More Predictions for 2018

According to the Economist and the Korea Economic Daily , the fortune telling industry in South Korea will soon be a $3.7 billion dollar business… A little troubled? Me too. Yet in spite of the fact that I don’t endorse crystal balls or tarot cards, I do understand humanity’s innate desire to see into the future.  Joining the ranks of Gwern, Scott, and Quentin, I decided to document my predictions for 2018. My hope is that by testing and learning from these estimates, my own observations will become a bit more plausible than any given at smoky Saju den in Hongdae.


We shall see.



Antartica’s ice sheets will develop further cracks detectable by Thermal Infrared Sensor.  80%

More extreme weather phenomena will occur, particularly strong hurricanes in the Caribbean and Latin America. 70%

Terrorists will not release viable bioweapons in the developed world in 2018.  90%

There will be a terrorist attack killing at least 15 people in a large city in the developed world in 2018. 90%

The price of bitcoin will exceed $15,000 dollars by the end of the year. 85%

The price of ethereum will sit stably above $2,500 dollars by the end of the year. 60%

At least 8 more very well known public figures will be named in response to the #MeToo campaign in 2018. 80%

Donald Trump will remain in office, despite his low approval ratings and general incompetence. 90%

Donald Trump’s approval ratings will hover around 40% at the end of the year. 60%

No serious health-care reform legislation will pass. 80%

Populist movements will gain more traction in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia over the course of 2018 by affecting the platforms of mainstream parties. 80%

Marijuana will be legalized at least two more countries in 2018. 40%

The opioid crisis will become more severe in developed countries in 2018 in terms lives claimed. 90%

North Korea will not harm any international civilians with the launch of ballistic missiles in 2018.  80%

Significant armed conflict will not occur in the South China Sea in 2018. 80%

Bashar Assad will remain president of Syria. 90%

Sanctions imposed upon Russia will remain in place. 75%

Putin will win the 2018 Russian Election. 99%

There will continue to be massive, large scale protests concerning the Russian government. 95%

There will be over 50 arrests due to these large scale Russian protests. 80%

Navalny will undergo another assassination attempt. 55%

In 2018, China will publish at least two papers on germline editing of human embryos.  60%

The FDA will approve another form of gene therapy. 55%

Fungi and the Meaningless of Life

This is the cheesiest existential/philosophical piece that I have ever written. Hopefully it is worth something to someone. (Goal achieved – worth something to me.) Importance: 5, Confidence: 9.

Like all other species, we exist because we do. That’s it.

Most have grappled with the idea that our existence on earth is meaningless. A few atheists claim to have come to terms with it. Yet I think that even fewer have connected their abstract and symbolic understanding of this to the true nature of life’s meaninglessness.

While reading Fungi: A Very Short Introduction, and enjoying the amazing reproduction, spore distribution, and even mind control that these species are capable of, the realization that all organisms exist purely because they do took root. I’m sure it seems silly for me to be associating fungi with nihilistic epiphanies, but I believe that some subsets of fungi are in a unique position to spark this association — at least for me that is. These fungi are special in that there exists a stark dichotomy between their degree of sophistication and purpose, and their bland, ephemeral and inescapable lives.

E. coli is so simple that it seems to lack any clear purpose and fails to generate any form of empathy. Why should you have any feelings towards the existence of a couple of boring cells? A rabbit is complex enough that we assign it agency and awareness. As they possess cute whiskers and can do cool things like jump really far, we are lured into assuming their lives, like ours, are filled with some form of excitement and meaning. A fungus like the white rot fungi Phanerochaete chrysosporium is multicellular organism intricate enough to be more than just a ‘bag of chemicals’. It fulfills an incredibly important purpose in driving the entire carbon cycle by breaking down lignin in plant fibre; and yet once it finishes breaking down its food supply it has enough energy to eject a few spores and then… die… before the whole cycle repeats itself again. This creature is living, involuted, and important, performing a task the world’s entire climate and carbon cycle depends upon. But as its existence is neither attractive nor arresting, we find it boring and can’t be distracted into thinking it too has any greater purpose or transcendental significance. Only Evolution, the blind idiot god, could be capable of such handiwork.

