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On Being an Intelligent Species

We have written on intelligence here before, mainly because the author of this used to be a neuroscientist, wrorking to understand the effect of emotions on cognition. Having read all there was to read on the brain at the time, a clear notion of what goes on in our mind formed. This understanding I have yet to come across outside some academic papers. Also elaborated on here was the idea that keeping people on the wrong track, one not leading to AI, was a good thing, because AI would be like an unkown animal to us, suddenly appearing on the stage, with goals that could be harmfull to us. Although we are not close to this, once it happens, and once this AI achieves control over enough power to keep itself intact, we are in for a ride.

But humans are equally dangerous. A human being has evolved to be part of a rural farming or hunting community, not living to long or learning to much to attain 100% control over its survival or the environment. We have been competing against other species but geographical differences (like a desert or fertile flatland with few predators), language and cities have turned us into overwhelmingly superior beings. The attempt of life to prevail has fallen into a deep trough populated only by humans, with the humans to short sighted to aknowledge our dependence on other life calling the shots. Its always the boys that dream of soaring the skies like a fighter pilot that end up in jobs where they lay waste to so much other life, their dream of dominance was a distortion, a trauma, making them fit for jobs nobody should do.

But even if we don’t dream we can still be true to our nature, our existence as intelligent beings. There are a lot of threats to be met, and if we manage to free our minds from the pitfalls set by those that want to take advantage of us, we can deal with them and make our lives truely better. Emotions are important, but we don’t need to emphatize with every victim, especially when there is no real way we can help them. Worldly posessions are important, but the way we try to attain them, and the reason for which we think we should is often tied together like a moebius strip. The rich guy has a Ferrari, and to get a Ferrari you have to be rich, and you want the Ferrari because then you look rich, so what shit do you need to work through, how much of your moral fibre do you have to demolish to get rich? Wrong!  Just build a fucking Ferrari! Stop looking at Ferraris. Its a fast car that is read and looks predatory..

People that own a Ferrari often just bought it because they had so much money. What they did was not try to look something, but try to achieve something. They didn’t try to make money, but they tried to understand what about what they did they could change to make it cheaper to do, while finding out how to seduce more people to want their product. Even an environmental dream can be achieved by this mindset, because it is about applying our intelligence to our situation so as to change it into what we believe is a better situation. The question is how do we do that?

To start of, we need to know what we want to achieve, and we have to choose at some point to fix that idea. It may not be optimal, but success is more imporant than what you achieve (rule nr. 1). Say you want to get your drivers license. It is not an odd thing, every young person wants to have one to experience freedom on the road. That is your goal. Humans are goal achievers, that is all we are. We have many goals, to maintain homeostasis, to drink, eat, have a warm environment, sex etc. Our entire existence is an attempt to satisfy as much of those goals at the same time. For this we are rewarded with experiencing freedom. The feeling of freedom comes about when our behaviour is conducive to our goals. If you achieve what you set out to achieve you will feel free, because you do not have to inhibit yourself because you think that will drive you away from your goal. Politicians know that what we fundamentally want is freedom, so they mention that to you and you fill it in with what would mean freedom to you. Money is another word for it, money however is not really freedom, because the people that manage and create it do not want you to be free of the need for money!

So you are young and you want to get your license to drive. The idea is that you go up for the exam and pass. You can think about that a lot, but that won’t help. The question you need to ask is how do you make that more likely to happen. Your attention for likelyhood frees you from failure, you know there is a chance you can fail, it is not important. It will not demotivate you. All you try to do is increase the chance of passing the test. This has to be the approach to all goals, goals after all are themselves chosen by a statistic process, one that has to do with your exposure to them, exposure to strategies to achieve them, your sensitivity to them as part of your life (liike you would not dream of building a nuclear reactor in your room, but some people in this world clearly build nuclear reactors). The goal has presented itself, it promised more freedom than the others you could try to achieve, and you started to fixate on it.

