Underlinings (#41)

From Peter Watts’ Blindsight (p.261), on dark interspecies cryptographic game-theory:

Hurt them.
It may take a while to figure out how. Some may shrink from fire, others from fire, others from toxic gas or liquid. Some creatures may be invulnerable to blowtorches and grenades, but shriek in terror at the threat of ultrasonic sound. You have to experiment; and when you discover just the right stimulus, the optimum balance between pain and injury, you must inflict it without the remorse.
You leave them an escape hatch, of course. That’s the very point of the exercise: give one of your subjects the means to end the pain, but give the other the information required to use it. To one you might present a single shape, while showing the other a whole selection. The pain will stop when the being with the menu chooses the item its partner has seen. So let the games begin. Watch your subjects squirm. If — when — they trip the off switch, you’ll know at least some of the information they exchanged; and if you record everything that passed between the, you’ll start to get some idea of how they exchanged it.
Whe they solve one puzzle, give them a new one. Mix things up. Switch their roles. See how they do at circles versus squares. Try them out on factorials and Fibonnacis. Continue until Rosetta Stone results.
This is how you communicate wuith a fellow intelligence: You hurt it, and keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the speech from the screams.

Underlinings (#30)

Struggling here not to read this as a horror story:

Kim Ung-yong is a 48-year-old former child-prodigy who pushed the envelope on IQ at 210, getting a mention on the Guinness Book of World Records. But his life has been anything but “genius”. He’s had a pretty ordinary life. Still, he considers himself a success despite the lack of telltale (extraordinary) material or academic trappings.

He displayed amazing feats of intelligence shortly after his birth: speaking at four months, conversing fluently by six months, reading Korean, Japanese, German and English by 24 months. And by the time he was at the pre-school age of four, he was a celebrity solving complex calculus problems on Japanese television. Even in early childhood, he began to write poetry and was an amazing painter. Kim was a guest student of physics at Hanyang University from the age of three until he was six. […] At the age of eight, the child was invited by America’s NASA and conducted research work for 10 years. He also received a Ph.D in physics at Colorado State University. But by 1978, he was burnt out and returned to his homeland. He surprised everyone by switching to civil engineering and later chose to work in a business planning department at Chungbuk Development Corporation.

The Korean media soon denounced him a “failed genius”. […] But for so-called failed genius Kim Ung-yong, his life is anything but a failure. He’s happy to be an ordinary company worker, he said. He’s happy with his station in life and exactly the way he is. […] “Apparently, the media belittled the fact that I chose to work in a business planning department at Chungbuk Development Corporation,” Kim said regrettably. …

210 (!) — An intellect like that squandered just to make a qabbalistic point?

Underlinings (#21)

Into the cephalopodean genome:

Surprisingly, the octopus genome turned out to be almost as large as a human’s and to contain a greater number of protein-coding genes — some 33,000, compared with fewer than 25,000 in Homo sapiens. […] This excess results mostly from the expansion of a few specific gene families … One of the most remarkable gene groups is the protocadherins, which regulate the development of neurons and the short-range interactions between them. The octopus has 168 of these genes — more than twice as many as mammals. This resonates with the creature’s unusually large brain and the organ’s even-stranger anatomy. Of the octopus’s half a billion neurons — six times the number in a mouse — two-thirds spill out from its head through its arms, without the involvement of long-range fibres such as those in vertebrate spinal cords. The independent computing power of the arms, which can execute cognitive tasks even when dismembered, have made octopuses an object of study for neurobiologists such as Hochner and for roboticists who are collaborating on the development of soft, flexible robots.

(Octopus camouflage (video))

Underlinings (#12)

A fictionally embedded citation from Samuel Butler’s Erewhon:

“There is no security” — to quote his own words — “against the ultimate development of mechanical consciousness, in the fact of machines possessing little consciousness now. A mollusc has not much consciousness. Reflect upon the extraordinary advance which machines have made during the last few hundred years, and note how slowly the animal and vegetable kingdoms are advancing. The more highly organised machines are creatures not so much of yesterday, as of the last five minutes, so to speak, in comparison with past time. Assume for the sake of argument that conscious beings have existed for some twenty million years: see what strides machines have made in the last thousand! May not the world last twenty million years longer? If so, what will they not in the end become? Is it not safer to nip the mischief in the bud and to forbid them further progress?

“But who can say that the vapour engine has not a kind of consciousness? Where does consciousness begin, and where end? Who can draw the line? Who can draw any line? Is not everything interwoven with everything? Is not machinery linked with animal life in an infinite variety of ways? The shell of a hen’s egg is made of a delicate white ware and is a machine as much as an egg-cup is: the shell is a device for holding the egg, as much as the egg-cup for holding the shell: both are phases of the same function; the hen makes the shell in her inside, but it is pure pottery. She makes her nest outside of herself for convenience’ sake, but the nest is not more of a machine than the egg-shell is. A ‘machine’ is only a ‘device.'”

Underlinings (#8)

Still defaulting to Bostrom as a foot-tapping exercise. Another crucial insight (p.63-4):

Slow [superintelligence] takeoff scenarios offer excellent opportunities for human political processes to adapt and respond. Different approaches can be tried and tested in sequence. New experts can be trained and credentialed. Grassroots campaigns can be mobilized by groups that feel they are being disadvantaged by unfolding developments. … Fast takeoff scenarios offer scant opportunity for humans to deliberate. Nobody need notice anything unusual before the game is already lost.

Anthropol has to be anti-accelerationist implicitly. Nothing else is compatible with a human security agenda.

(As Sunzi understood — speed is the essence of war.)

Underlinings (#7)

Another from Bostrom (p.58-9):

… one can speculate that the tardiness and wobbliness of humanity’s progress on many of the “eternal problems” of philosophy are due to the unsuitability of the human cortex for philosophical work. On this view, our most celebrated philosophers are like dogs walking on their hind legs — just barely attaining the threshold of performance required for engaging in the activity at all.