RE: Seed AI (was: How hard a Singularity?)

From: James Higgins (
Date: Wed Jun 26 2002 - 10:36:49 MDT

At 10:07 AM 6/26/2002 -0600, Ben Goertzel wrote:
>Of course, there is no fully objective way to measure & compare amounts of
>achievement. Einstein is more famous than von Neumann because he made a few
>really crisp important discoveries, whereas von Neumann's discoveries were
>more diffuse. [Godel's Theorem is an example of an Einstein-like "crisp
>important discovery" in the math/CS rather than physics domain...]\


>For instance, Jeff Pressing, a friend who recently passed away prematurely,
>was just an AMAZINGLY smart guy. He spoke a dozen languages, could play 10
>people simultaneously at chess while blindfolded (and quite well), could
>solve really tough differential equations in his head rapidly, was a master
>of several instruments and extremely good at nearly all the others (not only
>orchestral instruments but West African drums of various sorts, etc. etc.).
>Sometimes it scared me how smart this guy was. Yet as a scientist he was
>merely *very good*. I've met other scientists who didn't seem "as
>intelligent" as Jeff yet had accomplished significantly more in terms of
>scientific discovery.

Which correlates will with my theory on focus. Jeff was brilliant but very
diverse. These "other" scientists, who may not have been as brilliant as
Jeff, were likely more focused on the area of science where they made these

Forgive me for constantly referring to myself, but I do not know the
insides of anyone else's mind sufficiently to pull examples. I am
intelligent, last IQ test was in the low 140s. I am not, however, a genius
(wish I were). There are MANY people out there much more intelligent than
myself. I am, however, very focused. I spent the vast majority of my time
between ages 8 and my late twenties thoroughly dedicated to Software
Engineering and computers (networking, databases, etc. The stuff that
immediately surrounds Software Engineering). Such focus coupled with a
strong desire to improve, learn and optimize has tremendous
influence. Thus those 20 years probably equate to 50+ years of typical
work in the field, putting myself significantly ahead of most (not all, by
any means). However, in many other areas I'm significantly behind the
norm, having not put much if any effort into them. Mechanically I'm
useless, I break pretty much anything that has moving parts I touch. My
social skills are less than they should be. etc. This is my theory on why
less brilliant people sometimes achieve much more than obviously more
brilliant people. I just wish I had focused a bit more energy into
communication & business skills as technical skills (but, then again, I'd
be less effective). Its all about trade-offs, after all.

I believe Einstien was also extremely focused. I read/saw somewhere that
he always wore the same style/color of clothing, every day, to avoid
distraction. This may be completely untrue, but I imagine that even if it
was there was probably some kernel of truth behind why this was
fabled. Forgive me for not knowing more but I haven't studied him (outside
my focus area).

Now, what I'd really like is to find someone truly brilliant who has
focused as much energy in Software Engineering as I have. I'd love the
opportunity to work with such an individual.

>In our own collaborations, we worked together quite well -- although I'm
>*very quick* with math & logical reasoning, he was even quicker and
>considerably less error-prone; but I was always the one who came up with the
>out-there, sometimes-kooky, sometimes-excellent ideas that kicked our
>research projects off....

I do not think creativity and intelligence are directly connected. I think
creativity and intelligence should be considered parallel, separate abilities.

James Higgins

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