What is intelligence

  • Thread starter binbots
  • Start date
  • #1
binbots
170
3
When I was young I was told humans were intelligent. As I grew up i heard hwo other animals are intelligent (dolpins, elephants). But how do we define this word? Are single cell organisms intelligent? Are we to beelive there is some sort of line when things are not intelligent?
By this reason how can we not say DNA is not intelligent. We say that it is not because it is based on trial and error and randomness. But is this not the same thing we humans do when we creat things. When we try to fly we used this same technique of trial and error. Are we just not a reflection of our intelligent DNA. If anything would we not consider DNA more intelligent becuase it created us after all. How can something non intelligent create something that is intelligent?
Thoughts? Comments? Opinions?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
davee123
668
4
One might posit that intelligence is attributed to living entities which alter their behavior through experience so as to enhance their own existence. There are probably some nuances in there, but that might work for starters.

Hence, DNA might be intelligent, but we would have to capable of observing its behavior, as well as its perceived "healthy" or "happy" state in order to determine whether such intelligence could be attributed to it. Until such time, one has a tendency to treat such entities as unintelligent and more mechanical in nature; although at a basic level, it is likely that intelligence can be described in this way as well.

DaveE
 
  • #3
JerryClower
68
0
Intelligence (in my opinion) is the ability to make good decisions based upon what you already know. It is much more different than knowledge.
 
  • #4
binbots
170
3
YES. Just like DNA will not create dinosours again. DNA learns from its mistakes aswell. So say Dinos did die by an astroud, maybe DNA realises that it needed to create something that could defend against this. It then created us with the ability to build machines to stop this from happening again. This may sound like science fiction but if evolution is scientific then I see no reason for this not to be true. Like our DNA we strive to survive.
 
  • #5
Evo
Mentor
23,554
3,248
YES. Just like DNA will not create dinosours again. DNA learns from its mistakes aswell. So say Dinos did die by an astroud, maybe DNA realises that it needed to create something that could defend against this. It then created us with the ability to build machines to stop this from happening again. This may sound like science fiction but if evolution is scientific then I see no reason for this not to be true. Like our DNA we strive to survive.
Sorry, but a sudden catastrophic event doesn't effect normal evolution.
 
  • #6
disregardthat
Science Advisor
1,866
34
Sorry, but a sudden catastrophic event doesn't effect normal evolution.

Obviously it does in gigantic proportions, but certainly not in the way binbots intended.
 
  • #7
Evo
Mentor
23,554
3,248
Obviously it does in gigantic proportions, but certainly not in the way binbots intended.
Exactly.
 
  • #8
binbots
170
3
Yes, I am sure I got ahead of myself there. But evolution always has a purpose. So there must be a reason for our intelligence no?
 
  • #9
disregardthat
Science Advisor
1,866
34
Yes, I am sure I got ahead of myself there. But evolution always has a purpose. So there must be a reason for our intelligence no?

There are no logical reasons evolutionary speaking for DNA to adapt to the situation you describe. DNA isn't consciously adapting, it is forced in general directions - which is a slow process.
 
  • #10
apeiron
Gold Member
2,131
2
Yes, I am sure I got ahead of myself there. But evolution always has a purpose. So there must be a reason for our intelligence no?

If you want a serious comment from the perspective of theoretical biology, then intelligence is best defined in terms of anticipation (models of prediction and control). And purpose is best thought of as "serving the second law of thermodynamics".

Both these are operational definitions that allow the prospect of models and measurements.

So what can we say of DNA? I think it is quite defensible to talk about the genome of a species as "an intelligence". It is a memory of what has worked in the past (and so a prediction about what will work now) coupled with a capacity also to learn (via trial and error). So it fits the definition of a complex adaptive system. Or an anticipatory system.

In a very general way (and generalisation is good in metaphysics), a genome can be said to have a state of mind. It encodes an awareness of the world. And so there is an intelligence at work.

What about purpose?

You could talk about local purposes of an organism or even species, such as the urge to survive and even increase in number. But it seems rather a stretch to see those sort of purposes as being encoded in DNA.

