Re: "Boy with Incredible Brain"

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Wed Mar 22 2006 - 11:18:03 MST

Michael Vassar wrote:
> It would be SL4 if it was somehow possible to teach a high power savant
> to do applied Bayesian reasoning and decision theory in everyday life in
> a useful way. Maybe it would be worth the time for someone in the UK,
> preferably someone near Essex who knows something about dealing with
> aspergers/autism, to try contacting Daniel and offer to teach him some
> new math.
> It would be best not to even address transhuman issues, just logic, and
> probability, and later some decision theory.

Good grief, I have to say that I couldn't disagree more!

What exactly would be the result of teaching him to do applied Bayesian
reasoning? (And how do you justify your answer?)

What would your intended result be? What is the purpose? That he would
become a Superhuman intelligence, or that he would help to develop an AGI?

Would you not have to decide on a set of goals to give him as he bacme a
BDT system, to guide the reasoning processes? And when you had decided
what goal structure was appropriate, would you have any reason to
believe that he could simply internalize and run your intended goal
system without deviating from it?

Does his ability to handle some types of math extend to an ability to
keep a goal stack in his head?

And do we know anything about/have any control over the semantics and
the grounding mechanisms that he would use to connect his facts to the
real world?

The questions are almost unlimited: they are the same questions one
would ask of anyone who claimed that they could build an AGI using
Bayesian reasoning and decision theory. Since most of the questions
have not been answered for a computer version of such a BDT system, and
since severe doubts exist that such a system will ever actually work
autonomously, I would expect the experiment to program a savant to be a
BDT would be a failure also.

If it were not for the fact that we are talking about a human being
here, and not a computer, I would be interested to see the outcome of
such an experiment.

It feels a little uncomfortable to think of anyone seriously picking up
the phone and trying to involve him in such a project unless he
understood exactly what it was that he was getting into.

Richard Loosemore

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