A few more examples from the book before I further explain what I mean:

“A similarly complex symbiosis has evolved between Sirex woodwasps and the fungus Amylostereum areolatum. Female woodwasps drill holes in the sapwood of pine trees, lay one egg at the bottom of each hole, and add spores of the fungus on top. … when the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the fungal mycelium.”

“Orchid seeds are microscopic and do not contain sufficient nutrients to support germination and early seedling development. Nourishment for these critical stages in development is provided by fungi that grow as knots of convoluted hyphae inside the cells of the swelling embryo. These knots are digested by the orchid, furnishing the little plant with food until it turns green and can start supporting itself by photosynthesis. … Pale orchid species that do not produce chlorophyll exploit these networks by obtaining all of their food from the continuous digestion of the knots of fungal hyphae in their cells.”

This presentation of the workings of Evolution in the form of fungal slaves really hit home. The only rule of Evolution is that it reproduces what reproduces. With the Sun running in the background to power Operation Earth, we, the organisms of this experiment, continuously iterate on our ancestors, filling every possible replication niche that can be filled. There is no meaning or purpose, just existence.

Imagine a scenario in which nefarious aliens launched hundreds of shipments of a mysterious nutrient to earth. Upon contact with the nutrient, humans quickly find that it is indigestible. Little do they know that if it is digested, it will lead to the creation of mental suffering equivalent to 7 billion people on Earth being tortured to death. Evolution not only doesn’t know about the suffering, but doesn’t care. Given enough random iterations, it is probable that at least one organism will become able to digest the nutrient. And if the nutrient somehow increases that organism’s ability to reproduce, then the digestion of the nutrient will be selected for and take place, no matter the consequences.

This insight into the nature of Nature and reality is one that no religious person, who believes in a higher power, can ever have. And while this revelation is not directly applicable to any specific problem, I cannot help but feel that it is profound for one’s ability to see the world more clearly in its raw and blemished form. Yudkowsky, in this articulate piece, agrees.

If someone hears a noise in the background for long enough, their perception of it will fade though the actual noise remains. In the same vein, we are unable to see the invisible bars of Evolution that have determined our meaningless existence. Yet this blindness to the bars of Evolution have not stopped us from designing our entire culture and society around them. If you assume that death is inevitable and aren’t a transhumanist you too are guilty of this and may want to read: and ASAP.

The very fact that we have developed the ability to see a glimmer of the evolutionary bars locking us into our meaningless cycle – through our symbolic reasoning – is an incredibly rare, evolutionarily-freakish sequence of events that should have never happened. And perhaps it is thus no wonder that these realizations are completely taken for granted by almost everyone (link to Symbolic Species book review coming soon). We are the only species on Earth with the ability to see through meaninglessness and desire to craft meaning in it. This is the first and only time that a process has ever been created that has general optimization abilities (in that we can pick a target in state space and hit it with high accuracy) and cumulative optimization (due to writing and reading our knowledge accumulates) since the emergence of evolution itself, Yudkowsky again with a great piece on this.

We need to better acknowledge our innate lack of purpose and celebrate the incredible power we have evolved by a fluke of selection pressures, while not taking it for granted. If we don’t take the destiny of the human race into our own hands, Evolution will continue to have its way with us. And like fungi, we will continue to traipse through our incredibly meaningful lives, that really amount to nothing more than ejecting spores and dying.

Rationality: From AI to Zombies, Elizer Yudkowsky, (in particular book 3 which gives a brilliant coverage of evolutionary biology)
Fungi: A Very Short Introduction, Nicholas P. Money

2018 Predictions

Gwern, SSC, and others have been making predictions because its fun and in order to test their calibrations. I have decided for the first time to try and do the same.

