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I managed to turn an essay assignment into an opportunity to write about the Singularity, and I thought I'd turn to LW for feedback on the paper. The paper is about Thomas Pogge, a German philosopher who works on institutional efforts to end poverty and is a pledger for Giving What We Can.
I offer a basic argument that he and other poverty activists should work on creating a positive Singularity, sampling liberally from well-known Less Wrong arguments. It's more academic than I would prefer, and it includes some loose talk of 'duties' (which bothers me), but for its goals, these things shouldn't be a huge problem. But maybe they are - I want to know that too.
I've already turned the assignment in, but when I make a better version, I'll send the paper to Pogge himself. I'd like to see if I can successfully introduce him to these ideas. My one conversation with him indicates that he would be open to actually changing his mind. He's clearly thought deeply about how to do good, and may simply have not been exposed to the idea of the Singularity yet.
I want feedback on all aspects of the paper - style, argumentation, clarity. Be as constructively cruel as I know only you can.
If anyone's up for it, fee free to add feedback using Track Changes and email me a copy - mjcurzi[at]wustl.edu. I obviously welcome comments on the thread as well.
You can read the paper here in various formats.
Upvotes for all. Thank you!
Eliezer Yudkowsky suggests that the partial mutability of human traits is an auxiliary reason at best for Michael Shermer’s libertarianism. Take that fact away, and Shermer’s politics probably wouldn’t go with it. Yudkowsky says that his own small-l libertarian tendencies come from the long history of government incompetence, indifference, and outright malevolence. These, and not brain science, are the best reasons for libertarians to believe what they do.
Moreover, we make a logical error when we infer shares of causality from shares of observed variance; the relationship between nature and nurture is cooperative, not zero-sum. One thing, however, is clear: Human genetic variance is tiny, as indeed it must be for human beings all to constitute a single species. Environmental manipulation can only achieve so much in part because of this universal human inheritance.
The lead essay has been written by Michael Shermer:
Michael Shermer discusses scientific findings about belief formation. Beliefs, including political beliefs, are usually the result of automatic or intuitive moral judgments, not rational calculations. One cluster of those intuitions presumes that human nature is malleable; these usually produce a liberal politics. Another group of intuitions presumes that human nature is static; these tend to produce conservatism. But Shermer argues that humans really fall somewhere in between — malleable, within some important limits. He argues that this set of findings should produce a libertarian politics.