[egg eating bias] The already promoted show some favoritism toward candidates for promotion with similar beliefs, just as beetles are more prone to eat the eggs of other species
In the 1950s and 1960s, entomologists at the University of Chicago conducted experiments with flour beetles. They placed populations of two different species of beetle into jars of flour, with no effective constraint on either food or space. It was expected that the more biologically “fit” species would dominate; but that is not what happened. Instead, in short order, in each of many independent experiments, one, or the other, type of beetle vanished. On close inspection, the reason was determined: it was found that beetles not only eat their own species’ eggs, they are also yet more prone to eat the eggs of other species. As a result of this bias, as one species increases relative to the other, it is more likely to increase yet further.
Our first application is to the evolution of beliefs at the time of a “scientific revolution.” Such a revolution occurs, according to Kuhn, after the appearance of a new, superior paradigm. He says that such paradigms tend to appear after accumulations of anomalous questions regarding an old paradigm commonly held by the scientists in some area. We view one species of scientist as those who adhere to the new paradigm; and another species of scientist as those who adhere to the old paradigm. The promotion-chain model describes the population dynamics of those adhering respectively to the new, or to the old, paradigm. Similar to the beetles, for whom an egg may turn into an adult, the dynamics of the population of scientists depends critically on whether advisees trained by established scientists become established scientists themselves. And, similar to the beetles’ bias toward eating the eggs of the other species, scientists have biases in favor of those of their own paradigm, and against those of the alter native paradigm. In our model, these preferences manifest themselves in scientists’ decisions regarding the grant of tenure.
Our model of population dynamics characterizes the situations under which a new paradigm will replace an old one. With the beetles, the more biologically fit species does not always prevail. Similarly, in science, because of the ingroup favoritism/outgroup bias, the new, “truer,” scientifically-more-“fit” paradigm does not necessarily prevail. Convergence among scientists in belief toward the new paradigm—or toward the old paradigm—depends critically on the difference between the probability of denying tenure to an old-paradigm candidate and the probability of denying tenure to a new-paradigm candidate
Our first application pictures only one promotion: from advisee to tenured scientist. The paper also has a second application. It considers promotions up an organizational ladder, with promotions to a higher rung drawn from those in the rung just below, and also with the candidates judged by those already in the next-higher rung. Egg-eating bias can result, as the number of rungs in the ladder becomes large, in the capture of the top levels by those with inferior beliefs.
In our model of science, tenured scientists tend to favor the untenured scientists who adhere to their view of the world; they also tend to discriminate against those who support another view. This type of bias, similar to the bias of beetles eating each other’s eggs, has been extensively documented by sociologists—who call it “homophily”—and by social psychologists—who call it “intergroup bias.” […]
Homophilic bias is widespread in hierarchical organizations, as we assume in our model of organizations. In an ethnographic study of a large US corporation, Kanter has found that “managers tend to carefully guard power and privilege for those who fit in, for those they see as ‘their kind’ ”; “excellence … was not always the selection criterion” but “predictability and trustworthiness by virtue of membership in the right group …. were likely to be the factors in the choice of the key managers”; “managers reproduce themselves in kind” . There is also homophilic bias in recruiting, along several dimensions: productivity, culture, and ethnicity.
Focus is saying no to 1,000 good ideas.
We are still the masters of our fate. Rational thinking, even assisted by any conceivable electronic computors, cannot predict the future. All it can do is to map out the probability space as it appears at the present and which will be different tomorrow when one of the infinity of possible states will have materialized. Technological and social inventions are broadening this probability space all the time; it is now incomparably larger than it was before the industrial revolution—for good or for evil.
The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.
It was man’s ability to invent which has made human society what it is. The mental processes of inventions are still mysterious. They are rational but not logical, that is to say, not deductive.
Every time I read a management or self-help book, I find myself saying, “That’s fine, but that wasn’t really the hard thing about the situation.” The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed. The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.
Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion’, and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.