Here it goes and post comments if you disagree with a particular bet or want to make a market out of it:

DeepMind will “beat” Dota or LoL


A germline edit therapy happens in the next year


The US stock market will fall by over 10%


The North Korean missile ‘crisis’ will continue not being a crisis


No major war between any developed nations will occur


There will be a terrorist attack killing over 200 people in a developed country


There will be a 9/12 killing over 5,000 people


Bitcoin will no longer be the largest cap crypto currency


Ethereum will pass $3k


ETH will become the largest cap crypto


There will be a killer application for blockchain used by over 30 million people


There will be a major cyberattack affecting public infrastructure in a country


Donald Trump will remain in office


Democrats will win the House in 2018 midterms


I will still be working on intelligence enhancement by the end of the year


I will be pursuing genetics as the most high potential enhancement mechanism


I will get at least 1000 views on a blog post


No significant new geopolitical action is taken to address global warming


Intelligence Enhancement is the Second Most Compelling Cause of Our Time

You would not be reading this if it were not for intelligence. The 600 million year journey from our amoebic ancestor’s first nervous system to space travel has been driven by the development and application of intelligence. Luck aside, every major success and failure that has ever occurred is a consequence of the presence or absence of intelligence. The future of humanities happiness and mere existence rests upon having the intelligence to solve problems from pandemics and supervolcanoes to cures for cancer and maybe even death itself.

It is for these reasons I strongly believe that the two most important causes of our time are solving artificial intelligence and maximizing human intelligence. By solving artificial intelligence I mean having the technological capabilities to create an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and, even more importantly, find watertight ways to actually control it. By maximizing human intelligence I mean finding ways to allow humans to cognitively achieve more. This includes raising IQ scores, as well as increasing memory, rationality, motivation levels, or anything else that allows humans to think and act in smarter ways.

In a rank ordering of these causes by importance, artificial intelligence must come first. This is because, if we successfully create a friendly AGI that we can control, it will be so much smarter than anything else in existence that it will be able to solve all other problems for us. This includes solving problems that are simply beyond our capacities, as well as problems that are so difficult and costly as to entail little expected return on investment – problems that are technically solvable but where incentives are misaligned. Basically, having a friendly AGI is the magic bullet for everything else. (I will cover the reasoning behind this in further detail in another post). In the meantime, read this for the most eloquent and lucid explanation of why. Read this for the interesting and wise reasoning of Nick Bostrom. Or read our homemade calculations (link coming) for why creating safe AGI is the most impactful cause to work on and donate to.

However, while solving AI is the most compelling end goal, the best means to this end may be through boosting human intelligence. A pretty compelling argument can be made that we will not be able to successfully create a friendly AGI that doesn’t kill everyone without more human intelligence and its beneficial knock-on effects. Increased human intelligence will both fend off other existential risks before we create AGI, and increase the potential that we actually create a safe AGI that doesn’t kill or enslave everyone.

One of the clearest examples of the potential for heightened human intelligence to thwart other existential risks is through increasing the wisdom of national and geopolitical decision making. Major political follies like the election of Trump and Brexit would fail to occur with a smarter general population. Even if these decisions were the right ones – which it seems to be increasingly apparent they are not – they were made for absolutely wrong reasons… Ignorance trumped intelligence. Enhancing the intelligence of a country’s population will increase stability, innovation, and economic growth. This directly and indirectly reduces the chance we all die before having the chance to create friendly AGI.

Concrete findings on the importance of intelligence towards the aforementioned metrics of a country’s success can be found by reading this, this, & this along with this example of the effects of raising IQ in the US outlined in The Bell Curve and later validated by other authors (heard through Gwern):

[If we boosted IQ in the US by a mean of 3 points back in 1994]: “For starters, the poverty rate falls by 25%. So does the proportion of males ever interviewed in jail. High school dropouts fall by 28%. Children living without their parents fall by 20%. Welfare recipiency, both temporary and chronic, falls by 18%. Children born out of wedlock drop by 15%. The incidence of low-weight births drops by 12%. Children in the bottom decile of home environments drop by 13%. Children who live in poverty for the first three years of their lives drop by 20%.”

Finally, as Nick Bostrom points out in his book Superintelligence, the way to successfully control the AGI is only through having more intelligent people working on it. Unlike with most other things where we can gradually improve with trial and error, we only get 1 shot at making AGI right. Only more lucid thought and wise solutions will be our salvation. The sole source of this is through greater quantity and quality of intelligence.

