Re: Subjective brain speed

Eugene Leitl (
Wed, 7 Jan 1998 18:42:45 +0300 (MSK)

On Tue, 6 Jan 1998, Michael Lorrey wrote:

> [...]
> Of course. However, the feature of extropianism/transhumanism that
> interests young people a lot is the idea of getting smart without all of
> the tiring, boring, pain in the butt studying. Getting intelligence

Some people happen to like it.

> amplification and instant access to databases, even small databases,
> makes a person much quicker on the draw than a Renaissance period genius
> in the Vatican Library. Most people don't want or need, or can conceive

I think you are kidding yourself when you are comparing internalized
knowledge with an external database. Even a mental index of a treekiller
library is much better than a hardcopy of it. With an external database,
you have the knowledge absorption bottleneck.

This bottleneck is also my chief objection against the often claimed
limitlessness of the human/machine synergy -- imo there are limits to how
far even an optimal GUI can take us. Without gradual/incremental uploading
there obviously cannot be a continuous, traversable trajectory to godhead.

Bottlenecks can also cause a division into Us and Them (internal and
external systems), which is at least deletorious, and can even provoke
strife if the external systems grow too autonomous. Since we cannot claim
to have their protean qualities, we would probably lose.

> of a need for, at this point, access to ALL knowledge. THey want to be
> able to process that small subset they do care about and need in a much
> faster, less tiring manner. People don't want to be wise, they want to

Less tiring is certainly true. I know not how other people are feeling,
but I choose firing up a search engine over a (often frustrating) session
in the library, even if the scope is less broad, and the quality of
obtained material dubitable. I've done some evangelizing about the virtues
of the Internet and online publishing at the local faculty (Moscow State
University, Polymer Science Dept.), but I have a strong feeling that the
majority has still not grasped its full implications. Reluctancy to do
some experimenting goes in hand with unreasonable expectations to find
free high-quality online resources, imo a strange attitude for an
ex-socialist culture.


> be 'smart'. Therein lies the difference.