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LessWrong, also written as Less Wrong, is a community blog and forum focused on discussion of cognitive biases, philosophy, psychology, economics, rationality, and artificial intelligence, among other topics.[1][2]

LessWrong logo.svg
Type of site
Internet forum, blog
Available inEnglish
Created byEliezer Yudkowsky
Alexa rankNegative increase 77,017 (Global, March 2018)
RegistrationOptional, but is required for contributing content
LaunchedFebruary 1, 2009; 10 years ago (2009-02-01)
Current statusActive
Written inJavaScript, CSS (powered by React and GraphQL)



LessWrong promotes lifestyle changes believed[by whom?] to lead to increased rationality and self-improvement. Posts often focus on avoiding biases related to decision-making and the evaluation of evidence. One suggestion is the use of Bayes' theorem as a decision-making tool.[2] There is also a focus on psychological barriers that prevent good decision-making, including fear conditioning[3] and cognitive biases that have been studied by the psychologist Daniel Kahneman.[4]

LessWrong is also concerned with transhumanism, existential threat and singularity. Observer noted that "Despite describing itself as a forum on 'the art of human rationality,' the New York Less Wrong group . . . is fixated on a branch of futurism that would seem more at home in a 3D multiplex than a graduate seminar: the dire existential threat—or, with any luck, utopian promise—known as the technological Singularity. . . . Branding themselves as 'rationalists,' as the Less Wrong crew has done, makes it a lot harder to dismiss them as a 'doomsday cult'."[5]


LessWrong developed from Overcoming Bias, an earlier group blog focused on human rationality, which began in November 2006, with artificial intelligence theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky and economist Robin Hanson as the principal contributors. In February 2009, Yudkowsky's posts were used as the seed material to create the community blog LessWrong, and Overcoming Bias became Hanson's personal blog.[6]

In 2017, it was announced that Weidenfeld & Nicolson would be publishing a book about LessWrong by former BuzzFeed science correspondent Tom Chivers.[7]

Roko's basiliskEdit

In July 2010, LessWrong contributor Roko posted a thought experiment similar to Pascal's Wager to the site in which an otherwise benevolent future AI system tortures simulations of those who did not work to bring the system into existence. This idea came to be known as "Roko's basilisk," based on Roko's idea that merely hearing about the idea would give the hypothetical AI system stronger incentives to employ blackmail. Yudkowsky deleted Roko's posts on the topic, saying that posting it was "stupid". Discussion of Roko's basilisk was banned on LessWrong for several years because it reportedly caused some readers to have a nervous breakdown.[8][9][5] The ban was lifted in October 2015.[10]

Cracked called Roko's basilisk "the dumbest thing on the entire Internet" and described the thought experiment as "utter nonsense but also the perfect expression of the personality problems of all involved. . . . They trapped themselves in a thought experiment of their own making, a prison whose only bars are how smart they think they are."[11] David Auerbach wrote in Slate "the combination of messianic ambitions, being convinced of your own infallibility, and a lot of cash never works out well, regardless of ideology, and I don’t expect Yudkowsky and his cohorts to be an exception. I worry less about Roko’s Basilisk than about people who believe themselves to have transcended conventional morality."[9]

Allusions to Roko's basilisk in popular culture include the actions of the character Gilfoyle in Season 5, Episode 5 of Silicon Valley,[12] the character Roccoco Basilisk in Grimes' video for "Flesh Without Blood", explicitly named for Roko's basilisk,[13] the plot of Magnus: Robot Fighter #8 by Fred Van Lente,[14] and various webcomics such as xkcd's "AI-Box Experiment"[15] and Questionable Content's AI Police Officer Roko Basilisk.[16]


The neoreactionary movement first grew on LessWrong,[17][18][19] attracted by discussions on the site of eugenics and evolutionary psychology.[20] Yudkowsky has strongly repudiated neoreaction.[19][21][22]

Effective altruismEdit

LessWrong played a role in the development of the effective altruism movement.[23]


  1. ^ "Less Wrong FAQ". LessWrong.
  2. ^ a b Miller, James (July 28, 2011). "You Can Learn How To Become More Rational". Business Insider. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  3. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (July 8, 2011). "This column will change your life: Feel the ugh and do it anyway. Can the psychological flinch mechanism be beaten?". The Guardian. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  4. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (March 9, 2012). "This column will change your life: asked a tricky question? Answer an easier one. We all do it, all the time. So how can we get rid of this eccentricity?". The Guardian. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Tiku, Nitasha (2012-07-25). "Faith, Hope, and Singularity: Entering the Matrix with New York's Futurist Set". Observer. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  6. ^ "Where did Less Wrong come from? (LessWrong FAQ)". Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  7. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine. "W&N wins Buzzfeed science reporter's debut after auction". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  8. ^ Love, Dylan (6 August 2014). "WARNING: Just Reading About This Thought Experiment Could Ruin Your Life". Business Insider. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b Auerbach, David (17 July 2014). "The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time". Slate. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  10. ^ RobbBB (5 October 2015). "A few misconceptions surrounding Roko's basilisk". LessWrong. Retrieved 10 April 2016. The Roko's basilisk ban isn't in effect anymore
  11. ^ McKinney, Luke (2015-09-24). "5 Hilariously Petty Abuses Of Revolutionary Technologies". Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  12. ^ Henderson, Odie (2018-04-23). "Silicon Valley Recap: The Terminator Problem". Vulture. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  13. ^ Benjamin, Jeff (7 December 2015). "Grimes Explains the 4 Characters in Her "Flesh Without Blood" Video: Exclusive". Fuse. Retrieved 2017-06-09. She's doomed to be eternally tortured by an artificial intelligence, but she's also kind of like Marie Antoinette.
  14. ^ Wickline, Dan (2014-11-22). "Turning The Gold Key - Frank Barbiere Talks With Fred Van Lente About Mangus: Robot Fighter". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  15. ^ "xkcd: AI-Box Experiment".
  16. ^ "Questionable Content".
  17. ^ Finley, Klint (November 22, 2013). "Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  18. ^ Riggio, Adam (23 September 2016). "The Violence of Pure Reason: Neoreaction: A Basilisk". Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. 5 (9): 34–41. ISSN 2471-9560. The embryo of the movement lived in the community pages of Yudkowsky’s blog LessWrong, a website dedicated to refining human rationality.
  19. ^ a b Siemons, Mark (2017-04-14). "Neoreaktion im Silicon Valley: Wenn Maschinen denken". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). ISSN 0174-4909. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  20. ^ Keep, Elmo (22 June 2016). "The Strange and Conflicting World Views of Silicon Valley Billionaire Peter Thiel". Fusion. Retrieved 2016-10-05. Thanks to LessWrong’s discussions of eugenics and evolutionary psychology, it has attracted some readers and commenters affiliated with the alt-right and neoreaction, that broad cohort of neofascist, white nationalist and misogynist trolls.
  21. ^ Riggio, Adam (23 September 2016). "The Violence of Pure Reason: Neoreaction: A Basilisk". Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. 5 (9): 34–41. ISSN 2471-9560. Land and Yarvin are openly allies with the new reactionary movement, while Yudkowsky counts many reactionaries among his fanbase despite finding their racist politics disgusting.
  22. ^ Eliezer Yudkowsky (8 April 2016). "Untitled". Optimize Literally Everything (blog). Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  23. ^ de Lazari-Radek, Katarzyna; Singer, Peter (2017-09-27). Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 110.

External linksEdit