reddragdiva: (stress relief)
[personal profile] reddragdiva

I would like your assistance in the eternal and vital work of increasing existential risk.

Specifically: I've written a surprisingly popular book about why bitcoins and blockchains are trash. I basically have a second part-time job now as a finance journalist, which supplies a bit of welcome cash.

But sales are dropping off - so it's time to write the next one.

The options are:

  1. The Good, The Bad and the Blockchain: For A Few Bitcoins More - the obvious sequel. I have a blog full of material to adapt. It won't be as incisive or impactful as the first one, but it should sell at least a few copies.

  2. Roko's Basilisk: A Savage Journey to the Dark Heart of the Transhumanist Dream.

I wanted to ask what you would like to see in that second one. That's one hell of a subtitle, but never shrink from audacity after all.

If you saw a book of that title and subtitle:

  • what would you expect to see in it?
  • what would you really like to see explained in it?
  • what “take that you shitheads” swipes would you be delighted to see someone finally writing up?

I should point out - this may have slight commercial prospects. Apart from the mention of the Basilisk on Silicon Valley, Tom Chivers (the science journalist) is writing one about these people too, through a real publisher. We've spoken about the topic, and basically I think both books will promote each other - one is a weirdness, two is a Thing.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-24 10:46 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] theandrewhickey
I think it particularly would need to cover the way that so many of the transhumanists end up actually advocating for hell and not even realising that's what they're doing, like the bonkers stuff in Robin Hanson's book about how the world should consist entirely of emulated clone-minds who exist only to work and then get killed off the moment they get tired...
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-25 09:16 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] theandrewhickey
Just a minor point -- Sandifer is now Elizabeth Sandifer. She only made the announcement fairly recently, so not everyone will know, but it's best not to deadname her...

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-25 11:29 am (UTC)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
I'm out of the loop! Apparently I can't edit after people reply, so I deleted the comment and reposted below. Thanks for letting me know.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-24 11:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The Rationalwiki entry (that I think you might have written?) is already such a good entry-level overview of such a (literally) hostile topic. Hm. Other than expanding on everything covered there, I think such a book should include a more detailed history of Yudkowksy himself, and LessWrong's roots and offshoots, and how this all arises out of Yudkoswky's personal idiosyncratic weirdness. Do we know anything much about Roko themselves? I'm sure they never want to talk or think about this ever again, but shedding any light on how Roko connected up these ideas (even if you were tracing their posting history) would be extremely interesting. I think that horror-story aspect of the book would be very appealing, especially to those not already familiar with the topic.

Something I'd really like to see covered is something El Sandifer mentioned on Twitter ages ago, which is how *scarily* influential Yudkowsky has been in Silicon Valley thinking ("thinking") on this subject, and if you're going to drop your napalm snark on anything the ways in which LessWrong-y fantastical nightmares are actively overshadowing the real harm of AI being done right now with regards to bias and discrimination would be one of your most on-point targets. Really just go to town on how hard MIRI fucked up everything they ever set out to do.

— Evan

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-24 09:44 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
First reaction is an instinctive "oh ew", followed by "actually yeah that's about what I'd expect from a character in a Nick Land novella."

— Evan

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-25 05:20 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
how this all arises out of Yudkoswky's personal idiosyncratic weirdness

I find eccentricity-shaming odious, myself, and little drops my opinion of a journalist (or "journalist") faster. If he's done something actually morally wrong, of course, have at it.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-24 01:38 pm (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
The subtitle is fine, the title is the bit that's going to limit sales because the vast majority of potential readers aren't going to have a clue about what it is.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-24 06:42 pm (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
Lots of people have heard of baths, but that doesn't mean 'No Baths But Plenty of Bubbles' wasn't an utterly crap title...

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-24 04:23 pm (UTC)
greylock: (Default)
From: [personal profile] greylock
As an actual (sort of, but not really) human-type who can convince the tax-person he is a finance journalist, I have only a vague clue what you mean when you reference the "Transhumanist Dream", but I am sure it involves Faceborg, somehow.

Anyway, if I had any ideas I'd not share them with you since #capitalism and stuff.
But I don't have any ideas, and won't buy any resulting book since I didn't need a book to tell me bitcoin was bad.

But I wish you every success in your enterprise.

(also, Kingpig had a reunion last Friday, in case you didn't hear)

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-25 05:21 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
I would expect to see the observation – and I don't know whom to credit for it – that Roko's Basilisk is Pascal's Wager for Rationalists.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-25 07:04 am (UTC)
fanf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fanf
Charlie Stross likes to point out that transhumanism is christianity with a few changes to the window dressing - eg in http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2018/01/dude-you-broke-the-future.html

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-25 11:27 am (UTC)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
I'd want to see the influence on "respectable" techbros. Like how does the extremist/neoreactionary ideology play into the mainstream agendas of more mainstream Silicon Valley figures? I know Elizabeth Sandifer covered some of that ground in Neoreaction, a Basilisk but it's gotten worse since she wrote that.

I'm just fascinated by supposed geniuses who can have so much influence over politics and economics and yet seems to believe in some whacked out occult shit.

Edited to fix deadnaming.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-04-26 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh boy, where to start?

The biggest topic that I haven't seen in other comments is that torture and death always seem to wind their way into the philosophizing of the Yudkowskyite. Leaving alone the Basilisk itself (lol), there is the example of the infamous dust in eye vs. torture thought "experiment" where the most rational answer is, of course, the torture of a human being for 50 years.

Sometimes it seems like this brand of "rationality" is the nerd's equivalent of making a badass boast. "See how callous I can be and still pass it off as rational!" They're just so EAGER to get to solutions that inflict horrors, for some reason.

On an unrelated note: I can't find anything on it now, but I have legit seen some of these people advocate for the abolition of all art to make people focus on science. (Methods of Rationality is okay, of course.) Might be worth looking into mining that if it's not too off-topic.

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