Scientific Sense Podcast

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Redefining Intelligence

Intelligence, natural or artificial, has been a difficult concept to define and understand. Methods of measuring intelligence seem to favor the speed and efficiency in pattern finding. "IQ tests," certainly measure the ability to find patterns and artificial intelligence aficionados have spent three decades teaching computers to get better at the same. Standardized tests, following the same template, appear to measure the same attribute but couch the results in "aptitude," - perhaps to make it sound more plausible. And, across all dimensions of education and testing, this notion of intelligence and hence "aptitude," appears prevalent.

However, can the speed of pattern finding be used as the only metric for intelligence? Certainly in prototypical systems and societies, efficiency in finding food (energy) and fast replication are dominant. Pattern finding is likely the most important skill in this context. If so, then, one could argue that the status-quo definition of intelligence is a measurement of a characteristic that is most useful to maximize a simple objective function, governed largely by food and replicability. At the very least, a thought experiment may be in order to imagine intelligence in higher order societies.

If intelligence is redefined as the differential of the speed in pattern finding - an acceleration in pattern finding - then it can incorporate higher order learning. In societies where such a metric is dominant, the speed of finding patterns from historical data, albeit important, may not qualify as intelligence. One could easily see systems that have very slow speed of pattern finding at inception if energy is focused more at the differential, allowing such systems to exponentially gain knowledge at later stages. Sluggish and dumb, such participants would certainly be eradicated quickly in prototypical societies, before they can demonstrate the accelerating phase of knowledge creation.

Intelligence - ill defined and measured, may need to be rethought, if humans were to advance to a level 1 society. It seems unlikely.

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