Any reader of this blog will notice that it is very self-centered, introspective, and narcissistic. This is a diary. I am writing what is on my mind on that time when I sit down to write. Hitting the “publish” button is identical to closing a diary for the day.
I do like the idea of keeping a diary out in the open for others to stumble upon and read. Sometimes people do stumble on a post because it somehow showed up in some search-engine search results. I have mixed feelings about this. I write this blog with the expectation that someone will stumble on it. I feel sorry for those who do check out a post in the hopes that I would provide something of value for their own research.
I do very little research for my posts. Most of the hyperlinks I do add are to my early posts. The entire blog is pure vanity, and that was my conscious intent. I am a vain person, and as proof of that I do feel inspired by something outside of myself.
I’m thinking back to when I first started this blog. It was clearly intended to be vanity project to describe myself instead of trying to impart knowledge to others. A diary exists for that kind of discussion, but diaries are meant to be kept private. I am exposing it publicly as an advertisement or announcement that I exist and am available. It is similar to a work resume or a profile in an online dating service, but is neither and both.
When I first started this blog, I had a topic I wanted to explore. That topic was my understanding of the concept of intelligence. Some of the early posts explicitly discussed this topic, but it became much more implicit later on. All my discussions of different tenses of science, a taxonomy of data, and different forms of government ultimately are exploring living-thing intelligence in contrast to machine intelligence.
I originally intended to explore a deeper aspect of living-thing intelligence but that proved to be hard to put in words. I firmly believe that the intelligence I have is available to every living thing all the way down to bacteria or even viruses. When we elevate human intelligence above the intelligence of others, we are actually describing the efficiency of transferring intelligence. The human efficiency comes from its rich language capabilities and from the brain density that enables faster associations.
Efficiency of intelligence is distinct from the quality of intelligence. From an economic perspective, we value efficiency over quality. We ignore any one or any thing that is exceedingly slow in delivering its intelligence no matter how exceedingly intelligent it would be. A very brilliant person could easily end up in poverty and even pitied (if not despised) by everyone if that person is unable to communicate in a reasonably quick matter.
I recently described this in my description of the intelligence of an evolved extraterrestrial species that mastered the technology of inter-stellar travel. The species very likely would have evolved to live out their lives in a much slower fashion due to the exceedingly long times needed to traverse these distances. If one were to arrive to earth, it would be incapable of communicating with us because it may take a month for it to articulate a simple greeting, and it could not survive on the surface because it would be discovered and devoured by a carnivore before it would even have time to open its eyes.
Very early on, I described the same concept in a metaphor of a classroom test that a teacher needed to grade. In that story, I imagined a large class given a test of 100 true/false questions that was intended to take about 40 minutes to complete, but two people completed the entire test within 5 minutes, one getting every question right and the other getting every question wrong. Excluding these two, the average score was around 75 right with a standard deviation of about 5. Very high or very low scores are rare.
Given the difficulty of the test, we might conclude that both of these cheated by having the answers in advance. It is conceivable that the first would have had extraordinarily fast intelligence, but this would be so unlikely that we would not suspect it. The second person presents a challenge because in order to get every question wrong, he had to know the right answers and deliberately chose the wrong ones. While he might have cheated, his using of this advantage to deliberately fail sends a very distinct signal that is itself intelligent on its own right. That person is saying I am not playing your game.
In the same test, there was one person who was forced to turn in the test at the end of the hour. That test only had the first 50 questions answered, and every one of them were right, but the latter 50 questions were blank. This student would fail and probably be discouraged from continuing with the course. It does not seem right to describe him as unintelligent, he was able to answer all the questions correctly, he just needed more time to complete the test. This is the distinction between speed of intelligence and quality of intelligence.
We greatly reward people who can quickly communicate a superior intelligence, someone who can think quickly in a conversation or debate. Of the two aspects of speed and quality, we prefer speed over quality. The faster thinker wins even if his arguments or more flawed than his opponent.
This contention of speed versus quality probably explains our current quandary with the COVID19 response. We chose the follow the advice that was quickest and easiest to communicate: shelter in place and wait out the storm. The smarter policy might have been based on how respiratory infections quickly spread and die out within a few weeks. The argument for the smarter policy required much more time to convince the decision makers. We ended up stuck with the less intelligent policy that we are unable to undo.
I am fascinated by the idea that we may readily ignore more intelligent people if they happen also to be too slow to communicate their intelligence. Note that I am not talking about the extraordinarily complex problems tackled by the likes of Steven Hawking. I am talking about something as basic as the common cold.
