoyed doing it. I enjoy rubbing
> your face in it. The reason it it is moral for me to do so is
> because you are not a moral person as you have shown and stated.
> I get to bully the bully. I own you.

Writing about modern authors and artists, Ayn Rand says:
“The exponents of modern movements do not seek to convert you
to their values--they haven’t any--but to destroy yours.
Nihilism and destruction are the almost explicit goals of today’s
trends--and the horror is that these trends move on, unopposed.”

Note here that Rand does not merely disagree strongly with
modern authors and artists--she tries to pulverize them. She
falsely states that they have no values of their own, and in
addition are out to destroy those of their audiences. She implies
that they all are nihilistic and destructive--which is hardly true;
and she as much as says that hanging from the yardarm would
hardly be good enough for them.

. . .Not only the leading objectivists themselves, but many
of their fanatical followers as well, unusually condemn any opponents
of this system. Thus, John Kobler tells us that when a Newsweek
book reviewer, Leslie Hanscom, wrote that “although Ayn Rand,
the philosopher, is of questionable nature, compared with Ayn Rand,
the novelist, she towers like Aristotle,” Newsweek received a number
of scurrilous letters about Hanscom. One of them said
“Vicious, vile, and obscene.... An act of unprecedented depravity....
Irresponsible hoodlums.... Since you propose to behave like
cockroaches, be prepared to be treated as such.” Many objectivists
sent threatening letters to three of the Newsweek advertisers,
complaining that they should stop using this periodical because
of the terrible attacks on Rand.

Newsweek also reported on a Nathaniel Branden Institute meeting
that Ayn Rand addressed, and noted: “’Her books,’ said one member of
the congregation, ‘are so good that most people should not be allowed
to read them. I used to want to lock up nine-tenths of the world
in a cage, and after reading her books, I want to lock them all up.’”

This does not mean, of course, that all followers of objectivism
are hostile individuals; nor that those who are were necessarily made
so by Ayn Rand and her associates. My impression is that in many or
most instances, their extreme hostility existed before they became
objectivists--and that it attracted them to the movement, because the
movement itself is so damning of literally millions of people.
That their hostility was often appreciably increased--as in the case
of the supporter cited in the preceding paragraph--I do not doubt.

-- Albert Ellis,
_Are Capitalism, Objectivism & Libertarianism Religions? Yes!_
Chapter 12, "Ayn Rand's Condeming and Damning Attitudes"

Marc_Geddes said...

Hey jim and dale,

Nice new critique of the 'Superlative' has appeared on the lists:

I like what the critique has to say about high-IQ. Yudkowsky and the 'Singularitarians' are always going on about how superior their high-IQ's make them. But listen to this:

"The father of the standardised-testing industry, Lewis Terman, created the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale to quantify this
power. He launched the longest scientific study in history, Genetic Studies of Genius, to track the accomplishments of highly gifted grade-school
children through the course of their lives.

His hope that an impressive IQ score would augur groundbreaking accomplishments in science and art, owever, didn't pan out.

His young Termites, as he affectionately called hem, did end up earning slots at better universities and getting hired for xecutive positions, often with help from Terman.

They gave the world two emorable inventions: the K ration and I Love Lucy. (Both Ancel Keys, who erfected single-meal pouches for the US Army, and Jess Oppenheimer, the cator of the popular TV show, were Termites.)

For the most part, however, real genius slipped through Terman's net. None of his prodigies won major scientific prizes or became important artists, while two students excluded from the study for having insufficient test
scores, William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, went on to earn Nobels. _to_master.htm"

"What we do know about measured IQ is that it is not correlated with
achievement or general problem olving ability. Marilyn vos avant, the person with the highest recorded IQ, used to author a puzzle column for a newspaper, and now works as an accountant for her husband's business. Hardly
a stellar record of achievement. You might expect the highest IQ segment of the population to correlate with the admissions to the top 50 colleges or
the list of Nobel Prize winners — you'd be wrong. Dead wrong."


