The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate eBook

by Robin Hanson and Eliezer Yudkowsky


In late 2008, economist Robin Hanson and AI theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky conducted an online debate about the future of artificial intelligence, and in particular about whether generally intelligent AIs will be able to improve their own capabilities very quickly (a.k.a. “foom”). James Miller and Carl Shulman also contributed guest posts to the debate.

The original debate took place in a long series of blog posts, which are collected here. This book also includes a transcript of a 2011 in-person debate between Hanson and Yudkowsky on this subject, a summary of the debate written by Kaj Sotala, and a 2013 technical report on AI takeoff dynamics (“intelligence explosion microeconomics”) written by Yudkowsky.

Comments from the authors are included at the end of each chapter, along with a link to the original post. The curious reader is encouraged to use these links to view the original posts and all comments. This book contains minor updates, corrections, and additional citations.

The debate is completely free for download in various eBook formats. For a complete list of all chapters and links to original posts, see the LessWrong Wiki.


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The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate is also available on for a small fee,
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Hanson, Robin and Eliezer Yudkowsky. 2013. The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate.
Berkeley, CA: Machine Intelligence Research Institute.