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Thread: Write Smart: How can I portray a character with superhuman intelligence?

  1. #31
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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post

    And find a list of things that no super-villain (or hero) would ever do. Those can be helpful as well as funny.
    Dark Overlord lists? I can do that all day!
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    In a sense, yes, but it was completely planned out by her. She identified how to stabilize the Ringworld, which would bring about the deaths of billions, by taking herself out of the equation (because she would actively stop it) and getting someone else to do the work for her. So she did let 5% die by indirect action. I know, it's arguable and tricky.
    Always assuming that she told Louis the truth about why she wanted to die. Protectors lie and manipulate, plans within plans, 4 dimensional speed chess.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  4. #34
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    Some random thoughts:

    Someone can be intelligent, but lack knowledge. In the real world, it isn't unusual for arguably very intelligent people with extreme expertise in certain fields to say complete nonsense when they venture out of their field . . . and then go on to argue with actual experts in those fields.

    So this might be a limitation you might want to consider for an intelligent character - smart, but not omniscient.

    One of the bad writing issues I see too often (especially in movies or TV) is the smart scientist that figures out the real problem that has baffled world experts. Then it turns out the "smart scientist" comes up with something that makes no sense. If you have a smart character come up with something extraordinary, please make sure it is plausible. Check with a subject matter expert if it gets into (for instance) some area of science you aren't too sure about.

    Mostly, I think super-intelligent characters are best when you don't see too much of them. Have them come into the story here and there where it is important, but keep it limited. Even if written well, they can become annoying characters to read/watch. (Especially know-it-all characters.) They sometimes can make good villains, though - how do you defeat a super-smart/super-competent character?

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    Omniscient or close to it, sounds more like the kind of super-minds I'm attempting to portray. A super-being would probably be smart enough to not show off its knowledge all the time even when inappropriate. (I think the term for it is social intelligence-- IE keeping your mouth shut.)
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Omniscient or close to it, sounds more like the kind of super-minds I'm attempting to portray. A super-being would probably be smart enough to not show off its knowledge all the time even when inappropriate. (I think the term for it is social intelligence-- IE keeping your mouth shut.)
    Of course in SF, there are non-human characters too. It simplifies things if a super-smart alien or AI does something inexplicable or weird, I can always attribute it to their alternative point of view or alien logic and goals. But a post-human superman has reader expectations of retaining at least some human-like qualities, unless altered radically in ways other than brainpower.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Of course in SF, there are non-human characters too. It simplifies things if a super-smart alien or AI does something inexplicable or weird, I can always attribute it to their alternative point of view or alien logic and goals. But a post-human superman has reader expectations of retaining at least some human-like qualities, unless altered radically in ways other than brainpower.
    Logic is logic everywhere, but things that are valued and goals to be pursued, those are always different. The difference in value systems between ourselves and aliens will appear inexplicable until it is understood. It is very possible that just as humans are divided among nations, religions, and a million other things, aliens will also be so divided. The alien colony we discover might be regarded by the rest of the aliens as heretical.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Logic is logic everywhere,
    Even among humans, this doesn't seem true. Reasoning in the western tradition is largely culturally derived IMO.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Even among humans, this doesn't seem true. Reasoning in the western tradition is largely culturally derived IMO.
    Give examples of non-Western logic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Give examples of non-Western logic.
    The Nyaya traditions of India, Buddhist epistemology, Jainist seven values, Hetucakra, Islamic traditions, Chinese School of Names, etc etc.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    I goofed up my question. Give examples of everyday living that exemplify non-Western logic. I was trying to go for specifics. I think that though core values vary, logic still holds true, like any mathematics. The real issue is not the logic, but the values.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    I goofed up my question. Give examples of everyday living that exemplify non-Western logic. I was trying to go for specifics. I think that though core values vary, logic still holds true, like any mathematics. The real issue is not the logic, but the values.
    I am not familiar with nonwestern cultures or daily life, so I cannot. Ask some of the nonwestern posters I suppose?

    Western logic is largely derived via ancient Greek debating practice. It all shares common roots and all its varieties-- Hegelian synthesis, etc -- are related to that.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Dark Overlord lists? I can do that all day!
    A disturbing thought. Greater intelligence came with predation. It doesn't take that much brains to chew the cud, after all.

    Therefore, one hallmark of superintelligence is cruelty.

    Or at least an acid wit.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    It is very possible that just as humans are divided among nations, religions, and a million other things, aliens will also be so divided. The alien colony we discover might be regarded by the rest of the aliens as heretical.
    Oh, for sure. Even a hive mind species will no doubt have more than one hive. For individuals? Fuggetaboutit!
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    The difference in value systems between ourselves and aliens will appear inexplicable until it is understood.
    If possible. We'll probably find patterns of behavior if we observe them in detail for a while. If we can learn to communicate well enough (a big if), we might even be able to ask them to explain their motives.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    A disturbing thought. Greater intelligence came with predation. It doesn't take that much brains to chew the cud, after all.

    That's an outdated hypothesis (and a scene from 2001).

    In reality, most higher apes, and plenty of other smart animals, are largely herbivorous. And humans have always hunted.

