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Kaj_Sotala 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: Kaj_Sotala 16 October 2007 11:16:36AM 1 point [-]

So, since the topic came up, I'll repeat the question I posed back in the "suggested posts" thread, but didn't (at least to my notice) receive any reply to:

How careful one should be to avoid generalization from fictional evidence? When writing about artificial intelligence, for instance, would it be acceptable to mention Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect as a fictional example of an AI whose "morality programming" breaks down when conditions shift to ones its designer had not thought about (not in a "see, it's happened before" sense but in a "here's one way of how it could happen")? Or would it be better to avoid fictional examples entirely and stick purely to the facts?

Comment author: JDM 06 November 2012 06:07:41PM 0 points [-]

It should depend on the level of the formality of the writing. In a strictly academic paper, it should probably be avoided completely. If the paper is slightly less formal, it may be acceptable, but the author should take care to specify that it is a work of fiction, that it is a theoretical example and not evidence, and what scope of the example is applicable to the discussion. This should be combined with actual evidence supporting the possibility and relevance of the example.