Anticipatory systems theory would say the prime purposes of a living system are metabolism and replication (Rosen's M-R relational biology). And we can see this level of purpose in the form of DNA. And it is not the same thing as thinking about life as a competition with "winners". DNA would not seem to care about its level of sophistication - whether dinosaurs, cockroaches or humans are its current expression.

Then to explore the idea of purpose, you would want to step right back to the system of which DNA itself is just a local expression.

This is where you would want to consider dissipative structure theory, or maximum entropy production approaches to the second law.

The point is that there are ways to pose the kinds of thoughts you raise in a scientific context.
 
  • #11
JoeDawg
1,459
0
DNA learns from its mistakes aswell.

There is no scientific basis for this. DNA either survives or not, it doesn't learn.
 
  • #12
JoeDawg
1,459
0
But evolution always has a purpose.

No it does not. Evolution simply describes adaptation based on selective pressure. There is no intelligence in evolution, it follows the path of least resistance.
 
  • #13
binbots
170
3
How is creating creatures that have eyes and ears, and that can fly be evolution just taking the path of least resistence?
 
  • #14
binbots
170
3
Can you prove to me scientifically that DNA does not learn?
 
  • #15
magpies
174
2
What is intelligence?
How is it that the ones with intelligence get to define what it is?
Do other creatures with intelligence think we have it the same as them?
If a man says he is intelligent how do you know hes telling the truth?
If a man cannot say any thing at all does he have the ability known as intelligence?

All questions I answered for myself in first grade.
 
  • #16
binbots
170
3
Those are good questions. Will you share your answers?
 
  • #17
magpies
174
2
If you have a good question sure :)
 
  • #18
JoeDawg
1,459
0
How is creating creatures that have eyes and ears, and that can fly be evolution just taking the path of least resistence?

How is it not?
 
  • #19
magpies
174
2
Ok im in a more giving mood :) so I guess I'll answer the questions you wanted me to.

Q:What is intelligence?

A: Intelligence is understanding what is going on. If a person has intelligence then they will probably know 1. how to solve problems and 2. how to create them. I'll leave this answer short and simple because honestly I really just wanted to leave it at intelligence is understanding but some would consider that too simple. :)


Q: How is it that the ones with intelligence get to define what it is?

A: The reason the beings with intelligence gets to define it is because only they would know. You can't ask a rock and expect it to answer back because it's been well deminstrated that rocks don't speak english. However for any silicoids out there I mean no disrespect. However it seems to me that one must be smart and understand that the rocks do infact talk however what they say is wrapped in mystery for thouse that do not understand it.


Q: Do other creatures with intelligence think we have it the same as them?

A: Some do and some don't. I have met many creatures in my life that say im a smart guy however I have also met a few that say im a "fat donky" whos to say they are wrong or right? Hopefully I am lol. I myself do not view other beings as having the same intelligence as me anymore. I used to think as a child that every thing should be equal however the truth of living a life has shown me that infact not all people are equal in every way. With that said I think it is best to go into it with the belief that you are lesser then the other. Some might call that humility I personally call it planning for the worst case.


Q: If a man says he is intelligent how do you know hes telling the truth?

A: Clearly you know he is a liar in this case the only real question is why is he a liar? Some people lie to gain power others lie to lose it. If you can figure out the why of the lie you can then deal with it if not then you are trapped by it. I would say trust your self first and foremost however that can go badly if you happen to be actually crazy. I think the mad hatter would be more apt at answering this question then I.


Q: If a man cannot say any thing at all does he have the ability known as intelligence?

A: Who knows? Only god would know the answer to this question and I believe it would be on a personal level between god and the silenced man. I do know this much talking will get you into more trouble than anything I can think of but then again perhaps a little trouble is a good thing?
 
  • #20
M Grandin
90
5
Intelligence (in my opinion) is the ability to make good decisions based upon what you already know. It is much more different than knowledge.

