My interview with In-Sight

In August 2020, I reached out to Scott Douglas Jacobsen of the independent journalism organization In-Sight Publishing to be interviewed, as I had been informed that he had interviewed many members of high-IQ communities, including the 99.9th+%ile Glia Society, to which I belonged. He agreed and sent me some questions, to which I promptly responded, and perhaps too promptly, such that when our interview was initially published in late September, it contained several mistakes which Jacobsen kindly corrected in the webpage edition after reading this blog post. I chose to be credited as “Glia Society Member #479” in order to share the interview with people on the Internet without compromising my real-life identity, under the presumption that anyone with access to the Glia member list would be above the desire to bother me.

At the beginning of 2021, the interview was re-published on pages 95-99 of Issue 24.A, 24.D, & 24.E Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty). This extensive compilation contains many excellent interviews with other prominent members of the high-IQ world, as well as not-so-prominent members and people outside that subculture altogether. I especially recommend reading the interviews with right-tail psychometric cynosure Paul Cooijmans, test-devouring beast Dr. Heinrich Siemens, and Mega Society member Richard “May-Tzu” May.

Although not included in the same compilation, I also draw attention to In-Sight’s two published interviews with my personal friend and ultra-high-IQ test crusher Luca Fiorani: (Interview 1) (Interview 2)

In case you missed the first hyperlink, you can read my interview here.


If you feel less than eager to surmount the entire 3,148-word interview, here are what I consider the most important excerpts from my responses:

I have observed that people whose intelligence I judge as extremely high, both inside and outside of the high-I.Q. world, tend to be almost depressingly normal, and therefore lack the mixture of non-cognitive personality traits required for genius.

The only way to induce permanent, significant, positive change in society is by altering the invisible hand of psychology, which underpins human behavior. One might call it psychohistory or one might call it cliodynamics, but the point is the same: human societies are subject to long-term behavioral trends, which are opaque to everyone or almost everyone, and which may be impossible to observe at smaller scales.

Like propositions somehow engender an objective external reality, physical objects can somehow combine to create qualia. We must accept this without asking how.

Science is fundamentally an epistemologically untenable construct, but once you ignore Descartes’ evil demon, it’s given us Internet pornography and electric scooters, so clearly it plays an important role in the lives of most specimens of Homo sapiens, despite the widespread failure of that species’ members to live up to their taxonomy.

I would like to mention that a characteristic shortcoming observable in discussions in the high-I.Q. world is an apparently deficient number-sense with regards to score rarity. […] Results from psychometric tests, especially but not exclusively high-range tests, are bound by inexactitude, and whoever propounds otherwise has lost their perspective amongst the orders of magnitude. Perhaps only in astrophysics would such an imprecise measurement otherwise be taken seriously.

Therefore, I rather recommend a more intuitively applicable conception of ethics, combining deontology with morality and virtue ethics: Be wonderful to each other. If I have anything to say about it, which I probably don’t, that opus magnum may someday be realized.


More Thoughts on Various Subjects, Abnormal and Converging

(To provide some content for this blog’s grand opening, I’ve decided to recycle articles I’ve written previously, and in some cases published elsewhere. This is one such article. It was originally published in issue #146 of the Glia Society’s journal, Thoth, in October 2020.)

A man is known by the company he keeps and by his propensity to use andronormative language in general statements.

Pointing a finger elsewhere is easier than lifting one of yours.

Movements to eradicate racial slurs have a Chinaman’s chance of succeeding.

I am the world’s leading expert on the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

The recent journalistic trend of capitalizing “Black” in reference to the racial group seems to indicate that its promulgators have been spending inordinate amounts of time on websites for White supremacists and Dom/sub fetishists.

Never trust anyone who capitalizes the name of a disability that isn’t normally capitalized.

Understanding self-referential statements always puts more strain on your working memory than you expected, even when you account for Hofstadter’s Law.


A Deep Thought

(To provide some content for this blog‘s grand opening, I’ve decided to recycle articles I’ve written previously, and in some cases published elsewhere. This is one such article. It was originally published, with minor differences, in issue #139 of the Glia Society’s journal, Thoth, in December 2019.)

