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

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Apr 27 2006 - 13:42:42 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> The concept of "algorithm" is applicable here, but the concepts of
> "linear" and "exponential" and other orders of complexity need to be
> handled with much care...

I agree. Human short-term memory is small, and evolution tightly
complexity-bounded in its algorithms, so why not compare each of 7 items
to each of 6 other possible items? (Since I'm not sure I buy that we're
considering all possible sets.) If you had 20 million items in
short-term memory, you'd spend your processing power differently - you'd
start asking hard questions about which comparisons were worth carrying
out. The concept of "short-term memory workspace" may disintegrate at
such levels. It may disintegrate much earlier, if you're smart enough
to employ a more efficient algorithm than holding only 7 items in
storage and comparing them to everything else.

I think Justin Corwin may have been right when he suggested that humans
are so incredibly inefficient, and chimpanzees so incredibly
inefficient, that comparing the two provides no evidence whatsoever
about the computational complexity of a well-designed intelligence.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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