Heh. You know it will give me no pleasure to have to blitz the Sing Inst.

Honestly though, the look on those guys faces will be priceless.

A blistering barrage not of 'super-intelligence' but SUPER COGNITION - a withering triple 'kill-fire' of *physical* and *volitional* and *mathematical* cognition.

Insight after insight after insight after insight unanswered. Barrage after barrage after barrage
of schemas AND art AND data definition languages crashing down on the Sing Inst and blitzing 'em, totally flooring 'em, finishing 'em off :D

bw said...

I had not been bothering to look at your site for a while and since you were pretending to act nice at, I thought there was nothing to respond to.

I do not just give authority to people with high IQ scores, or high SAT scores. Because it does not mean that those people are right about the topic at hand. I also do not believe that winning a Nobel prize means infallability in anything.

I also do not recognize any "leader".

I believed though that if I baited you (Dale) enough then you would not be able to resist writing in response to me. Again you predictably did as I expected.

There is simple accountable forum for us to determine who will be right about which will occur first.

Progressive taxse in the United States, Guaranteed income in the USA or an aspect of human enhancement or other "superlative technology".

We register predictions and a bets at the longbets site.

If you, or your sycophants are so certain that Superlative technology will not come to pass then put your money where your mouth is.

Of course that means you will have to quantify your beliefs, but I can help you with it by suggesting some multiple choice parameters. We negotiate the terms of the bet. I will indicate what I believe enough to put money on relative to what you are willing to put money upon. We will have to determine time frames for when the issues have to be settled.

Note: You are again caricturizing and creating straw men of what I believe or do not believe. So you missed the page (getting everyone on the same page) by a country mile.

- I do not believe that greater than human cognitive performance AI will mean an end to history.
- commercial AI already exceeds human capability in regards to narrow subject area applications. Program trading, certain medical diagnosis etc...
-noncommercial AI is superior for checkers and chess

I believe that life spans and life expectancy can be increased. I am not convinced about consciousness uploading. "digitized immortality".

I do not know what superabundance means. I believe that it is possible to greatly increase economic performance via technology and restructuring of business and societal processes.

This is another flaw in your own thinking in that you believe that because you do not quantify anything and think that when you add (one technology to the existing situation) 1 + 1 you get infinity instead of 2. Then you shout out how 1 + 1 = infinity is crazy. No, it just means you do not understand and were wrong.

Just like you are wrong that I have an emotional reaction when I write about your stuff. I am merely dissecting what you wrote to show the fallacies.

So if you are so sure that I am wrong then lets define what we are sure will happen by X date. I would suggest dates like 2016 the end of the next two presidential terms or 2024.

Note: Significant life extension will not be provable within the span of such a bet. So we will need to be betting about clearly definable and accurately measurable things. An indepedent third party has to be able to judge clearly whether something has happened or not

Dale Carrico said...

Well, uh, you're not really addressing any of the things I'm talking about particularly, but, hey, I bow to the more luminous intellect. Good luck with the whole Robot God thing, guy.

bw said...

You don't address any of the things that I talk about either. You also never try to allow any of your beliefs about the future to be proven wrong, because it is only a matter of faith with you. We often talk past each other. Good luck waiting for the second coming of Stalin, guy

Dale Carrico said...

Let's put that curious comment about my love for Stalin back through the Fox-News-o-meter to see how that translates back into everyday speech... boop-be-doo-pe-bloop... ah, here we go... "Stalinist... anybody to the left of the DLC..." Okay. Very helpful.

I need to get back to never trying to allow any of my beliefs about the future to be proven wrong, whatever that means. Do let me know when you have been uploaded into cyberspace or you find your way to nanobotic Hogwarts or the Robot God kisses you on the head and makes you an angel because of your deep fervent faith in His Inevitable Coding whatever the dumb-dumb liberal naysayers like Dale Carrico said.