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the supercomputer “Deep Thought” determines that the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. Unfortunately, it hasn’t figured out what the question is.

Now suppose that perceptrons, which are commonly called “artificial neurons” in the context of machine learning, could be utilized in a computer program such that there would be a one-to-one mapping between the functions of those perceptrons and the functions of natural neurons. Or, in simpler terms: suppose that “copying” a brain’s neural configuration into perceptrons would result in an artificial neural network that would perfectly mimic the capabilities of that brain. Then, we need to figure out how much processing power that would take to simulate. Here’s a quick-and-dirty estimate:

The human brain contains about 85,000,000,000 neurons, each of which has about 1,000 synapses, each of which fires about 1,000 times per second. Therefore, our perceptron-simulation would require ~1 * 1017 floating-point operations per second (FLOPS), assuming that one FLOP is equivalent to one synapse firing, which I’ll be the first to admit I’m not sure is a correct assumption. This is a mere 100 peta-FLOPS, which could be reached by a cluster of about 1,000 Nvidia Titan V graphics cards. (This is indubitably a better use for all of that hashing and fossil fuel power than mining Dunning-Krugerrands, a.k.a. Bitcoins.) Even if this estimate needs to be, for whatever reason, adjusted upward by several orders of magnitude, it becomes apparent that we can already build supercomputers with more than enough processing power to run a software equivalent of a human brain! Only if the estimate is many orders of magnitude below the real value does this train of thought derail.

The problem, then, is figuring out how to configure the perceptrons. It currently appears infeasible to scan a human brain and then encode it into perceptrons, so our only option is to have the neural network “evolve” through machine learning. In order to do this, the artificial neural network would have to experience selection pressure towards general intelligence, but current techniques can only provide selection pressure towards extremely specific abilities, like clustering stolen credit card numbers or facial identification of Muslims in Xinjiang. If we could create a loss function that would force evolution towards general intelligence, then the “invisible hand” of the evolutionary market would probably solve the problem for us within a reasonable time frame.

Unfortunately, general intelligence is far too complicated to be modeled by current computer programmers, which is why “autodidactic” programs like perceptron networks were created in the first place! The machine learning engineer simply defines the desired output and then throws matrix multiplications at the problem until it’s resolved. Even though we probably have all of the resources we need to create the answer to the problem of artificial general intelligence, we can’t do it because don’t know how to phrase the question.

So far, I’ve only thought of one solution (“solution” in the sense of Jeopardy!): simulate a system so complicated that having general intelligence provides agents within that system with more evolutionary fitness than any task-specific mental abilities could. This would probably require simulating real-life physical reality on a cosmic scale, or something similar to that, which is far beyond the limits of current computing technology. Expanding the limits of computational tractability should therefore probably be one of the prime factors for providing the decryption key to artificial intelligence. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.


Thoughts on Various Subjects, Abnormal and Converging

(To provide some content for this blog’s grand opening, I’ve decided to recycle articles I’ve written previously, and in some cases published elsewhere. This is one such article, and also the first article to have been published on this blog, except for test articles and announcements. It was originally published, with minor differences, in issue #142 of the Glia Society’s journal, Thoth, in June 2020.)

There is a certain je ne sais quoi about being too lazy to think of a suitable word.

Psychotic episode, drug trip, religious experience: pick any two.

(Ontological Advisory: Implicit Content)

Age is just a number. So is your Bureau of Prisons ID.

Q: Did you hear about the guy with an epistemology fetish?
A: He was arrested for perversion of the truth.

People who casually blame their quotidian problems on serious mental illness really trigger my OCD.

There is nothing in the intellectual sphere more concerning than an idea that is too interesting to take seriously.

Value judgments are bad.

The suicide rate is depressing.

The inferior man thinks himself to be as wise as Confucius. The superior man merely imitates his style.

I can’t claim to have a monopoly on the truth, but sometimes I sure as hell feel like a monopsonist.