Beyond being a means to the end of AGI – which will then solve every form of human enhancement that we haven’t – increasing human intelligence is a worthwhile end in itself. This is because of the “IQ halo effect” whereby those who have a higher IQ also typically experience an increase in other positive outcomes, ranging from reduced likelihood of committing a crime to being healthier and living longer. I have included two descriptive tables below that show how IQ influences different life outcomes:

Anders Sandberg provides a descriptive table (expanded from Gottfredson 2003, itself adapted from Gottfredson 1997). (I found this through Gwern):

And this chart found on pg406, Strenze, Intelligence and Success, ch25 of Handbook of Intelligence Evolutionary Theory, Historical Perspective, and Current Concepts, ed Goldstein et al 2015. (Also found through Gwern if you haven’t realized it yet you should really start reading Gwern… Also sorry for how bad this table looks… This will be fixed soon.):

“Table 25.1 Relationship between intelligence and measures of success (Results from meta-analyses)”

“r correlation between intelligence and the measure of success, k number of studies included in the meta-analysis, N number of individuals included in the meta-analysis”

Measure of success


Academic performance in primary education


41791Poropat (2009)
Educational attainment


5984828Strenze (2007)
Job performance (supervisory rating)


42532124Hunter and Hunter (1984)
Occupational attainment


4572290Strenze (2007)
Job performance (work sample)


3616480Roth et al. (2005)
Skill acquisition in work training


176713Colquitt et al. (2000)
Degree attainment speed in graduate school


51700Kuncel et al. (2004)
Group leadership success (group productivity)


14Judge et al. (2004)
Promotions at work


921290Schmitt et al. (1984)
Interview success (interviewer rating of applicant)


4011317Berry et al. (2007)
Reading performance among problem children


8944Nelson et al. (2003)
Becoming a leader in group


65Judge et al. (2004)
Academic performance in secondary education


1712606Poropat (2009)
Academic performance in tertiary education


2617588Poropat (2009)


3158758Strenze (2007)
Having anorexia nervosa


16484Lopez et al. (2010)
Research productivity in graduate school


4314Kuncel et al. (2004)
Participation in group activities


36Mann (1959)
Group leadership success (group member rating)


64Judge et al. (2004)


447Kim (2005)
Popularity among group members


38Mann (1959)


192546DeNeve & Cooper (1998)
Procrastination (needless delay of action)


142151Steel (2007)
Changing jobs


76062Griffeth et al. (2000)
Physical attractiveness


313497Feingold (1992)
Recidivism (repeated criminal behavior)


3221369Gendreau et al. (1996)
Number of children


3Lynn (1996)
Traffic accident involvement


101020Arthur et al. (1991)
Conformity to persuasion


7Rhodes and Wood (1992)
Communication anxiety


82548Bourhis and Allen (1992)
Having schizophrenia


18Woodberry et al. (2008)

Do note that some of these sources are quite old and look into a particular correlation yourself if you plan to cite or use it. For example, more recent studies find a decent positive correlation between IQ and physical attractiveness, something which is here shown to have a correlation of -0.04. (For example this, aside from its bold title, the study does a good job describing the difficulties of measuring IQ to attractiveness correlations. This is due to it being well written, shitting on many other similar studies, and having very poor statistical significance itself).

Meanwhile, there are also some new correlations that have also been found. For example, Scott Alexander in this piece presents studies which show “a person with IQ 115 (85th percentile) is 20% more likely to survive to age 76 than an average person with IQ 100.” and moreover that this finding is not due to having more money or being in a better environment but instead that “95% of life span intelligence correlation is due to genetics“. Alexander also notes a positive correlation between height and IQ while providing numerous studies which show there is a correlation of around r = 0.23. I also easily found one for obesity, and it seems that both are almost entirely genetic in origin. A significant correlation also exists for one’s creative potential. As I go into detail later, this correlation is particularly important when it comes to why intelligence matters for creating a better future. This well written paper finds that having an IQ above 89 was a necessary threshold for the quantity of ideas one can generate, 104 for the quality of ones best ideas, and 119 for the average quality of ones ideas (this finding was not statistically significant like the former two but it almost was at p=0.14 and has consensus from other studies around it). Above these thresholds of intelligence, personality factors matter far more but when looking at creative achievement rather than merely potential we find that there is no threshold and that it instead the scale of ones creative accomplishments continues to increase linearly with IQ.

