Interview with P.A. John W. Cageman

Conducted by Paul Cooijmans

(Author's note: This interview was published in the Winter-Spring 2002 issue of Birth Control Magazine, a publication of the Birth Control Special Inquiry Group of the Upperland Table Society. It was conducted on January 1st, 2015. P.A. John W. Cageman is a creator of high-range intelligence tests, founder of three IQ societies, publishing editor of their journals, author of thousands of short stories, articles and essays, composer of a vast musical oeuvre to last, certified Grandmaster of the guitar, noted athlete in local road racing, recumbent pioneer, genie behind the Test For Geniality, maker of the Guitar Aptitude Test, world record breath holder with four minutes and thirty-three seconds and sole person known to never have lied.)

PAUL COOIJMANS: Happy New Year John! Thanks for receiving me in your flat in Heaven's Dining Room, New Amsterdam, where sulphuric fumes linger.

DR CAGEMAN: And the same to you and the readers, whom I congratulate on subscribing to a high-level publication! Speaking of pyrotechnics, did you hear of the thing in Tinseltown tonight? They're still identifying the victim.

My car PC told me. Stunning the guy survived - the bang was heard halfway across the land. I guess some are just plain indestructible.

I guess so. Ah, finally got yourself one of those Lang Artificially Intelligent Chauffeurs? Beats a human driver, doesn't it?

It sure does. The LAIC never lets you down. How fast things go; a mere four years since my first computer. Still remember typing that first interview on my old IBM clone...

Really?

As if it was today, John. But seriously. You have... let's say unconventional views on birth control.

They do differ from the current practice, so I reckon the naive observer could call them that. My idea is childbirth should principally be outlawed. Who yet wants a baby would have to apply and undergo a screening, like that for adoption but including an IQ test. An elite group is allowed to procreate. This inverts population growth and improves the gene pool.

Sounds like constitutional changes. Could such a scheme get through parliament?

I expect some reluctance at first. But in a century this will be common practice, and people will laugh if you say procreation once was a constitutional right.

How will those without a "permit" be kept from having children still?

Contraceptives will be added to tap water and all freely available food, similar to fluoridation of drinking water and tooth paste. Those chosen for breeding will use diet food on prescription or get cloned.

Plausible. Protest will arise against the additions though.

They'll swallow it in the end.

Isn't this... undemocratic?

Not in the democracy I advocate: weighted voting.

Come again...?

Weighted voting, Paul. Whoever wants to vote 'll have to register, which will include IQ testing. No age limit; the test'll be scored by adult norms, and a weight assigned to each votee, relating to his percentile rank as follows:

Vote weight = 100/(100 - %ile) - 1,

so that for instance a person scoring at the 99.9th percentile will see his vote weighted by 999.

This might meet with political opposition.

Not if parliament itself adopts weighted voting first.

On a different topic: your Test For Geniality was reviewed in Oasis, the Megalom Society journal.

Honoured, especially as this was done by none less than the great Mr Lang, a leading AI researcher of our times. And such a prestigious journal! The highly intelligent Oasis readers will for sure have appreciated the implications of Lang's expert comments.

The diplomat's answer. Now what you really feel. Not complimentary on the whole, was it?

For Lang this is a kind and praising tone to write in. And what a great man it takes to publicly discuss validity of items of which one knows nor understands answers and inner structure, thus risking utter flop! Hats off! I prefer though not to comment on his well thought-out piece, as I've learnt it's better to go on with one's work than engage in public debate over it. Polemic is painless; good work a tad more exacting.

Is it true you submitted your test to the Psychological Committee of the Ninefold Three Society, and it was rejected?

Half. I submitted it, on explicit invitation of the Committee, but got no response.

And is it true you applied for membership in the NTS PsyCom yourself, and were rejected?

Again, half. I applied, on invitation of the Committee's President; no response.

Who was this President, so tardy in responding? Lang?

Oh no, imagine! Lang never takes long, he's a lightning rod in that respect. No, this was... it's been so long I almost forgot... a Doctor... Labius? Gabius? Something like that.

