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Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Dr. Claus D. Volko and Rick Rosner on “The Nature of Intelligence” (Part Four)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/06/22


Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. Rick exists on the World Genius Directory listing as the world’s second highest IQ at 192 based on several ultra-high IQ tests scores developed by independent psychometricians. Dipl.-Ing Dr. Claus D. Volko, B.Sc., earned a score at 172, on the Equally Normed Numerical Derivation Tests (ENNDT) by Marco Ripà and Gaetano Morelli. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~6.13 for Rick – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 2,314,980,850 – and 4.80 for Claus – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 1,258,887. Of course, if a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Dr. Claus Volko, Rick Rosner, and myself on the “The Nature of Intelligence.”

Keywords: AI, Claus Volko, consciousness, human, intelligence, metaphysics, Nature, Rick Rosner, Scott Douglas Jacobsen.

Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Dr. Claus D. Volko and Rick Rosner on “The Nature of Intelligence” (Part Four)[1],[2],[3],[4]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: With everything, we could continue forever. However, the discussion started on January 25, 2017 with an email from me. In other words, that seems like a long time for the discussion to come to fruition at this point. Maybe, we can close.

We typed about artificial intelligence, human intelligence, intelligence, and the relationship with mathematics and metaphysics. This kept the conversation forward into consciousness. If I take the summaries from before and include some new ones, and if I bring these into statements rather than points, these may help with the final questions from me.

Human intelligence and artificial intelligence amount to two distinct but overlapping forms of information processing. Human intelligence has strength in pattern recognition and novel idea production. Novel idea production may need more than computation alone. Artificial intelligence has strengths in data storage and speed. Intelligence relates more to efficiency than speed. Intelligence encapsulates both human intelligence and artificial intelligence. Theories of intelligence fail and succeed in different areas. IQ, or general intelligence tests and scores, predict educational success.

In near future, artificial intelligence will remain narrow. Neural networks and machine learning will continue to characterize the development of artificial intelligence. Media will continue to misrepresent the future of artificial intelligence and people. In far future, general artificial intelligence may emerge. Narrow artificial intelligence will exist more than general artificial intelligence. These technology trends may lead to a planet-spanning data processor.

Comprehension of the brain could explain human intelligence without consciousness. This may help create human intelligence in computers. Consciousness may require more than physical and natural explanations. “More than physical or natural explanations” leads to metaphysics. A natural and physical theory, or algorithm, could explain human intelligence. However, for consciousness and intelligence in general, metaphysics seems necessary.

What barriers – e.g., methodology, epistemology, academic bureaucracy, limitations in general intelligence, personality flaws in lack of persistence or conscientiousness, hindrance of creativity from various means, inadequate technological tools, insufficient evidence, and so on – may exist to the discovery of the explanatory framework?

If any of the listed examples, can you elaborate, please? What scientific discoveries and technological capabilities hint at the emergence of a theoretical framework for these more general comprehensions of intelligence writ large?

Once these come to the fore, on the assumption the natural philosophy and philosophy provide the basis in the future, how might influence the perspective on the nature of human intelligence and, subsequently, human life?

Why would these discoveries influence the notion of personhood for human beings and artificial life seen in better representations of science fiction? Claus, you are a theist. Rick, you follow, more or less, Reformed Judaism, which implies a God. Final question, why would the natural and physical explanations for human intelligence and artificial intelligence, and the eventual framework for consciousness and intelligence in general, align with a theistic view of the world?

Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Claus D. Volko, B.Sc.: I think that all the things you mentioned can be barriers hindering the discovery of the explanatory framework. I especially think that certain tabus that are widespread in our Western societies prevent thinkers and researchers from really questioning what is considered established knowledge, having quasi-dogmatic status. I am quite ambivalent about the “skeptics” movement, for instance. On the one hand, it may be true that many people are uncritical of pseudoscience and esoterics, and so it might be a good idea to make them aware of the limitations of these approaches and explain why the scientific method is more credible. On the other hand, adherents of the “skeptics” movement sometimes fail to see the limitations of science itself, and fail to be equally “skeptic” about science as they are about pseudoscience.

To me it seems real progress is not coming from mainstream science but from fringe groups that are not afraid of questioning or even rejecting scientific dogmata and “thinking out of the box”. I would like to direct your attention to the aforementioned “Triadic Distinction Dimensional Vortical Paradigm” invented by Drs. Neppe and Close and the “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe” by Christopher Langan. Admittedly, I have not studied them in detail yet and am thus not able to rate their credibility. But at least they seem to be attempts that go into the right direction.

