It’s just a bit ironic that the figurehead of a movement (best known to the general public as the author of the world’s most popular Harry Potter fanfic) that emphasizes “politics is the mindkiller” has lapsed into all-out Putin-Trump Derangement Syndrome and fake news generation.
Not entirely unexpected, though – Arthur Chu, an SJW activist and onetime Yudkowsky disciple, famously admitted to “mindkilling” himself on a “regular basis” because that is what “you have to do to be a feminist anti-racist progressive.” I suppose going hardcore like that might marginally increase your messaging effectiveness by reducing internal cognitive dissonance, but at the cost of… well, 98% of people regarding you as an unhinged loon.
Which makes it all the more difficult for people to take you seriously on the actually serious matters like the AI alignment problem (that is, people outside the LW/EA bubble).
Anyhow, the background: Vladimir Bukovsky, a Russian “dissident” who lives in Britain, and the “hero” of the NYT article cited by Yudkowsky, was found to have child pornography on his computer in 2015. He has since been charged by the Crown Prosecution Service with possession. On his part, Bukovsky has insisted that he was framed. (Incidentally, this was an explanation that The Unz Review’s John Derbyshire was curiously eager to buy into. I suppose boy fiddlin’ might be a kebab pervasion when practiced by Asian grooming gangs, but it is also a hallowed tradition of the English upper class, and hey, dey culcha has to be respected).
Quite why the Russian intelligence services would want to set up an irrelevant has-been whom nobody outside a 100m radius of Echo of Moscow HQ even knows exists must remain a mystery. Though one can only admire their dedication – apparently, there were thousands of images, downloaded over a 15 year period. Putin must have started the operation almost as soon as he first became President!
In short, we have come to the point – at least amongst a certain “rationalist” segment of American society – where maintaining “traditional” stances on child pornography is now tantamount to being a Putler shill.
One is tempted to assume that this is the usual shitlibbery at work. But still, there are other curious coincidences. Like, why would Yudkowsky start kvetching about this now of all times? Surely it can’t have anything to do with certain pizza-related rumors that have begun to circle and gain media attention on the altsphere this past month.