That was a very appealing definition! :approve:

But a person knowing absolutely nothing then could be regarded as clever whatever s/he did - because there was no knowledge to build the choice of decision upon. The lesser knowledge the lesser brain capacity is demanded to make a clever decision due to this definition. I agree "knowledge" is not a raw intelligence factor. But maybe "Ability of knowledge" = "Memory" x "Grasping ability" is a raw intelligence factor. That may result in
a formula resembling

Intelligence = (Memory) x (Grasping ability) x (Good decision ability)

Although not exactly correct, because for instance any factor = 0 would unfairly make
"Intelligence" = 0 or just huge memory could make "Intelligence" unfairly high. It also depends on how the separate factors are defined.
 
Last edited:
  • #21
dacruick
1,039
1
The bottom line is there is no definition of intelligence. There is no way to measure intelligence, because it is a concept that we've created. I think all creatures are "intelligent" to have survived through millions of years of evolution. They all have their own strengths to play off and weaknesses to hide. Just like our strengths are complex thought and opposable thumbs, and our weaknesses are greed, self destruction, and we're slow. And so many other things. Now if you define intelligence as complex thought, where we question our own existence and so on, then so be it. But I personally think intelligence is an immeasurable idea.
 
  • #22
M Grandin
90
5
The bottom line is there is no definition of intelligence. There is no way to measure intelligence, because it is a concept that we've created. I think all creatures are "intelligent" to have survived through millions of years of evolution. They all have their own strengths to play off and weaknesses to hide. Just like our strengths are complex thought and opposable thumbs, and our weaknesses are greed, self destruction, and we're slow. And so many other things. Now if you define intelligence as complex thought, where we question our own existence and so on, then so be it. But I personally think intelligence is an immeasurable idea.

Was it my post you were adressing? If so, you have misunderstood me. I just tried making a
"mathematical" definition of "intelligence" - as us humans experience it. I never said "intelligence" was equal to "intellectual value".

Regarding animals I worship and adore them perhaps more than anything else. Including insects. For instance a wasp is to me a "personality" at very high intellectual level. I have several times helped for instance wasps, moving their nests to safer places and so on.
What I have experienced is almost scaring: They are at least at the same level as us!
They are very sensitive, may feel ashamed if not accomplishing certain tasks, and so on.
Not to mention cats and other animals also comparable to us. :rolleyes:
 
  • #23
apeiron
Gold Member
2,131
2
The bottom line is there is no definition of intelligence.

How is this either philosophy or science?

I refer you back to my earlier post where the best operational definition of bios - mind and life in theoretical biology - is "anticipation". Or better yet, a modelling relation.

You can argue that this not a definition you agree with, and give good reasons why. But it is the way those in the field would approach the question.
 
  • #24
dacruick
1,039
1
Was it my post you were adressing? If so, you have misunderstood me.
No no, it wasn't addressing you, that was just my take on the situation. Ironically I am not an animal lover in general.

How is this either philosophy or science?

I refer you back to my earlier post where the best operational definition of bios - mind and life in theoretical biology - is "anticipation". Or better yet, a modelling relation.

You can argue that this not a definition you agree with, and give good reasons why. But it is the way those in the field would approach the question.

That is the exact reason I don't think intelligence can be defined. Depending on how you approach it, the criteria for it can be completely different. Rainman can talk to anyone and hes insane, but he can count stuff extremely fast. Some autistic people have extraordinary musical talents and so forth. Intelligence can be measured with respect to a specific task or group of tasks, but who decides what tasks model intelligence?
 
  • #25
dacruick
1,039
1
  • #26
apeiron
Gold Member
2,131
2
That is the exact reason I don't think intelligence can be defined. Depending on how you approach it, the criteria for it can be completely different. Rainman can talk to anyone and hes insane, but he can count stuff extremely fast. Some autistic people have extraordinary musical talents and so forth. Intelligence can be measured with respect to a specific task or group of tasks, but who decides what tasks model intelligence?

And this is precisely where correctly framing the definition can make it meaningful.

