Evidence accumulates to the effect that notwithstanding junk food, reality TV and celebrity culture, humanity is actually getting smarter. The Flynn Effect to which this article refers mentions the phenomenon associated with New Zealand-based philosopher James Flynn, who has built a thoughtful and engaging career on his early observation about rising IQs worldwide over the course of the last century.
Flynn’s work distinguishes crystallised intelligence – what we learn over time, and how we apply that learning – from fluid intelligence, which involves abstract thinking and reasoning. Flynn identifies the latter kind of intelligence as the engine room of humankind’s increasing cognitive strength.
Ironic smiles will be inspired in those who recall the famous Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, still resonant seven years after it appeared. If our “fluid IQs” are indeed rising, it may be that we are learning to play to our strengths. The irony would be that this is happening as Narrow AI is turning us into stupider versions of machines whose data manipulation and information retrieval skills so far exceed the crystallised cognitive capabilities of our own, attention deficit-disordered brains.
Given Flynn’s inverse correlation of rising IQs to declining belief in God, the question to ask is: if AI evolves from what is programmed into Narrow AI towards the Super AI that will think for itself, will a defining characteristic of mature AI be its atheism?
Lively Stuff from Planet BAM!
- Breakthrough Prize Foundation makes $100 million bet on Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner has teamed up with physicist Stephen Hawking to support the activities of SETI – the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. With funding of $100 million spread over the next decade, Milner’s new Breakthrough Listen initiative will link in with state-of-the-art technology to monitor the universe for signs that we are not alone.
- Neurostimulation market growing, driven by aging populations with pain control issues
Watchers of SKY News may have felt nudged by a recent report on “brain hacking” into supposing that a brigade of bedroom geeks is driving an underground revolution in “deep brain stimulation”. This more serious review of the market in neuro-stimulation devices makes clear the growing value in this industry, driven largely by the pain control market.
- Singularity University co-founder Peter Diamandis on what we need to teach our kids
physics and coding, yes; also passion, curiosity, imagination, critical thinking and grit
- Would Super AI hide its superiority out of fear of being destroyed?
philosophical chat on Reddit debates the chance of guile evolving out of innocence
- Summer Reading List on the subject of the Mind
a mixture of better and lesser-known names from worlds of cognition and behaviour