Thank you for the rich response! You’re really helping me clear up my thinking. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.

1.) “I believe there’s still much more that needs to be included, specifically beyond the whole notion that intelligence is supposed to be limited to problem-solving capacities”

= I agree. This piece is definitely a work in progress, and usefully wrong in a number of areas. I plan to edit it with your wonderful critique in mind.

To me, “intelligence as problem solving” can be incredibly wide-ranging, as long as our definition of problems includes bounded and unbounded problems. We could say that “living a good life” is an unbounded problem, one that requires all the insight, intelligence, rationality, and wisdom that we can muster.

2.) “What I was looking for was the definition of insight, and the only thing I believe was defined sufficiently in this article was machine insight, which is definitely not what I meant by insight in my article about IQ.”

=That’s likely the fault of my amateurish write-up.

Insight is a rapid increase in cognitive fluency which arrives in a non-logical way. You can’t explain how you arrive at an insight, but it happens nonetheless. Insight is both abstract and physical: We can suddenly “get” how to scale a rock face, or how to solve a 9 Dot problem.

Insight could also be defined as “making a novel connection” for example. Importantly, we can rarely explain the logical steps we took to make said connection, but that doesn’t make insight any less real as a phenomenon.

These insights allow for an uptick in cognitive efficiency, flexability, or problem solving. In this way, a high level of reliable insight is dependent to some degree on general intelligence.

3.) “As I wrote in my article, the highest practical form of intelligence that I know of, for which there are some concepts of testing it, is insight as the awareness-based capacity of one intelligence to outsmart another. Oftentimes, this is demonstrated specifically by rejecting the whole framing of reality imposed from without, like starting to question definitions of problems, what it means to solve them, or if you should be “solving” them in the first place. In a way, the test is to realize that you’re being tested and to resist cooperating.”

=I loved the Men in Black example in your write-up. You hit the nail on the head. I would describe the insight there as: “profitable insight.” Intelligence firms are looking for this specific kind of insight that is particularly useful to intelligence work. Insight in your example is the realization that: “my high intelligence is being weaponized here to make me fall into a smart person’s trap, one set by another very smart person. I will transcend ‘conventional intelligence’ by demonstrating the meta-intelligence which the instructors are looking for.”

That’s a wonderful example of insight. A very useful example. I just wanted to take a more inclusive view, but that probably came across as vague and dull in my essay. Thank you for flagging this!

4.) If I’m not mistaken, and I welcome being corrected if I am, we currently don’t know how to mechanically generate awareness, or build a questioning machine, given that we have only vague ideas about how consciousness works on a physical level (the key defining attribute of which is self-awareness). This means that you can create a machine to solve any problem, but only as long as someone (self-)aware defines “problem” and “solution” for that machine.”

=Agreed. We’re definitely not there yet. Human beings must know what they’re looking for beforehand. Our #1 role for a very long time will be to ask great questions. This is why I value your critique so much.

5.) “In this way, even the most intelligent machine is infinitely, incomparably, division-by-zero dumb in comparison to your average human brain. From the informal philosophical point of view, what’s more wise? Becoming excellent at solving everyone else’s problems, or freeing yourself from being a beast of burden? Defining yourself on the basis of preexisting labels, or creating your own identity from scratch? Aiming to pass tests to achieve standards, or striving continuously for excellence into uncharted terrain? Of course, it’s easier to fail at a harder thing, but that’s precisely it — wisdom is harder.”

=Agree. Machines can’t hold a candle to humans in terms on unbounded problem solving (insight, rationality, wisdom). They just straight up can’t do it. They can only help us in those efforts when we deploy insight, rationality and wisdom when we describe the search and solution space for them. Wisdom is the Mack Daddy. It’s MUCH harder. Hell, I could barely define it!

6.) “I have no doubt that some of the most intelligent people (even by my definitions) are the architects of intelligence testing and the whole philosophical and educational framework of intelligence as purely a problem-solving capacity. Assuming that I’m correct in suspecting that there are some manipulative politics involved. Not a conspiracy, just good sense.

=Whether or not the tests were constructed in a “biased” way, they have certainly been used for awful things, and well as being over-hyped for what they claim to tell us about human potential. Indeed, any tool can be re-purposed as a weapon!

7.) “It would be wise and insightful to socially engineer the whole concept of intelligence for the populace in which intelligence is equated to using your mental capacities usefully. This way, you will produce a lot of effective and efficient employees, which is constructive, but not that many critical, reflective, independent thinkers, which is not constructive (for an economy). These are not my politics, but I can respect pragmatism and practicality. What irks me about all this is that it requires presenting a lesser form of intelligence as the highest and complete form of intelligence. Which is, frankly, dumb.”

= We’re in total agreement here. The use of potential is the whole point. The demonstration of potential as a “mine’s bigger” philosophy is completely useless and narcissistic. Showing, on an exam, that you “have potential” isn’t proof that you’ll demonstrate high performance in one’s work, relationships, etc. Americans are OBSESSED with testing. We have an epidemic of theoretical excellence, and an abundance of unbounded problems in this country that cry out for the application of said potential!

8.) “If what you want is a practical conception of how to develop insight (as awareness that leads to the questioning of frameworks) and wisdom (a long-term coalescence of understanding gleaned through moments of insight), I would recommend the work of late Alfred C. Snider, one of the biggest names in the world of competitive debating. Specifically, his paper Gaming as a Paradigm for Academic Debate. I already wrote an article about his ideas, but very briefly, he talks about games and debating as potentially useful exercises in exploring possible futures or alternative ideas (to which I would add entertaining speculative fiction). In these ways, insight is trainable, as well as creativity, adaptive thinking, abilities to persuade and resist persuasion, etc.

=I very much look forward to reading your article on Snider’s ideas! I totally agree that insight, creativity, adaptive thinking, and persuasion are highly trainable. I am not a proponent of the “fixed mind” fallacy. It’s just not good cognitive science. We know for a fact that we can develop our capacities to an amazing extent.

I look forward to reading more of your work, and I’m so grateful for your wonderful response to mine. Thank you for helping me think more deeply about these important topics. Here’s to the continuation of our aspiration toward ever greater insight and wisdom!

Warm Regards,


Cognitive science, health, and society.

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