Re: What is Intelligence?

Dan Clemmensen (
Wed, 02 Oct 1996 22:46:44 -0400

Robin Hanson wrote:
> Dan Clemmensen writes:
> >> Sure computers are new, and will have new kinds of impacts. And at one
> >> time cars were new, trains were new, radio was new, etc. But the
> >> question here is, do they fundamentally change the nature of economic
> >> growth any more than these did? You have stated your belief in this,
> >> but have not offered any reasons.
> >>
> >Cars, Trains, and radio are not intelligence-augmemnting technologies
> >in the same sense that computers are likely to be. This is the crux
> >of my argument.
> My point is, what is it about intelligence-augmenting, as opposed to
> communication-augmenting, transporation-augmenting,
> lifespan-augmenting, or any other X-augmenting new techology, that
> leads you to expect some special different effect on economic growth?
Sorry, Robin. I thought this was self-evident, but apparently not. IMO
a person/entity with dramatically higher intelligence can invent and
use an array of vastly-improved products and processes. These products
processes will rapidly and radically affect the economy, but this is a
side-effect. The crucial difference is in the feedback, as the entity
invents and implements additional intelligence-augmenting devices,
and processes.

All humans except for those with a fairly severe brain damage fall into
narrow range of intelligence, when measured against, say, other primates
all other beings on the planet. IMO, an entity who is smarter than the
average human
by the amount that the average human is smarter than the average chimp,
be able to take over the world. But this level of intelligence is likely
be rapidly achievable shortly after we figure out how to use computers
augment an entity's intelligence at all.

You may argue that the industrial revolution is an analogy. At that
point, we
began to use machines to produce machines. That did in fact produce
fairly radical
changes in the economy and in society over a historically short period.
same thing happened again after WWII in the US with the automobile, and
is happening
again (so far to a lesser extent, IMO), with computers replacing clerks.
intelligence augmentation has the potential to happen in a much shorter
I think the economy will fail to adjust to the distortions as gracefully
it did to the earlier ones because of this difference in time scales.