Intelligence, what is it and how does it work?
What is intelligence?
To start with, it is all about information. Information: input, storage, processing, and output. A simple calculator does all that, but we don't consider it to be intelligent. There need to be many more levels of information processing upon what a simple calculator does.
So, intelligence has to do with information, but what is information? The world is often quite different than you'll think at first. When you for example write a letter, and safe this information on your computer, what just happen? Don't expect the solid state memory to contain an area with the text you just wrote. You probably know: it is stored as digital code, a lot of zeros and ones. But do you expect there to be tiny zeros and ones in the memory? Spoiler: you will not find them. What you will find in digital storage, are many tiny locations that are in one of two possible states, for example north or south pool facing up.
The smallest piece of information is: one "bit". Yes OR No, also known as One OR Zero. The power
of the digital language is clearly not the two symbols of its alphabet. But one "bit" of information, is in one of two states, which is very clear, and not making many mistakes because of being clear, is powerful. The other power aspect of digital is the amount of combinations a group of bits can make.
1 bit has 2^1 = 2*1 combinations
2 bits have 2^2 = 2*2 = 4 combinations
3 bits have 2^3 = 2*2*2 = 8 combinations
8 bits have 2^8 = 2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2 = 256 combinations
24 bits have 2^24 = 16777216 combinations
Our brains don't contain digital storage, but there are
similarities. There are approximately 86 billion neurons in the human brain. And while each neuron is more complex then 1 bit, it is quite simple and small, and here also; it is the combination of loads of neurons that deliver the magic.
A combination of bits or neurons together form a structure, a pattern, and these patterns hold the information.
Multiple meanings of patterns
A combination of 8 bits, is a pattern that can for example be combination number 288 (out of 256). But 288 what? That depends on the contex. It can represent a certain color value, or a sound value, or a text symbol, or something else. If you find a certain combination in memory, you have found nothing if you don't know where the pattern belongs to.
Data and Information
In a way, the whole universe is data. A tiny reflection of that data enters our body through our senses, or sensors. This raw data stream is way too much for our brains to process and remember. Our brains therefore search for certain patterns in the raw data, then selects the most interesting ones, then processes and stores them. These patterns are the information.
Interesting is that we are blind to random data, because we can't find patterns in random data, even when it contains important information. Blind we are to random data. Here an example of quite random data:
This "garbage" makes no sense to us, but this data does contains information, as it came from a digital photo.
Basic actions that happen in a brain
- Get data input from the senses.
- Get information input from the memory.
Search for patterns in data and select the triggering ones.
Compare new patterns with stored ones.
Store selected patterns (= information) in memory.
Process patterns by running them through sets of "if this ... then do ..." structures (algorithms).
Amplify the low energy conclusions into high energy actions.
But this is what an ordinary computer can do. Not intelligent yet.
To get intelligent, you'll need extra's.
To go from dumb to intelligent, an extra number of more evolved levels need to be added, levels that make what we recognize as: smart, wise, creative, original, self aware, and such.
- The ability to learn and forget. Make memories stronger and weaker.
The ability to improvise, try out unknown alternatives.
- Having a virtual representation of the surrounding world.
- Laziness. Not willing to waste energy and time on non-essentials.
- Prevent unintended damage to itself and the surrounding.
- Working with tools.
- Working together with others.
- Ethic rules.
- And more.
Machine versus Animal
If the extra's from above aren't enough to get to the point of intelligence, we need to look at the drive. What drives living creatures, and.. can a machine have a real drive?
Living creature have feelings, emotions, that motivate their do's and don'ts. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust. I don't understand what feelings are, but I know they are here, and how important they are. But are they essential to intelligence?
How much intelligence is enough?
The amount of intelligence a living creature or a serving machine needs varies.
Too little is a problem obviously, but too much is a problem also, because there are costs involved: brain size, weight, energy consumption. Small brains can operate faster, which can be essential. Being too intelligent is not smart. I often think humans have too much brains. More brains doesn't automatically result in more wisedom, clearly, unfortunately.
