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

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Thu Apr 27 2006 - 19:47:38 MDT

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> 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.

Short term memory does not have 7 items in it.

When cognitive scientists talk about the magic number 7 they are
referring to the largest number of *unrelated* items that we seem
capable of keeping in mind at one time.

And the idea that the 7 limit is there because the brain is somehow
having trouble keeping up with the task of making "comparisons" among
the 7 items, a pretty simplistic approach to cognitive modelling.

Richard Loosemore

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:56 MDT