Re: Affective mental "illnesses" and Super-Intelligence

J. R. Molloy (
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 01:29:00 -0800

Dave Hall wrote:
>> It would seem to me (and admittedly my research on enhanced intelligence
>> so forth is still far too limited to say anything really sensible at this
>> point) that studying what it is that made minds like Einstein's tick is a
>> critical part of understanding true super-intelligence, and recreating it
>> artificially.

The Einstein brain may have functioned a tiny bit differently than other brains, and close inspection of it has revealed some interesting (although slight) structural/anatomical differences. Physical neurological differences in the Einstein brain may have resulted from differences in the way the brain got used rather than the other way around, in similar fashion as calloused hands may reflect the way those hands got used rather than that biology intended them for rough use (the old genotype/phenotype comparison).

Whether we enhance, augment, amplify, intensify, magnify, or otherwise embellish intelligence, we (intentionally or unintentionally) increase the capability of the brain which generates that intelligence. The refreshing death/rebirth experienced by psychedelic experimenters reminds us that subjective form and objective function converge to activate self-determined entities -- to make them tick. Understanding true super-intelligence requires true ultra-intelligence. So, while we may not have the aptitude for that, we can nevertheless see that intelligence constantly recreates itself artificially, unless you prefer to think of it as a natural process (in which case artifice = nature).

Your limited research on enhanced intelligence puts you in good company, since no one else, including eager educators, has come up with reliable techniques for recreating Einstein's brain artificially (or any other way). But these few comments here merely serve to preface what I really want to ask you: Why do you constrain your question to the type of genius exemplified by Einstein? Why not include Mohammed, Kabir, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Socrates, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Krishna, and enlightened masters? Do they not qualify as critical parts of understanding intelligence?

With a sincere intention to contribute to the integrity of this list, and not wanting to antagonize anyone, I submit that the Einstein brain and the Buddha brain have close to identical capabilities. But Buddha died in blissful Nirvana, while Einstein died disappointed, saying that if he had his life to live over again, he would have become a plumber instead of a theoretical physicist. It seems a toss-up to me which engenders more extropian energy: the cosmically conscious Siddhartha, or the mathematically gifted Albert. At any rate, ought we not to attempt to understand the significance of such a powerful technique as meditation (dhyana) in our search for enhanced intelligence? (Note that I do not here refer to the body of ritualized superstition known as religion, but rather to scientific methods of expanding the brain's accurate awareness.)

Anders rejoined:
>I agree that understanding the brain (including through its disorders)
>will help us approach AI, SI et al but it is not clear to me that
>affective disorders are useful in themselves. It would be much better
>to be in a high energy active state for most of the time, with periods
>of deep, restful relaxation in between.

You've nailed it once again, Anders. Better than understanding what can go wrong to subvert or prevent SI, an understanding of what it takes for intelligence to thrive, burgeon, flourish, and grow seems very appropriate -- even if it means understanding that intelligence drives all life before it. Likewise, the diligent extropian seeks to understand and know what past masters have understood and known, the better to exceed it, if possible. Unless we see the exquisite immensity that Gurdjieff, Krishna, et al. saw, we cannot know (or imagine) what other mysterious poesy and profound adventure awaits us. While I feel confident that all the enlightened masters approve of extropian use of high-technology, it makes me sad to think that extropians may miss the vision of beauty and verity directly experienced by buddhas.


--J. R.