[FoRK] Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar drernie at radicalcentrism.org
Fri Oct 24 17:32:50 PDT 2014

Hi Stephen,

> On Oct 24, 2014, at 10:59 AM, Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> Haven’t you all seen: The Curse of Smart People?
>> http://apenwarr.ca/log/?m=201407
> Thanks for that link!
> Excellent insight, up to a point.  But wrongheaded too: In my world view, studying a pretty wide sampling of the tech industry and various other industries, that working at Microsoft isn't that smart overall, which means the people working there have a certain blindness.  Or they are taking the best, most convenient offer without regard to the larger picture.  Certainly if you live in Redmond and need to maximize salary, you're going to lean toward rationalizing that it is your best choice.  And financially it has worked out for plenty of people.
> He is clearly describing people with high IQ in certain areas, but low meta-intelligence and low EQ.  You've heard "A players hire A players and B players hire C players."?  I posit that "High EQ players try to hire the optimal mix of high IQ / high EQ while low EQ players somewhat randomly hire mostly low EQ players."  Most low EQ people are EQ blind, so low EQ hiring managers who tend to unknowingly offend or discomfort high EQ candidates and fail to put any value on their high EQ are not going to build a healthy organization.
> Perhaps this describes the problems at Microsoft.  It fits what I know so far.

I’m pretty sure this guy was (is?) at Google.

> Part of being high EQ is being highly self-aware and detecting and understanding the real motivations of others.  Being high IQ allows you to convincingly argument in logical ways, pulling analogies, examples, and predictions from knowledge and experience. Meta-intelligence includes the ability to do resilient QA on your own logic and decisions.  OK, I want to make this gut decision on something.  Why?  What could be wrong with that?  Would that argument hold muster on FoRK?  Could I convince everyone that it is the correct decision?

Ah, I totally missed that you were talking about EQ. In my experience, IQ and EQ are not very well correlated. And organizations and people that prioritize IQ tend to bas against EQ.

If you mean super-intelligence in the sense of EQ rather than IQ, I withdraw my objections.

But do you really think that EQ is something that can be created genetically, rather than culturally?

— Ernie P.

> I have argued points with many people in many situations over a lot of years.  Sometimes I was wrong, and I learned from it.  Often, whether right or wrong, I was surprised by other people's reasoning.  Arguing a wrong point to conclusion is in fact a demand to be debug and learn what was wrong with the reasoning.  Just recently I had to confront and work through a problem with an engineer being obstinate about not changing an interface that someone else needed to be changed.  They had locked onto one principle as being the deciding factor and had an emotional stake in withstanding any other opinion.  Only by identifying the logic, boxing it in, and proving that it could be wrong for key requirements through heated discussion could I get this person to reconsider alternate ways of looking at the problem.  For a few days, another engineer said he felt like I was bullying him and he felt like quitting, then later after overcoming the impasse he seemed very happy about his new design.  Any culture of absolute command and control, avoiding all conflicts, equality of all opinions, and similar would have prevented getting this and other things right, leading to a quagmire.
> I am really bummed that there was no debate team where I grew up (I had never heard of it).  And I'm bummed that I couldn't get my daughter interested as it seems very good general training.  I got to judge a few competitions though at Stanford which was interesting.
> Impostor Syndrome is real.  I'm glad someone finally named and widely described it.  I suppose many of us wondered if others felt the same thing.  Repeatedly renewing myself and operating as a consultant for half of my life, I suppose I am used to the feeling in new situations.  Being self-taught, I probably had it worse for longer at times than most, but it spurred me to dig in.  As he indicates, it is not necessarily good to resolve the feeling early.
> A different, seemingly opposite syndrome is when you meet a group who is very sure of themselves and their decisions, including what outside influence to ignore or even remain completely ignorant of, but where they are completely wrong, inefficient, and woefully behind the times.  You know you are right in what you are thinking because you have validation of the cutting edge of tech and you have plenty of direct experience.  But you're in an environment where the local peer pressure and sentiment is completely against you.  A local knowledge minima, trying to change your PH by clique clack.
> A Cobol or VB programming shop a few years ago.  .NET development now.  Businesses with no modern IT understanding at all, virtual cargo cults.  People still using relational databases now (heh, got you on that one didn't I?).  You get the feeling you just stepped into the past.  You sort of want to help, but you are uncomfortable and know that there will be endless cajoling needed to drag people into the present who refuse to change and are adept at using bureaucracy.  Bringing up teenagers all over again.
> Really, in so many ways, the recent burst of maturity and evolution of the web, browsers, mobile operating systems, servers, virtualization, languages, libraries, etc. is so nice.  I'm sure plenty are bewildered, but providing everything as services on the Internet shields all of those stuck people from even being able to decide against progress.  The Internet has routed around the damage once again.
>> — Ernie P.
> sdw
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