How To Use AI To Accelerate Human Super Intelligence (HSI)
Personal Update: My apologies for the late post today. Parkinson’s Law is real! The more time we give ourselves to do something, the more likely we are to fill up that time. Even though I’m only doing two posts per week now, I’ve already found a way to fill in that time with additional research.
The most amazing technology that has ever been developed is the human brain.
And despite how powerful it is, we know surprisingly little about it.
On the one hand, this is ok. We don’t need to know exactly how the brain works in order to use it.
On the other hand, if we want to think better, make better decisions, and become world-class thought leaders, then it’s absolutely critical.
Over the last 7 years, I have done three things in order to understand how my brain works. I have spent 3-4 hours per day studying in the following fashion:
The patterns of top performers, innovators, and creative geniuses
The research of people who study the patterns of those people
Exploring my own experiences (intuition, biases, emotions, senses, etc)
At first, my journey consisted of learning about disparate qualities of the brain. For example, I learned about…
Cognitive biases from Charlie Munger and Daniel Kahneman
Intuition from Gary Klein and Gerd Gigerenzer
Mental models from Elon Musk, Ray Dalio, and Charlie Munger
Chunking from Barbara Oakley and Douglas Hofstadter
Developmental stages from Robert Kegan, Susanne Cook-Greuter, and Terri O’Fallon
Hierarchal complexity from Kurt Fischer, Ray Kurzweil, and Michael Commons
Schemas from Jean Piaget
Cognitive brain plasticity from Anders Ericsson and Robert Kegan and Dean Keith Simonton
And so on…
Over time, each of these disparate areas started connecting with each other. I saw how one insight of the brain led to another. This larger, more integrated model of the brain has helped me increase my rate of learning and personal development. More specifically, by better understanding the cause-and-effect relationships in my brain, I can perform better actions that are more likely to improve my learning.
This larger model of the brain has also helped me imagine a future where AI augments human intelligence rather than just replacing it…
The Beginning Of A Framework For Human Super Intelligence (HSI)
One of the biggest recent news stories is about how AI…
Passed the Turing test and other advanced exams.
Will improve at a rate of 5-10x every year for the next few years (at the very least).
Will replace almost all knowledge workers in the near future.
In this framing, the future feels scary. What role will humans play in it (if any)?
At the same time, one of the most interesting and hopeful applications is the least talked about.
More specifically, an important question is rarely even asked…
How can we use AI to bolster our own intelligence and wisdom to heights we can’t even imagine now?
To answer this question, we need to understand both the human brain and AI more deeply.
Therefore, my personal goal is to…
Build a more usable mental model of the brain that I stress-test.
More deeply understand AI.
Build prompts that augment intelligence.
In this article, for the first time, I share my current high-level model of how the brain models the world. My plan is to keep updating it as I learn more.
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With that said, let’s jump in…
How The Brain Wires Itself Based On Life Experiences
In today’s article, I explain each step below in detail…
We’re exposed to something new and make a basic model of it.
We assimilate or accommodate the new model.
We refine the model over repeated exposures to variations of that thing.
We uncover deeper abstraction models beyond the representational model.
We shift into recognition mode once the object becomes familiar so we can quickly use it.
The first step is for all subscribers. The last four are for paid subscribers only.
For each section, I provide practical takeaways and lots of examples.
Throughout the article, I provide 10+ video clips that I personally curated so that you can go deeper.
Before I jump in, two quick caveats…
This article reflects hundreds of hours of research condensed into something that you can consume in less than one hour. At the same time, I realize I introduce a lot of different ideas that may take a while to fully integrate, so I recommend using this article as a reference you keep coming back to. Most articles introduce ideas in a fragmented way in the context of a newsfeed. This article reduces your info overwhelm in that it connects many ideas that aren’t normally connected.
I realize that there are many things about the brain missing from this model. My goal was to find the right balance between simplicity and complexity and usefulness vs perfect accuracy. I also plan to share other posts of models related to the brain’s attention, memory, motivation, etc.
Step #1: We’re exposed to something new and make a basic model of it
When we’re younger, we’re constantly exposed to new things. Each time we’re exposed to something new, our brain wires itself to create a model of the new thing in our head.
Stated differently, we duplicate an aspect of the outside world in our heads. We call that duplication a representational model because it represents something concrete that we can see and touch.
For example, let’s say the first dog a child ever sees is the one below:
Models can include things that go beyond what something looks like. They can include things like…
What we sense (appearance, smell, touch, sound, taste)
What it means (opportunity, threat, neutral)
How it acts (personality, behavior, capability, etc.)
Our feelings about it (happy, sad, etc.)
At a fundamental level, the survival of any species depends on its ability to model the world.
In the video below, famed British neuroscientist Karl Friston provides a deep explanation of how and why we model our environment in our brains.
Source: Karl Friston on Serious Science
In this second clip, renowned Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson explains how the body of all beings reflects certain aspects of the environment they evolved in:
So, we have a model of the world in our head. This model influences what we perceive and what we predict. Neuroscientist Anil Seth more deeply explains the interaction between our environment, brain, and mental models in this, now famous, TED Talk:
Seth makes the case that…
Instead of perception depending largely on signals coming into the brain from the outside world, it depends as much, if not more, on perceptual predictions flowing in the opposite direction.
We don't just passively perceive the world, we actively generate it. The world we experience comes as much, if not more, from the inside out as from the outside in.
—Anil Seth (neuroscientist)
We don’t experience reality. We experience our model of reality.
No model is perfect. And the better our models of reality, the better our lives.
Most of our brain’s models are unconscious to us.
We can improve our lives by making this modeling process conscious and then deliberately improving it:
Becoming aware of the mental models in our brains
Stress-testing our models
Learning the most useful and universal models
Understanding how the models relate to each other
This realization about the importance of modeling is why I co-created the Mental Model Club.
Thought Leadership Takeaway
The best mental models are timeless and universal. In other words, we can use them forever in many areas of our life.
These mental models contrast most other forms of knowledge that are short-lived and only applicable in a narrow context.
By building up a latticework of mental models that others don’t have, we give ourselves the ability to rapidly generate unique perspectives and ideas across many fields.