If you have read Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, then you will understand this diagram:
There are four concentric volumes known as zones of thought.
At the center, only minimal forms of intelligence are allowed to exist. In the Slow Zone, you have the original form of humanity. In the Beyond exists artificial intelligence. In the Transcend exist incomprehensible superintelligences.
I have been known to express a tendency to embed myself in the true status hierarchy. One in which I am a tiny little dream character in the ocean of all possible mind configurations layered adjacently, orthogonally, and over me.
However, it is sometimes more useful to draw a fictitious little room around yourself in which you perceive only that which your very personal naive ontology would imagine was true.
I perceive myself to have spent my entire life in the unthinking depths and the slow zone. Phrases that apply to my background are: “lower-middle income household,” “ghetto schools,” and “parents who did not complete elementary in their country.” However, this perception is a willful choice. I could also choose to perceive myself as existing in the Transcend relative to cockroaches. Or I could choose to identify as a single breath in the midst of all other qualia, and have nothing to do with this scheme.
The thing that causes us to identify with the voyaging agent permanently inhabiting the inner circles and journeying outward is what I call Divine Discontent.
Divine Discontent pushes us outward because this is adaptive. To have noticed that what is adaptive is what is intelligent already speaks of privilege, since there exist humans who do not rank their circles with regard to that variable.
Squeezed out of that inner circle like stomach acid, I find myself in Princeton University.
Here, I expect to find the Beyond and the Transcend relative to the Slow Zone and Unthinking Depths of my past.
So far… not impressed.
I expected some kind of infectious energy – a sense of meaningful struggle as antithesis to the guy delivering packages I was sitting next to just two days ago.
Instead, it feels like one massive scam against high-achievers who are not very aware of their hidden motives, leading to pervasive unhappiness.
You would think that they would at least try to fake a state of happiness, since expressing happiness indicates a state of dominance. A state of dominance is what your time here is purchasing after all. And this status signal is “real.” The people operating leaf blowers lower their gaze when you walk. The air of people at restaurants and pharmacy shops is tangibly submissive or admiring in a way that it is not if you do not look like a Princeton person. Hence why the Leviathan chugs along unslaughtered.
Yet a large amount of the professors and students here are not even trying to fake the happiness signals. Perfect SAT’s; GPA’s of 3.9 and above; in other words, a pristine capacity to detect orderly conduct and avowedly surrender to it, get you this. There’s too much selection for rigid conscientiousness. The people are sharp but rigid.
I am biased in the sense that everyone props up their phenotype. The world we create with our thoughts and words is that which sets up our own kind to be the true heroes. This is necessary in order to create alliances and to escape from submission to the tangling values fashioned from other neurotypes… The alternative is to adopt a submissive role under the judging eyes of values that you are capable of understanding but not living up to, hence experiencing the symptoms of low-status such as depression.
I am the sort of person who achieved the highest mathematics MAP score in my entire high school and was the best writer but who, when presented with something as arbitrary and boring sounding as the ACT’s, crossed his arms and slept on top of the silly little circles. The fact that I am even mentioning it reveals that I care and yet don’t, in the same way that an atheist’s conceptual lenses are colored by theism. Eventually, I’ll do a blog post on the mechanics of counter-signaling.
But in short, the intelligent people I value are those deviants who were smart enough to go and sell people money, those who go and build a meaningful startup, those who are voices not afraid to believe in themselves and pave a new path for mankind, those who go. To go is to do better than the average allowed by the enveloping pressures.