Where do autistic people actually struggle? If you study the subject you can see how they have a low-level sensory integration issue. The world is a confusion of impressions - and perceptual anticipation is poor.

Intelligence as measured in IQ tests does overly emphasise abstract reasoning and the skills of language and maths. But then that becomes the operational definition. And is understood by psychologists as such - a partial measure rather than the whole story.

The OP is about "what is smartness really - in the broadest sense?" And that then takes you into a wider debate where we want to apply practical kinds of intelligence - evidence of organisms being adapted, being usefully creative, being able to predict.

An expanded definition then captures the intelligence of DNA as much as the intelligence of a robot, autist or Einstein.
 
  • #27
imiyakawa
259
1
I disagree with everyone's definitions thus far if consciousness is purely physical.

I don't understand how anything can be said to be intelligent in the physicalist perspective. Isn't everything just unfolding according to the laws of physics? How can someone or a system said to be intelligent if every 'choice' is simply epiphenomena of the physical laws running their course? By this same logic, shouldn't a computer, operating according to the laws that binds its hardware (the mind of a human, in this analogy), i.e. the software (the physical laws in this analogy) be just as intelligent as an organism operating according to physical law? If we class a computer as neither intelligent or unintelligent as it operates according to set law, then who are we to label any process, "deductive ability", or organism intelligent?

If any organism can said to be intelligent, either:
(A) Consciousnses has to be an 'emergent property', which cannot be reduced to its neural correlates and further reduced it its atomic and the quantum extrapolations of this state predicted. I think this position is absolute BS but I've stated it anyways.
(B) Consciousness is non-physical.

Otherwise, any perceived genius or stupidity can be described by the atomic state of the brain (or whatever causes what could be called a 'mind' in microorganisms) moving through time according to the laws of physics.

I think you all get caught up in thinking that intelligence exists because that's such an ingrained assumption even among those who adhere to physicalism. Remember, in this perspective the mind is created by the brain, which is a computer who's software is the unchanging physical laws.

Is my reasoning faulty?
 
Last edited:
  • #28
TheStatutoryApe
203
4
I think you all get caught up in thinking that intelligence exists because that's such an ingrained assumption even among those who adhere to physicalism. Remember, in this perspective the mind is created by the brain, which is a computer who's software is the unchanging physical laws.

Is my reasoning faulty?

I would say that you are sort of putting the cart before the horse. It is not that humans believe in a thing called intelligence and that we are searching for it but rather that we experience a thing that we call intelligence and are attempting to understand it. In this way it does not make sense to claim that intelligence does not exist, only that we do not understand what it is. You may claim that intelligence is an illusion but then it still exists as that illusion which we call intelligence that would still have some sort of explanation.

Simply saying that it does not exist is attempting to resolve the question by discarding it.
 
  • #29
imiyakawa
259
1
I would say that you are sort of putting the cart before the horse. It is not that humans believe in a thing called intelligence and that we are searching for it but rather that we experience a thing that we call intelligence and are attempting to understand it. In this way it does not make sense to claim that intelligence does not exist, only that we do not understand what it is. You may claim that intelligence is an illusion but then it still exists as that illusion which we call intelligence that would still have some sort of explanation.

Simply saying that it does not exist is attempting to resolve the question by discarding it.

Good point, I'd have to agree with it.

But, I don't think my point is deficient of truth, it just shouldn't be used to dismiss OPs question. Any definition of intelligence presented thus far on this thread has totally ignored where this supposed intelligence comes from. Surely a full definition must reduce this "intelligence" all the way down to what causes "intelligence" for the definition to be fully encompassing of the reality it's trying to define?
 
Last edited:
  • #30
TheStatutoryApe
203
4
Good point, I'd have to agree with it.

But, I don't think my point is totally deficient. Any definition of intelligence presented thus far on this thread has totally ignored where this supposed intelligence comes from. Surely a full definition must reduce this "intelligence" all the way down to what causes "intelligence" for the definition to be fully encompassing of the reality it's trying to define?

