Tag Archives | Intelligence

Accepting Alternate Forms Of Intelligence In The Animal Kingdom

Our inability to perceive animal intelligence revealed the limits of our own. Via the Wall Street Journal, Frans de Waal writes:

Who is smarter: a person or an ape? Well, it depends on the task. Consider Ayumu, a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University who, in a 2007 study, put human memory to shame. Trained on a touch screen, Ayumu could recall a random series of nine numbers, from 1 to 9, and tap them in the right order, even though the numbers had been displayed for just a fraction of a second and then replaced with white squares.

I tried the task myself and could not keep track of more than five numbers—and I was given much more time than the brainy ape. In the study, Ayumu outperformed a group of university students by a wide margin. The next year, he took on the British memory champion Ben Pridmore and emerged the “chimpion.”

A growing body of evidence shows, that we have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence.

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Ragtime-P

image, chberge

The name of a sweeping and secretive NSA surveillance program is revealed in Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry, a new book by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady. “Ragtime” primarily involves collection of foreign counterterrorism communications as well as anti-nuclear proliferation information. A smaller component of the program, “Ragtime-P,” however, is the remnant of the original domestic monitoring program that has – ostensibly – since been brought under the law. The Washingtonian describes the method by which the NSA is permitted to use Ragtime to collect domestic intelligence, a method that may either be heartening or troubling, depending on your outlook.

Only about three dozen NSA officials have access to Ragtime’s intercept data on domestic counter-terrorism collection. That’s a tiny handful of the agency’s workforce, which has been pegged at about 30,000 people.  As many as 50 companies have provided data to this domestic collection program, the authors report.

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China’s Massive Eugenics Project To Choose High-IQ Embryos

Via Edge.org, NYU evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller on how the biggest eugenics push in history is just unfolding, which he feels will dramatically shape the future:

China has been running the world’s largest and most successful eugenics program for more than thirty years, driving China’s ever-faster rise as the global superpower. When I learned about Chinese eugenics this summer, I was astonished that its population policies had received so little attention. China makes no secret of its eugenic ambitions, in either its cultural history or its government policies.

The BGI-Shenzhen Cognitive Genomics Project is currently doing whole-genome sequencing of 1,000 very-high-IQ people around the world, hunting for sets of sets of IQ-predicting alleles. I know because I recently contributed my DNA to the project, not fully understanding the implications. These IQ gene-sets will be found eventually—but will probably be used mostly in China, for China.

Potentially, the results would allow all Chinese couples to maximize the intelligence of their offspring by selecting among their own fertilized eggs for the one or two that include the highest likelihood of the highest intelligence.

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We’re Becoming Dumber and Dumber

Be stupid @ AmsterdamSorry folks, but human intelligence is declining per leading Stanford University geneticist Dr. Gerald Crabtree, as reported by Natural Society:

Would you be surprised to hear that the human race is slowly becoming dumber, and dumber? Despite our advancements over the last tens or even hundreds of years, some ‘experts’ believe that humans are losing cognitive capabilities and becoming more emotionally unstable. One Stanford University researcher and geneticist, Dr. Gerald Crabtree, believes that our intellectual decline as a race has much to do with adverse genetic mutations. But there is more to it than that.

According to Crabtree, our cognitive and emotional capabilities are fueled and determined by the combined effort of thousands of genes. If a mutation occurred in any of of these genes, which is quite likely, then intelligence or emotional stability can be negatively impacted.

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues.

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Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

Beagle and sleeping black and white kitty-01Continuing the media assault on cats, the Wall Street Journal says that canines outsmart felines:

With half as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as cats—and half the attitude, some would say—dogs are often taken to be the less intelligent domestic partner. While dogs drink out of the toilet, slavishly follow their master and need a chaperone to relieve themselves, cats hunt self-sufficiently and survey their empire with a regal gaze.

But cats beware. Research in recent years has finally revealed the genius of dogs.

Like other language-trained animals—dolphins, parrots, bonobos—dogs can learn to respond to hundreds of spoken signals associated with different objects. What sets dogs apart is how they learn these words.

If you show a child a red block and a green block, and then ask for the chromium block, not the red block, most children will give you the green block, despite not knowing that the word “chromium” can refer to a shade of green.

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Scientists Debunk the IQ Myth

(I’m not surprised by this at all. I myself had middling experiences with IQ testing as a child. One year I was flagged as “gifted”, and then a few years of trouble at home and problems fitting in at a different school and suddenly I was in need of “special education”. – Editor)

Via ScienceDaily:

After conducting the largest online intelligence study on record, a Western University-led research team has concluded that the notion of measuring one’s intelligence quotient or IQ by a singular, standardized test is highly misleading.

The findings from the landmark study, which included more than 100,000 participants, were published Dec. 19 in the journal Neuron. The article, “Fractionating human intelligence,” was written by Adrian M. Owen and Adam Hampshire from Western’s Brain and Mind Institute (London, Canada) and Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, Science Museum Group (London, U.K).

Utilizing an online study open to anyone, anywhere in the world, the researchers asked respondents to complete 12 cognitive tests tapping memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities, as well as a survey about their background and lifestyle habits.

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The Incubus Made Me Do It! Again! And That Time, Too!

It doesn’t take a genius to know that the devil (or ghosts, aliens, even Bigfoot) makes a great foil for human perfidy. What better justification is there for a full-tilt trip into Bat Country? Take the wheel, Mothman!

Get thee behind me, “Exhaustion”.

For the most part, modern materialist philosophy has banished our bogeys and exorcised our evil spirits, pushing them into the liminal spaces. For the most part, modern monsters have occupied the gaps, more than willing to take the fall for our acts of indiscretion. “Exhaustion” seems to be a most powerful demon among the celebrity set; “Shopping addictions” and other personifications of pleasure-seeking are also among the unholy horde. These aren’t “demons” in any theological sense, unless you consider modernity a religion. Some of you may be disappointed: You want that Old Time Religion. Take heart, artful dodgers of culpability: occasionally one of these Elder Entities of the Id do break through the safety nets – such as the Incubus.… Read the rest

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The End To The Era Of Biological Robots

Via Skeptiko, a fascinating interview with neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard, who argues that, like the transition from classical to quantum physics, a revolution is coming in the way science will no longer perceive humans as being merely “biological robots”:

What we call the “modern scientific worldview”… is based on classical physics and this view is based on a number of fundamental assumptions like materialism, determinism, reductionism. So applied to mind and brain it means that, for instance, everything in the universe is only matter and energy that form the brain as a physical object, too, and the mind can be reduced strictly to electrical and chemical processes in the brain.

It means also that everything is determined from a material or physical point of view, so we don’t have any freedom. We’re like biological robots, totally determined by our neurons and our genes and so on. And so we’re reduced to material objects and we are determined by material processes.

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