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Have there been any studies to determine whether human intelligence can outperform algorithms (i.e. test whether the No Free Lunch Theorem applies to human intelligence)?

Along the same lines, has anyone developed a technical method to take advantage of any unique, supra-computational properties of human intelligence?

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You'll want to check out The Journal of Problem Solving. It's not so much trying to determine if humans can outperform algorithms in general but rather trying to understand the human problem solving process from a multidisciplinary perspective.

For example, the first issue was focused on human performance on TSP.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, that is a good reference. This is the best answer, so far. $\endgroup$ – yters Nov 19 '10 at 22:54
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Check out Luis Von Ahn at CMU. He is the original Captcha guy. You will find enough videos like this google techtalk on the subject of Human Computation.

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  • $\begingroup$ Technically that doesn't count as supra-computational. The effectiveness of his methodology can be explained by a semantic environment that computers don't have easy access to (e.g. upbringing, culture, social interaction, etc.) $\endgroup$ – yters Nov 19 '10 at 22:52
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has anyone developed a technical method to take advantage of any unique, supra-computational properties of human intelligence?

A prerequisite for that would be that human intelligence actually has some supra-computational properties, no? Frankly, the more I view human behavior, the more we appear to me to be automatons. But perhaps the recent political climate has left me overly cynical. :)

Of course, human intelligence is better than the current algorithmic state of the art for many tasks. For a practical application of that, you could look at, say, Mechanical Turk.

On the theoretical side, there are people (including some who happen to be computer scientists) who have advanced philosophical arguments for human supra-computational abilities. You could look at, for example, the work of Selmer Bringsjord. You could also do a search on the term hypercomputation, but I suspect you will find that the parts which fall under the domain of TCS have nothing to do with people, and the parts that attempt to deal with human intelligence have little to do with TCS (or science in general).

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  • $\begingroup$ But are there empirical experiments to detect supra-computational abilities, in principle (i.e. universally better than anything algorithms can do in theory)? $\endgroup$ – yters Nov 19 '10 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if there were such a thing we'd all have heard about it, seeing as how that would be a paradigm-shifting, Nobel-prize-winning type of discovery. :) $\endgroup$ – Kurt Nov 20 '10 at 1:20
  • $\begingroup$ Sweet, I've run experiments showing at least I have a supra-computational mind. I wouldn't mind winning the Nobel-prize:) $\endgroup$ – yters Nov 21 '10 at 23:09
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Reinforcement learning (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinforcement_learning use) was inspired from the idea of how a human individual interact with the environment and learns from it.

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  • $\begingroup$ ...assuming humans actually learn that way, which we don't actually know. (We've heard this line before, you know.) $\endgroup$ – Jeffε Nov 19 '10 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ You assume human intelligence is computational, which begs the question. $\endgroup$ – yters Nov 19 '10 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ Reiforcement learning was inspired from human learning process. I should not have used the word "same approach" $\endgroup$ – Prabu Nov 20 '10 at 6:11

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