Quite possibly the most interesting read I’ve had so far this year – a fascinating consideration of internet filter bubbles, trolling and the future of humanity. Keeping one’s attention in this age of web snacking is hard, but this one had me transfixed.
Read it if for no other reason than to understand Russell Conjugation:
The basic principle of Russell Conjugation is that the human mind is constantly looking ahead well beyond what is true or false to ask “What is the social consequence of accepting the facts as they are?” While this line of thinking is obviously self-serving, we are descended from social creatures who could not safely form opinions around pure facts so much as around how those facts are presented to us by those we ape, trust or fear. Thus, as listeners and readers our minds generally mirror the emotional state of the source, while in our roles as authoritative narrators presenting the facts, we maintain an arsenal of language to subliminally instruct our listeners and readers on how we expect them to color their perceptions.
Well worth reading in full, and in particular for Eugene’s thoughts on AI and rationality – here’s two quick snippets:
Humans are capable, at their peak, of being very rational thinkers. But what’s concerning for the world is how rarely we operate at the limits of our potential, and in how many contexts we become irrational, or even complete idiots. AI can take many of the best aspects of human logic and scale them, make them reliable.
Some of the best CEO’s I’ve encountered in my life, the Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world, are capable of being rational a much higher percentage of the time than the average person. They seem far less susceptible to the usual cognitive biases.