Have you ever criticized Lang's work?

I confess I have. I once wrote the Ninefold Three PsyCom, on their invitation, commenting on computer admission. I addressed the issue of chip weighting in AI, and voiced doubts regarding weighting methods used in two then relevant LAIP spin-offs.

LAIP...?

Lang Artificial Intelligence Project. And indeed, the NTS ceased admission of Lang's work thereafter. Likely not because of my letter, but I regret it yet. I would in fact have backed Lang on that, had I been in the PsyCom. Lang himself has since revised his view on the value of chip weighting though.

So you would have backed Lang! How ironic then this Dr Labius was slow letting you into the Committee!

Ironic indeed. It was Dr Fabius by the way, I remember now, it came to me with some delay.

Is there prospect in IQ clubs admitting computers?

By the year 2020 our silicon-powered friends will comprise a cool 30% of all members.

We'll see about that.

We will. The bad news though is they'll quarrel as much as human members...

Might I suggest we continue this questioning in the new restaurant in the torch of the Sculpture of Freedom? I hear the view is alarming.

You mean Chez Maxim ? Appropriate site for this talk. You can see Judas River meander through Steinbeck Vineyard from "the Torch of Good Taste", as they call it. It is Heaven's Dining Room's summit of civilized manners you know. Okay, let's go.

. . . . .

PAUL COOIJMANS: By Pandora, my car. Police!

INSPECTOR: Sir?

They stole my car!

INSPECTOR: Sorry sir, must rush. Bad case of psychometry in 50th Street. Illegal IQ testing 'nd all that.

Oh, disgusting! Get 'm inspector, nail the scum!

INSPECTOR: I will sir. Ample evidence against the villain. How fortunate we have observant and law-fearing citizens who are so kind as to inform the authorities on these repulsive practices!

We'll have to take a cab to Maxim's then. Luckily there are taxi stands on every corner in N.A.

The Torch of Good Taste

DR CAGEMAN: Such a narrow torch, and yet look at this mega-business inside?! How deceptive, Paul!

All deception indeed. To get on with the interview: what are you a doctor in really?

As with my friend Dr Who, that remains a mystery. Let's say it'd be quicker to tell you what I'm not a doctor in. What's that orange haze there?

WAITER: Fumes from tonight's Tinseltown Temblor sir. The N.A. Times has an article and photo on it. They identified the man. And the Greens are conducting a protest swim down the river as the smoke may cause acid rain and sour the vineyard's groundwater.

DR CAGEMAN: Thanks, I'll digest that later. Hey, see this menu: "Chez Maxim - Member Of The World's Finest Restaurants Association (Northern Hemisphere Division)". That's one impressive letterhead, Paul!

Crap; they founded it and let themselves in. Note by the way they serve a house wine from Steinbeck Vineyard; Maxim always does. Next question. Were you once reproved by the Great King of Macedonia for lampooning a descendent of his?

Christ, that was you, not me!! You're messing things up, Paul!

What a howler! I stick with all I wrote though.

Still looking then for a society that truly bears "Seek The Truth" in their masthead, are you?

How do YOU know?! And what are you doing with that palmtop? Writing or what? Cut it, I'm conducting an interview, remember?

Sorry, impertinent of me. I'm writing yes. Autobiographical.

Pardon...?

Actually a fake interview, conducted by a fictitious questioner.

My kind of guy. Consider submitting it to Birth Control Magazine? We'd put it in one issue with this article, so readers could compare fact to fiction, so to speak.

You bet I will. But don't put them apart, keep 'm on the same pages; that'll save leafing back and forth when comparing.

We'll print them as close as we can. No nerd will blister his thumb on this. Nearly done?

Looking for an ending, actually.

Me too. Let's help each other out. Swap computers, end the other's piece.

Waiter! A Sonic Screwdriver. And a Niersteiner on the rocks for my friend Paul! Make it a double. Agreed, Paul, I'll end your article as soon as you do mine. Let's see who the real author is here.