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PhilGoetz comments on Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism - Less Wrong

105 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 21 April 2009 02:44AM

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Comment author: PhilGoetz 23 January 2017 09:05:16PM *  4 points [-]

The balance for a moderator is between too much craziness and too much groupthink.

Moderation easily becomes enforcement of a dogma. In English literary theory today, you're required to be a cultural relativist. You only get to choose one of three kinds of cultural relativist to be: Marxist, feminist, or post-modernist. Anyone else is dismissed as irrelevant to the discourse. This is the result of "moderation," which I place in quotes because it is anything but moderate.

It is especially problematic when the moderator is a key contributor. A moderator should, ideally, be a neutral referee.

Revisiting this post in 2017, I'm calling it wrong in retrospect. It seems to me that LessWrong is less vibrant than it used to be, and this is not because of too little moderation, but may be partly because of too much, both from above (post promotion, comments from EY, and harassment of divergent views from moderators) and from below (karma voting). LW has become a place of groupthink on many issues. Karma did not prevent that, and may have accelerated it.

EY encouraged this. He refused to engage with criticism of his ideas other than with rudeness or silence. He chased away Richard Loosemore, one of the only people on LW who was qualified to talk about AI and willing to disagree with EY's ideas. EY's take on him was:

Warning: Richard Loosemore is a known permanent idiot,

(And, looking at that thread, how exactly did timtyler, one of the other stars of LW, get banned?)

Comment author: gjm 24 January 2017 02:47:22AM 0 points [-]

Richard Loosemore, one of the only people on LW who was qualified to talk about AI and willing to disagree with EY's ideas

The last time he came around here, he basically wanted to say that the whole idea of AI risk is stupid because it depends on the assumption that AI is all about reinforcement learning, and reinforcement learning "obviously" can't do anything scary. It didn't seem to me that he defended any part of that very effectively, and he seemed disappointingly insistent on fighting strawmen.

I agree it's a shame not to have more intelligent advocacy of diverse views, but it's not clear to me that Richard Loosemore really contributed much.

(Also, it may be relevant that that comment of EY's was voted to -18. If Richard L ran away because one prominent person was rude about him and got downvoted into oblivion for it .. well, maybe it's sad but I don't think we can blame it on LW groupthink.

timtyler, one of the other stars of LW

I would not have characterized him in that way. He wrote a lot, for sure, but I never found what he wrote very interesting. (Of course no one else is obliged to share my interests.)