Sorry, I did not mean to dismiss your post completely. It is quite possible that intelligence can be explained in a fully deterministic model. How I would be unsure about.

Personally I am in the "emergent property" camp. Unfortunately I have not the time to go into that right now. If I rush I will likely give a poor explanation of my opinion.
 
  • #31
apeiron
Gold Member
2,131
2
I don't understand how anything can be said to be intelligent in the physicalist perspective. Isn't everything just unfolding according to the laws of physics?

This makes the huge (if standard) assumption that the "laws of physics" currently capture everything that needs to be known about complex systems (and even simple systems).

If you have a physicalist theory of meaning, as opposed to information, then what is it?

An example of attempts to frame such a theory would be CS Peirce's semiotics for example.

Rosen's modelling relations is allied with this project.

Anticipation as well.

What is intelligence? Why are savant's not really intelligent? Why are supercomputers measureably dumb? Information theory can't tell you. A theory of meaning is what you would need.

And a physically-grounded one would be a real achievement.
 
  • #32
imiyakawa
259
1
This makes the huge (if standard) assumption that the "laws of physics" currently capture everything that needs to be known about complex systems (and even simple systems).

Every single measurement/prediction has complied to physical law thus far e.g. evolution of the wavefunction complies to the shrodinger equation, planets move in their orbits according to einsteinian geometry (although this is just an approximation, really). What observation hasn't conformed to physical law?

Moreover, we can see extremely simplistic systems as conforming to physical law through direct observation. What possible reason do we have for expecting that if we just double the complexity of the system (or keep adding increasing orders of complexity), some other "causal thing" has an influence on matter rather than just physical law. If we keep adding complexity, what logically sound reason do we have to expect that this system will suddenly become unpredictable in QM sense?

I see no reason to expect that this would occur, and thus how is asserting the inverse a huge assumption? Given what I've stated, I'd say what I said was more like a sound conclusion awaiting counter-evidence if its falsity is even to be considered.
 
  • #33
imiyakawa
259
1
Double post, sorry.
 
Last edited:
  • #34
binbots
170
3
It seems no matter how much we debate the intelligence there is no difference between us and the most simple creature. To say a cell is not as smart as us because it cant predict future events is an assumption that we know the future. That we are the only ones to learn from past events is to say evolution does not work on this same system.
Just like we humans strive to survive by using technoligy, to potect us and feed us. Cells created us for the same purpose. If we were to create AI we would just be the next step in evolution. When we create AI it will wonder who created it and why. Just the way we look at cells and DNA. We are ourseleves AI here to create Better AI for the purpose of survival.
 
  • #35
TheStatutoryApe
203
4
It seems no matter how much we debate the intelligence there is no difference between us and the most simple creature. To say a cell is not as smart as us because it cant predict future events is an assumption that we know the future. That we are the only ones to learn from past events is to say evolution does not work on this same system.
Just like we humans strive to survive by using technoligy, to potect us and feed us. Cells created us for the same purpose. If we were to create AI we would just be the next step in evolution. When we create AI it will wonder who created it and why. Just the way we look at cells and DNA. We are ourseleves AI here to create Better AI for the purpose of survival.
Evolution, properly, is not "learning". If it gets cold and 50% of your single celled species dies out because they were unable to survive the weather change it is not because they did not learn something and the other 50% did not survive because they had learned something. One half was simply capable of surviving and the other not. The survivors could not have "taught" their less fortunate brethren to survive. If there could be said to be any sort of 'intelligence' there it would not be invested in any individual organism but rather spread out across the species. But we will come across the same problem comparing species to species as one dies out and another does not we can not necessarily say that one failed to "learn" while the other did not. It would seem to me that "intelligence" begins when information can be acquired, utilized, and transmitted by individual organisms. When an existing organism that is not capable of surviving can become capable and share that capacity with other existing organisms.
 

Suggested for: What is intelligence

  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
36
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
2K
Replies
40
Views
17K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
40
Views
7K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
52
Views
10K
Replies
36
Views
4K
Replies
38
Views
28K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
2K
Top