Nick Bostrom Welcome to Part 2 of the “Wait how is this possibly what I’m reading I don’t get why everyone isn’t talking about this” series.

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And like the chimp’s incapacity to ever absorb that skyscrapers can be built, we will never be able to even comprehend the things a machine on the dark green step can do, even if the machine tried to explain it to us—let alone do it ourselves. A machine on the second-to-highest step on that staircase would be to us as we are to ants—it could try for years to teach us the simplest inkling of what it knows and the endeavor would be hopeless.

But the kind of superintelligence we’re talking about today is something far beyond anything on this staircase.

In an intelligence explosion—where the smarter a machine gets, the quicker it’s able to increase its own intelligence, until it begins to upwards—a machine might take years to rise from the chimp step to the one above it, but perhaps only hours to jump up a step once it’s on the dark green step two above us, and by the time it’s ten steps above us, it might be jumping up in four-step leaps every second that goes by.

But it’s not just that a chimp can’t do what we do, it’s that his brain is unable to grasp that those worlds even That’s the result of a small difference in intelligence quality.

And in the scheme of the intelligence range we’re talking about today, or even the much smaller range among biological creatures, the chimp-to-human quality intelligence gap is .

In an earlier post, I depicted the range of biological cognitive capacity using a staircase:3 To absorb how big a deal a superintelligent machine would be, imagine one on the dark green step two steps above humans on that staircase.

This machine would be only superintelligent, but its increased cognitive ability over us would be as vast as the chimp-human gap we just described.

That sounds impressive, and ASI , which is something completely different.

What makes humans so much more intellectually capable than chimps isn’t a difference in thinking speed—it’s that human brains contain a number of sophisticated cognitive modules that enable things like complex linguistic representations or longterm planning or abstract reasoning, that chimps’ brains do not.