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jhuffman comments on For progress to be by accumulation and not by random walk, read great books - Less Wrong

35 Post author: MichaelVassar 02 March 2010 08:11AM

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Comment author: jhuffman 02 March 2010 06:21:37PM *  2 points [-]

The algorithms (at least in their essence) can still be run, less efficiently, on inferior hardware.

I don't think so. There are some conceptual leaps that people with inadequate intelligence will simply never be able to make, no matter how much time they put in. Part of the problem is they will lack the intuition and insight to know what type of problem or method of thought they are trying to invent. If there were a system for generating entirely new paradigms of useful thought we'd have already achieved a singularity of some kind I think.

Both Leibniz and Newton were giants among the early natural philosophers or scientists.If not for them it might have taken an Einstein or Ramanujan to invent calculus; and if it had been Einstein then instead of benefiting from the work he built on top of Newton and some of his successors we would have to wait for someone else to work out general relativity (most likely).

Comment author: JamesAndrix 03 March 2010 08:35:56PM 2 points [-]

If there were a system for generating entirely new paradigms of useful thought we'd have already achieved a singularity of some kind I think.

Human creativity isn't magic. There IS such a system. Most likely we can codify a simpler and more efficient system. Hopefully so, as this will be required for FAI.

The fact that we haven't coded it yet doesn't mean it can't be done. Once done, a below average thinker could in principle follow the algorithm.

Comment author: TruePath 14 April 2010 11:15:27PM 2 points [-]

Arguably they couldn't.

An average thinker could surely be the computational substrate on which the algorithm was implemented in the same way transitors implement the algorithm running on this computer. However, this would simply be a version of Searle's Chinese room. The sentient being doing the thinking here would actually be an AI running really really slowly through the application of computational rules on pencil and paper by some person.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 15 April 2010 04:44:22PM 0 points [-]

Any rule you can follow to break down a problem or bypass a known cognitive bias makes you smarter. It IS such an algorithm. There doesn't have to be another sentient being/AI that you're running, that's just proof of concept.

The point is that we do not have to rely on genetics to give us people who can come up with brilliant ideas. We can train normal people and certainly above-average people to think in ways that lead to brilliant ideas, even if more slowly or only in groups.

And we should be training the brilliant people in the same processes anyway.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 April 2010 05:26:38PM 0 points [-]

What training methods are you thinking of?

Comment author: JamesAndrix 15 April 2010 09:30:04PM 0 points [-]

For the most part, we don't have them yet. To a small degree they are some of the things we try to work out here. To a larger degree, science in general qualifies. (Look at the difference in performance between the most brilliant people pre-science, and the most brilliant people post-science. I see no reason to assume that normal people don't enjoy the same multiplier. At least some sub-brilliant people must have made brilliant discoveries because they used science.)

The potential future methods are somewhere in between the strategy of running an AI on pencil and paper, and giving up on making yourself more creative/rational.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 April 2010 02:36:57PM *  2 points [-]

Thinking at the Edge might be useful.

It grew out of Focusing, a method based on observation of who got value from therapy and who didn't. Those who did all had a pattern of pausing, paying close attention to how they felt, spending some time searching for the exact words which satisfied them to express how they felt, and then saying them. I haven't seen any discussion of art or music therapy in this context.

Thinking at the Edge applies the method of close observation and expression of subtle feelings to cognition.

TAE requires a familiarity with Focusing. The participants in our first TAE were experienced Focusing people. This took care of the most difficult part of my university course. Nevertheless I expected it to fail, and I certainly experienced that it did fail. Some people did not even get as far as using logic, and most created no theory. Yet there was great satisfaction and even excitement. A great thing seemed to have happened, so I was grateful that I was saved any embarrassment. For some reason they did not feel cheated.

Later I understood. During the ensuring year many people wrote to us. They reported that they found themselves able to speak from what they could not say before, and that they were now talking about it all the time. And some of them also explained another excitement. Some individuals had discovered that they could think! What “thinking” had previously meant to many of them involved putting oneself aside and rearranging remembered concepts. For some the fact that they could create and derive ideas was the fulfillment of a need which they had despaired of long ago.

Now after five American and four German TAE meetings I am very aware of the deep political significance of all this. People, especially intellectuals, believe that they cannot think! They are trained to say what fits into a pre-existing public discourse. They remain numb about what could arise from themselves in response to the literature and the world. People live through a great deal which cannot be said. They are forced to remain inarticulate about it because it cannot be said in the common phrases. People are silenced! TAE can empower them to speak from what they are living through.

Comment author: CronoDAS 16 April 2010 05:38:46PM 1 point [-]

The writing at that link is confusing. It's too... "dense", let's say, and reminds me of attempts to sound profound by deliberately being hard to understand rather than actually being profound - what others may have called using too many "big words". I don't have a good way of describing the feeling of reading something hard to understand, and, when something is hard to understand, it's also hard to know whether it's worth putting in the effort to try to understand it or whether it's just gibberish. Am I making sense here?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 April 2010 06:27:24PM 0 points [-]

You're making sense. I'm sure Focusing is legitimate, and TAE is the same process I use for accessing new ideas. The bit I quoted sounds like TAE is incredibly valuable for people who've gotten false ideas about thinking from school and/or mainstream society.

However, in spite of all this, I find the TAE site unreadable, and I can handle moderately difficult text.

I'm not sure what the problem is.I don't think it's the vocabulary-- it might be that there's too much philosophy inserted in the wrong places, but this is only a guess.

Comment author: thomblake 16 April 2010 06:43:28PM 1 point [-]

"Philosophy" should have been in scare quotes.

Comment author: CronoDAS 16 April 2010 06:36:41PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, there is definitely something very wrong with the writing style on that site.

Comment author: jhuffman 05 March 2010 06:19:15PM *  0 points [-]

Not if you think what Karl mentions above. The problem is that the amount of thought that you can hold in your head at one time is finite and differs significantly from one person to another.

In other words: algorithms need working memory, which is not boundless.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 05 March 2010 07:45:41PM 0 points [-]

Well first off, I was assuming pencil and paper were allowable augmentations.

I would be surprised if it were the case that our brain process that finds big insights with N 'bits of working memory' couldn't be serialized to find the same big insights as a sequence of small insights produced by a brain running a similar process but with only N/2 available 'bits'.

Comment author: jhuffman 05 March 2010 08:35:43PM *  0 points [-]

Imagine yourself studying a 4 megapixel digital image only by looking at it one pixel at a time. Yes, you can look at it, and then even write down what color it was. Later you can refer back to this list and see what color a particular pixel was. Its hard to remember more than a few dozen at once though, so how will you ever have a complete picture of it in your head?

Comment author: JamesAndrix 06 March 2010 02:07:55AM 1 point [-]

I could find and write down a set of instructions that would allow you to determine if there was a face in the image. If you were immortal and I were smarter, I could write down a set of instructions that might enable you to derive the physics of the photographed universe given a few frames.

At this level it's like the Chinese room.

But I don't think the ratio between Einstein's working memory and a normal person's working memory is 100,000 to 1.

It would be EASY to make instructions to find faces even if someone could only see and remember 1/16th of the image at a time. You get tons of image processing for free. "Is there a dark circle surrounded by a color?"

A human runnable algorithm to turn data into concepts would be different in structure, but not in kind.