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Mandevillian Intelligence, Paul Smart

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SOCIAM all-hands meeting, September, University of Oxford

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Mandevillian Intelligence, Paul Smart

  1. 1. Mandevillian Intelligence September 2017 Oxford, UK Paul Smart
  2. 2. Mandevillian Intelligence Thus yet every Part was full of Vice, Yet the whole Mass a Paradise. Bernard Mandeville, The Grumbling Hive, 1705 Cognitive and epistemic properties that are typically seen as shortcomings, limitations or biases (vices) at the individual level can, on occasion, play a positive functional role in supporting the emergence of intelligent behaviour at the collective level.
  3. 3. Noisy Neurons “The girls who the teacher has picked for the play which will be produced next month practice every afternoon.”
  4. 4. Noisy Neurons “The girls who the teacher has picked for the play which will be produced next month practice every afternoon.”
  5. 5. Noisy Neurons “The girls who the teacher has picked for the play which will be produced next month practice every afternoon.”
  6. 6. Noisy Neurons “The girls who the teacher has picked for the play which will be produced next month practice every afternoon.”
  7. 7. Noisy Neurons “The girls who the teacher has picked for the play which will be produced next month practice every afternoon.”
  8. 8. Collective Search
  9. 9. Collective Search
  10. 10. Collective Search
  11. 11. Collective Search
  12. 12. Collective Search
  13. 13. The Wisdom of the One How many beans? 140 157 190 175 167 179 152 • Hourihan & Benjamin (2010): • low memory span subjects exhibit better performance.
  14. 14. • Zollman (2010): • dogmatism helps to preserve diversity. • prevents premature convergence on sub- optimal solutions. • important for collective cognitive success. Dogmatism “...a limited amount of dogmatism is necessary for progress. Without a serious struggle for survival in which the old theories are tenaciously defended, none of the competing theories can show their mettle – that is, their explanatory power and their truth content.” - Karl Popper
  15. 15. • Nemeth & Wachtler (1983): • the value of a committed (but mistaken!) minority. • Epistemic Tolerance: • a tolerance of those who we ‘know’ to be wrong, or those whose epistemic abilities we regard as suspect. Irrationality Individuals can often look epistemically sub-optimal, but such shortcomings are sometimes instrumental in promoting collective success!
  16. 16. • Confirmation Bias: • a tendency to seek out confirmatory evidence. • a failure to consider contradictory evidence. • Mercier & Sperber (2011): • individual confirmation bias serves the collective cognitive good. Confirmation Bias
  17. 17. Vicious Technologies? • Simpson (2012): • accentuation of confirmation bias. • Miller & Record (2013): • undermines the justificatory status of an agent’s beliefs. • Pariser (2011): • filter bubbles. • Proposed solutions: • avoid personalization, publicize algorithms, government intervention, legislative frameworks.
  18. 18. • The Vice Kit! • the adaptive exploitation of existing cognitive vices. • the creation or accentuation of cognitive shortcomings. • March (2006): • “A technology of rationality has to be balanced by other technologies that free action from the constraints of conventional knowledge and procedures and introduce elements of foolishness into action.” Virtuous Engineering?
  19. 19. • Cognitive Augmentation: • drugs. • technology. • hard work. Me++
  20. 20. • Cognitive Augmentation: • drugs. • technology. • hard work. Me++ Individual Enhancement = Collective Diminishment
  21. 21. Virtue Epistemology Intellectual Virtue Faculty Virtue Trait Virtue Virtue Reliabilism Virtue Responsibilism appeals-to appeals-to Intellectual Humility Intellectual Courage Openmindedness Curiosity Memory Perception Induction Deduction is-property-of is-property-of Epistemic Agent Cognitive Character S knows that p if and only if S believes the truth (with respect to p) because of the exercise of S’s cognitive abilities (intellectual virtues).
  22. 22. • My Vice, Our Virtue: • individual cognitive vices are responsible for (realizing?) collective cognitive virtues. • Intellectual Virtue: • what constitutes an intellectual virtue is relative to whether our analytic gaze is oriented towards the individual or collective level. Virtue Relativism
  23. 23. Physarum Machines
  24. 24. Boom and Bust
  25. 25. Boom and Bust
  26. 26. Boom and Bust
  27. 27. Boom and Bust
  28. 28. Boom and Bust
  29. 29. Conclusion • Mandevillian Intelligence: • a particular form of collective intelligence. • individual cognitive vice plays a productive role in yielding collective cognitive success. • It is an idea! • Implications: • technology, epistemology, social policy. • the design and evaluation of social machines.
  30. 30. Publications • Smart, P. R. (in press) Mandevillian Intelligence. Synthese. • Smart, P. R. (in press) Mandevillian Intelligence: From Individual Vice to Collective Virtue. In Socially-Extended Epistemology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. • Smart, P. R., & Clowes, R. W. (submitted) Epistemic Tolerance. Erkenntnis. • Smart, P.R. (in prep) The Cognitive and Evolutionary Consequences of Boom and Bust.

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