The Myth Of Genius

Today’s Song of the Day

I love Depeche Mode. They’re my all-time favorite band. They’re unlike any other band that’s ever been, incredibly unique and amazing. I can listen to Depeche Mode for hours. Their lyrics are complex and powerful, unlike today’s pop music with third grade wit.

Today’s song is called Judas, off their album Songs of Faith And Devotion (no they’re not a religious band).


The Myth of Genius

There is no such thing as a genius. It’s a completely arbitrary term, and impossible to objectively quantify. Yet, it’s one of the most abused and misunderstood words in our language.

As with all things human, we arbitrarily define genius based on a statistical normal distribution bell-curve. The upper end of the curve, which measures standard deviation from the mean or average, is arbitrarily labeled “genius”.  A nomenclature called 3-sigma means that 99.7% of all population samples fall within this area. So, this means that you really must be well within the top 1%, which is a pretty low bar actually. Using the statistical model, 3 out of 1,000 would qualify as being genius. However, many experts claim that there could be as many 1% to 2% of the population who are “geniuses”.

Intelligence is not linear. It’s exponential; yet we use linear models to articulate it. And at the core of genius is creativity. But too much of our methods to quantify it (IQ) rely too heavily on cultural exposure, language understanding, and memory, which, by definition, requires broad exposure, which is a function of wealth and experience, disadvantaging those without either.

In truth, all kinds of different creative people exist in this world. Their brains work together with their bodies in amazing ways. Artists, athletes, writers, poets, scientists, philosophers, engineers, even many ordinary people. Many people are geniuses in one area of their life, but ordinary in the other areas. An artist may be creative with his or her ability to translate imagination into tangible form, or a mathematician may be ingeniously creative in their ability to think and resolve complex abstract equations, yet they may have no special talents in other areas of their lives.

A real “genius” has broad exceptional capability, a compounded equation that diminishes probability exponentially, based on the segmentation we arbitrarily define; for instance, abstract mathematical reasoning, visual pattern recognition, linguistic construction, creative articulation, and emotional intellect. This more broad definition decreases the odds considerably, to something on the order of one in millions, perhaps hundreds of millions.

People universally consider Albert Einstein a genius. He was fricking brilliant. I’ve read some of his books. He was incredibly articulate as well. Some of my favorite quotes from Einstein was less about his scientific and mathematical achievements, but more about his sense of understanding, his empathy and ways he looked at the world:

“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Even the smartest people are often wrong. As I’ve said many times, it’s less about being right or wrong, but the process at arriving at the answers. Many of our historical intellectual giants believed things and postulated “truths” that were clearly disproved much later. But even in failure, they’re contributions helped propel man forward, because the process or method proved invaluable to expanding our ways of thinking and imagination. As I’ve said before, despite the extraordinary brilliance of Einstein, much of his theories on relativity will almost be certain to be disproved in time. It doesn’t diminish him, or his achievements.

A true genius possesses abundant humility, not arrogance. Arrogant people are not geniuses, because those who know, understand how much they do not. A true genius is constantly challenging themselves to think differently, to change perspectives to achieve fuller understanding; awareness of perspective forces them to be more empathetic – to build emotional maturity.

I think there is only one genius in this universe – the entity that designed all of it. The words “human” and “genius” don’t belong conjugated together. The intellectual deviation among our race is statistical noise when compared to the intellect of something that can engineer nature; it has to be on a whole different plane. Incomparable. When we have something else to compare ourselves to, only then do our own comparisons with each other take on meaning. It’s well understood in math in science that relativity has limited value. Only in the presence of absolutism, a reference point, do comparisons have any value at all; it is the only way to know truth.

Us comparing ourselves to one another is purely an emotional game, with a subconscious plot to segregate, discriminate, control, and otherwise breed arrogance.  We are nothing more than rats, going about our days, scurrying to find food, shelter, companionship; obtusely observing our sliver of a world through incomprehensible eyes, believing we know our world. Without real perspective.

We’re fricking idiots. Cluelessly arrogant. The amalgamation of all of our collective traits, by definition, means we are absolutely insane creatures.


Oh, But We Have Technology!

I worked in the tech industry for 20 years. Among other things, I know a lot about the entire semiconductor manufacturing process – how silicon ingots become tiny microchips. To most people, it’s incomprehensible. When I was young, I used to think how incredible it was. The hundreds of fabrication steps required for a single wafer, or a single chip. The confluence of advanced physics and chemistry with practical cutting edge engineering. And the outcome of it all produces a micro-circuit with interconnects a hundred times smaller than a human hair. It sounds incredible. And from our perspective, it is. But extracting ourselves – from our own sense of achievement – looking through the prism of the marvels in our universe – it’s downright silly technology. It reminds me of a kindergarten child who is so proud of their latest achievement, as they gleefully bring their creation home to show their mommy and daddy.

