Re: Fwd: We Can Understand Anything, But are Just a Bit Slow

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Mon Apr 24 2006 - 10:52:57 MDT


I'm confused: was your point that Phil's comment was so foolish that it
deserved only sarcasm?

Or maybe this wasn't sarcasm at all (apologies if not) and you can
explain a few oddities, like why my cranial volume does not appear to be
hundreds of times large than the average cranial volume that I see every
day on the street...?

If the ability to hold simultaneous chunks in working memory is somehow
connected to the maximum theoretical amount of total connectivity of
concept-level objects in the brain, then it would, as Phil points out
scale in a very unfortunate way with increasing brain size. And if the
ability to hold simultaneous chunks is crucial to the power of thought
or degree of intelligence (whatever that is), this might have serious

I would argue against his conclusion. But the argument does not seem to
me to be incoherent.

Richard Loosemore

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> Philip Goetz wrote:
>> My intuition, based on experience with how much computational power it
>> takes to solve a problem of a particular size, and on Rescher's law of
>> logarithmic returns, is that exponentially-increasing computational
>> power is required to provide linear increase in "smartness", or some
>> measure of the problems we can handle. For instance, finding primes
>> of 2N bits takes much more than twice the computational power of
>> finding primes of N bits.
>> I also expect that the computational complexity of cognition is an
>> exponential function of the size of working memory, so that if we
>> currently have a working memory that can store 5 chunks, the amount of
>> computation available in the universe limits us to some double-digit
>> number of chunks.
> As we all know, humans required thousands of much times as much brain
> tissue as chimpanzees to produce only a small increment in performance;
> if you look around on the street, you can easily see that each
> additional 10 IQ points requires a rough doubling of cranial volume. If
> you still think the ascent of AIs will be rapid, a further caution is
> provided by the evolutionary history of the hominid family: After
> requiring only 50,000 years to go from Australopithecus to late Homo
> erectus, it then required another five million years to produce Homo
> sapiens. Most of what we think of as impressive benefits and major
> impacts of "human" intelligence, such as guns and nuclear weapons, were
> invented by monkeys twenty million years ago. Our closest cousins, the
> chimpanzees, have most human abilities - including combinatorial
> language, machines with moving parts, and crude scientific journals -
> which also suggests that it is unlikely for any particular AI project to
> get many major abilities in advance of other AI projects. The ongoing
> military and economic competition between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals
> has stalemated for millennia; slight improvements in brainpower simply
> do not amount to all that much in the real world.

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