Sentinel intelligence, explained

Originally published at: Sentinel intelligence, explained | Boing Boing


It is by clicking alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the feed of media that thoughts acquire speed, the tendons acquire pains, the pains become a warning. It is by clicking alone I set my mind in motion


I hope I don’t have “sentinel intelligence” because what I see makes me pretty pessimistic about the way the world is going.


That’s the curse of the thing.


Can relate.


Well that’s just silly. Nostradamus had a terrible track record at making accurate predictions.


As it turns out, psychologists also have a name for this tendency to shrug off sentinels. It’s called reactance.

That’s not what I call it. But it might end in -ance.


It was huge. But now we’re down to a very acceptable 400 deaths/day from COVID-19, so it’s essentially nothing at all. /s

I keep trying to relate this to other phenomenon, like “it’s like a jumbo-jet full of people crashing every single day” or “that’s 3,000 times the rate of school shooting deaths,” but nothing really removes the triviality of stuffing the deaths of people into a stupid number.


If all we have to do to be Nostradamus is self-report, there is going to be a lot of competition


Not to be confused with The Sentinel.


If you have sentinel intelligence, then your brain can aggregate and sift through extraordinary amounts of information

  • This is “I AM SPECIAL” woo
  • This is Actual Brain Science

0 voters



wasn’t this the plot to gibson’s pattern recognition?

i think the term he used was ummm… pattern recognition. :cat:


“Sentinel Intelligence” sounds like a fancy way of saying “studied history and so knows how to recognize the same patterns that have arisen time and time again throughout human history.”


Or an unreflective, self-aggrandizing way of describing the selective filtering we do when we look back and focus on the handful of predictions we got right and if ire the countless ones we got wrong.


So what happens when we do start taking these so-called Cassandras seriously, thereby altering the future, making their predictions turn to crap? Is that why Nostradamus is always wrong?

Many people love being told what to do. They love to play a role. Rules to follow instead of taking on the responsibility of thinking critically. They love being told, “deny science,” cause it’s easier and more comfortable. But someone’s got to tell them that.


I’m not just desperately sold on this specific formulation; but the fact that there are disorders that include a pathologically extreme form does make me suspect that there’s at least something adjacent to it.

Just as facial recognition goes from full face blindness, through to more or less baseline performance; and finally out into pareidolia; I suspect that some of the delusions of reference and accounts of intricate wheels within wheels behind the scenes that can occur in schizophrenia and the like are more likely to be dangerously overexpressed variants of ordinarily quite useful pattern recognition and subtext detection; rather than some wholly distinct manifestation.

It also feels somewhat reminiscent of the stuff you can do in areas where you have sufficient subject matter knowledge and experience; and can often get results better than your level of effort deserved when spitballing a hypothesis to guide your troubleshooting(note, in this case, the fact that you don’t get such good results without that knowledge and experience suggests that much of your cognition is hidden from you; but still has to happen and must be supplied with appropriate inputs). I certainly don’t think of this one as a ‘superpower’, it only works in areas where I’ve been doing the stuff a long time; but for IT troubleshooting purposes (in a context where we don’t have the resources or expertise to root-cause stuff like software engineers) I downright depend on having decent snap judgements to begin my bug hunts with. Some of them turn out to be false on inspection and need to be discarded; but I’d be at a loss as to how to approach the problem without them.

That said, ‘please rank your ability to make predictions that ended up being vindicated by events’ is a situation practically engineered to appeal to confirmation bias; so I’d be very leery of just taking my own word for it.


Or The Sentinel

(Which led to greater things.)

Iceman’s little yellow boots always make me smile, because if your feet are made of ice then every surface would be slippery. That’s good thinking on Bobby’s part.


He took a duck in the face at 250 knots…

Unlike Cayce I have absolutely zero fashion sense. However, I do empathize with the character in that I also detest displaying logos. For decades I have trimmed off the tags and identifying crap that seem to adorn every bit of clothing sold. I buy plain shirts, plain hats, plain leather boots. I put my phones in plain cases to hide the manufacturer’s wormy logo. I peel the dealer’s logo off the back of my car as soon as I get it home, and discard their cheesy “I bought my car at Overpriced Dealers Inc” license plate rings. I use alcohol or acetone to remove the numerous “CPU inside” “WiFi inside” “GPU inside” stickers from my laptops. (I do draw the line at trying to remove the ubiquitous small embroidered logos, because that just leaves a shoddy looking array of holes behind.) I even admire the Mythbusters’ aesthetic where the producers stick bits of gaffer tape over the logos of any companies that didn’t tithe to the Discovery channel before production.

What’s weirder, though, is I don’t understand why I don’t like them. Some people are hugely proud of their Air Jordans, or wear giant logos emblazoned proudly across their chests as if Under Armour is sponsoring them to grow muscles. While they don’t make me ill like they do Cayce in the book, I just see them all as horribly garish, and ask myself “why aren’t you embarrassed to display that logo?”