Re: Gender and Cognitive Style

Eugene Leitl (
Sat, 21 Nov 1998 22:32:20 +0100

Spike Jones writes:

> when asked if women should be astronauts, marvin minsky gave the
> wonderfully evasive answer that all astronauts should be female, for
> women have a higher intellegence to weight ratio... {8^D

Ha-ha. Current astronautics is a risky job, where people occasionally get stretched beyond their limits. Intelligence, physical strength, stamina, ability to work under stressfull, and sometimes extreme conditions for prolonged periods are required. No intrinsic gender bias ever existed, but during the early years most astronauts were recruited from exceptional military jet pilots, where women were traditionally underrepresented. The early women in space was mostly a PR gag during Cold War, and meant almost the physical end of the very first one.

It will be interesting to see how pigs in space of any gender will compete with the emerging third: advanced automation. How many NEAP, lunar or deep space missions could one have for the price of one ISS, I wonder?

> regarding our earlier discussion on "tinkerbellizing" do the standard
> notions on brain function explain why lions and house cats display
> the same kinds of intelligence, in spite of an order of magnitude
> ratio in their brain sizes? spike

I am not aware of any comparative studies in feline intelligence. As to intelligence, you have to normalize brain weight in relation to body mass (search for (Dawkins's?) cerebralization quotient). You must also correct for differing brain archetecture: higher primates and cetaceans are hardly comparable.

As the neuron has a minimal size, obviously there is a limit how small a brain can become. It would be interesting to see how brain intelligence (=computational resource) scales up with bulk -- within limits, in humans there seems to be little if any correlation between brain mass and IQ.

Btw, how do you think can one measure the intelligence distinctly beyond the human scala, and how does superhuman intelligence scales up with system size, optimal ('omega') hardware assuming? Linear, exponential, asymptotic?