Michio Kaku on the Evolution of Intelligence

Michio Kaku on the Evolution of Intelligence
Big Think
Mar 25, 2014

04:00 By monkeying with just one gene [ASPM], you can double the size of the brain case and the brain itself.
In the future, we may use gene therapy to begin the process of making–perhaps–a chimpanzee intelligent.
We know the genes that would increase the size of the brain.
We’ve isolated now the genes that give us manual dexterity.

ASPM (abnormal spindle‐like microcephaly‐associated)



Is human intelligence still evolving?

How smart is smart?
Is human intelligence still evolving?
EMBO reports (2009)  10 (11),  1198-1201
Philip Hunter

The development of higher cognitive functions in Homo sapiens—commonly and perhaps wrongly described as intelligence …

Bob Sternberg, for instance, a psychologist from Tufts University (Medford, MA, USA) and a pioneer of human intelligence research, believes that intelligence is an adaptive trait, but not a quantity that can be measured by standard intelligence quotient (IQ) tests. Instead, he has defined human intelligence as “a mental activity directed toward purposive adaptation to, selection, and shaping of real‐world environments relevant to one’s life” (Sternberg, 1985). However, there is a caveat to this so‐called ‘triarchic’ theory: its human devisers are not objective bystanders. “Higher levels of intelligence as we conceive of it can be and [have] been adaptive,” Sternberg said. “I say ‘as we conceive of it’ because the concept [of intelligence] is in large part a human invention of successful people to explain their own success.”

“For a neuroscientist, any aspect of ‘intelligent behaviour’ involves many different processes—attention, motivation, arousal, motor skills, perception, memory.
To lump all these together into one ‘crystallized intelligence’ makes no biological sense

A 2006 study from the University of Chicago (IL, USA) suggested that two genes, microcephalin and ASPM (abnormal spindle‐like microcephaly‐associated), which are thought to regulate brain size, have been under strong selective pressure since humans left Africa (Evans et al, 2005). However, the team, led by Bruce Lahn, do not claim that these genes are associated with cognitive functions, and others have suggested that they might have undergone selection to cope with the decreasing amounts of good daylight as humans migrated northwards through Europe, Asia and possibly North America. “There is now nice evidence of selection over recent time for genes that promote large brains at high latitudes, such as Bruce Lahn’s work,” Robin Dunbar agreed. “But this is almost certainly due to the need for a larger visual area at high latitudes [where light levels are lower], not for greater intelligence, although this is as yet unpublished data.”

However, human brains have actually decreased by about 10% in volume during the past 30,000 years[1]; the rapid evolution of new cognitive functions—language in particular—might therefore have resulted from structural rather than volume changes.

One explanation for this reverse trend in human brain size is that brains come with metabolic costs attached—the brain consumes about 20% of the basal calories used by our bodies each day—and human evolution might have reached a point where increased metabolic demand outweighed the benefits of greater brain volume. Instead, selective pressures might have begun to favour genes that conferred greater processing efficiency and improved coordination between functional units.

“We should be more concerned with what is likely a distinctively human quality—wisdom—the skill in how to use our intelligence in a way that promotes a common good, over the long term as well as the short term, through the infusion of positive ethical values.”

average brain volume of 1274 cm3 for men, and 1131 cm3 for women
Neanderthals: 1,500–1,800 cm3


Any sufficiently advanced technology is …

Clarke’s three laws

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

Revisiting The Tenure Of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, The ‘Jewish Jefferson’
June 7, 2016·
He didn’t realize that television was one way – it kind of broadcast to you in your home. It was very new when he was on the Supreme Court.
And he was afraid that the government could monitor you in your living room through your television.

Resource leveling

Resource leveling

Microsoft Project

Set task priorities for resource leveling
Applies To: Project Professional 2013, Project 2013 Standard

Distribute project work evenly (level resource assignments)
Applies To: Project 2010, Project 2010 Standard

Resource Leveling dialog box
Applies To: Project 2007 Standard

Automation bias

Complacency and bias in human use of automation: an attentional integration.
Hum Factors. 2010 Jun;52(3):381-410.
Parasuraman R, Manzey DH.


Our aim was to review empirical studies of complacency and bias in human interaction with automated and decision support systems and provide an integrated theoretical model for their explanation.

Automation-related complacency and automation bias have typically been considered separately and independently.

Studies on complacency and automation bias were analyzed with respect to the cognitive processes involved.

Automation complacency occurs under conditions of multiple-task load, when manual tasks compete with the automated task for the operator’s attention. Automation complacency is found in both naive and expert participants and cannot be overcome with simple practice. Automation bias results in making both omission and commission errors when decision aids are imperfect. Automation bias occurs in both naive and expert participants, cannot be prevented by training or instructions, and can affect decision making in individuals as well as in teams. While automation bias has been conceived of as a special case of decision bias, our analysis suggests that it also depends on attentional processes similar to those involved in automation-related complacency.

