[ExI] it was the best times, it was the best of times

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Wed Oct 9 20:22:25 UTC 2013

On Mon, 7 Oct 2013, Kelly Anderson wrote:

> On Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 2:44 AM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> > This assumes two things: that the tide is still rising, and that
> > some boats are not sinking. None of these assumptions hold water
> > on a closer look. Blub.
> I believe that the tide is rising. Yes, there is more concentration of
> wealth, but overall wealth is still rising. The technological tide is
> clearly still rising. Once again, are you predicting peak human creativity
> Eugen? I think you won't find any allies on that front here.

Depends. If by "ally" you mean a clone of Eugen, this will have to wait a 
decade or two to be feasable.

I think it can be said that creativity is a function of surplus energy 
available. And surplus time. But the dependence seems to be a bit more 
complicated than linear. And BTW, there are different kinds of creativity 
- judging by content typed into internet by billions of monkeys, it goes 
every direction. Judging by contents of contemporary movies, we are 
already in deep crisis - the mean density of intellectual content is 
dropping down like dead bird, at least this is how I see it. If what we 
see is really what people want to see, we are dead man walking.

Then there are brain limitations. No matter how much pot the 
"creativators" smoke, their brains are still able to operate only 5-9 
elements at the same time, if I'm not mistaken. BTW there are similar 
limits in other areas, like the number of buddies one can comfortably have 
relations with (about few hundreds people AFAIR, so when you have full 
house and meet someone new, you will have to remove someone else to 
include her into your circles). Likewise, there is a limit of program size 
which individual can successfully maintain (writing is just a function of 
time, almost linear, but maintainance is PITA, perhaps 2^nlines). Some are 
good enough to care of OS kernel, some can take care of a browser, but the 
limit is there, and good luck if you want to pass it.

So, the space of the problems individuals are able to solve seems to be 
limited. Say, if it's a function of type n^x, where x is the said 
short-term memory capacity and n is some constant natural number, like 2. 
In such case, there is vast difference in problem solving capacity between 
people having x=5 and x=9. But there is scarce number of people exceeding 
9, if any.

Once the limits are approached, there should be visible increase of 
problem solving cost, in terms of time (and maybe some other factors) 
invested. In fact, the current "groupisation" of research teams may be a 
hint supporting the claim that it is already happening. This will only 
slightly help. Adding new people increases intragroup communications. And 
if every member needs to be aware of those communications, it eats 
increasingly bigger time to be aware what others are doing vs doing 
oneself. Making groups smaller only slightly helps. There are some tricks 
to be played but I don't think they will reverse the trend.

So, I would rather say, we managed to go quite far. But this has to slow 
down and halt eventually. Unless radical brain improvements get into the 
game. Without them, slow and halt. It doesn't matter if one is optimistic 
about humanity' abilities or otherwise. Math is orthogonal to optimism.

Anyway, creativity is not a new product. Falsebook is not creativity. New 
cell phone is not creativity. Neither is Tesla car, even though solving 
some technical difficulties could have required creativity. Fusion is. 
Fuel cell beating current best is. As far as I can tell, Nicola Tesla
was creative. Hollywood uses the word but doesn't know the meaning. 
Creativity is not about increasing sales (well, it is in some way, but not 
really the same level as scientific breakthrough). You can define your own 
version of "creativity" and in such case you are free to enjoy every 
optimistic conclusion that follows.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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