Both Drs. Neppe and Close and Christopher Langan happen to consider themselves theists. Actually the terms atheist and theist may be a bit misleading. While Drs. Neppe and Close and Christopher Langan may perceive themselves as theists primarily due to their religious upbringing and their motivation for inventing “theories of everything” that admit the existence of some sort of “deity” may be due to this as well, I was not brought up in a religious fashion. Yet I feel awkward about calling myself an atheist and have decided some time ago to identify myself with “theism”. In my case, it is not that I believe in any God persona bearing resemblance to man, but that I simply assume there to be things that can be considered “divine”, or “divine forces”, which cannot be explained by a naturalist or physicalist approach alone. This view is actually rooted in my own “childhood religion” which I invented as a young boy. Nota bene, this does not mean that there will never be any explanation for these “divine forces” that might be considered “rational” by a large proportion of humanity.

Actually I tend to believe that thanks to backpropagation and deep learning, we are currently experiencing a true revolution in domain-specific artificial intelligence, while it might still take at least yet another revolution until what people such as Ray Kurzweil or Max Tegmark call “Artificial General Intelligence” will arrive. Another technology that is going to have a big impact in the next couple of years is gene editing (CRISPR/Cas9). Eventually it might lead to “designer babies”; this is primarily a matter of legislation, since currently it is outlawed in most Western countries to genetically modify human embryos. Moreover, 3D printing will revolutionize the way things are manufactured. Quantum computing is still more fiction than science, although it has also made some progress in the past years. I think it is these technologies that will shape the world the most in the next ten years. I myself have also been working on a theoretical framework for an alternative to treating bacterial infections with antibiotics, keeping the bacteria alive instead of killing them, but reprogramming them (converting them from “parasites” to “symbionts”; that is why I am calling my framework “Symbiont Conversion Theory”). This might evolve to a new trend in medicine and it might solve a great problem as physicians are to an increasing extent confronted with “superbugs” that are resistant against many different sorts of antibiotics. My theory also concerns cancer treatment, since cancer cells can themselves be considered parasites that could possibly be converted into symbionts.

Rosner: You say that my thinking aligned with Reformed Judaism. To some extent, that is right. Nobody knows what Reformed Judaism thinks about anything. It is so reformed that is has no philosophical underpinning.

My actual thinking is that the model of consciousness being an inevitable and unavoidable aspect high-level information processing. That is something I subscribe or ascribe to. With my limited imagination, I cannot imagine any other system of existence, except for things being entangled with high-level information processing and with consciousness almost always being associated with that.

It means that existence, including the universe, is lousy with or peppered or speckled with consciousnesses, but with no consciousness or no entity having absolute god-like powers. But with powerful entities being able to do all sorts of stuff, including, at some level, the ability to create little universes.

But that every entity is subject to the rules of existence, which include the rules of consciousness and information processing. So, the structures of thought and information processing are replicated or peppered throughout the universe and embodied in the universe itself, in my thinking, but with omnipotence not being a thing.

Nobody gets to be omnipotent. Nobody gets to be a God-god. Entities may be god-like because they have been around so long and incorporate so much information-processing power, so that they are vastly more powerful than we are. But they are still subject to the principles of existence.

So, throughout history, people had a pretty stable idea of what makes a person. A person is somebody who is a body with a brain and where everything that brain thinks about is pertinent to that person, and is a reaction to that person’s sensory input plus the information processing that goes on in the brain plus what philosophy you adhere to – some transcendent mind stuff.

But everything is personal to that person. Everybody’s thoughts are relevant to that person and locked into the processes going on in their skull with the possibility of some addition of a personal mind in some other realm helping things out.

Now, more and more people do not believe in that other realm. More and more people believe that everything that happens can be explained by what happens in the brain. Everything relating to personhood is linked to an individual brain.

That is going to get its ass kicked in the next few centuries as information processing is able to move out of individual brains and then we get to link up. That processing has already been going on to a – not great extent because we do not have really any brain device interfaces beyond our five senses yet – decent extent because the relationships with our devices or with other people as mediated through our devices are much more informationally intense.

Much more information is being exchanged among people and among people and their devices now than ever before. Information processing will, eventually, not be isolated in individual brains and, instead, will become distributive, mutable, changeable, from moment-to-moment and with that the notion of discrete personhood will be eroded.

When we’re all linked together and thinking together and we’re spitting out tasked consciousnesses and AIs for specific tasks, budding them off and sending them off and then bringing them back in and integrating them again, it is going to look like a big crazy lava lamp rather than marbles of individual awarenesses locked into individual skulls.

