RE: SOAPBOX: Funding for SIAI

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat May 03 2003 - 10:56:51 MDT

> > Since the message traffic is slow today, I'll take this opportunity to
> > interject. There's an old saying: "If you're so smart, why ain't you
> > rich?"

It's a silly saying, but it gets at the ambiguity of the notion of

The abstract/logical/intellectual sort of intelligence, which is most
commonly meant by the word "intelligence", is not necessarily all that
useful toward the goal of getting rich. It can be deployed that way, but
the majority of fortunes are made without the use of too much of this sort
of intelligence.

Social intelligence -- people skills -- is at least as important for getting
rich, probably more so.

Not to mention a whole bunch of non-intelligence-related traits like
persistence and stamina... and ruthlessness...

In short, what's needed to make getting rich "easy" is a particular
combination of personality traits combined with intelligence, and particular
sorts of intelligence are more useful here than others.

Among other points, this gets at the point that humans don't really have
that much "general intelligence." Intelligence tends to be specialized in
one way or another. People with high IQ's can have poor social
intelligence, and as a consequence may have a hard time getting rich even if
they invent valuable things, because others with greater social skills and
ruthlessness may screw them out of the money they "deserve." I'm sure a
very long thread could be created discussing stories of this nature known to
various list members who've been in the tech industry ;-0 !!

Now, getting back to the point of this thread -- it may be that this list
has a lot of people with geeky intellectual smarts and not that many people
with social smarts. If so, this group is gonna be better at idea-generation
and technical problem solving than at raising money. And the answer to "if
you're so smart why aren't you rich" may be, "we're smart in a different way
than what it takes to get rich."

James Rogers and I are among list members who are in the business world and
hence are trying to get rich, along with advancing our R&D goals. However,
if my goal were *purely* to get rich, I think I might choose a different
approach that had less to do with R&D... I actually suspect that deploying
analytical intelligence and technical-invention ability is one of the HARDER
ways to get rich...

-- Ben G

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