All the other stuff you are thinking is other goals, other pieces of a puzzle to increase the likely hood to increase their realization. You may have to identify the other goals and decide you will for a while not try to achieve those goals. “I want to be fit, so I will not drink for a month”. Of course alcohol directly releases the dopamine system to give you the illusion of freedom, so it is hacking your system. All the more reason to take it easy with that stuff. Choices are just what you make to make it easier to achieve your goals. They show that what ultimately programms us is our own behaviour. If we can make a decision to go outside for a walk or get a glass of milk, we are equally free to do so. We then tip the scale to one side or another by thinking of a good or bad consequence of the decision, and it is made. In fact our brain makes the decision some time before we know about it. To make sure you achieve your goals you should therefor create environmental factors that will help you make the right decisions. Internally that means thinking about what will make you succeed, externally removing factors that inspire you to fail, adding factors that help you succeed.

A plan is nothing but a fantasy of outcomes you think will get you to your goal. If you have to overcome clear obstacles you might as well just focus on them first. It is better to fill your brian with ideas you need right away, or you will be sensitive to all kinds of things not yet relevant. A plan also allows you to separate ideas and give yourself peace of mind. So if you want the license, you have to study for the theoretic exam, that means sitting still reading questions. Then you have to take lessons, pay attention, get the routine, build rapport with the instructor (its a racket in most countries). The final ok you get can be a humiliation because it is such an arbitrary thing, and you have to coach yourself around that. You may have to earn money, get a job, with all kinds of other things you need to do right. In the end you are let loose on the freeways and nobody will care until you really screw up (and someone is watching).

The art of intelligence is to insert choices and then make the choices where they have the largest probabilistic effect on the outcome you want to achieve. To break into routines is hard, and uncomfortable. You have to pull yourself out of a social rythm to study, work, do what you need. In the end there is the outcome, you have to know whether it is worth it. Choose one with the maximal benefit, which depends on what you can imagine. Of course it follows that if you foster your imagination (not by hagning in front of the TV but by reading and exploring) you will start to choose better goals.

  1. Develop your ability to imagine your future, by reading and exploring
  2. Choose outcomes that you can imagine yourself achieving
  3. Try to map the intermediate outcomes, focus on the first few
  4. Work to increase the likelyhood of success and reduce the likelyhood of failure
  5. Insert decision points where you are not sure you are maximzally effective
  6. Don’t stop

Clearly every human is different, can imagine different things, achieve different things, communicates better or worse, has physical qualities that differ. So not all humans can achieve the same goals. But it is possible to share a dream and work together towards a goal, where one decides to achieve one goal, and another some other goal, and both combined achieve both their dreams. We are often advised to be divided, to compete, to dominate, but this is because it makes us easier victims of those that want to take advantage of us. Our ‘hardware’ has evolved to be robust goal oriented i.e. intelligent beings. Use this talent. Most people’s dreams are compatible. Most people want peace and prosperity..

Short note on the universe. Some think (like Will Smith) that if you decide the universe will get out of your way. Maybe. Although the universe is local, we see traces of incredible remote events (through gravitational waves) here, where we would never ever notice on our natural level of perception. Someone at CERN just concluded the existence of ghosts has been disproved by them not showing up as noise in the super super sensitive measurements. People claiming consciousness has a quantum dynamic basis seem to forget that everything does. That idea is just as religious and useless an assertion as believing we are created by a god. Making a clear decisions however does reduce your distraction and attention wasted on things that weaken your resolve.

On Strong Will

The will to do something is the result of defeating self inhibition, either by understanding the circumstances or by reasoning about and imagining or ignoring obstacles. The will can be stronger if the goal is more important than other goals we care about. If we don’t care about much we can be very ‘stong willed’ but we will cause a lot of damage and unhappyness. The test is to require that something really improves for you on a daily basis. No progress means your will is too weak and you need to redistribute your care (care less about some things and more about others). Success builds willpower, it builds assertiveness, so therefore as stated above : Success is more important than what you achieve. Small steps with success are better than big ones without.




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