Complacency and automation bias represent different manifestations of overlapping automation-induced phenomena, with attention playing a central role. An integrated model of complacency and automation bias shows that they result from the dynamic interaction of personal, situational, and automation-related characteristics.

The integrated model and attentional synthesis provides a heuristic framework for further research on complacency and automation bias and design options for mitigating such effects in automated and decision support systems.

When you come to a fork in the road …

Aim For The Moon – 20 Success Tips from Amit Singhal, SVP and Google Fellow
June 13, 2014

6. When you come to a fork in the road, follow your heart and don’t look back

There are times in your life when you have a tough decision to make. “Follow your heart and don’t look back,” advised Amit. He himself had two such tough choices in his life – whether to join Lycos or Bell Labs (he chose Bell Labs), whether to become a professor or join the startup Google (he chose Google). If you follow your heart, you will sleep happy; don’t ask what could have been, said Amit.

cited by:



Is Smart Technology Making Us Dumb?

Is Smart Technology Making Us Dumb?
May 20, 2015

Before the debate, 37 percent of the audience at the Kaufman Music Center in New York voted in favor of the motion, while 33 percent were opposed and 30 percent were undecided. After the event, 47 percent agreed with the motion and 43 percent disagreed, and 10 percent were undecided

Nicholas Carr writes about technology and culture. He is the author of the acclaimed new book The Glass Cage: Automation and Us (2014), which examines the personal and social consequences of our ever growing dependency on computers. His previous work, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (2011), was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a New York Times bestseller

Andrew Keen is an Internet entrepreneur and the author of three books: The Internet Is Not the Answer (2015), Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing and Disorienting Us (2012), and Cult of the Amateur: How The Internet Is Killing Our Culture (2007)

Genevieve Bell is an Intel fellow and vice president of the Corporate Strategy Office at Intel Corp. She leads a team of social scientists, interaction designers, human factors engineers and computer scientists focused on people’s needs and desires to help shape new Intel products and technologies.

David Weinberger is a senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, where he previously served as co-director of the Library Innovation Lab and led its Interoperability Initiative.

[p 31]
book called “The Filter Bubble,” the reality is that we’re talking to fewer and fewer people.
But if anything, we’re talking less now than we were before the  invention of the internet.

[p 34]
the dream was that we’d use the Internet to challenge ourselves.
In fact, what most people do is they go out and find stuff that confirms their existing biases, and that makes those biases even stronger.

[p 36]
using their thumbs instead of their brains.
And almost –it’s like a pacifier for young children.

[p 41]
Deep intelligence isn’t about getting precise answers to well-defined questions.
It’s being able to know, what are the big questions you should ask?
How do you fit this information together to form conceptual knowledge, to get big-picture knowledge?  And if you spend all your time Googling and grabbing information, you might think you’re smart.
In fact, there was a very interesting study that came out just a couple of months ago that–that showed that people tend to think they’re smarter because they’re Googling all the time, and they confuse what’s on Google with what’s in their own brains.

[p 42]
And the interviewer said, “So I assume that as the –as Google search engine has gotten smarter, people’s questions have also gotten smarter.”  And Amit Singhal laughed and said, “No, it’s exactly the opposite.  People get lazier and lazier.”  And this shows how we become dependent on the technology to do our thinking for us.  And as a result, we get lazy, we fall victim to what scientists call automation complacency.  You just simply think, let the machine do it for us.  So even the formation of questions, we seem to be getting worse and worse as the searching gets better and better.

in the Phaedrus Socrates makes a terrible mistake, doesn’t make a lot –a terrible mistake.  He’s wondering about the smart tech of his time, which was writing things down. It was literacy.  And he said, “This is terrible because our memory will fail.  We’ll get much worse at remembering things.”  And he was absolutely right about that, because if anybody here would like to stand up and recite “The Illiad” by heart, please do so and show me wrong.  But generally, our memory has gotten much smaller than it–than it was.  So he was right about that, but he was wrong about the effect of literacy.  The

[p 50]
Nicholas Carr:
There was a fascinating study done in the Netherlands, a series of experiments, where people were given increasingly smart software to do difficult tasks.  And what the researchers found is that as the software got smarter, the people got dumber.  They got lazier.  They began to become reliant on the software itself.  They weren’t practicing their own talents.  And we can see this as well in all of those examples I talked about.  David mentioned, well, aren’t pilots –shouldn’t pilots have the smartest technology possible?  Actually, if you look at airline safety research, and if you look at the recent proclamations from the FAA, they’re saying that over automation is actually making pilots less capable.

Amit Singhal: The more accurate the machine gets …