Simfish/InquilineKea's Thoughts

operationalizing intelligence
February 29, 2008, 10:54 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

so there probably IS such a thing as social intelligence

intelligence consists of the ability to “select from a number of possible configurations of items that one then (through intelligence) finds most appropriate for one’s given environment and task”. Creativity consists of the ability to generate such possible configurations of items. Creativity demands intelligence since the generation of such configurations is not random.

Social intelligence demands selecting the social responses most appropriate for a given social situation (assuming that one desires to be socially tactful of course).


Better def: As the word “intelligence” is a pretty loaded term (although perhaps most people agree on their basic conceptions of intelligence – disagreements tend to arise over issues of “multiple intelligences” and such).

Here’s my definition:

Creativity seems to be based on the capacity to imagine unique possibilities based on the perceptual environment one lives in (and intelligence is based on the capacity to judge the actions most conducive to a “desired outcome”. (a perceptual environment is inclusive of hallucinations). Creativity/intelligence only involve the possession of capacity, not the acting upon of such capacity. In biological organisms, of course, the possession of capacity is closely tied into the acting upon of such capacity, for the acting upon of such capacity helps develop the possession of capacity (from an evolutionarily point of view).

Intelligence is highly conducive to creativity since it allows one to “select” the “most appropriate” possibilities that one imagines – and to “use” those possibilities to achieve a “desired outcome”. It is possible to be intelligent without being creative, as one can still be a perfect judge without being creative. It is also possible to be creative without being intelligent (in a sense, the “infinite monkey typewriter” is creative if not intelligent). It seems that traditional definitions of creativity do incorporate elements of intelligence – as creative individuals are able to produce possibilities that “fit” in the environment – rather than possibilities that involve random number generators. An intelligent animal is able to use its sensory information to produce actions most appropriate to its desires in its particular perceptual environment (for example, an intelligent orca is able to use its sensory information to imagine the actions most likely to capture and eat a seal – a seal that happens to be on an iceberg. It has to be able to judge which actions are more likely to produce results in its particular environment).

Of course, there is also “learning speed”. Is there a logical connection between learning speed and intelligence? Or do they happen to be highly correlated in humans but not necessarily in other organisms or machines? Bear in mind that intelligence is useless without accumulated knowledge and so it makes sense from an adaptive standpoint for intelligence and learning speed to have high correlation with each other.

So in this case, there is (a) learning speed and (b) creativity. It’s possible that one can learn fast without being creative. Or one can lose all ability to form new memories (but can still be creative or rely on one’s stockpile of memories). In this, intelligence is perhaps defined by the ability to judge from what one learns or creates.

An intelligent organism is intelligent irrespective of its environment, and it may act in ways that are unlikely to produce desired results in a completely different environment (especially if the new environment has no patterns whatsoever – or if the organism happens to be hallucinating). However, in MOST cases, we can effectively define intelligence as the capacity to envision cause-and-effect in a particular environment.

There is definitely space for “multiple intelligences” (in the human brain, it may happen that the “multiple intelligences” happen to be correlated with one factor g – but this may just be an accident of evolution if anything). One can be analytically intelligent but not socially intelligent, in that one is able to select the “most appropriate” actions for a desired analytical outcome but totally unable to select the “most appropriate” actions for a desired social outcome.

January 17, 2008, 11:28 am | Edit this
Filed under: dictionaryofimportantterms
So what is intelligence? I’m trying to arrive at a good definition of it.
it involves finding patterns in the world and drawing inferences at it.
HOWEVER, it does not mean getting a good grip at cause and effect in the world (in the strictest sense). an intelligent organism is intelligent irrespective of its environment, and it may be totally misled to causation in a completely different environment (especially if the new environment has no patterns whatsoever), in which case the below definition of intelligence becomes an ad hoc definition of intelligence relative to environment.Okay I think I have one. HAVING THE CAPACITY TO IMAGINE unique possibilities in one’s space of memory (that allows perceptual sensory access of one’s own imagination) that are based on the environment that one views and THEN POSSESSING THE CAPACITY to IMAGINE the decisions that one makes WITHIN one’s PERCEPTUAL ENVIRONMENT. (a perceptual environment is INCLUSIVE of hallucinations). Also imagination ONLY involves the possession of CAPACITY, not the ACTING UPON of SUCH CAPACITY. (it is only an adaptive function that people tend to define intelligence by means of behavior – since evolutionarily speaking, there are few organs without functions that are related to the organism’s decisions)hm

