Quote notes (#26)

Optimize for intelligence isn’t a rallying cry that Chip Smith is succumbing to:

…  high intelligence may very well be an evolutionary dead-end. I’m certainly at a loss to come up with a good reason as to why a once-adaptive trait that you and I happen to value should enjoy special pleading before the blind algorithmic noise that is natural selection.

But even if the brawny-brained do figure out a way to defy gravity before the sun explodes, I think there are yet reasons to question whether the galloping ascent of mind is really worth cheering on. Futurist geeks will inform us that there are myriad tech revolutions afoot—all spearheaded by smarties, we may be certain. And I would suggest that such of these that converge on the gilded promise of quantum computing and nanotechnology might advise a second reflective pause—one that comes by way of Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” and settles at what grim solace remains in the darkest explanations that have always surrounded Fermi’s Enigma.

Maybe I’m being cryptic. What I mean to consider is simply that the evolutionary trajectory of intelligence can, has, and may yet lead to very bad things. It may one day be possible, for example, to create sentient experience—let’s not be so bold as to call it “life”—not out of gametes but in the deep quick of quibit [sic] states, and if this much should come to pass, it isn’t so far a stretch to imagine that such intelligent simulations—okay, they’re alive—will be capable of suffering, or that such will be made to suffer, perhaps for sadistic kicks, perhaps in recursive loops of immeasurable intensity that near enough approximate the eternal torture-state that’s threatened in every fevered vision of Hell to render the distinction moot.

Utilitarians have no sense for fun.

(via)

September 3, 2013admin 24 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Cosmos

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24 Responses to this entry

  • Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Says:

    Satoshi Kanazawa has a whole book on where high-IQ fails. To my mind the most damning is the low birth rates.

    book: http://www.amazon.com/Intelligence-Paradox-Intelligent-Choice-ebook/dp/B00DNL37X0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378177379&sr=8-1&keywords=Satoshi+Kanazawa

    High IQ women not makin’ da babies: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2384787/Too-clever-mother-The-maternal-urge-decreases-QUARTER-15-extra-IQ-points.html

    It seems counter-intuitive on the face of it, but based on the evidence it does appear that high-IQ is bad in some environments. As Thomas Sowell has pointed out repeatedly it is professional intellectuals who have screwed over the West in many different ways, and it’s not like these people are “dumb” in an IQ sense.

    Actually, I do find it had to not think of Sowellian-intellectuals as well as high IQ women as being “dumb”. Maybe not academically dumb, but socially or real-world dumb.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Slaving intelligence to the propagation of idiocy is a homeostatic circuit — preserving ‘intelligence equilibrium’ through negative feedback. Insofar as the cycle theorists of every variety are telling us something of importance, we probably shouldn’t be surprised to find that this kind of circuit design is so common. Smart-dummies are ecologically predictable.

    [Reply]

    Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Reply:

    Smart-dummies are ecologically predictable.

    They may be predictable but they blow me away sometimes.

    “Clever sillies” isn’t the first time I’ve seen the idea of smart-stupid people come up and I’ve been meaning to point it out, but wasn’t able to find it until now. Stoddard in “The Revolt Against Civilization” makes this point by referring to them as “high grade defectives”: http://archive.org/details/revoltagainstciv00stoduoft

    I know this is a long quote, but it plays on a lot of themes found in neoreaction.

    102 THE REVOLT AGAINST CIVILIZATION

    …Democracy was never intended for degenerates, and a nation breeding freely of the sort that
    must continually be repressed is not headed toward an extension of democratic liberties. Rather, it is inevitable that class lines shall harden as a protection against the growing numbers of the underbred, just as in all previous cultures. However remote a cataclysm may be, our present racial trend is toward social chaos or a dictatorship.

    “Meanwhile, we invite social turmoil by advancing muddled notions of equality. Democracy, as we loosely idealize it nowadays, is an overdrawn picture of earthly bliss; it stirs the little-brained to hope for an impossible levelling of human beings. The most we can honestly expect to achieve is a fair levelling of opportunity; but every step toward that end brings out more distinctly those basic inequalities of inheritance which no environmental effort can improve. So discontent is loudest in those least capable of grasping opportunity when it is offered.”