After the start of the current crisis, we only heard from the faster of the knowledgeable people. That quickness in part came from being in the right place at the right time, but it also was helped by a prepared playbook to use in this kind of scenario. It was only later that we began to hear from other experts, and by that time, it was already too late to consider their wisdom. I found many of these alternative perspectives to be very compelling, yet I also noticed that they talk slowly and are slow to get to the point. One simple point was that it makes no sense to close schooling for school-age or college-age students. Even at the late time I heard the arguments, it takes them a long time to get to that point, partly because they talked so slowly.
In this blog site, I criticize enlightenment-inspired governments from multiple angles. It is hard to argue that the resulting democratic governments were a mistake, they have clearly benefited the entire human condition. Despite that, I think the entire project is fundamentally flawed. It relies on a concept of intelligence that is measured by speed instead of quality. When decisions need to be made, whether in the administration or in the legislature, there is always a clock running. Competing arguments are given equal time, and the winning argument is the one that is most compelling within the time allowed. The flaw is that superior intelligence is also fast intelligence.
The very nature of the democratic governments where representatives work their way up, starting perhaps as school board members, then working up to city positions, then state positions, and then national ones. At the national level, we are presented with the few candidates that rose to that level, and we have to choose just between them. We have no choice but the accept that they are the most intelligent, but that intelligence necessarily is fast, and only optionally of good quality.
While I don’t know what the right policy decision would have been for the COVID19 crisis, I am alarmed by the near unanimous consensus that a form of a common cold required global lock-down of all non-essential activities (but every government activity is essential). Given the diversity of governing bodies, I would have expected more variation than what we have seen. At best, all we saw were varying delays before accepting the consensus approach.
Despite being unprecedented and severe, the lock-down argument is very quick to communicate: the virus can’t infect the people it can’t reach. We chose the fastest answer. The smarter answer might have been that this virus will behave like other respiratory viruses and spread through the community and fade out within a matter of a few weeks. After that point, we may have some excessive mourning to do, but the survivors will thrive with their lives largely unaffected.
Again, I see this as a flaw in the enlightenment assumptions under the entire notion of democratic republics. “All men are created equal” translates to all intellects are equally fast. To fairly judge the content of competing arguments, we must give both equal time. The losing argument must be the inferior one, instead of being a superior one that needed more time to defend.
As I approach my 7th decade of life, I have seen too many examples where I was later alarmed to learn that the better argument was rejected. We often describe this at the benefit of hindsight where it is obvious that the chosen solution did not work as planned and that we might have been better off following the alternative. However, in most examples that come to my mind, the proponents of the alternatives were slower than their opponents in terms of expressing a similarly easy to understand alternative.
It is not hard to understand the concept that common colds are spread quickly in schools and spread to adults, and that common cold seasons last only a few weeks instead of a few years. This is nearly common sense. Perhaps the common sense nature of the argument did not motivate the experts to assert their arguments more quickly, but it is my impression that most of these experts were simply more calm and relaxed, delivering their arguments slowly and with long pauses.
Our democratic processes devalues the virtue of being calm in the face of urgency. Frequently, the winning argument is the one expressed with the most excitement and panic.
While it is too late to change the decision about lock-downs, we are now facing the decision of whether a poorly tested vaccine should be mandatory. The winning argument is the quickest one to understand: we are all at risk of dying when we get this infection. The quickness of this message is a consequence of the quickness of consequences. We have evidence of people dying within 24 hours of having first symptoms. The losing argument is that the vaccines could cause life-debilitating consequences especially when administered to the young people who are least likely to succumb to this virus. These consequences could make them more vulnerable to this or some other infection, give them immune deficiency, make them infertile, or give their offspring birth defects (or higher rates of infant mortality). These consequences are further out into to the future. As a result, the vaccine-risk arguments are delivered more calmly, more slowly, and are easily defeated by the more panicked arguments of everyone might embarrassingly die before tomorrow is over.
There is room for improving our government to accommodate the diversity of humans, and in particular the diversity of the speed of communicating competitive intelligence. A government based on timed arguments only permits arguments between people who are comparable in their speed of delivering their arguments. Often, this leads to two people who are fast at arguing between two variations of the same basic understanding instead of arguing between two truly opposing understandings. We are now arguing over the criteria of when it is safe to reopen the economy instead of arguing whether the lock down itself was wrong and should immediately be rescinded. That second argument doesn’t qualify for the podium because the advocates are disqualified in the speed trials.
The dedomenocracy approach of governing by data and urgency is fundamentally different than the enlightenment style governments. In many posts I emphasize the difference in terms of the data that backs the decisions. Enlightenment prizes dark data, scientific discoveries from historically tested hypotheses, to the extent that it readily dismisses any recent observations that do not conform to that accepted science. Dedomenocracy (in my formulation, at least) works oppositely: it prized bright data collected from reliable sensors and dismisses any dark data that conflicts with the observations.
