[ExI] Scales of comparision

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Mon Oct 28 00:23:35 UTC 2013

On Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 2:59 PM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

>  On 2013-10-27 19:50, Kelly Anderson wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 1:51 PM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
>> > that point puts computers at many billions of times smarter than us in a
>>  Many billions times smarter than us, using which metric?
>  Any you wish to put forward.
> This has on and off been the matter of discussion at the office. "A
> hundred times smarter than X" - what kind of scale is implied? Looking at
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_measurement one can see that
> statements like this requires the measured thing to behave according to a
> ratio scale - you can meaningfully multiply and divide.

Yes, I agree that putting a number on intelligence is tricky business.
Perhaps I use it in more of a metaphorical sense. However much smarter you
are than a tree, there is some possible being that is that much smarter
than you. That sort of thing.

> But this is not true for IQ scales: while indicating a real number that
> can certainly be multiplied, there is no inherent meaning of double
> IQ-intelligence beyond "can get a higher score on the same test that places
> the person in a twice as high IQ bracket". It is not twice as many correct
> answers, and it is not being part of a half as large population fraction.

There is also the issue of speed. If a machine can finish the same IQ test
in 100 milliseconds, and score 145, then I would say that it was smarter
than me, even if the scores in the end are identical.

> For superintelligence I am willing to assume one could construct something
> like an Elo scale by comparing different minds gaming against each other
> and/or nature across a wide set of problems. I also think for many kinds of
> minds general problem solving is able to generalize to new kinds of
> challenges, creating enough correlation between the ability to solve them
> that it makes sense of speaking of one score.

Of course, solving by committee is extremely poor at solving certain kinds
of problems, like what to do about the US national debt. Almost any single
individual would do better than the current collection.

> (But see http://www.aleph.se/andart/archives/2013/10/silicon_dreams.html- it might be that talking about "twice as smart as humans" would require
> using humanity as a whole as a test subject, not just a representative
> human)

It is clear to me that two humans are not twice as smart as one. The main
benefit seems to be in keeping the smarter of the two intellectually
honest, and also adding a few facts in here and there that the more
intelligent doesn't have stored in his memory.

> In short, while it might be possible to rank intelligences roughly along
> some kind of scale linked to their intelligence, it looks like saying
> "twice as smart" doesn't convey much useful information. One would at the
> very least need to get into the tedious explanation of what kind of test it
> is. It might be better to say *what* the superminds are supposed to be able
> to do, and then discuss how one reaches that conclusion.

I apologize for my sloppy thinking on this matter.

>  (Example: I can imagine and argue for minds that solve standard IQ tests
> at the same accuracy as humans a million times faster, for example fast
> brain emulations. Incidentally, given
> http://www.pearsonassessments.com/NR/rdonlyres/E9B43B7C-E94C-44CF-89D0-B59BABB0147C/0/TimedUntimed.pdftheir performance would likely not be super-good score-wise thanks to extra
> time. However, given past group problem solving papers it is likely that
> running a million emulations in parallel and then using agreed to be best
> answers could improve scores a lot, up to 55 IQ points.)
> So, *please*: no more "a billion times smarter than us"!

Ok. How about this. I can envision a day when the utility value of a
machine will be as much greater than a human being than a human being's
utility is greater than that of a cockroach?

> (Could a beauty a million times more beautiful than Helen of Troy launch a
> billion ships? Is the admiral's wife who launches one ship a thousandth of
> Helen?)

While assigning numbers to it, it is clearly the case that some people are
more beautiful and intelligent than some others. That's not to say you
could line us up in rank order, unless it were to solve the precise same

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