On Maximizing Intelligence

What is a classic? It is something that persists over time, like Plato’s Republic or Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. We can even say it is something that survives, while most materials are things that always get replaced by the latest current thing.

4chan is more than 20 years old and has always been in the top 1000 of the most visited sites on the planet. If you were on 4chan in January 2020, you would have been aware of the COVID pandemic before everyone else.

In its core specification, 4chan is an anonymous imageboard with a thread system working like any regular forum. Each time a thread receives one post, it moves to the top of the channel’s thread list. When a thread falls behind the #100 place, it disappears. At first sight, this very Darwinian mechanism looks similar to the Tweet Trends mechanism. But it is not. Tweet Trends encourage the concentration of discussions over a very short period of time, while the bumping mechanism (the act of pushing a thread forward by discussing it) encourages the persistence of a thread. It uses time as a way to discriminate shitposting from intelligence because there is no other way to discriminate intelligence, not even money, which can transform content into mere casino rides, as we have seen with NFTs.

Of course, the thread mechanism is imperfect: I believe that, in his original post on Hacker News, Satoshi Nakamoto only had 3 replies. But this system has a particularity: it can be translated into very simple computer code, creating a feedback loop maximizing the variable of intelligence, and thus can be decentralized.

And yes, I am still working on something.


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