I would suggest that, at its crux, ‘intelligence’ is the faculty of understanding the relationship between cause and effect. In practice, intelligence often involves making a choice from among several options by drawing upon experience to make judgments about likely consequences. The efficiency with which an animal can apply its past to shape its own future in ways desirable to itself is thus an index of intelligence. In evolutionary terms, the intelligence of animals can be measured and compared in terms of speed (how long it takes to make decisions) and adaptive fitness (the number of copies of an animal’s genes that survive into future generations as a result of the sum-total of its decisions). The faster and more adaptively an animal can make such decisions, the more intelligent it is.

a very interesting word
February 27, 2008, 11:35 pm
Filed under: math

[edit] Beauty in method

Mathematicians describe an especially pleasing method of proof as elegant. Depending on context, this may mean:

  • A proof that uses a minimum of additional assumptions or previous results.
  • A proof that is unusually succinct.
  • A proof that derives a result in a surprising way (e.g., from an apparently unrelated theorem or collection of theorems.)
  • A proof that is based on new and original insights.
  • A method of proof that can be easily generalized to solve a family of similar problems.

In the search for an elegant proof, mathematicians often look for different independent ways to prove a result—the first proof that is found may not be the best. The theorem for which the greatest number of different proofs have been discovered is possibly the Pythagorean theorem, with hundreds of proofs having been published.1 Another theorem that has been proved in many different ways is the theorem of quadratic reciprocityCarl Friedrich Gauss alone published eight different proofs of this theorem.

Conversely, results that are logically correct but involve laborious calculations, over-elaborate methods, very conventional approaches, or that rely on a large number of particularly powerful axioms or previous results are not usually considered to be elegant, and may be called ugly or clumsy. This is perhaps related to the notion of Occam’s Razor.

most extremely fundamental tidbits of reasoning
February 27, 2008, 11:34 pm
Filed under: thoughts

…that anyone should read.

Necessary words to *viscerally* appreciate the significance of:

plausibility argument (vs inductive, deductive, etc).

ad hoc

necessary and sufficient

top down/bottom up

possibility space



decrease inhibition


generation: (intentional/methodical), procedural, random

variation/(natural || artificial) selection

limits of human appreciation/emotions. you can’t get past “furious” or “gracious” in civilization III



selective/discernment. If you can discern, you can be selective. Selective is often good in the case of drugs (selective drugs produce desirable effects) and it allows you to narrow down to a list of potentially compatible people/tasks.


relative contribution estimation/disagreement


instrumental vs. intrinsic value (and communicability of instrumental vs. intrinsic values) to others

Impulse control:

-> impulses that go away when you don’t satisfy them

=> impulses that won’t go away when you don’t satisfy but you ca cave into later without consequences (e-mail)

=> impulses that actually must be fulfilled

other terms not as vitally important:

transfer and supposed transfer

extrapolation and overextrapolation

recognition/appreciation (the significance of action X in context Y)




prima facie (this explains more than you’d imagine – it’s why people dislike spoilers even though they’ll learn what the spoilers are for the vast majority of their lifetime anyways)



non-redundant stimuli

information content of idiosyncratic fields vs. information content of more general fields

talent identification, do we need to hurt students int he process, and identification of mistakes in the process
correspondence theory of truth

ambiguous terms to question meaning of:


natural/artificial distinction

(this has to be kept short and concise precisely because it is intended for a mass audience)

=> All forms of media are designed to appeal to human nature. Human nature is not particularly malleable. While there are some ideas and movements that can change people in such a way that they’re more receptive to the ideas/movements, the MOST successful movements/ideas will be the ones that conform to the POTENTIAL biases/interests of the PRESENT population.

=> there is no intrinsic value to educational credentials like GPA and test scores. Their value comes ONLY from statistics – that is – from a pool of people you know *very little* about, the best ways to select the most compatible students is to rely *only* on those statistics, but from a group of people you know much more about, statistics become useless.

=> if you try to apply a prescriptive rule to a group of people, you must consider the success of the prescriptive rule in a group of people who are desirably and easily *educated* to follow it, and the success of the prescriptive rule in a more realistic situation – when many people are *not* educated to follow it.

