LessWrong

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LessWrong
LessWrong logo.svg
Type of site
Internet forum, blog
Available in English
Created by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Website LessWrong.com
Alexa rank Negative increase 77,017 (Global, March 2018)
Registration Optional, but is required for contributing content
Launched February 1, 2009; 9 years ago (2009-02-01)
Current status Active
Written in Python, JavaScript, CSS (powered by Reddit source code)

LessWrong, also written as Less Wrong, is a community blog and forum focused on discussion of cognitive biases, philosophy, psychology, economics, rationality, and artificial intelligence, among other topics.[1][2]

Purpose[edit]

LessWrong promotes lifestyle changes believed to lead to increased rationality and self-improvement. Posts often focus on avoiding biases related to decision-making and the evaluation of evidence. One suggestion is the use of Bayes' theorem as a decision-making tool.[2] There is also a focus on psychological barriers that prevent good decision-making, including fear conditioning[3] and cognitive biases that have been studied by the psychologist Daniel Kahneman.[4]

History[edit]

LessWrong developed from Overcoming Bias, an earlier group blog focused on human rationality, which began in November 2006, with artificial intelligence theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky and economist Robin Hanson as the principal contributors. In February 2009, Yudkowsky's posts were used as the seed material to create the community blog LessWrong, and Overcoming Bias became Hanson's personal blog.[5]

In 2017, it was announced that Weidenfeld & Nicolson would be publishing a book about LessWrong by former BuzzFeed science correspondent Tom Chivers.[6]

Roko's basilisk[edit]

In July 2010, LessWrong contributor Roko posted a thought experiment to the site in which an otherwise benevolent future AI system tortures simulations of those who did not work to bring the system into existence. This idea came to be known as "Roko's basilisk," based on Roko's idea that merely hearing about the idea would give the hypothetical AI system stronger incentives to employ blackmail. Yudkowsky deleted Roko's posts on the topic, calling it "stupid". Discussion of Roko's basilisk was banned on LessWrong for several years[7][8] before the ban was lifted in October 2015.[9]

Allusions to Roko's basilisk in popular culture include the actions of the character Gilfoyle in Season 5, Episode 5 of Silicon Valley,[10] the character Roccoco Basilisk in Grimes' video for "Flesh Without Blood", explicitly named for Roko's basilisk,[11] the plot of Magnus: Robot Fighter #8 by Fred Van Lente,[12] and various webcomics such xkcd's "AI-Box Experiment"[13] and Questionable Content's AI Police Officer Roko Basilisk.[14]

Neoreaction[edit]

The neoreactionary movement takes an interest in LessWrong,[15][16] attracted by discussions on the site of eugenics and evolutionary psychology.[17] Yudkowsky has strongly repudiated neoreaction.[18][19]

Effective altruism[edit]

LessWrong played a role in the development of the effective altruism movement.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Less Wrong FAQ". LessWrong. 
  2. ^ a b Miller, James (July 28, 2011). "You Can Learn How To Become More Rational". Business Insider. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (July 8, 2011). "This column will change your life: Feel the ugh and do it anyway. Can the psychological flinch mechanism be beaten?". The Guardian. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (March 9, 2012). "This column will change your life: asked a tricky question? Answer an easier one. We all do it, all the time. So how can we get rid of this eccentricity?". The Guardian. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Where did Less Wrong come from? (LessWrong FAQ)". Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine. "W&N wins Buzzfeed science reporter's debut after auction". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  7. ^ Love, Dylan (6 August 2014). "WARNING: Just Reading About This Thought Experiment Could Ruin Your Life". Business Insider. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Auerbach, David (17 July 2014). "The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time". Slate. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  9. ^ RobbBB (5 October 2015). "A few misconceptions surrounding Roko's basilisk". LessWrong. Retrieved 10 April 2016. The Roko's basilisk ban isn't in effect anymore 
  10. ^ Henderson, Odie (2018-04-23). "Silicon Valley Recap: The Terminator Problem". Vulture. Retrieved 2018-04-23. 
  11. ^ Benjamin, Jeff (7 December 2015). "Grimes Explains the 4 Characters in Her "Flesh Without Blood" Video: Exclusive". Fuse. Retrieved 2017-06-09. She's doomed to be eternally tortured by an artificial intelligence, but she's also kind of like Marie Antoinette. 
  12. ^ Wickline, Dan (2014-11-22). "Turning The Gold Key - Frank Barbiere Talks With Fred Van Lente About Mangus: Robot Fighter". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  13. ^ https://xkcd.com/1450/
  14. ^ http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=3362
  15. ^ Finley, Klint (November 22, 2013). "Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  16. ^ Riggio, Adam (23 September 2016). "The Violence of Pure Reason: Neoreaction: A Basilisk". Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. 5 (9): 34–41. ISSN 2471-9560. The embryo of the movement lived in the community pages of Yudkowsky’s blog LessWrong, a website dedicated to refining human rationality. 
  17. ^ Keep, Elmo (22 June 2016). "The Strange and Conflicting World Views of Silicon Valley Billionaire Peter Thiel". Fusion. Retrieved 2016-10-05. Thanks to LessWrong’s discussions of eugenics and evolutionary psychology, it has attracted some readers and commenters affiliated with the alt-right and neoreaction, that broad cohort of neofascist, white nationalist and misogynist trolls. 
  18. ^ Riggio, Adam (23 September 2016). "The Violence of Pure Reason: Neoreaction: A Basilisk". Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. 5 (9): 34–41. ISSN 2471-9560. Land and Yarvin are openly allies with the new reactionary movement, while Yudkowsky counts many reactionaries among his fanbase despite finding their racist politics disgusting. 
  19. ^ Eliezer Yudkowsky (8 April 2016). "Untitled". Optimize Literally Everything (blog). Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  20. ^ de Lazari-Radek, Katarzyna; Singer, Peter (2017-09-27). Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 110. 

External links[edit]