A bar graph showing chances of being obese at age 51 with significant linear drop offs with IQ.

Different scatter plots using segmented regression to find thresholds for IQ needed for certain metrics of creativity. Scatter plot a (top left) is the 89 IQ point threshold found for the number of ideas that one could come up with when asked a “divergent productivity” prompt such as “name all the things you can do with a hairdryer”. Plot B looked at the quality of those ideas generated taking the best two that each person came up with. Plot C looked at the average quality of all the ideas generated by each individual. Plot D looked at actual creative achievements by people such as creating art or writing a blog.

IQ to Creativity.png

Last, but certainly not least, IQ even correlates with sperm quality! This study finds a correlation of between 0.14 and 0.19 between difference “key indices of semen quality”.

I understand that the line of reasoning I have presented is very abstract and qualitative. It would be incredibly hard to add probability estimates for any one of these claims especially when even the best experts fail to predict something like when AGI might be created or the probability we succeed in designing it correctly. While I cannot provide numbers, I hope that one can agree with the chain of reasoning made and begin to consider just how impactful artificial intelligence and human intelligence are. Try to come up with any other cause areas that can be even nearly as compelling.

A classic response to my assertion that everyone reading this should consider working on AI and Human Intelligence is this: “If everyone started working on AI and Human Potential then who would be creating the next Game of Thrones for us to enjoy? MY LIFE DOES NOT HAVE MEANING WITHOUT GAME OF THRONES!!!”. This is fair enough rebuttal until one acknowledges that only a small number of people will ever read this article and that we are operating in the status quo of virtually nobody working in these spaces. How often does the general public have conversations about the implications of creating a super intelligence and how to control it? What about education policy and how to actually make people more intelligent? How many people think that if only we raised education spending and reduced classroom sizes in the US then our kids would get smarter? There are enough painters, singers, and film producers to already create anything your mind would or wouldn’t want to imagine. Artificial and Human Intelligence involvement is how you can make an impact where others haven’t.

Note also that both of these things have to do with increasing intelligence; just in very different ways. If it is not already clear from the reasoning I have provided why increasing intelligence is so compelling, it can be spelled out with the words innovation and multiplier effects.

For those who haven’t read Peter Thiel’s short book, Zero to One, I would recommend you get around to it. For those who have, I hope we can agree that its main thesis, that going from something not existing, to the very first version of it (literally from 0 to 1) is where the most value is. In other words innovation is incredibly valuable and is the best way to create new value for everyone to enjoy. It is innovation that leads to breakthroughs that fundamentally change the ways in which we live. Without getting too deep into this (read the book!) just think of the way economic growth driven by globalization and technology has reduced global absolute poverty from 42% in 1981 to below 10% now.

As for multiplier effects, boosting intelligence of any kind is the ultimate form of the multiplier effect. Similar to AI but in a less extreme way, making others smarter can allow them to achieve everything that you would have as an individual and more. For example, one of the driving forces behind me spending time writing this post rather than spending the time doing more research into human intelligence enhancement is because if I can get even one person to change what they are working on towards and focus with me on this space, then the return on my time will absolutely be more than worthwhile.

I hope I have not made it seem like boosting intelligence is an unquestionable good in every scenario. I have already tried to emphasize that in the case of Artificial Intelligence we must absolutely make sure that the AGI we create has the best interests of humanity at heart. I think there is much more of a debate to be had about the net benefits of making only a small subset of people ridiculously smart (I will be exploring this in a future post). However, there is much less viable contention around whether or not we should raise the mean intelligence of the human population. This is for the reasons previously given: more economic, political and social stability, increased innovation, support for the successful creation of a safe artificial intelligence, and more people suffering less in their everyday lives.

So, if I have convinced you that artificial and human intelligence are the two most exciting spaces to work in, you must consider which to be more involved with and in what way. Fortunately, these two causes also, broadly speaking, require different skill sets meaning no matter who you are, reader, there is a way for you to play a part in all of this.