=> there are three vital traits of any theory

a) generating hypotheses/models
b) being perceptive about the world
c) analyzing things to their fundamentals

=> As Dave Barry said, people go to college to study the works of “Austen, Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Lincoln, etc.” All for who that matter, never graduated from college.

=> You will learn the vast majority of material by yourself. You will not learn it in a formal course.

=> Convictions are useless when you consider consequences, not merely actions. Some actions may be more likely than others to lead to DESIRABLE consequences, but NO action will necessarily lead to a desired consequence in ALL possible environments

=> Thus, older people will often have convictions that may be appropriate for a previous time, but not necessarily for a later time when the chain of causation is so different that the same action may lead to a totally different chain of causation, one that is undesirable

=> Some actions may be totally useless without catalysts, but they can be extremely effective with the presence of a vital catalyst.

=> Many social policies or directives are predicated upon the assumption that people cannot be trusted to find the most appropriate sources of information themselves/discern between what’s best for themselves and what isn’t best for themselves. Some socially controversial behaviors (pirating software, using performance-enhancing drugs for tests) may best be discouraged at the societal level, but may also best come without total prohibitions on use. Good prohibitions are restrictions that allow in the people who are most able to discern between what’s best for themselves and what isn’t. However, such prohibitions must be invulnerable to loopholes.

=> Information acquisition consists of motivation, attention (+attentional allocation), processing, and memory. There can be failures at ANY of those stages

=> Learning “how a process came to be” does not always guarantee that the process will act as according to “intentions”. (“intentions” does not only include human intentions, we can also think of the “intentions” of selfish genes). However, more often than not, it will act as according to supposed “intentions”

=> There are many possible chance-configurations of the world, of any society, of any system. There are fundamentals, namely, the laws of physics. But even then, the laws of physics are not necessarily fundamental relative to

=> There are different levels of appreciation for each body of material. There is also a fundamental difference between visceral appreciation and intellectual appreciation. some authors try to strive for books that appeal to audiences of different levels (that have diferent levels of appreciation).

=> there is often a lag time between intellectual appreciation and visceral appreciation. Sometimes, the lag time is effectively infinity

=> It is unadvisable for most people to value actions over outcomes. There is no intrinsic goodness/badness to most actions, if you are consequentialist.

=> respect archival

=> don’t sacrifice research for coursework (immediate feedback in research)

is it better to modify behavior or to appeal to intrinsics of people?

is it okat to be machiavellian so long as you don’t hurt anyone/potentially hurt anyone in the process?

standards of “potentiall” differ from person to person.


abstract algebra/ algebra, number fielkd, linear algebra

HR diagram/individual stars

“” theory “”

from an information theoretic POV, is extinction undesirable?

artificial selection: games like spore

spore: so exciting since it is the LEAST ad hoc software in the world

=> (biased but interesting) The anti-monopolization of knowledge that the Internet provides will help kick professionals out of the picture. It will be recognized that
then, people, when they have excellent skills in (a) searching for all
the knowledge they needed and in (cool.gif out of that huge morass of
knowledge, separating the (1) relevant and (2) accurate knowledge from
the knowledge that is BS or irrelevant to their needs. They will not
need a professional intermediary to get what they need. Instead, they
can hire smart agents (robots, by the way), that can negotiate with
online services to get what they need. The results of a genetic test
can be stored into an online database. A smart robotic agent fetches
data from that online database into a drugstore, to test for potential
drugs that the person’s body may be allergic to. It also tests for
levels of Cytochrome P450 enzymes. Those lacking the enzymes needed to
digest one drug can thus switch to another drug.

With this, who needs health professionals? Those who lack the means to
(1) search through the knowledge and (2) hire out smart agents to find
which knowledge is best for them.

useful norms
February 27, 2008, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

1: check wikipedia history. Liberally.

2: google, use || operator, etc.

February 26, 2008, 10:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Simfish 02.26.08 17:35

What does the + next to my name mean?
Currently Active Users
17 (1 members & 16 guests)

on that list?

Kurdt 02.26.08 17:57

It means you’re on your own buddy list.

February 26, 2008, 10:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I need to learn some Perl (or Python) and some C (or Java)

is object oriented programming useful for science?

February 21, 2008, 7:11 pm
Filed under: education

This ties in with discernment theory:

Ideally, you should not take a class to review. You should be able to discern between what you’re strong at and what you’re weak at, and work on your weak spots at your own pace. But if you have no willingness to discern, then it may be better for you to take a class to review.