RE: Socialism, Intelligence, and Posthumanity

Billy Brown (
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 15:13:05 -0600

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> I have an Algernic disability with respect to symbols; this includes
> both chunking and what you call indirection. I can't work with
> abstractions from abstractions at all. I can't manipulate systems of
> systems; only the grounding. My abilities are all oriented towards
> digging down, reducing, asking why; not building symbols
> about symbols. I will never understand most of "Godel, Escher, Bach" this
> side of the dawn.
> I can't get lost in a maze of words; I don't have the infrastructure.

I hadn't thought about that implication until you pointed it out. I think I see what you mean.

> As for limited working memory, most of my thinking is about the relation
> between two concrete objects, which - counting the relation, the
> objects, and my thinking - takes only four places in short-term memory*.

Damn. Oh, well - back to the grind.

Its a big limitation for me - I work a lot with complex, self-modifying abstractions, and my ability to grasp all of a problem at once is a real limitation on the quality of the work I can do. I've found ways of working around it to some extent, but I'm always looking for better methods.

> I don't think that my level of rationality is so far away from an
> idiot's, relative to the total width of the spectrum, that a random
> division would lie anywhere in the middle of the human race.

Well, its hardly likely to be a *random* division, but I see your point.

> The only major targetable landmark is realizing that your current
> actions can be dependent on your projection of the Singularity's behavior
> that a possible causal link exists.

Some other significant mental divides that lie on our side of SI territory:

  1. Awareness of environment - almost all life has this.
  2. Capacity for internal mental states - probably most creatures that have a CNS.
  3. Awareness of causality - probably most mammals, maybe some other animals.
  4. Awareness of own internal mental states - hotly debated.
  5. Awareness that other individuals with internal states exist - hotly debated.
  6. Abstract thought, planning ability - probably just humans.
  7. Capacity for internal self-evaluation - some humans.

I suspect capacity for deliberate self-modification of meme systems, and of mechanisms for selecting meme systems, would be next - but that may just be personal prejudice. Most people seem to draw a line around #3 or #4.

Of course, an SI might draw the line between people and not-people at item #3.776x10^7: "Perniction to tasmfit self-gungitation" - which just happens to lie several steps below its most advanced cognitive abilities.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I