(Below I go into ways that you can work directly in these most impactful and exciting of spaces. Bear in mind first and foremost your own skill set and motivations. There are other career tracks not mentioned where you can feasibly incorporate both AI and Human Potential in some way that will have an impact. For example, by having a deep understanding of both of these concepts and then going and being a politician. There are also many other domains where people can do huge amounts of good. However, in the long run all of these other problems can be subsumed by investing now in superior intelligence.)

So, which one should you work on? My best advice is to try both but ultimately it will come down to how well you intuitively understand math. (Here are two interesting pieces on how mathematical ability is reasonably inflexible (h/t Scott Alexander). You either have it or you don’t). If you understand numbers intuitively and enjoy working with them, then AI is the path for you. I tried this path and managed to take Intro to ML with Andrew Ng and play around on Kaggle for a bit before realizing that, while I could be a code monkey and run basic algorithms, I was never going to create new algorithms that changed the world. Here is a great track for how to get good at AI and Machine Learning (the hottest part of it currently) that a friend who is quickly rising the ranks at some of the world’s best AI research institutions has shared: (link coming).

If math is not your thing (join the club!) then maximizing human intelligence might be the track for you. Human intelligence is a very nebulous term and everybody’s definitions of what intelligence is varies. Taking my earlier definition of “finding ways to allow humans to cognitively achieve more” there are many different facets of this which include but are not limited to: IQ, memory, information processing, external systems (like the internet), personality types, and education.

So which of these mechanisms to boost human intelligence is the most promising? Well this is the very question that I will be setting out to answer over the course of writing on this blog. However, until I have more details to specifics to share I will provide a few hints and a framework:

I really like the framework that 80,000 hours uses to think about what opportunities are the most promising: 1. What is the scale of the problem (if it is solved what will the impact be)? 2. How many people are currently working on it (what is my marginal impact as an individual working in this space)? 3. What is the chance that it can actually be solved (how much like rocket science is it)? In addition to these and tied to point #2 is the question of what the current bottlenecks are in the field or a particular problem?

For example, when considering how to make people smarter, it is becoming ever more clear through both my research and personal experience that traditional education is neither the bottleneck nor the most promising to actually make a difference. Of the already very small subset of people who are interested in helping people become smarter (that is the point of education, isnt it??) over 99% of them will be working on some kind of fluffy education reform or new ed-tech product that is going to revolutionize the world. Meanwhile, thanks to this thing called the internet, access to educational material is at the fingertips of everyone if they have the motivation to pursue it. The real bottleneck is in how to actually raise human intelligence through looking at things like nutritional interventions, genetics and others.

Pareto Linked List

Here is a huge list of resources that are recommended for one to develop a deeper understanding of human intelligence research. Pieces on Neuroscience, Psychology, and Education can also be found because they provide useful context towards considering Intelligence and the endless war between Nurture and Nature. 

This list will continue to grow and change as I continue to read more interesting and worthwhile pieces. 

WARNING: you will be far more unpopular contrarian after reading this.

Before you read anything else:

You need to have a basic understanding of Standard Deviation, Variance, Correlation, Heritability, Shared Environment, and Non-Shared Environment to know what these papers actually mean.

Standard Deviation if you don’t know what it means: . If you have 25 coins with either +1 or -1 on their faces and you flip all of them. If the standard deviation is 5, then on average when you flip all of these coins you will get +5 or -5 as your score, not the average score which is 0.

Wikipedia gives a nice description of heritability:

This is a great overview of correlation, variance, and how they can be so misleading.

I have made a generalized visualization of r and r^2 values here: (link coming soon)

This site is also a fun way to make you familiar with r values and how insignificant small ones are: (see if you can beat my highscore of 51)

Great background of Human Intelligence Research: – 1996 APA Intelligence Review – written in response to the firestorm that The Bell Curve created. The APA got together and tried to compile everything they knew about intelligence at the time. Many of the findings are still relevant today. Reading it provides a great framework for future reading and a good bullshit detector. – The 2012 APA Intelligence Review – an extension and update to the original piece. More interesting information and summary statistics.

