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Anders_Sandberg comments on The Logical Fallacy of Generalization from Fictional Evidence - Less Wrong

39 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 October 2007 03:57AM

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Comment author: Anders_Sandberg 16 October 2007 09:41:16AM 5 points [-]

Another reason people overvalue science fiction is the availability bias due to the authors who got things right. Jules Verne had a fairly accurate time for going from the Earth to the Moon, Clarke predicted/invented geostationary satelites, John Brunner predicted computer worms. But of course this leaves out all space pirates using slide rules for astrogation (while their robots serve rum), rays from unknown parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and gravity-shielding cavorite. There is a vast number of quite erroneous predictions.

I have collected a list of sf stories involving cognition enhancement. They are all over the place in terms of plausibility, and I was honestly surprised by how little useful ideas of the impact of enhancement they had. Maybe it is easier to figure out the impact of spaceflight. I think the list might be useful as a list of things we might want to invent and common tropes surrounding enhancement rather than any start for analysis of what might actually happen.

Still, sf might be useful in the same sense that ordinary novels are: creating scenarios and showing more or less possible actions or ways of relate to events. There are a few studies showing that reading ordinary novels improves empathy, and perhaps sf might improve "future empathy", our ability to consider situations far away from our here-and-now situation.

Comment author: gwern 04 August 2011 06:28:49PM 3 points [-]

I have collected a list of sf stories involving cognition enhancement. They are all over the place in terms of plausibility, and I was honestly surprised by how little useful ideas of the impact of enhancement they had. Maybe it is easier to figure out the impact of spaceflight. I think the list might be useful as a list of things we might want to invent and common tropes surrounding enhancement rather than any start for analysis of what might actually happen.

Have you written on that anywhere?