One of my favorite hobbies is reading up on Cognitive Science. This is a very multidisciplinary field!
When I do basic programming, or much more often, when I review the programming of people I hire, then I get a better grip on artificial intelligence.
When I read about artificial general intelligence, it helps me better understand human intelligence, as well as that of other life on Earth.
When I travel and observe other cultures (I'm rarely interested in the tourist areas, more interested in people watching in the suburbs and way off the beaten track), socialize, and do business with a wide variety of people in different places, this helps me understand the differences between my own culture and others', as well as between people.
It is amazing to see apparent DNA-based personality dispositions in people in widely varying cultures, e.g., seeing somebody of Chinese descent who reminds me so much of a Jewish person I knew in America in their mannerisms and intellect, despite vastly different backgrounds and cultures. Also, the variety of innate personality types tend to have similar mixes in different cultures. It is apparent that the vast majority of genetic traits were with us going back tens of thousands of years. However, there are very significant, learned cultural traits, and one thing which fascinates me is why some people are more creative and original than others, which has a lot to do with cultural and parental upbringing.
However, one of the most interesting things is what "makes" original, creative thinkers and leaders in society.
The most interesting thing of all is how cognitive science can be applied to developing artificial general intelligence.
For young people growing up, I recommend they try computer programming at an early age.
Living in an eastern culture since 1994, and dealing with expats from any different parts of the world, has been a very educational experience in understanding human sociology and the differences between cultures and people.
Learning foreign languages (in addition to English: Spanish, Russian, and Thai) is a key to understanding other cultures and mindsets.
Dealing in a variety of business realms helps to understand the diversity of people. And guess what? Every culture has its objective scientists, its greedy business people, its creative artists, and so on -- just like my own. They may have much less "success" due to language barriers and to a considerable extent cultural thinking, but people are people.
I believe there are some genetic differences between races, but I also believe they are very minor, and culture is a far greater influence. All you have to do is look at people of a foreign race raised in a different culture. (Studies of identical twins separated at birth is similarly very interesting!)
Somebody in ancient times said "The proper study of man is man", and that resonates with me.
Somebody else said something like the greatest powers can always be subverted by one thing: Money. What a shame.
Money is the root of most evil -- environmental destruction, the military industrial complex, cheating of people, violent crime, and the list goes on and on.
All this comes together when considering the design of an ethical artificial intelligence, and opinions on "ethics". I do not like things defined by selfish "self interest" which are a reflection of all too human traits, but instead by the "greater good" and progress.
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