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

From: Philip Goetz (
Date: Thu Apr 27 2006 - 11:40:48 MDT

On 4/24/06, Robin Lee Powell <> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 24, 2006 at 12:52:57PM -0400, Richard Loosemore wrote:
> > I'm confused: was your point that Phil's comment was so foolish
> > that it deserved only sarcasm?
> Yes.

I invite you to hypothesize any algorithm for processing n items in
memory, where any of the n items can be combined with any of the other
n-1 items, that takes computional resources linear in n. THAT is the
foolish notion.

I don't think comparing monkeys to humans is as good as considering
what we know about algorithms, because it is hard to make objective
measurements about the outcomes, and because there are so many
complicating factors. Nevertheless, a human brain has a volume of
about 1600 cubic centimeters, and a neocortical surface area of about
1570 square centimeters. A rhesus monkey has a brain volume of 70-90
cubic centimeters, and a macaque monkey has a neocortical surface area
of about 72 square centimeters.

If you find yourself wondering why SL4 has so little worthwhile
scientific discourse, I would suggest that venues that observe the
niceties of scientific discourse attract more an better scientists
than venues that do not. There is a difference between dispensing
with politness for the sake of efficiency, and using sarcasm rather
than reason to attack a position (and a person). It's Eliezer's list,
so if he'd rather indulge in personal invectives than have scientific
discourse here, it's up to him.

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