Those barriers will come down. It will look like a lava lamp with people merging and unmerging and then importance of individual consciousness declining as we become part of this global thought cloud, which isn’t to say that we’re going to live in some dictatorship of thought.

The story that sums this up the best is I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, where one giant artificial consciousness, robot brain, has taken over the world and is taking people prisoner and torturing them 24/7 for its own perverse amusement.

That is the most dystopian version of a worldwide thought cloud taking over and oppressing everybody. Instead, the worldwide thought cloud will, for the most part, set individual consciousnesses free to mash up with other consciousnesses.

It sounds scary. But it is like everything else, driven by market forces. By the time every aspect gets to us. It will be made grubby by capitalism. Nothing ever hits us as pure wonder because it takes a while to get to us, and then it comes in the form of being offered by T-Mobile.

The barriers to understanding consciousness and the other context of information processing, which encompasses the business of the entire universe – the barriers to looking at that stuff and getting it right – are that it has been considered a super hard problem for thousands of years and everybody’s got it wrong for thousands of years, to the point where two people do not mean the same thing when they talk about consciousness.

When people talk about a car or a dog, there might be some small issues needing clarification. When one person talks about a car, they may be including truck. That could be cleared up with a conversation between people, maybe in a legislature when trying to figure out what to do with driverless vehicles.

The idea of “car” is easily clarified. The idea of “consciousness” can mean a gazillion different things. People tend not to bother with it. To even bring up consciousness has, for a couple hundred years, made people wary that you may hear some flaky astrological theory of the vibes of stuff, and how trees and rocks have their own awareness; consciousness has been associated with a lot off garbage thinking and unclear thinking.

Also, as a more philosophical level, it has been thought of as something too hard to figure out, to the point that in the 1930s psychologists or people looking in the field of brain performance in psychology decided to do without any theorizing altogether and then invented Behaviorism.

It said, “We are not going to think about it. We are going to consider the brain a black box. Then we will consider anything coming out of the brain as not thinking but reflexes.” So, the barriers, historically, have been that it is too hard of a problem and people had all sorts of unclear and wrong ideas about what it is.

A third things is that people did not have the experiential background to properly deal with consciousness and frameworks for information processing. Information Theory didn’t come around until Claude Shannon in the 1940s.

I think part two of the questions about what are some hints for going after it now. The big deal now is that we live in a or are in an ocean of information processing now. At least, when we weren’t in an obvious way before, maybe 30 years ago; now, everybody walks about with a super powerful information processor in their hand.

We get to watch the real-time operation of high-powered information processing devices. Everybody has a better idea of how all this stuff works because information-processing is basically the biggest industry in the world in the world right now and will continue to be; it will suck up more and more parts of our lives

There are people working things. We will have a biotech revolution that will be the application of high powered information processing technology to the systems of the human body. Everybody, now, has a better idea of how consciousness works because we see how our devices work and approach tasks.

The analogies are not perfect but they are better than what people had in the 19th century or in the BC years. We have all these analogies via our devices that are very powerful in helping us understand how our minds work with the switching from app to app being similar to switching from focus to focus, from driving and the light or the asshole in front of you when he/she slams on their breaks.

Or what is more common now, the times when people come to a near stop when everyone is texting. Consciousness becomes solvable because we have the technology and we have the experience to go after consciousness now.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunities and your times, Claus and Rick.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Claus D. Volko, B.Sc.: “I was born in 1983 in Vienna, Austria, Europe. My father wanted me to become a doctor while I was more interested in computers in my youth. After teaching myself to program when I was eight, I started editing an electronic magazine at age twelve and kept spending almost my entire sparetime on it – Hugi Magazine.

Upon graduation from high school, I studied medicine and computer science in parallel. In the end I became a software developer who occasionally participated in medical research projects as a leisure activity.

I am also the maintainer of the website 21st Century Headlines where I try to give interested readers an up-to-date overview of current trends in science and technology, especially biomedical sciences, computers and physics, and I recently founded the Web Portal on Computational Biology. I think there is no doubt I am a versatile mind and a true polymath.”

Rick G. Rosner: “According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writer’s Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He has also worked as a stripper, a bouncer, a roller-skating waiter, and a nude model. In a TV commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the World’s Smartest Man. He was also named Best Bouncer in the Denver Area by Westwood Magazine.

He spent the disco era as an undercover high school student. 25 years as a bar bouncer, American fake ID-catcher, 25+ years as a stripper, and nude art model, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television.

He lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a bad question, and lost the lawsuit. He spent 35+ years on a modified version of Big Bang Theory. Now, he mostly sits around tweeting in a towel. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and daughter.

You can send an email or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.”

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 22, 2018 at; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2018 at


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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