Announcement: Superintelligence reading group

I will be running an online reading group on Nick Bostrom‘s new book, Superintelligence, on behalf of MIRI (my employer). Please join me! I append the post from MIRI’s blog, with more details.

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Nick Bostrom’s eagerly awaited Superintelligence comes out in the US this week. To help you get the most out of it, MIRI is running an online reading group where you can join with others to ask questions, discuss ideas, and probe the arguments more deeply.

The reading group will “meet” on a weekly post on the LessWrong discussion forum. For each ‘meeting’, we will read about half a chapter of Superintelligence, then come together virtually to discuss. I’ll summarize the chapter, and offer a few relevant notes, thoughts, and ideas for further investigation. (My notes will also be used as the source material for the final reading guide for the book.)

Discussion will take place in the comments. I’ll offer some questions, and invite you to bring your own, as well as thoughts, criticisms and suggestions for interesting related material. Your contributions to the reading group might also (with permission) be used in our final reading guide for the book.

We welcome both newcomers and veterans on the topic. Content will aim to be intelligible to a wide audience, and topics will range from novice to expert level. All levels of time commitment are welcome.

We will follow this preliminary reading guide, produced by MIRI, reading one section per week.

If you have already read the book, don’t worry! To the extent you remember what it says, your superior expertise will only be a bonus. To the extent you don’t remember what it says, now is a good time for a review! If you don’t have time to read the book, but still want to participate, you are also welcome to join in. I will provide summaries, and many things will have page numbers, in case you want to skip to the relevant parts.

If this sounds good to you, first grab a copy of Superintelligence. You may also want to sign up here to be emailed when the discussion begins each week. The first virtual meeting (forum post) will go live at 6pm Pacific on Monday, September 15th. Following meetings will start at 6pm every Monday, so if you’d like to coordinate for quick fire discussion with others, put that into your calendar. If you prefer flexibility, come by any time! And remember that if there are any people you would especially enjoy discussing Superintelligence with, link them to this post!

Topics for the first week will include impressive displays of artificial intelligence, why computers play board games so well, and what a reasonable person should infer from the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

2 responses to “Announcement: Superintelligence reading group

  1. I wish it was possible to connect the “Post comment” button to a tickbox that reads “I hereby solemnly swear that I have actually read the part of the book that this post is about, and all parts preceding.”

    I have given my copy away already. Maybe I should just buy the Kindle edition so I can take part.

  2. I´m currently reading it and it´s a fun… as a disclaimer i would like to say that i´m with Scronkfinkle and his followers. Nonetheless, i see the project of thinking about the ethics of machine superintelligence a bit unrealistic not because machines someday could not achieve human level intelligence and even superintelligence, but because the paths and strategies of an agent with superintelligence and our efforts to control such possible threat are in great measure unpredictable. I believe Bostrom´s project is like a technological Tractatus-Logicus-Philosphicus… you must thrown away the ladder after one has climbed it. The book is at the same time an important book and a senseless book, because it shows us the absurd of philosophical (ethical) thinking about machine superintelligence but also it´s necessity.


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