Levy has an article in Wired about Apple's new HQ.


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Interesting - I am a fan of both Robin and of Steven Levy.

Levy wrote an amazingly good and influential popular book on the history of programming culture and the evolution of free/open-source software (Hackers), as well as at least one other really good popular account of computer technology (Crypto).

It's unfortunate that Robin and Steven had an impedence mismatch.

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To me, this character (Levy) is exactly the type that LOVES the TED talks. So, yes, he is shallow, "on the side of science" that pushes his agenda (as someone else already mentioned), narrow minded and rigid. What did you expect, going to give the TED talk?

Oh, and my main objection to Ems is that human mind is inseparable system of various elements, some of which are not useful, indeed are detrimental to efficient work (the main reason why we would create Ems). Take, for example, sex drive: for Ems, it would be a clear distraction, work-wise. So, we would scan someone's brain, then remove the sex drive? How, exactly, without harming other sub-systems?

We didn't build flying machines by imitating birds and butterflies, so I doubt that we'll build AGI by imitating human brain, cell by cell.

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According to your account, "He actually came up to me after my talk, saying something generically skeptical. I pointed out that I’d written a whole book full of analysis detail, and I asked him to pick out anything specific I had said that he doubted, offering to explain my reasoning on that."

It's difficult for many or most people to come up with a response like, "I find your key premise unlikely" if you request that they identify a specific thing in your talk that they disagree with.

It's less time-consuming to simply walk away. If you are sincerely interested in trying to get more input on his specific criticism, you could contact him and ask something like, "I notice you described my analysis as 'sci-fi fantasy,' but I'm not sure what that means. Do you doubt the very premise that human ems will become the dominant intelligence on earth?"

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Hebrew and Greek Mindsetshttp://www.joannamay.org/fi...

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If he had said "I find your key premise very unlikely", that would have been a concrete criticism, making his critique no longer generic.

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What I meant is that Robin has written a whole book based on the premise that human brain emulations become the dominant intelligence on earth. He has a whole bunch of speculations on what would happen in that event. But I (and many others) think that there is virtually zero chance of human brain emulations becoming the dominant intelligence on earth. So there will be no chance to evaluate whether his speculations were wrong.

By way of contrast, I predict that, when fully autonomous vehicles become common:

1) Single-seat vehicles will become far, far more common than they are now, and

2) Brick and mortar retail will be devastated, with more than 90% of the brick and mortar stores of Walmart, Target, Kroger, etc. being shut down or re-purposed within the first two decades of the first fully autonomous delivery vehicles.

Both of those predictions are falsifiable, because fully autonomous vehicles *will* happen...and (hopefully) within the lifetime of virtually everyone who reads these comments.

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Do you parse that as (Jewish Cultural) Marxist or Jewish (Cultural Marxist)?

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So if Robin's entire analysis is based on something that has virtually no chance of happening, it's not capable of being falsified.

I'm wondering what's the chance of something happening that is compatible with falsifiabilitiy?

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"...he vilifies it rather than disagreeing with particular arguments you make or recognizing it as a compelling analysis..."

I don't like the phrase "fake news" but it seems to me that the statement, "It seemed to me that he simply labeled his sci-fi fantasy as non-fiction" is a good description of how I would label Robin's book.

My assessment is based on my agreement with your assessment that technology will favor "pure AIs"...that is, AIs that may have some tiny similarities to the human brain (e.g., neuromorphic chips) but won't be in any way close to an exact emulation of a human brain. So if Robin's entire analysis is based on something that has virtually no chance of happening, it's not capable of being falsified.

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As a Jewish Applied Physicist, I evaluate TED talks with FORTRAN.

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Steven Levy is a Jewish Cultural Marxist. He evaluates TED talks with postmodern critical theory. He is a hack who praises whatever pushes his agenda.

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Yes a completely reasonable heuristic. But if you present yourself as an expert advising a less expert public, you should hold yourself to a higher standard.

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A lot of people, and a larger proportion as the sample gets older, seem to believe that any idea that's too weird or unfamiliar must be wrong.

Solely on the basis of strangeness.

It's not a terrible heuristic for those with poor imaginations, or weak general knowledge.

Because most new ideas are bad ideas. If you don't have the imagination - or the background - to actually consider an idea rationally, that heuristic will give the right answer for most people, most of the time.

And of the set of very strange, very unfamiliar ideas the average person encounters in life, most are indeed wildly wrong.

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This is really annoying. For what it's worth Robin, I'm a physicist, and I read your book, and it's quite hard to come up with specific detailed criticisms of your assumptions and your reasoning. In order to come up with such criticisms, one needs dive into the relevant literature -- neuroscience, economics, sociology. Mr. Levy should make such an effort if he wants to dismiss a thesis on grounds somewhat stronger than the author's favorite musician.

Edit: This whole incident reminds of the famous quote by the philosopher David Lewis: "I do not know how to refute an incredulous stare."

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I wouldn't worry about it too much. Levy is a technology journalist, known mainly for his 1984 book _Hackers_ (indeed an excellent snapshot of early computer hackers, except for the quasi-worship of Richard Stallman toward the end).

Since then he's kind of been coasting on the reputation of _Hackers_. None of his more recent books made much of a splash.

It's a shame how people with creative minds in youth commonly have ever less imagination as they age.

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