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Mark_Friedenbach comments on That Alien Message - Less Wrong

111 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 May 2008 05:55AM

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Comment author: [deleted] 19 October 2013 11:55:06PM *  2 points [-]

Be careful though, this story is a work of fiction. We must be careful not to generalize from fictional evidence. In particular, the enormous relative time differential between the machine intelligence and the outside world is completely unrealistic. It makes for good fiction and helps to illustrate a point, that we mustn't assume that machine intelligence will develop at human scale. But that doesn't mean the opposite extreme presented in this story is real either. Don't update your beliefs based on this work of fiction.

Comment author: jvz 20 October 2013 12:32:38AM 0 points [-]

Well, it wasn't really this story that updated my beliefs. It was my beliefs that made me appreciate this story. I tend to interpret stories using my own understanding of reality, so oftentimes it's simply just rationalization of what was presented (e.g., read what New Age people say about "quantum physics" and try to see if it fits at all with QFT, or at least how one could come to such mistaken beliefs). Demonstrating a hypothesis through a story helps in communicating the idea, that's for sure.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 20 October 2013 12:46:19AM 0 points [-]

I'd say that the primary belief-affecting value of this sort of fiction is to counteract the (common human) tendency to treat incredulity as evidence... the "I can't easily think of how X could possibly be true, therefore X can't be true" syndrome.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 October 2013 04:03:25AM 0 points [-]

Agreed. I like the story, and I frequently point people to it. I just wouldn't hold it up as evidence in an argument, unless the other person was specifically committing the fallacy of anthropomorphizing the speed of thought of a machine intelligence, in which case, yes, this story helps inoculate against the incredulity of alternatives.