Our vast array of digital systems is grotesquely crude. Of all the ways we could solve problems, in synthetic ways, a brute force binary system is one of the least efficient means possible. It lacks incredible imagination or intellect.

What do I mean? Or am I just rampaging without merit?

Taking something, one small item, and re-representing it using 8 or 16 or 32 or 64 or 128 bits of numbers (0s or 1s) and then applying manipulation and processing is obtuse. We can easily see how retarded it is by objectively analyzing the performance based on a number of metrics – size, power efficiency, flexibility, durability, scale-ability, and so on. Our technology’s power efficiency is dismal. And although they seem small to us, because all of this technology is new to us, these inventions are shamefully excessive.

Our technology progress ACTUALLY moves very slow. We are constantly told how fast technology moves. It’s not true. We invent something, then we incrementally evolve it forever. We still drive automobiles, the same mode of transportation for over a hundred years. We still fly in planes for over a hundred years. Rockets were invented over 70 years ago. Sure, everything’s faster now, smaller, sexier, more efficient. The semiconductor or microchip was invented exactly 70 years ago! Yes, we have relentlessly shrunk it, made it better. But it’s the same core technology. Our energy sourcing hasn’t changed. Our dominant sources are still fossil fuels, just as they were over 300 years ago. We invented nuclear energy over 70 years ago. Renewables like wind, solar, and hydroelectric, none of it is really new, just more efficient than before.

Computers are faster than the first the ENIAC computation system over 70 years ago. But digital systems are plateauing. It’s all about software now. And software, or coding, isn’t anything magical. It’s shockingly simple and easy. Real advance coding requires sophisticated mathematics and algorithms; coding itself is simple. The real hard stuff is in the hardware. Virtually every software coder doesn’t even have a clue about how the actual hardware or semiconductors work. It’s like designing a car without understanding the engine.

And now all the rage is about artificial intelligence, AI. Idiot experts spewing nonsense about how machines will be as smart or smarter than humans in 30 years or less. How much you want to bet on this Mr. Musk? I will state it emphatically: AI has no chance in hell of getting anywhere laughably close to human intelligence based on binary systems. And it won’t ever achieve human level intelligence, asymptotically close, perhaps, over thousands and thousands of years.

Consider this, our human brains are slow. The neurons only fire about 100-200 times a second, or up to 200 Hz.  Whereas a dirt cheap home computer operates in the gigahertz range, or a billion times a second; almost a million times faster than a brain – at least on the surface. But yet, studies have shown that humans can process an image with our eyes and brain in as little as 13 milliseconds. Take a look at the article link below.

Simulating 1 second of human brain activity takes 82,944 processors

It took over 82 thousand advanced microprocessors, operating at full speed for 40 minutes (2400 seconds) to simulate just 1 second of human thought – for one person. And the craziest part is the brain requires the equivalent energy required to drive a very dim light-bulb, versus the amount of energy that 82,944 processors would required – a water cooled system and one hell of an electricity bill to run.

And yet, we think we’re so damn sophisticated, advanced, amazing with our technology.

Take a look around you and take a look at nature. Anywhere. Anything. Everywhere you can see things that are a trillion times more complex and better than our best technology.

There is only one genius in this universe. And it isn’t you. Or me.


The Original Inventor of Coding

Last night I couldn’t sleep. As I lay in bed, I read through Chapter 9: The Perfect Symphony, from my book, Iron Not Wood, on my phone. My head hurt after reading it. It had been so long it seemed hard to believe I even wrote it. Especially over barely a week and a half or so for the chapter. Hard to believe that focus can accomplish something like that.

While I was reading, I came across a section that made me think further about our human DNA on page 280:

“As a side note, in the interest of full disclosure, scientists believed, not too long ago – like 6 months ago – that only 8.2% of human DNA was used and the rest of the 3 billion letters were junk. Of course, they used to think it was only 3% – 5% percent not too long before that discovery. My personal feeling is that most nucleotides have some purpose – whether we realize it or not yet. It will take time to understand the purpose and function of each DNA letter (nucleotide sequence). If I had a trillion dollars, I would bet it all that it will be discovered to be much, much higher than 8.2% useful DNA code. After all, if we really understood every single DNA nucleotide function, there probably wouldn’t be disease in the human body anymore. I wish scientists would simply say whenever they make such announcements (and media is more to blame), “as of today, we have uncovered the functions of just 8.2% of the human genome.” This would be far more accurate than saying silly and sweeping statements like, “only 8.2% of our DNA is useful, the rest is junk!” Just because we have not had the time or the ability to uncover the actual purpose doesn’t mean it’s junk. It simply means it’s not fully understood yet.”