There is currently a lot of controversy and alarm about recent programs such as contact tracing, state-sanctioned surveillance, and mandatory testing. I expect this controversy will escalate in coming months, leading to protests, riots, or even some form of rebellion. I see their point about this being a violation of the promises from the enlightenment era and before.
However, this is precisely the kind of intrusive data gathering I see will be necessary for dedomenocracy. Personally, I’m inclined to join the protests if they were to materialize, but I think the protests are counter productive. This type of data gathering is potentially very beneficial for everyone. What we really should be arguing about is what kind of system uses this data. In that discussion, I would readily agree that the current enlightenment-inspired governments are the wrong type of systems to manage this kind of data, and that includes the corporations.
We do need intrusive data collection, but that data collection needs to be a politically neutral repository and only used by politically neutral algorithms. The only way to get politics out of the system is to make these systems completely automated. People are involved in identifying and verifying data, and they are involved in selecting the algorithms. People are excluded from the actual operation of the algorithms and excluded from overruling any decision from the algorithms. This is how my fantasy government works (fantasy used like it is used in games involving fantasy teams, just something that doesn’t exist right now). My fantasy government makes rules only when triggered by widespread assertion of urgency, and it makes the rules expire quickly, forcing the population to renew their assertion of urgency to invoke a new rule.
Implicit in this fantasy government is the calm and patient collection of details about every individual and all aspects of their lives including their thoughts. Such a system would ingest blogs such as this one and interpret the sentiments in the blogs to recognize what kind of person I am.
If it were to encounter this blog, I imagine it would conclude that I am a slow person. It can not expect me to respond intelligently in a short period of time. I am not the type of person inclined to use Twitter, for instance.
I previously wrote about a future economy around selling opinions instead of services. Blogs such as this one might valuable for gathering information about the differences of each individual as well as information about the real sentiments of the population.
Maybe that is why I write this blog, I am anticipating my fantasy government will be my audience. It would learn about me and figure out where I might be useful. I am a slow person, and in some sense a retarded person. I don’t think fast enough to hold up well in a debate. I also don’t have the patience or motivation to accumulate credentials to qualify as an authority. The current world mostly ignores me and I am absolutely fine with that. At the same time, I am writing here to announce to the world that I am here, in case it wants to use me.
Despite my blogging, I am also a severely private person. I do not socialize much and have avoided relationships for my entire adult life. Recently there have been terms used to describe people like me as being MGTOW, but I’ve been this way long before those discussions, and I do not agree with any of the rationalizations behind MGTOW.
Personally, I have always been open to a relationship but it just never worked out. From the start, I suspected that the real problem was an incompatibility of time scales. Basically I’m too slow to establish bonds. This is well described in the notions of “game” or “influencing people”, there is a tempo that must be reached in order to build a relationship. I continue to think a relationship is possible. But instead of trying to up my tempo, I wait for someone operating at my tempo.
Among the differences between men and women, there is an inherent difference in tempos. Even though there are many men far more energetic and adventuresome than me, I think overall women operate at a faster tempo than men do. Certainly women I encounter operate at a faster tempo than I do. They lose interest in me in a matter of days, while I remain interested years after last contact.
There are similar differences with other relationships. I am just not fast enough to be relevant.
That includes when it comes to employment. To clarify, I have been successful in terms of getting and keeping jobs. The problem is that I never qualify myself for the higher executive roles where I can use my strategic talents. I am not suggesting those talents are necessarily competitive, but I have noticed others get into those positions and it seems they got it more from having the necessary tempo instead of having strategic talents.
At this old age, I am amused by my slowness. I smile while walking through town and seeing other pedestrians walk around me and advance a half block ahead of me before I reach the end of the block, even when that person is much shorter than me. At times, I deliberately try to keep up a similar pace (such as to not have them pass by me) but I always fall behind. It is not that I’m out of shape or winded from walking fast, it seems more that my clock is just running slower.
Similar things happen when I am on the road. There it is obvious what is necessary to keep a reasonable distance from the following car but I keep my speed (a little but not too much over the speed limit) and let them pass.
Often I hear of the pleasure people have with an empty road in front of them. My greatest pleasure is seeing an empty road in my rear-view mirror.
Returning to the topic of the emerging threat against our privacy and rights we were supposedly guaranteed from enlightenment-inspired governments, this is a real possibility, if not inevitability. If this data falls into the hands of men as the enlightenment-inspired governments or corporations demand, there is real cause for concern. However, if this data falls into a government of data and urgency that is free of politics, this could be a good thing.
When confronting new crises, we may benefit by having access to the full extent and diversity of intelligence no matter how slow they are articulated. We may be better equipped to avoid the catastrophic responses we have seen to date with the COVID19 response.