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On the Duality of Intelligence

5 minute read


“All models are wrong, but some are useful” goes the saying from George Box. I often find this saying best illustrated by the short story from Jorge Luis Borges. In the story, the ruler is eager to get a map of the empire. Upon his servants returning to him with a map, he states that it does not contain enough detail and wants it to be bigger. Upon increasing the level of detail - and therefore also the size of the map - they return to the ruler, who requests again more detail in the map. This continues for a couple of times until the map contains so much details that it becomes the size of the empire itself. “Have you used it much?” asks the emperor. “It has never been spread out, yet,” says the servant: “the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”