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Carl_Shulman comments on Above-Average AI Scientists - Less Wrong

22 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 September 2008 11:04AM

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Comment author: Carl_Shulman 28 September 2008 05:50:45PM 8 points [-]

James wrote:

"The benefits humanity has received from innovations have mostly come about through gradual improvements in existing products rather then through huge breakthroughs. For these kinds of innovations 50 people with the minimal IQ needed to get a masters degree in chemistry (even if each of them believes that the Bible is the literal word of God) are far more valuable than one atheist with an Eliezer level IQ."

Would you really be surprised by a 50-fold productivity difference between low-end (those just barely able to even attempt a task) and high-end mathematicians or computer programmers in developing new techniques and algorithms? Even on ordinary corporate software development projects there are order of magnitude differences in productivity on many tasks, differences which are masked by allocation of people to the tasks where they have the greatest marginal productivity.

There is a big difference between:

1. 4 geniuses with 200 passable assistants for grunt work will do better than 6 geniuses.

2. 2000 passable programmers will do better than 4 geniuses and 200 passable assistants.