Re: A study comparing 150 IQ+ persons to 180 IQ+ persons

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Aug 23 2006 - 06:57:51 MDT


> I will also point out that there is a limited supply of high IQ teachers.
> The average teacher has an IQ under 110. They can probably teach kids rote
> knowledge, but can they effectively teach amorphous creativity and thinking
> abilities that they probably don't posess themselves? I don't think that
> any standard teacher's answer cheat guides will help them in this.

That is certainly true, but the lack of teachers possessing high
intelligence and other desirable qualities is not an inevitable fact,
but rather a consequence of the organization of the educational

Just as is, for instance, the lack of university AI professors who
take AGI seriously ;-) ... these things all tie in together. Given
the deep cultural opposition to radical innovation and invention and
deep individual insight, it is remarkable how much individuality and
enterprise and creation actually comes about.... It is remarkable
that the exponents on Kurzweil's graphs are still as big as they are.
In large part I suppose this is because our culture values wealth, and
even though it dislikes radical innovation, it rewards wealth which is
sometimes a consequence of radical innovation...

> However, it is concievable that we could create a test that will identify
> the group of 100 people which probably contains half of the N people who are
> most capable in respects relevant to creating a Singularity. Any attempt to
> do so would be the implementation of an art, not of a science, as we
> couldn't norm such a test, and administering it to a large enough population
> to find the people who we wanted would be very costly, (maybe one could
> administer it to CTY graduates or people above some Math Olympiad cut-off
> instead?) but we don't really know how difficult this would be, as no-one
> has tried.

This seems extremely doubtful to me, due to the diversity of talents
and insights required for bringing the Singularity about.

However, setting aside the "best" aspect, we could certainly create a
test that would successfully identify 100 or 1000 people who would be
incredibly useful for creating a positive Singularity.

But I don't suppose testing really address the main problems. Forget
about the test... if we
-- took 100 technically, scientifically and conceptually gifted, and
sane people from the membership of lists like SL4, extropy, AGI,
wta-talk and the futurist community generally
-- put them all (er, us all ;-) in some isolated facility [Los Alamos
is nice, but I'll advocate a Caribbean island]
-- added in our in our families as well, as desired on a case by case basis
-- added in a crew of system administrators (not to imply that
sys-admins aren't highly intelligent, many would be included in the
above groups), cooks, maids, and other useful support staff, and some
competent managers to rule them all
-- added a couple hundred million dollars of standard and experimental
computing equipment
-- added a big annual budget to fund research in university labs, so
as to bring other minds into the picture
-- let everyone just work on creating a positive Singularity, without
the need to earn $$ in other ways

How much faster would this bring the Singularity about, and how much
would it increase the odds of the Singularity being positive?

Gee, this is a crazy fantasy -- except this, or some approximation of
it, would easily be achievable if someone like Bill Gates or Larry
Ellison or George W Bush decided it was important

The point is: the problem has to do with the allocation of people and
funds, not with isolating who is good or not. I know plenty of folks
who are very good at Singularity-critical work, and have a passion for
it as well, but very few are focusing their time and energy
exclusively on this (even I am not) due to the socially-imposed need
to earn money to support families and so forth; and furthermore the
powerful cross-pollination of thinking that would come from a
Manhattan-project type collaboration does not exist ... instead people
are mostly working in isolation, often replicating each others'
mistakes over and over again.

> >Intelligence and humanity are too multidimensional for that.
> But the binary ability to contribute or lack of such an ability to a
> particular project is surely not multidimensional at all.

Ability to contribute may be defined as binary but depends on multiple
dimensions of attributes...

> >If we want to maximize the odds of
> >positive Singularity we should create an environment in which the
> >diversity of natural intelligence is generally fostered.
> >(Of course, none of that really matters if I'm right about Novamente,
> >and the project is properly funded and flourishes and we create a
> >superhuman AGI on a time-scale much faster than any education reform
> >can plausibly happen.
> Aah. There's the rub. I'm sure many others here feel the same way about
> their projects.

Yes, and IMO, at this stage, all these projects (ultimately there are
not THAT many of them) with any degree of plausibility shouldn't be
funded well and thought about hard by a community of passionate,
dedicated, knowledgeable and intelligent people....

Unfortunately our society is organized to promote the proliferation of
chocolates, cookies, and weapons instead, so getting the (difficult,
but not so hard as people think) technical problems solved is taking a
lot longer than it really needs to....

But testing to find the N most Singularity-creation-able people
wouldn't solve anything -- what would we do? pat them on the back and
say "Good! Now go apply for funding to do some Singularity work! Or,
since you're so clever, please feel morally obliged to quit your job,
dump your kids in the orphanage, and move into my basement and program
and calculate full time" ;-)

Anyway, this may not be a particularly pointful thread, and I'm going
to abandon it shortly as I'm leaving this afternoon for a 2-week trip
to Europe (for a combination of Novamente-related visits, a
non-Novamente-related academic conference presentation, and hiking in
the Alps). I suppose the reason I launched on this rant is that the
focus on testing people irritates me. It's not the right focus. If
we're going to think and yakk about things besides Singularity-focused
technology, IMO the stupid organization of our society is more
important and relevant and interesting than the capability or
otherwise of some particular test to assess anything interesting...

-- Ben G

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