Re: Genius dogs

Hal Finney (
Sun, 5 Oct 1997 16:20:59 -0700

Nicholas Bostrom writes:

> If we take a human brain and simply speed it up enough, will it be a
> superintelligence? Would a dog brain be?

We had some debate on this issue before, in June, 1996, in the more
conventional terms of whether the insights of a genius could ever be
achieved by a normal (or somewhat subnormal) person, given enough time.
I argued that they could not, that no matter how long or how hard an
average person thought about the problem, they would not come up with
the theories of general relativity or quantum mechanics.

A possible test for this I proposed was to take some hard problems from
the Mensa tests and give an average guy unlimited time to try to solve
them. Might be hard to prevent cheating, though.

> Any human of normal intelligence could function as a universal
> Turing machine, if augmented with enough scrap paper, time and
> patience.
> [...]
> But whether or not it could be made so concise,
> by using some scrap paper input, I think that even dogs could be made
> to perform on a genius level. Here's how:

This is not a very interesting answer to the question, IMO.
By postulating the existence of a super-intelligent computer program,
you are in effect assuming that super-intelligences already exist (since
the program could presumably be run much more effectively on a computer
than on the clumsy simulation a human or dog pack could provide). The
interesting question is how difficult it will be to create the program.

Also, as opponents of Searle's Chinese Room paradox argue, if you do use
humans or dogs to run the Turing machine, the super-intelligence is not
that of the humans or dogs. Rather, another entity comes into being,
the intelligence being simulated. So while you can *create* a super-
intelligence using fast humans or dogs, they will not *be* the super-
intelligence, as you originally asked above.

The question I wonder about is, if the genii we talked about a few days
ago granted the (misguided?) wish to speed up mentality a million-fold,
would the resulting person be a super-intelligence simply in terms of
applying his own native reasoning powers to the problems he faced.