Re: Eight-year-old physics genius enters university

From: Michael Anissimov (
Date: Sun Nov 06 2005 - 16:14:15 MST

Jef Allbright wrote:

>However, the paper you referenced is not about the extreme forms of
>intelligence (off the bell curve) associated with child progidies who
>often require sheltering as I tried to point out earlier, or the
>extreme performance in mathematics or music sometimes associated with
>Aspergers or Autism, or the kind of narrow "intelligence" currently
>exhibited by some machine performance.
>My point was about intelligence operating *within a sheltered or
>sharply constrained environment* being popularly assumed to have a
>greater understanding of the bigger picture even outside of their
>environment of interaction. It's a fallacy of extrapolation.

Why do you think this child's environment has been especially sheltered
or constrained? If it has been, then sure, maybe the "bigger picture of
physics" will remain elusive to the kid for many years - I'm not sure.
Note that making profound contributions to physics probably doesn't
require a "big picture" view of much aside from the mathematics
specifically relevant to the tasks at hand.

Extreme performance in idiot-savant types can indeed be the special
case, to be examined separately from cases of "normal people" with high
g. I'm not sure whether they commonly collapse as adults (references,
Jeff Medina?), and in fact seem to recall reading that exceptional
genius in children does indeed predict exceptional genius in adulthood.
Mozart is an obvious example. There are many others. Why do we
necessarily assume that this child has Aspergeresque or autistic
qualities, and is not simply a person of exceptional general
intelligence who happened to focus upon physics? Even extremely
intelligent 8 year-olds might feel uncomfortable speaking to adults, I
don't think that's indicative of any social handicap. Were the child
16, then sure.

Michael Anissimov                     
Advocacy Director, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence 

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