Step back and think for a moment exactly what DNA is. It is us in a nutshell. It defines every single thing about each of us. And the smallest details about what makes us unique. It defines the physical structure of our entire body, how each cell will operate. How our brains will work, how our cellular level communicates with each other throughout all 100 trillion cells in each of our bodies works.

Now step back for a moment and imagine none of it existed, and you had to develop this from scratch. Starting with a blank page. Then try to think about how you would develop and code every single detail of our human life-form. Three billion letters sounds like a lot, but put this in context of a piece of hardware and software, which is the closest technological analogy we have today.

Using the full 3 billion letters would be the equivalent of describing how the functionality and definition of the system would work and self-replicate in about 1.5 million pages. Given the magnitude of the details and how sophisticated our bodies are, I think it would be impossible to get all of this in a mere 1.5 million pages. Hell, today, software alone, for very simple applications (in comparison), can run into hundreds of millions of lines of code. Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system contains over 50 million lines of code.

How would you squeeze all of our human description into such a short space?

Just 10% of 3 billion is 300 million. To think for a minute that only 10% of our DNA is useful data, and the rest is leftover “junk” has to be borderline insane – no, completely insane. Are you telling me that we could take the equivalent of Windows 7 and redefine the entire human body with a similar amount of info? C’mon man!

Clearly, these scientists have never designed anything in their entire lives – either hardware or software. They don’t have a fricking clue, except to conclude this based on their assumption that due to evolution, there must be a bunch of unneeded wasteful code in our DNA.

Every time I think about DNA, it boggles my mind – that a single HUGE molecule (204 billion atoms) could be responsible for everything about each of us and everything about how our body functions, and how every single cell in our body operates and interacts. It’s fricking unbelievable.

These scientists and geneticists are thinking too much like a human. If we want to understand DNA, or anything in our universe, I think, somehow, we must try to think more like God – if that’s possible. God surely wouldn’t design something like we would. Hell no.  And thinking along these lines, God wouldn’t use a simple 1:1 mapping for our DNA, as our scientists seem to be thinking: One nucleotide for eye color, one for hair color, blah blah. There’s no way God would be so simple minded. I think it must be much more convoluted than that. First, out of necessity. Something so complex, as our human body is, detailing all the trillions and trillions of details would only fit into a code of 3 billion nucleotides, sequenced using only 4 different types, if it had some type of advanced efficient encoding. In other words, one DNA letter or nucleotide has a multitude of functions, in conjunction with other sets of letters. My guess is that the encoding is based on quantum based algorithms, much like how nature works in general.

We know that encoding schemes are hard to crack, depending on the mathematical algorithm used. Mapping the precise genome sequence – all 3 billion “letters” – is easy. Understanding this code is the hard part. If it’s encoded some way, it could be impossible.

If God didn’t want us to crack it, I’m betting my money that we never will. My suspicion is that God never intended us to monkey around with our genetic code. Of course, it doesn’t mean man won’t try. We surely will. But without understanding the full scheme, it’s folly to begin experimenting with changing one here, or a few there, since we don’t truly understand the full ramifications of the changes.

If you had to design something as sophisticated as our human body, but the only tool you had was 4 different letters, each letter representing a precise model of atomic bonding structures, how the hell would we accomplish this? It seems so simple – 4 letters – and yet, it the greatest novel ever written!

The fact that there are 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans (or subsets within the DNA) may leave a more achievable clue. If we decode one set of chromosomes, it would simplify the task. It would seem that the body was designed as 23 separate subsystems, all seamlessly working together.

Of course, the biggest mystery I can’t comprehend yet is what is interpreting the DNA code to allow cells to do what they do? How does anything know that nucleotide number 1,353,589,093 is responsible for, say, the curvature of the lens on our eyeballs? How does a self-contained code, know exactly how to build itself and function itself? It’s like having the hardware and software, without any hardware and software, suddenly building itself. It’s almost like DNA, itself, has some amount of high level intelligence built into it.

Or perhaps, that DNA is much more than the physical conglomeration of 204 billion individual atoms, conspiring to precisely define me. Perhaps, there is something more mysterious at play, something non-physical, spiritual, at work. Because I don’t know how else science can ever explain this mystery.

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