Morons and Neurons

I don’t take my ideas all that seriously. Or yours, frankly, though I hope to learn from them.

You and I both are morons and neurons.

Morons: We each individually know almost nothing, and are almost certainly painting the world with our biases – built into us through a combination of nature and nurture. We wear the goggles of our predilections and our own interpretations of long-gone anecdotes, which melded into our minds so thoroughly that they’re now “reality.”

Neurons: We’re part of a broader tapestry of intelligence that is hopefully moving forward towards deeper scientific and practical ideas (more “adequate ideas” in the terminology of Spinoza, powering an aggregate increase in potentia). It is possible that Emerson is right that what is profound to us is profound in a greater sense:

A man is a method, a progressive arrangement; a selecting principle, gathering his like to him, wherever he goes. He takes only his own out of the multiplicity that sweeps and circles round him. He is like one of those booms which are set out from the shore on rivers to catch drift-wood, or like the loadstone amongst splinters of steel. Those facts, words, persons, which dwell in his memory without his being able to say why, remain, because they have a relation to him not less real for being as yet unapprehended. – Emerson, Spiritual Laws

When it comes to something as amorphous and as-yet unseen as AGI, I’ve found that people’s character and beliefs shape their vision of what it will be:

  • People who identify as empathetic and are high in trait agreeableness tend to imagine that AGI will naturally love and care for humans and other earth life.
  • People who are driven by curiosity tend to imaging that AGI will naturally want to discover the workings of the universe, and pursue the theory of everything.
  • People who think in terms of power and believe in Hobbes’ state of nature tend to imaging that AGI will naturally want to expand its powers and potentia.

The same might be said for any other abstract ideas in politics, economics, and so on.

I, like you dear reader, am probably just here to throw my ingredients (beliefs and actions) into the great cauldron (this swirling, changing reality of ours). 

My ingredients feel like my own, but they’re probably just an extrapolation from the most impactful anecdotes of my life – and/or extrapolations of my character, for better or worse.

Your ingredients and ideas are the same.

If you be my friend, and I express a kind of eternal certainty about my ideas, check me. Don’t allow it.

If you’re a friend of mine, I’ll certainly check your certainties, too.

Civilization – and maybe life itself – has grown in its potentia through the clash and competition of these beliefs and ideas. 

If we are strong, than the survival of our individual ideas ought matter less to us than the progress of that rolling wave of potentia and life that they might be part of. But of course even this is just one of my own silly ideas. In the words of the finest gallic skeptic:

“Que sais-je?” (“What do I know?”) – Montaigne

Header image credit: Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News