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

timtyler comments on Recursive Self-Improvement - Less Wrong

14 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 01 December 2008 08:49PM

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

Comments (54)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Phil_Goetz6 02 December 2008 07:52:00PM 2 points [-]

"Sexual selection is at the root of practically all the explanations for the origin of our large brains."

Ooh, you triggered one of my cached rants.

Practically all of those explanations start by saying something like, "It's a great mystery how humans got so smart, since you don't need to be that smart to gather nuts and berries."

And that shows tremendous ignorance of how much intelligence is needed to be a hunter-gatherer. (Much more than is needed to be a modern city-dweller.) Most predators have a handful of ways of catching prey; primitive humans have thousands. Just enumerating different types of snares and traps used would bring us over 100.

Comment author: timtyler 12 June 2011 08:26:51AM *  0 points [-]

The things that point towards sexual selection being involved are rapid growth, extreme growth, any sexual dimorphism in the organ involved, and its costliness.

The alternative to sexual selection is natural selection - the idea that big brains helped our ancestors to survive. This seems less plausible as a driver of a large brain - since mere survival is quite a bit easier than survival and successfully raising numerous babies.