Rationality: From AI to Zombies

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Rationality Angled Cover WebBetween 2006 and 2009, senior MIRI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote several hundred essays for the blogs Overcoming Bias and Less Wrong, collectively called “the Sequences.” With two days remaining until Yudkowsky concludes his other well-known rationality book, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, we are releasing around 340 of his original blog posts as a series of six books, collected in one ebook volume under the title Rationality: From AI to Zombies.

Yudkowsky’s writings on rationality, which were previously scattered in a constellation of blog posts, have been cleaned up, organized, and collected together for the first time. This new version of the Sequences should serve as a more accessible long-form introduction to formative ideas behind MIRI, CFAR, and substantial parts of the rationalist and effective altruist communities.

While the books’ central focus is on applying probability theory and the sciences of mind to personal dilemmas and philosophical controversies, a considerable range of topics is covered. The six books explore rationality theory and applications from multiple angles:

I. Map and Territory. A lively introduction to the Bayesian conception of rational belief in cognitive science, and how it differs from other kinds of belief.

II. How to Actually Change Your Mind. A guide to overcoming confirmation bias and motivated cognition.

III. The Machine in the Ghost. A collection of essays on the general topic of minds, goals, and concepts.

IV. Mere Reality. Essays on science and the physical world, as they relate to rational inference.

V. Mere Goodness. A wide-ranging discussion of human values and ethics.

VI. Becoming Stronger. An autobiographical account of Yudkowsky’s philosophical mistakes, followed by a discussion of self-improvement and group rationality.

These essays are packaged together as a single electronic text, making it easier to investigate links between essays and search for keywords. The ebook is available on a pay-what-you-want basis (link), and on Amazon.com for $4.99 (link). In the coming months, we will also be releasing print versions of these six books, and Castify will be releasing the official audiobook version.

  • http://www.estrategistas.com/ Paulo Ribeiro

    Amazing! I’ve been looking forward to this for ages. I’ll dive right into it.

    Thanks for the hard work. Will be spreading the word and donating.

  • Kester Leek

    Any chance we’ll be getting this in paperback form any time?

    • Luke Muehlhauser

      Not in the next couple months. We’re still exploring different options. Some people have requested a hardcover or even leather-bound edition, but that is difficult to do via print-on-demand. If we can’t pull that off then out of necessity we’ll do paperback only, but as 6 separate physical books, probably later in 2015.

    • http://CommonSenseAtheism.com lukeprog

      There will eventually be a dead trees version, broken into 6 separate books, but it’ll probably be several months before we start releasing them.

  • Simon Trottier

    Just bought it on Amazon! Awesome cover, by the way. It looks good, and made me laugh when I got the reference.

  • Ryan Carey

    Congrats to Rob and MIRI. We may well look back on these essays as shaping some important philosophical trends. It’s great to have them collected here (as well as in the forthcoming audiobook).

  • Carolina Moreira

    So, it’s been about six months, are there any updates on the paper version?

  • Jorma Kovanen

    how about an edition bound in human leather?

    • Lightwavers Lightwavers

      Human skin*

  • http://josephratliff.com/ JosephRatliff

    A book this “thick” needs a paperback version (and hopefully not the “broken into 6” in the comments). Until then, nope.

  • Lightwavers Lightwavers

    I love this book, and have almost read it on another device, but it broke, so I’m redownloading. And um… If you believe in a god, you probably won’t anymore after you read this.

  • Alex

    So I take it plans for a paperback version have been shelved?

    • http://www.nothingismere.com/ Rob Bensinger

      Hi, Alex. The project got handed off to me, and unfortunately I haven’t had time to make it a priority as a result of taking on an increasing amount of MIRI’s comms work. It’s been on the backburner for some time, but I really hope to be able to return to it once MIRI’s current slate of projects is completed.

  • Alex

    I’d also greatly appreciate a paperback edition. Is there anything we would-be buyers can do to get it on the front burner??

  • wmc556

    Are there still plans for a print version?