Four Thought Provoking Questions About Intelligence

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What is Intelligence?

Asking why people have intelligence has always been tricky. We know that it exists, but it is difficult to measure. For example, everyone knows that Stephen Hawking is bright, but why? Explaining its origins is vital once you endeavor to build Artificial Intelligence, and you must acknowledge that all things in nature must obey physical laws. People think for the same reason that bird’s fly and fish swim.

Using this premise, you can investigate the physics of intelligence the same way you investigate cosmology. Fortunately you don’t need to begin from scratch. Machines have already given researchers a guide for the last twenty years beginning with IBM’s Deep Blue. The computer beat Garry Kasparov at Chess and machines have only advanced from there. Today’s machines can play Go, which is arguably the most advanced game in existence.

It is these developments that lead Alex Wissner-Gross to this formula for Intelligence. In this TED talk he talks about a theory for the physical mechanism of intelligence, but is he right?

What makes me human?

It is a long story, mostly because you are complicated. By now you must know that you are constructed of billions of individual cells, and your cells are created and destroyed by the millions every day. It is this constant regeneration that remakes you about every seven years.

But then how can you stay the same person?

This question is only compounded by modern medicine. Today it is entirely possible and even routine for doctors to replace your bodily fluids and organs. Following a serious injury, you might be fortunate and receive a full blood transfusion from someone else. If you are in really bad condition, then maybe a new organ.

But then are you still the same person or are you a part of your donor?

What if your body is entirely replaced by cybernetics?

What if a future mad scientist rebuilds your body and places your old parts into a clone?

You must be more than the composition of your parts.

You are, because inside each cell in your body is DNA. It is this DNA that is the instruction set for constructing another you. It is also unique evidence for any crime you may have committed last week. This DNA also mutates over your lifetime and even within your own body. You are not even the same person within your own body.

In Kurzgesagt, What Are You? It is proposed that you are nothing more than a self-aware replicating pattern.

Then what are you?

What is Machine Learning?

Artificial Intelligence AKA Machine Learning is the capacity of a computer to adapt to its environment. Since a computer is only hardware: the physical circuitry that executes the programmer’s instructions, all the magic happens within the algorithm. Also there is nothing supernatural about algorithms. In fact, there are many places online where you can study computer science at little or no cost. You should be able to code many applications with only a college level mathematical background.

Computer algorithms are only a logical set of instructions for performing a task. They work exactly like the mathematical functions that you were taught in school. The algorithm processes an input to make an output.

Then what makes a computer intelligent?

Existing algorithms are not intelligent at all. They can only execute commands carefully crafted by developers. Artificial Intelligence seeks to upend this paradigm by writing algorithms that can adapt to inputs. The developer still needs to code a basic algorithm. They also need to code a procedure that can read the inputs and adjust the algorithm to maximize an output. The output could be the liked songs on one of your playlists or even the mechanism that controls your car. The point is that it is adaptable.

Could a robot ever replicate my mind?

In Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence Paths, Dangers, Strategies; Nick ventures that super intelligent machines are an unavoidable feature of our future. When the super intelligent robots come about is an active area of speculation even among the experts. It could be in the next twenty years, but it could take as long as a century. Very few people think that the development will happen overnight.

One very understated method for how this super intelligence might be achieved is whole brain emulation. This is still very speculative and would entail the complete scanning and simulation of the human brain.

How this would be achieved is still an active area of research. It is presumed that future electronic instrumentation will be capable of mapping the billions of individual neurons that constitute your mind. Alternatively, it has also been proposed that someone’s dead brain could be slowly deconstructed one slice at a time and the resulting circuits mapped into an algorithm.

You don’t need to get excited about it yet. How the axons and dendrites function within each neuron is poorly understood to this day. Even if that wasn’t true, we already know that neurocircuits are incompatible with the binary on off circuits inside your computer. They are also substantially slower than all but the slowest microprocessors.

But there are other options; conventional machine learning algorithms work by repeatedly analyzing some input to optimize a specific output. The input is always data and an algorithm is the function that manipulates the output. It is entirely conceivable that future supercomputers could map the human mind from your inputs alone to replicate a human output, but this also might be unnecessary.

Can your life activities be subdivided down into tasks? Maybe. In the Artificial Intelligence world all robots are coded for specific applications. Tesla’s application drives cars. Googles crawls the web and answers questions, and Amazon Alexa obeys your commands. It is entirely possible that you are also a composite of tasks. You could even explore the world of Artificial Intelligence with the WorkFusion RPA Express at no cost. I’ve found that the software is very easy to install and use on a Windows machine. You also don’t need to be an expert to recreate your abilities on the PC. You only need the patience to repeat tasks for a bot until a framework of you can be built. The science of the mind is still incomplete and comments are welcome.

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