    In this connection we must never forget that it is the “high-grade” defectives who are most dangerous to
    the social order. It is the “near-genius,” the man with the fatal taint which perverts his talents, who oftenest
    rouses and leads the mob. The levelling social revolutionary doctrines of our own day, like Syndicalism, An-
    archism, and Bolshevism, superficially alluring yet basically false and destructive, are essentially the product of unsound thinking by unsound brains. The sociologist Nordau ably analyzes the enormous harm done by such persons and doctrines, not only by rousing the degenerate elements, but also by leading astray vast numbers of average people, biologically normal enough yet with intelligence not high enough to protect them against clever fallacies clothed in fervid emotional appeals.

    Says Nordau: “Besides the extreme forms of degeneracy there are milder forms, more or less inconspicuous, not to be diagnosed at a first glance. These, however, are the most dangerous for the community, because their destructive influence only gradually makes itself felt; we are not on our guard against it; indeed, in many cases, we do not recognize it as the real cause of the evils it conjures up evils whose serious importance no one can doubt.

    “A mattoid or half-fool, who is full of organic feelings of dislike, generalizes his subjective state into a system
    of pessimism, of ‘Weltschmertz’ weariness of life. Another, in whom a loveless egoism dominates all thought and feeling, so that the whole exterior world seems to him hostile, organizes his antisocial instincts into the theory of anarchism. A third, who suffers from moral insensibility, so that no bond of sympathy links him with his fellow man or with any living thing, and who is obsessed by vanity amounting to megalomania, preaches a doctrine of the Superman, who is to know no consideration and no compassion, be bound by no moral principle, but ‘live his own life’ without regard for others. When these half-fools, as often happens, speak an excited language when their imagination, unbridled by logic or understanding, supplies them with odd, startling fancies and surprising associations and images their writings make a strong impression on unwary readers, and readily gain a decisive influence on thought in the cultivated circles of their time.

    “Of course, well-balanced persons are not thereby changed into practising disciples of these morbid cults. But the preachings of these mattoids are favorable to the development of similar dispositions in others; serve to polarize, in their own sense, tendencies of hitherto uncertain drift, and give thousands the courage openly, impudently, boastfully, to confess and act in accordance with convictions which, but for these theorists with their noise and the flash of their tinsel language, they would have felt to be absurd or infamous, which they would have concealed with shame; which in any case would have remained monsters known only to themselves and imprisoned in the lowest depths of their consciousness.

    “So, through the influence of the teachings of degenerate half-fools, conditions arise which do not, like the cases of insanity and crime, admit of expression in figures, but can nevertheless in the end be defined through their political and social effects. We gradually observe a general loosening of morality, a disappearance of logic from thought and action, a morbid irritability and vacillation of public opinion, a relaxation of character. Offenses are treated with a frivolous or sentimental indulgence which encourages rascals of all kinds. People lose the power of moral indignation, and accustom themselves to despise it as something banal, unadvanced, inelegant, and unintelligent. Deeds that would formerly have disqualified a man forever from public life are no longer an obstacle in his career, so that suspicious and tainted personalities find it possible to rise to responsible positions, sometimes to the control of national business. Sound common sense becomes more rarely and less worthily appreciated, more and more meanly rated. Nobody is shocked by the most absurd proposals, measures and fashions, and folly rules in legislation, administration, domestic and foreign politics. Every demagogue finds a following, every fool collects adherents, every event makes an impression beyond all measure, kindles ridiculous enthusiasm, spreads morbid consternation, leads to violent manifestations in one sense or the other and to official proceedings that are at least useless, often deplorable and dangerous. Everybody harps upon his ‘rights’ and rebels against every limitation of his arbitrary desires by law or custom. Everybody tries to escape from the compulsion of discipline and to shake off the burden of duty.”

