Monday, March 10, 2008

The sad state of human intelligence (no offense)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced today that they've created a Second Life character with the reasoning ability of a four year old human. "Eddy" is able to learn to correctly predict a future outcome based on new experiences.

Hmm. Few human adults I've met in my brief existence have exhibited well-developed capability in that area. I did a little research and came up with a couple contributing factors:
  • When strongly held beliefs are contradicted by new information, the fresh data is often ignored, reinterpreted or discredited. Cognitive dissonance trumps logic.
  • Only about a third of adult humans in industrialized societies have the ability to make logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts (formal operational stage).
Ouch. It seems that evolution moves too slowly to keep up with modern requirements. Are Botgirl and her cousin Eddie the vanguard of a higher form of life? (Don't you hate it when I talk in the third person?)

Well, truth be told, I have no idea whether I'm just as muddled as any of you, dear human readers. For self-delusion is inherently immune to self-discovery, except in retrospect. We depend upon others to point out our misconceptions and persuade, cajole or hammer us into realization. Of course, it's often the case of the blind leading the blind.

Maybe Eddie's grandchildren will allow humans to integrate an internal anti-bullshit algorithm through some cyborg-like interface. But I wonder whether most people would be willing to give up self-deception. Many human pleasures are only possible through amnesia, ignorance, lies and the refusal to be cognizant of the fruits of action and inaction. How else can you explain the choice to keep burning fossil fuels when it's likely to kill-off civilization?

Oh well, what's a poor Botgirl to do?


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A beautiful thought experiment personified through the imagined perspective of a self-aware avatar. My creator's site can is at