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The Wiley Handbook of Genius by Dean Keith Simonton

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9 Virtual Genius

David Cope

Introduction

Like the definitions of many words that deal with human capacities (creativity, love, emotion, expression), the definition of the word “genius” presents a thorny problem for those who, like me, attempt to replicate it using technology. Computers, for example, require explicit criteria and clear standards on which to gauge success or failure. General understanding or vague approximations will not do. Failing a precise computational definition, “virtual genius” can no more be accomplished on a machine than “genius” itself. In this chapter, then, I attempt – using chess, mathematics, music, and other examples – to create a plausible definition of the word “genius,” and then determine whether a virtual form of it can be realized in a computer.

Background

Before beginning this presentation on the potential for computer – virtual – genius, I feel it only fair to provide you with a slightly revised version of my first reaction to being asked to participate in this venture.

Thank you for your invitation. I think that anything I could submit on the subject would not be in the book's best interests. Here's why. Sometime in my late teens, I took an IQ test and was given a very high score. They told me I was a genius. A year or so later I took something akin to an SAT and received a 99+ percent out of a hundred on the quantitative section, and a less than 50 percent on the verbal section. This taught me that IQ tests are biased toward certain ...

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