Roko’s basilisk is notable for being completely banned from discussion on LessWrong, where any mention of it is deleted. Eliezer Yudkowsky, founder of LessWrong, considers the basilisk would not work, but will not explain why because he does not consider open discussion of the notion of acausal trade with possible superintelligences to be provably safe. Silly over-extrapolations of local memes are posted to LessWrong quite a lot; almost all are just downvoted and ignored. But this one, Yudkowsky reacted to hugely, then doubled-down on his reaction. Thanks to the Streisand effect, discussion of the basilisk and the details of the affair soon spread outside of LessWrong. The entire affair is a worked example of spectacular failure at community management and at controlling purportedly dangerous information. Some people familiar with the LessWrong memeplex have suffered serious psychological distress after contemplating basilisk-like ideas — even when they’re fairly sure intellectually that it’s a silly problem. The notion is taken sufficiently seriously by some LessWrong posters that they try to work out how to erase evidence of themselves so a future AI can’t reconstruct a copy of them to torture.
Bet you didn’t think the US software patents situation could get worse? wrong!
“Now it’s really important to be the first to file, and it’s really important to file before somebody else puts a product out, or puts the invention in their product,” says Barr, adding that it will “create a new urgency on the part of everyone to file faster — and that’s going to be a problem for the small inventor.”
Links for 2013-03-16
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