Saturday 8 September 2018

Born to do Math 87 - "We do not have a lot of respect for ants."

Born to do Math 87 - "We do not have a lot of respect for ants."
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
September 8, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If this science fiction future produces superbeings, how much will these entities care about us, relative to their capabilities?

Rick Rosner: The superbeings of the future may not even give 1% of a crap of the feelings of cows. There are a lot of ways this stuff could go.

Jacobsen: This could be something like the distance cognitively between ants and cows, which could be the distance between the superbeings of the future and us. Why would a cow even care about a whole colony of ants?

Rosner: Yes, it will be about the degree to which the Golden Rule is operative in the dominant technologies and societies of the future. The Golden Rule, we do not have a lot of respect for ants. We do not think about them much. 

Whatever their level of awareness, they do not seem able to be conscious of that much suffering. Although the colony as a whole may experience misery, that seems unlikely. I do not know if we will ever have a lot of respect for ants. 

I do not know what will be the manifestation of the Golden Rule in the future when you have these beings or melded consciousnesses that are 1,500 times more powerful than regular human conscious, according to some scale of consciousness in the future.

Jacobsen: It may be a cognitive horizon too. Someone much smarter than another is not extraordinarily smarter, if given that kind of 1,500-times-more-powerful scale.

Rosner: I do not even know how that scale would work. The IQ scale is a crappy scale. It is a thing in which somebody would have an IQ of 150,000, which is a senseless idea. Although, there is a science fiction book from the 50s called Brain Wave by Poul Anderson.

It is about the Earth passing out of a region of the galaxy that is effectively dampening the brain functions. All of the sudden. Everyone has 5 times the IQ they had before. Everyone has an IQ between 500 and 800/900. I liked it when I was a kid. It is probably unreadable now.

We do not know what form vast information processing will take and how much room it will have for us. 

Jacobsen: I want to take the idea of cognitive horizon seriously. If human beings can imagine some level of consciousness for ants but can only extrapolate similarly upwards in terms of what superbeings look like vis-a-vis science fiction, something super smarter than us may have a similar ability to have a wider range of consideration. 

So, it may have a more fine-tuned sense of an ant life and its worth. 

Rosner: Yes, they could be like hyper-decent, hyper-moral. Or it could be that it becomes so cheap to be moral that people go ahead and be moral because "Why not?" It becomes cheaper to make Fermat's Wager for everybody. 

Just give everybody an afterlife because, maybe, it is ethically good to do that if it only costs $1.50 per person.

Jacobsen: Even now, there is very sufficient evidence to say being moral is much cheaper than being immoral. Mark Twain had that quote about if you tell the truth then you do not have to remember anything.

Rosner: Yes.

Jacobsen: In a similar way, if you are moral, you do not have to look behind your back. You can continue on in life in the comfort that you did the best you could with the resources you had at the time. 

I think our reiteration with slight modification and expansion of the Golden Rule, especially with rich interconnected information-processing, is a re-envisioning in a greater robustness of it. It is a reaffirmation in modern terminology.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner
American Television Writer

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.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing

(Updated September 28, 2016)

He is a Moral Courage Webmaster and Outreach Specialist (Fall, 2016) at the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center), Interview Columnist for Conatus News, Writer and Executive Administrator for Trusted Clothes, Interview Columnist for Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), Chair of Social Media for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, Councillor for the Athabasca University Student Union, Member of the Learning Analytics Research Group, writer for The Voice MagazineYour Political Party of BCProBCMarijuana Party of CanadaFresh Start Recovery CentreHarvest House Ministries, and Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Editor and Proofreader for Alfred Yi Zhang Photography, Community Journalist/Blogger for Gordon Neighbourhood House, Member-at-Large, Member of the Outreach Committee, the Finance & Fundraising Committee, and the Special Projects & Political Advocacy Committee, and Writer for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Member of the Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab and IMAGe Psychology Lab, Collaborator with Dr. Farhad Dastur in creation of the CriticalThinkingWiki, Board Member, and Foundation Volunteer Committee Member for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and Independent Landscaper.

He was a Francisco Ayala Scholar at the UCI Ethics Center, Member of the Psychometric Society Graduate Student Committee, Special Advisor and Writer for ECOSOC at NWMUN, Writer for TransplantFirstAcademy and ProActive Path, Member of AT-CURA Psychology Lab, Contributor for a student policy review, Vice President of Outreach for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, worked with Manahel Thabet on numerous initiatives, Student Member of the Ad–Hoc Executive Compensation Review Committee for the Athabasca University Student Union, Volunteer and Writer for British Columbia Psychological Association, Community Member of the KPU Choir (even performed with them alongside the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Delegate at Harvard World MUN, NWMUN, UBC MUN, and Long Beach Intercollegiate MUN, and Writer and Member of the Communications Committee for The PIPE UP Network.


[1] Four format points for the session article:

  1. Bold text following “Scott Douglas Jacobsen:” or “Jacobsen:” is Scott Douglas Jacobsen & non-bold text following “Rick Rosner:” or “Rosner:” is Rick Rosner.
  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
  3. Footnotes & in-text citations in the interview & references after the interview.
  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.

For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from
  2. Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from

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