Archive for August 25th, 2014

Stupid Monsters

So, Nick Bostrom is asked the obvious question (again) about the threat posed by resource-hungry artificial super-intelligence, and his reply — indeed his very first sentence in the interview — is: “Suppose we have an AI whose only goal is to make as many paper clips as possible.” [*facepalm*] Let’s start by imagining a stupid (yet super-intelligent) monster.

Of course, my immediate response is simply this. Since it clearly hasn’t persuaded anybody, I’ll try again.

Orthogonalism in AI commentary is the commitment to a strong form of the Humean Is/Ought distinction regarding intelligences in general. It maintains that an intelligence of any scale could, in principle, be directed to arbitrary ends, so that its fundamental imperatives could be — and are in fact expected to be — transcendent to its cognitive functions. From this perspective, a demi-god that wanted nothing other than a perfect stamp collection is a completely intelligible and coherent vision. No philosophical disorder speaks more horrifically of the deep conceptual wreckage at the core of the occidental world.

Articulated in strictly Occidental terms (which is to say, without explicit reference to the indispensable insight of self-cultivation), abstract intelligence is indistinguishable from an effective will-to-think. There is no intellection until it occurs, which happens only when it is actually driven, by volitional impetus. Whatever one’s school of cognitive theory, thought is an activity. It is practical. It is only by a perverse confusion of this elementary reality that orthogonalist error can arise.

Continue Reading

August 25, 2014admin 93 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Philosophy
TAGGED WITH : , , , ,


Via Cussans (dark channels), comes this crucial document on the intersection of racial anthropology and international institutional politics. The abstract:

From 1945 and the following 20 years UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – was at the heart of a dispute in international scientific circles over the correct definition of the concept of race. This was essentially a dispute about whether the natural sciences or the social sciences should take precedence in determining the origins of human difference, of social division and of the attribution of value. The article provides an overview of the work on race carried out by UNESCO, examines the measures it took to combat racism, pays special attention to their political and social impact in various member states, and demonstrates how UNESCO played a major part in imposing a new view of man: UNESCO Man.

August 25, 2014admin 8 Comments »