Re: What is Intelligence?

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 11 Oct 96 12:32:13 PDT

Dan Clemmensen writes:
>My favorite scenario is the use of a modern video interface and
>effective software that lets a human make decisions
>at a very high rate based on information presented by the computer.
>the human's input would affect the computer's output to the human.
.the human's decision rate can be very high in such a scenario, even with
>fairly restricted human-to-computer commnications: watch a kid playing a
>flight-simulation game to see what I mean. The I/O hardware is alrady in
>place: what's missing is the software.

There are lots of contexts where this already happens, including
playing war games, financial trading, and web surfing. High decision
rates don't imply fast economic growth.

>The "SI Dream" scenario is a researcher (probably a grad student at
>MIT, drinking Jolt cola at 2AM and programming when he should be
>studying for an English exam.) The researcher is attempting to enhance
>a decision-support system by interfacing it to a knowledge base and to
>a graphical information-presentation system. ... his first trial run
>is an attempt to optimize his prototype. He succeeds, and installs the
>next version. With this version, he optimizes the operating system ...
>Then, he grabs all the workstations in the dorm, via the net, and
>oprimizes them. ... then all computers on the campus, and then the
>web. ... By the end of the trading day, he owns a controlling
>interest in a nice collection of companies on the NYSE.

I can't say this is impossible, but it really is very unrealistic.
We have had half a century of experience with computers, and no
similar takeoff has occured, or anything close. We have had feedback,
lots of it, but growth rates have been relatively steady. I think you
need a good story about why your scenario hasn't yet happened to make
it at all plausible.

Robin D. Hanson