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The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate

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In late 2008, an extensive and long-awaited debate about the Technological Singularity occurred on Overcoming Bias, mainly between Robin Hanson and Eliezer Yudkowsky. It focused on the likelihood of hard AI takeoff ("FOOM"), the need for a theory of Friendliness, and the future of AGI, whole brain emulation, and recursive self-improvement in general. A stand-up debate on the same themes took place at Jane Street Capital in June 2011, and Hanson made a further post in 2014.

The best resource for most readers new to the debate will be MIRI's 2013 The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate eBook, available in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats. This includes

  • the original series of blog posts,
  • a transcript of the 2011 debate
  • Kaj Sotala's summary and analysis of the debate, and
  • a 2013 technical report on AI takeoff dynamics (“intelligence explosion microeconomics”) written by Yudkowsky.


Main sequence



Jane Street debate

A stand-up debate between Hanson and Yudkowsky on the same themes took place on Wednesday June 30 2011 at Jane Street Capital.

Summary and analysis

In Spring 2012 Luke Muehlhauser asked Kaj Sotala to write a summary and analysis of the debate; he made a draft of that analysis available in November 2012. The final versoin of the summary is included in the ebook.

Post-book material

Not included in MIRI's 2013 book on the debate:

See also