Re: What is Intelligence?

Anders Sandberg (
Thu, 10 Oct 1996 15:53:12 +0200 (MET DST)

On Wed, 9 Oct 1996, Dan Clemmensen wrote:

> IMO, a large group is not much more intelligent than its most
> intelligent member. True, the most intelligent member may be
> somewhat more effective if the group can off-load some of the
> more mundane parts of the creative effort, but the effect is
> not large, and in many groups the effect is offset by the effort spent
> in communication among the group.

Well, this depends largely on the task. According to what I have learned
about group psychology, some tasks are very suitable for group-work, while
others aren't. If the task can be subdivided in some way, then the group
members can divide the task between them, and become much more efficient
(this is why we have corporations). Other tasks cannot be subdivided well,
and the group will not be significantly better than the smartest member
(sometimes it will do worse, as ideas are ignored or logistics hinder real
work). In some cases groups can show emergent intelligence such as in
brainstorming or when experts from different specialities get together and
cross-pollinate, but this is hard to organize.

> IMO easy and effective access to knowledge is an intelligence
> multiplier. the best you could do in this regard prior to the advent of
> the computer was to live in a library. Even that was not very good.

The big question is: how do we get knowledge instead of information or
(worse) data?

Case in point: it is becoming harder and harder to find useful
information on the WWW using search engines, since the probability of
finding a short presentation of a subject (very useful) is decreasing as
more and more corporate webpages attract the hits instead (it may be
useful to know that XYZ Corp researches frobnology, but what I need is a
quick overview of what frobnology is about). Maybe we need a special
knowledge search engine that just looks at pages certified to contain
useful information, not just advertisments or spam.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y