Re: Dumbasses vs. AI researchers

From: James Higgins (
Date: Wed Aug 01 2001 - 19:21:09 MDT

At 12:31 PM 8/1/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>The distinction between a dumbass and an AI researcher consists of both
>intrinsic smartness and education. From the tenor of the rest of your
>message, I assume you're interested in the intrinsic smartness part of the
>distinction. Psychologists like to reify 'smartness' by something called
>the 'g factor', which is supposed to differ between people. IQ tests
>measure the g factor, and the amount of g factor is commonly called IQ.
>Here's a semi-popular article on the topic, most of which I agree with:

Has anyone considered motivation? Maybe scientists are smarter because
they value those specific experiences and thus seek out experiences that
would make them smarter? Actually, this could be tested using identical
twins raised separately. Twin A becomes a scientists, doctor, or other
equivalent intellectual. Twin B becomes an athlete with a degree in basket
weaving and can't do algebra straight. This would obviously be due to
motivation (or ?), but certainly not genetics, physiology, etc.

I bring this up because I have noticed this effect. When hiring, I
actually prefer self-educated, non-degree programmers that show great
potential, enjoy what they do and are motivated. In my experience, 99% of
the college educated software engineers could go home and no one would
probably notice the difference in productivity. Nothing personal to those
of you who may be college educated software engineers, this is not a
universal truth. A college educated engineer who had been working in the
field for years prior to their formal education, enjoyed their work and
were motivated would probably be the best candidate. However, I have yet
to come across such a person in my hiring attempts...

>Moreover, research on the physiology and genetics of g has uncovered
>biological correlates of this psychological phenomenon. In the past decade,
>studies by teams of researchers in North America and Europe have linked
>several attributes of the brain to general intelligence. After taking into
>account gender and physical stature, brain size as determined by magnetic
>resonance imaging is moderately correlated with IQ (about 0.4 on a scale of
>0 to 1). So is the speed of nerve conduction. The brains of bright people
>also use less energy during problem solving than do those of their less able
>peers. And various qualities of brain waves correlate strongly (about 0.5 to
>0.7) with IQ: the brain waves of individuals with higher IQs, for example,
>respond more promptly and consistently to simple sensory stimuli such as
>audible clicks.

But is this genetic or learned? A brain that solves a lot of a certain
type of problem (logical lets say) may become much more efficient when
working in that domain. I'd like to see some studies of very young
children and then compare their early results with tests taken when they
are 25 or 30. Of course, we don't have time to wait for these tests. Oh well.

James Higgins

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