    Such is the destructive action of degeneracy, spreading like a cancerous blight and threatening to corrode society to the very marrow of its being. Against these assaults of inferiority; against the cleverly led legions of the degenerate and the backward; where can civilization look for its champions? Where but in the slender ranks of the racially superior those “A” and “B” stocks which, in America for example, we know to-day constitute barely 1 3% per cent of the population ? It is this ” thin red line ‘ ‘ of rich, untainted blood which stands between us and barbarism or chaos. There alone lies our hope. Let us not deceive ourselves by prating about “government,” “education,” “democracy”: our laws, our constitutions, our very sacred books, are in the last analysis mere paper barriers, which will hold only so long as there stand behind them men and women with the intelligence to understand and the character to maintain them.

    Yet this life-line of civilization is not only thin but is wearing thinner with a rapidity which appalls those fully aware of the facts. We have already stated that probably never before in human history have social conditions been so destructive of racial values as to-day, because of both the elimination of superior stocks and the multiplication of inferiors.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 3rd, 2013 at 3:21 am Reply | Quote
  • Donald Says:

    You do realize that Chip Smith is a Holocaust denier, don’t you?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    He talks about it in the interview.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 3rd, 2013 at 6:39 am Reply | Quote
  • Max Says:

    It shouldn’t be terribly surprising that an antinatalist would fail to see the wisdom in optimizing for intelligence. Properly-functioning brains do not commit the sort of fundamental error(s) required to arrive at that position.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 3rd, 2013 at 7:22 am Reply | Quote
  • bob sykes Says:

    Natural selection operates via differential reproduction. Anything heritable that increases the relative number of adults one produces becomes more common in the succeeding generation. It’s practically a truism. And it is evolution. During some era in our evolution, increased intelligence offset bigger brains that consumed more calories and that impaired parturition. It’s not clear that in an advanced civilization high intelligence is beneficial enough to offset big brain costs.

    The failure of highly intelligent individuals to have children or to have very few children is clearly dysgenic, and they are ipso facto unfit in the Darwinian sense. You need at least three children to maintain the family line.

    Our elite universities are (and perhaps always were) match-making services. They create and sustain the ruling elites. It is not clear that this is a high-IQ elite because the admissions criteria are heavily weighted towards PC social criteria. However, it is true that the average IQ of the elite students is above average. So the overall effect of the match-making is dysgenic for the population as a whole.

    There is some speculation based on reaction times that mean IQs among Europeans have fallen by a full standard deviation over the last century or so. Whether or not this is true is debatable, but the current trend is to eliminate high-IQ individuals from the population, so the speculation is at least plausible. One wonders what the IQs of the early Indo-Europeans in and around Anatolia were. They invented agriculture and moved east and west supplanting the indigenous hunter-gathers.

    A reduced IQ population might not be able to sustain a high technology civilization, so the future of the West might be in jeopardy, especially since all Western societies are experiencing large flows of low-IQ immigrants.

    It should be noted that to the extent the immigrants displace the native Europeans, the immigrants are superior in Darwinian terms.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 3rd, 2013 at 12:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chip Smith Says:

    Thanks for pointing out the typo.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You’re very welcome.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 3rd, 2013 at 10:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • Donald Says:

    So if you know that he’s a Holocaust denier, why are you linking to him?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Are you serious? Any other unforgivable thought crimes I should be attempting to obliterate from all possible contact with consciousness? A complete list of banned ideas would be helpful.

    [Reply]

    Chip Smith Reply:

    Donald,

    I deny that I am a Holocaust denier. But even if I accepted that silly label, it seems awfully wrongheaded to shame someone for “linking to” my comments on a completely unrelated topic.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 3rd, 2013 at 10:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • Donald Says:

    Are you serious?

    No, are you serious? You not only link to a known Holocaust denier, you also link to a piece in which he talks about his Holocaust denial? There are millions of articles and blogs out there with people making the trite, cliched argument that “high intelligence may very well be an evolutionary dead-end”. Is this really the only piece you could find making this argument? Are you dog-whistling to your readers or something?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Grown ups should be able to read stuff like this without getting hysterical about it. The whole ‘dog-whistle’ nonsense is misapplied here. Despite your best efforts, there’s no ideological censorship in place. If I wanted to hammer the Jews, I’d hammer the Jews (and probably triple my blog traffic immediately).

