Life Outside School

Augment Human Intellect

Find Ways or Create Framework For Increasing The Capability of Humans

We at Simon-Erdős School of Design Sciences want Fellow participants to be able to enter the conversation – by presenting at workshops, conferences,  seminars, exhibitions, etc. – from wherever they are and be able to not only understand the content but also find ways to augment human intellect.

What does this mean?

It means that we don’t just talk to people to interpolate or to learn from human’s and business experiences, which is what a lot of business and academia do – you talk to a lot of people, you collect a lot of data, you draw from experiences, you generalize, and then you gain insights.

This means finding ways or creating framework for increasing the capability of a human to approach a complex problem situation; gain comprehension to serve his or her particular needs, and to derive choice-sets to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of developing digital autonomous systems with reasoning, inferences, trade-offs and knowledge representations for comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble.

And by “complex situations” we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers – whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years. You do not speak of isolated clever tricks that help in particular situations. You refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human “feel for a situation” usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered digital aids.

Human-to-Human Contagious Diffusion

The process of developing this conceptual mechanism or framework brought out a number of significant realizations: that the intellectual effectiveness exercised today by a given human has little likelihood of being intelligence limited – that there are dozens of disciplines in engineering, mathematics, and the social, life, and physical sciences that contribute improvements to the system of intellect-augmentation means; that any one such improvement can be expected to trigger a chain of coordinating improvements; that until every one of these disciplines comes to a standstill and we have exhausted all the improvement possibilities we could glean from it, we can expect to continue to develop improvements in this human-intellect system; that there is no particular reason not to expect gains in personal intellectual effectiveness from a concerted system-oriented approach that compare to those made in personal geographic mobility since horseback and sailboat days.

The system you want to improve can thus be visualized as a trained human being together with your artifacts, language, and methodology. The explicit new system you contemplate will involve as artifacts computers, and computer-controlled information-storage, information-handling, and information-display devices. The aspects of the conceptual mechanism or framework that are discussed here are primarily those relating to the human being’s ability to make significant use of such equipment in an integrated system.

The autonomous writing machine, for example, would permit you to use a new way of composing text. For instance, trial drafts could rapidly be composed from re-arranged excerpts of old drafts, together with new words or passages which you stop to type in. Your ‘beta’ version could represent a free outpouring of thoughts from social media walls in any order, with the inspection of foregoing thoughts continuously stimulating new considerations and ideas to be entered. If the tangle of thoughts represented by the ‘beta’ became too complex, you would compile a reordered ‘beta’ quickly. It would be practical for you to accommodate more complexity in the trails of thought you might build in search of the path that suits your needs.

A Continuous Cycle of Improving Intellectual Effectiveness

You can integrate your new ideas more easily, and thus harness your creativity more continuously, if you can quickly and flexibly initiate contagious diffusion – a type of diffusion where a trend or idea spreads based on person-to-person contact within a set of population. This occurs when places or people near the point of origin (origin of trend/idea) adopt this trend. The main characteristic of contagious diffusion is it spreads from person to person. This is a rapid spread, like a contagious disease or a forest fire.

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