Re: Ted Chiang's 1991 story `Understanding'

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Fri Sep 27 2002 - 21:50:31 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> I finally read Ted Chiang's Eganesque story `Understanding' (1991) last
> nite; a brain-damaged guy gets a hormone treatment that causes his neurons
> to multiply; he grows smarter.

My guess is that if there's an Algernon's Law effect here (simple
intelligence enhancement procedures, which evolution could easily stumble
across as a natural mutation, probably have some kind of associated
evolutionary disadvantage) it would be that if you multiply neurons in
adulthood, the self-wiring patterns followed by the new neurons end up
interfering with existing memories and skills.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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