Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Tom_McCabe2 comments on My Childhood Role Model - Less Wrong

29 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 23 May 2008 08:51AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (59)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: Tom_McCabe2 24 May 2008 03:37:42AM -1 points [-]

First of all, to Eliezer: Great post, but I think you'll need a few more examples of how stupid chimps are compared to VIs and how stupid Einsteins are compared to Jupiter Brains to convince most of the audience.

"Maybe he felt that the difference between Einstein and a village idiot was larger than between a village idiot and a chimp. Chimps can be pretty clever."

We see chimps as clever because we have very low expectations of animal intelligence. If a chimp were clever in human terms, it would be able to compete with humans in at least some areas, which is clearly silly. How well would an adult chimp do, if he was teleported into a five-year-old human's body and thrown into kindergarten?

"But I don't buy the idea of intelligence as a scalar value."

Intelligence is obviously not a scalar, but there does seem to be a scalar component of intelligence, at least when dealing with humans. It has long been established that intelligence tests strongly correlate with each other, forming a single scalar known as Spearman's g (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_intelligence_factor), which correlates with income, education, etc.

"2) you're handwaving away deep problems of knowledge and data processing by attributing magical thought powers to your AI."

Yes. If you have a way to solve those problems, and it's formal and comprehensive enough to be published in a reputable journal, I will pay you $1,000. Other people on OB will probably pay you much more. Until then, we do the best we can.

"as opposed to simply stating that it could obviously do those things because it's a superintelligence."

See the previous post at http://lesswrong.com/lw/qk/that_alien_message/ for what simple overclocking can do.

"We haven't even established how to measure most aspects of cognitive function - one of the few things we know about how our brains work is that we don't possess tools to measure most of the things it does."

Er, yes, we do, actually. See http://lesswrong.com/lw/kj/no_one_knows_what_science_doesnt_know/.

"Some people can do it without much effort at all, and not all of them are autistic, so you can't just say that they've repurposed part of their brain for arithmetic."

Since when is autism necessary for brain repurposing? Autism specifically refers to difficulty in social interaction and communication. Savantism is actually an excellent example of what we could do with the brain if it worked efficiently.

"By the way, when the best introduction to a supposedly academic field is works of science fiction, it sets off alarm bells in my head. I know that some of the best ideas come from sci-fi and yada, yada, but just throwing that out there."

Sci-fi is useful for introducing the reader to the idea that there are possibilities for civilization other than 20th-century Earth. It's not meant to be technical material.

"But I'm skeptical that this uniformity extends to system II. The system II abilities of the best rationalists of today may depend significantly on their having learned a set of reasoning skills developed by their culture over a long period of time."

That's precisely the point; the biological difference between humans is not that great, so the huge differences we see in human accomplishment must be due in large part to other factors.

"The simplest best theory we have for precisely predicting an arbitrary 12 grams of carbons behaviour over time requires avogadros of data for the different degrees of freedom of the start state, the electron energy states etc."

No, it doesn't; the Standard Model only has eighteen adjustable parameters (physical constants) that must be found through experiment.

"The minor tweaks in brain design allowed enormous improvements in cognitive performance, and I think that the intelligence scale should reflect the performance differences rather than the anatomical ones."

The difference between humans and chimps is fairly small anatomically; we share 95-98% of our DNA and most of our brain architecture. The huge difference between a civilization inhabited entirely by village idiots and a civilization of chimps is obvious.

"Eliezer, I think this whole frame of analysis has an element of ego-stroking/sour grapes (stroking your ego and perhaps the ego of your reading audience that defines brainy as being Einstein-like, and that defines social success as being inversely correlated, because y'all are more Einstein-like than you're socially successful)."

Social success will gradually become more irrelevant as society develops further, because social success is a zero-sum game; it doesn't produce anything of value. Dogs, orangutans, and chimps all have complex social structures. Dogs, orangutans, and chimps would all currently be extinct if we didn't have domesticated animals and environmentalists.

"The empiricism based seduction community indicates a braininess advantage in being able "to play well with the other kids"."

If you define braininess as social success, social success is obviously going to correlate with braininess. The ability to find an optimal mate is not why people are successful. Monks, who were the closest thing to scholars during the medieval period, explicitly *renounced* the quest for a mate, and they didn't do too badly by the standards of their time period.

"I've resisted this thread, but I'm more interested in James Simon and the google founders as an example as the high end of braininess than the Albert Einsteins of today."

If you're referring to this James Simon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Simon), he is obviously less accomplished than Newton, Einstein, etc., by any reasonable metric. Larry Page and Sergey Brin are rich primarily because they were more interested in being rich than in publishing papers. They sure as heck didn't become rich because they knew how to win a high school popularity contest; Bill Gates, the most famous of the dot-com billionaires, is widely reputed to be autistic.