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    I’ve been reading about Stuart Little (by way of Aesop’s Fables):

    In April, 1938, Life ran a photo-essay called “The Birth of a Baby,” still shots from a film that depicted one woman’s pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The film had been banned in New York. Even the photographs proved too much for the American public, and the issue was pulled from newsstands in thirty-three cities. In The New Yorker, E. B. White offered a lampoon called “The Birth of an Adult,” stills of a film—drawings by Rea Irvin—portraying “the waning phenomenon of adulthood.” (Frame 1: “The Birth of an Adult is presented with no particular regard for good taste. The editors feel that adults are so rare, no question of taste is involved.”)

    Of course, it’s not the same thing. It never is.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 4th, 2013 at 4:42 am Reply | Quote
  • Donald Says:

    Chip,

    Cut the bullshit. People don’t wade into your swamp because they give a damn what you think about the “evolutionary trajectory of intelligence”. They wade in your filth because you’re a smut peddler and they want to deal and traffic in the smut you peddle.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If you don’t calm down, you’re going to be banned. This blog isn’t a Sunday school.

    You’re free to discuss the mistakes, evils, or what have you of holocaust denial in a civil and hopefully intelligent way, even though you’re the only person here who seems to think that’s the topic under consideration. Shouting and spluttering indignantly in an attempt to silence or ‘disappear’ other people, on the other hand, isn’t going to lead to the banishment of anybody but you. The fact that you have yet to make a single point of positive substance only makes this outcome more likely.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 4th, 2013 at 4:57 am Reply | Quote
  • Donald Says:

    How can you insinuate that Holocaust denial is simply just “hammer[ing] the Jews”?

    You know it’s not the same thing.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Since you’re clearly highly engaged with this topic, why not make a substantive statement about it, or point us to one through a link, so everyone (including me) can understand what exactly it is that you want to talk about here? If there’s anything to it — even a good reason why certain ideas should be placed beyond the pale of cultural intercourse — I’m prepared to set up a discussion thread devoted to it (if that’s what you want).

    If there’s nothing to this beyond the indignation we’ve seen so far, it might be worth pointing out that I recently linked to a writer who advocates the random execution of white people — including babies — as an act of righteous racial retribution, and no one seems to have gone into emotional spasms about it.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 4th, 2013 at 6:51 am Reply | Quote
  • Contemplationist Says:

    Some of us actually care about the elusive ‘truth’ believe it or not.
    I no longer consider any kind of ‘denial’ beyond the pale. I only wish to hear
    rational and non-hysterical argumentation. That’s it. Whether it’s about AIDS-HIV
    ‘denial,’ Global Warming ‘denial,’ Holocaust ‘denial,’ Vaccine ‘denial’ or whatever
    other topic you find totally repulsive or beyond the pale, I fear people here simply don’t care.
    This doesn’t imply of course that I or anyone else hear necessarily accepts skepticism
    on any or all those topics, but that we are tired of consensus-based ideological
    zealotry and thought crime punishments.
    So in short, get the fuck out if you can’t handle it Donald.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Beyond the pale is the desired destination, isn’t it?

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 4th, 2013 at 3:45 pm Reply | Quote
  • Donald Says:

    If there’s nothing to this beyond the indignation we’ve seen so far, it might be worth pointing out that I recently linked to a writer who advocates the random execution of white people — including babies — as an act of righteous racial retribution, and no one seems to have gone into emotional spasms about it.

    You’re trivializing the Holocaust. Holocaust denial is categorically different. Historical events are not equivalent to the psychotic fantasies of some random loon.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 5:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • Donald Says:

    Contemplationist,

    Holocaust deniers don’t care about the truth. So if you’re a denier, don’t pretend to care about the truth.

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 6:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Notas de Citação (#26) – Outlandish Says:

    […] Original. […]

    Posted on March 30th, 2017 at 3:34 am Reply | Quote

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