Human Intelligence in the real world (aka how much IQ matters): – looking at a unique population of geniuses that are all Ashkenazi Jews. – further exploring this relationship. – again exploring it even further looking at Laszlo Polgar and his daughters in particular. – review/summary of the fascinating book, Hive Mind which tries to explain the relationship between national IQ and GDP. & – Smart Fraction Theory. Is able to find a very powerful correlation between IQ and the GDP per capita of countries. Seems to quantify the effects explained in the he Hive Mind book review. – The Genetics of Success: How Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated With Educational Attainment Relate to Life-Course Development. A recent paper that shows the power of polygenic scoring for predicting life outcomes. This prediction power will only rise with time. – The Effects of Education, Personality and IQ on Earnings of High Ability Men. Uses Lewis Terman data to perform an economics oriented review of the internal rate of return of education. Also looks at the contribution of IQ and Big 5 personality traits towards educational attainment and future income. Personality seems to matter a lot and is something I want to research more, in particular how fluid it is.

Discussions of Intelligence Enhancement: – interesting list of ideas for all the possible ways in which we might boost human intelligence in the short or long term. Every single one of these deserves orders of magnitude more research and every day discussion than it current has. – Gwern gets hardcore into nootropics testing and assessment. Sample size of one but still very interesting to read about the range of possible nootropics we can consume and their different effects. – Dual n’ Back as a way to boost working memory (which correlates highly with g factor)? This piece is long and seems to be inconclusive. Still important to be aware of. – intelligence enhancement through efficient memorization devices. Meditation and spaced repetition are the two things that I know are good for me but I consistently fail to have the willpower to actually use… – gwern argues that MOOCs are inevitable but will in fact be a net negative because they place more weighting than that which already exists on conscientiousness rather than IQ. This will mean fewer creative, brilliant people get the credentials they need to have an impact. Instead those who are boring and can slog through work will be the scientists etc. I disagree with this conclusion but the analysis is fascinating. – article on the correlations between IQ and all other desirable social traits. Selecting for IQ genes is likely to not be a tradeoff, but then why are these genes not more common place?

Artificial Mechanisms (crazy but cool): – a very dense but fascinating analysis of the legitimacy behind embryonic selection to boost human IQ.

Natural Mechanisms (not so crazy but very promising and effective): – hugely compelling way to boost IQ. The most iodine deficient areas have a 13 point deficit. This can be corrected for through iodized table salt which costs $0.05 per person per year. A significant proportion of the world currently lacks iodine levels sufficient for the general population, a ridiculous proportion sufficient for pregnant mothers. This includes the US and a huge swathe of Europe. – great piece on every kind of nutrition that matters towards conceiving, growing, and caring for an embryo/fetus/baby.

The immutability and heritability of IQ: – very eye opening piece to the idea that we may in fact fail to significantly raise intelligence ever, or at least within our own lifetimes. This is all due to tradeoffs and evolution already picking all the low hanging fruit. Bad news for seemingly too good to be true interventions like nootropics, TMS and tDCS. – even worse news for nootropics. – article on scientific studies supporting the conclusion that shared environment is irrelevant for IQ, proving this by looking at abused children. – This paper did not teach me much that was new but served to really drive home the basic findings in a very compelling and empirical way. The amount of statistical backing behind these findings is very compelling. It was also interesting to read thoughts on why, during our time of replication crisis and false positives, these findings and the field as a whole is so reliable.

Assault on fluffy traditional education: – a summary of studies on the effectiveness of teachers. – a takedown of growth mind-set dogma. – contrarian and compelling thoughts about education, its purpose, and the potential for getting $8,000 per year, every year, sweat free, for the rest of your life instead of having public schooling.

Personality: – Really solid summary of the Big 5 as a whole, the heritability of personality traits, how they change over time and in different ways. – a great meta-analysis of personality findings. Interesting charts showing personality change over time.

Calling out bullshit psychology: – Scott tears down “voodoo” psychology which has publication bias and is just silly in hindsight. It is amazing how much general consensus there is around un-replicated or poorly proven findings. – the power and futility of psychology. This will make you think twice about every social justice claim you have ever heard.

Neuroscience: – fascinating theory of mind. Bayes theorem in our unconscious mind working from top to bottom and bottom to top. Explains a huge number of things which back up the chance this theory is getting some things right.

Misc. : – great guidelines for what we must do in order to have more valid scientific findings. Really raises the crisis with current scientific validity.