    Therefore, one hallmark of superintelligence is cruelty.
    Predators are not necessarily cruel within their own species, though. And most dispatch their prey efficiently, without wantonly inflicting pain. (Except cats)
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  17. #47
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    To write a story with a super-intelligent character, you need to write your story first, then assume that the superhuman character has already modelled all the possible outcomes and anticipated what would happen. In order to do that, the superhuman character will also have modelled a very large number of alternate scenarios, which you need to plot out as well (some of them maybe in detail), so that they could allow for the consequences of the unpredictability of human behaviour.

    Ultimately, this superintelligent character could be defeated by a random event- or even by a character who is effectively unpredictable and random in nature. Isaac Asimov used a similar motif in the Foundation trilogy- the predictive power of Seldon's psychohistory was almost defeated by the randomising Mule character. Of course psychohistory only predicted broad trends, and a single future, while a superintelligent character would produce multiple models, and probably also calculate new models on the fly. To defeat such an entity you'd need to be very unpredictable, or very lucky, or maybe have the backing of another (even more smart?) character.

    See Crazy-Prepared
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.p.../CrazyPrepared
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.p.../XanatosGambit
    Last edited by eburacum45; 2019-May-26 at 10:36 AM.

  18. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    To write a story with a super-intelligent character, you need to write your story first, then assume that the superhuman character has already modelled all the possible outcomes and anticipated what would happen. In order to do that, the superhuman character will also have modelled a very large number of alternate scenarios, which you need to plot out as well (some of them maybe in detail), so that they could allow for the consequences of the unpredictability of human behaviour.

    Ultimately, this superintelligent character could be defeated by a random event- or even by a character who is effectively unpredictable and random in nature. Isaac Asimov used a similar motif in the Foundation trilogy- the predictive power of Seldon's psychohistory was almost defeated by the randomising Mule character. Of course psychohistory only predicted broad trends, and a single future, while a superintelligent character would produce multiple models, and probably also calculate new models on the fly. To defeat such an entity you'd need to be very unpredictable, or very lucky, or maybe have the backing of another (even more smart?) character.

    See Crazy-Prepared
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.p.../CrazyPrepared
    Also Xanatos Speed Chess.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  19. #49
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    I'm struggling with characters who have unusual perceptions in unusual situations. One character is using a giant laser to shoot at people, the laser's power supply is 25 meters behind her and the gun itself make no noise. So from her perspective: she pulls the trigger, the target is hit, then she hears the power supply make a noise.

    Another character is a robot. He is fighting a space battle. As the ship maneuvers away from missiles, he feels his body distort so much from gee forces that capacitors fire to keep his optics circuits alive. But he is still watching a battle playing out at speeds much lower than c, while receiving only snap shots of information, which may be confusing. The robot is actually super intelligent, but the forces of dogfighting limits his information processing.
    Solfe

  20. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    The robot is actually super intelligent, but the forces of dogfighting limits his information processing.
    Just keep in mind that even with "his" capacity limited to human level, he still won't think anything like a human.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Just keep in mind that even with "his" capacity limited to human level, he still won't think anything like a human.
    I hope I am conveying his level of alienness. He is designed to work with a ship AI and convey that information the human crew. He has a network that monitors the AI's processes, but since this is a quantum system, he isn't able to exactly see what is happening as the ship AI cranks numbers. He can guess from what data is available, but it's a weird process.

    What interesting about the robot is, he is a low functioning AI himself, but believes odd things because a ton of his data is either not relevant or not entirely complete for almost every situation. Other times he is spending a lot energy hiding info from the crew, a zillion shipboard processes aren't really helpful information to the crew. Sometimes he gets annoyed with the ship AI because it will happily share information which is important, but not important now.

    Strangely, he has no doubt about his own status as a living being, but is concerned that humans spend so much time in hibernation that most of the time, they aren't alive at all. That makes the ship AI his closest "friend" even though the robot isn't sure if it's a machine or not.
    Last edited by Solfe; 2019-May-26 at 05:52 PM.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I hope I am conveying his level of alienness. He is designed to work with a ship AI and convey that information the human crew. He has a network that monitors the AI's processes, but since this is a quantum system, he isn't able to exactly see what is happening as the ship AI cranks numbers. He can guess from what data is available, but it's a weird process.

    What interesting about the robot is, he is a low functioning AI himself, but believes odd things because a ton of his data is either not relevant or not entirely complete for almost every situation. Other time times he is spending a lot energy hiding info from the crew, a zillion shipboard processes aren't really helpful information to the crew. Sometimes he gets annoyed with the ship AI because it will happily share information which is important, but not important now.

    Strangely, he has no doubt about his own status as a living being, but is concerned that humans spend so much time in hibernation that most of the time, they aren't alive at all. That makes the ship AI his closest "friend" even though the robot isn't sure if it's a machine or not.
    Sounds like a self-aware Watson. I recall how the supercomputer won at Jeopardy despite occasionally coming up with non-sequitur answers or betting odd amounts. I often wondered what kind of reasoning led to those decisions.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Just absent minded....

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