How intelligent are humans on average? I don't know how to measure that. And compared to animals? When I look at the (other-) animals, I see their intelligence is perfectly suited for their life. Their intelligence is different, often less in ways, but apparently enough to survive. So instead of saying they are less intelligent, see that theirs is specialized to fit their needs. Animals can do many things that we can not do.
What is the theoretical limit of intelligence?
It is easy to measure how much weight we can carry a certain distance, but it difficult for us to measure the amount of intelligence one has, all kinds of intelligence, not just the ones they test at school. And I think it is a bit of a taboo to measure for intelligence, because if we could measure it well, it would show the differences, which will be embarrassing for many. Of course there is more to life then physical strength and mental intelligence. Being kind, funny, pleasant to be around with, for example.
People can be pretty intelligent, especially when working together, but how far is our combined intelligence from the theoretically highest limit? I guess hat depends on which theory, but I am sure that the maximum limit is far beyond what any one human can reach. Superintelligence.
Coming soon to a computer near you; Machine Intelligence
The superintelligence revolution
Anyhow, what I actually wanted to write one this page, was not just trying to give a technical description of what intelligence is. Point is that we are building better and better machine intelligence, in an accelerating phase, towards superintelligence, and that will probably cause a true revolution with huge effects on all of our lives.
"Superintelligence" is an artificial intelligence (A.I.) that is far more intelligent than one human can be. I think we can better call it machine intelligence because the intelligence is real, it's just coming from a machine instead of from a human. The kind of intelligence will therefore be different, as machines aren't build like people. Maybe one day we will design biological machines... that is going to be confusing, because; why call a designed biological being a machine, while we are build the same way? What more are people than biological machines? You tell me.
Superinteligence can be used for good and bad, thus will it be used for both. Typical (as how nature works, unfortunately). Therefore we will have to use superintelligence to protect us against superintelligence attacks...
But it won't be all bad. People are are very sensitive to fear, and thereby tent to loose sight of all the positive
news. And there is a lot of good news to expect, as superintelligence will open countless doors to better alternatives. It will bring us to "the next level".
Compared to the power revolution
Long age, one person could carry or drag around a load of about 20Kg. Then we used animals and wheels to carry heavier loads over longer distances. But since the introduction of steam and gasoline engines, we can transport heavy loads quickly over extremely long distances. Modern engines can have hundreds to thousands of HorsePower. Can you imagine that in the age of transport-by-horse, the idea of a machine more powerful than 6 horses was frightening? How afraid are you today, for an truck that has 200 Horse Power? It is ordinary, it doesn't really scare you.
Kind of the same can happen with intelligence. At first we used or own brains, now we get support from computers and from people on the internet, but we don't get intelligent support of our computers, not really. Hopefully in the near future, we'll all have acces to superintelligent support from our computers.
Would you be frightened by a computer that is way more intelligent than you are? Personally; I think I will love it! I am not afraid of my calculator that can calculate far better than I can, and I would love to get super intelligent support for my projects and personal life.
People fear for their jobs. People fear a lot.
When superintelligence becomes available widely available, the impact on our jobs will be huge! A lot of shitty jobs will disappear... that is a good thing, bring it on!
Some jobs will disappear, and new jobs will come into existence, jobs you can not image yet. Some 200 years ago, 80% of the people were farmers. Today 20% of the people are farmers. I don't actually known the numbers, but fact is that there were no web developers back then, and the few farmers left, use big machines to do their massive farm business.
Most jobs will transfer into far more productive or effective businesses.
What would you do, when you have access to
- A super intelligent doctor that can give you excellent advice after hearing your complaints, in the weekend, while you're on a journey.
- A self driving car that picks you up where you want, parks itself outside town. Or a self driving house perhaps?
- A computer that builds your product idea in virtual 3D, then tests it in accurate virtual reality, and then tests it in virtual society to see how it will probably be conceived.
- Want excellent advice while learning a craft? Switch on your teacher, who can also bring you in contact with good match students.
I think it is getting close to the time where we have to admit that we are actually doing really well. We don't need to work as much when machines are doing most of the work for us. But we all need enough credit for the basic needs. A low income for everybody, never having to fear poverty. Some fear that people will then become couch potatoes. Well; I would never choose to do that. Would you choose to become a couch potatoe?
I would want to do good, and develop myself in many ways, and do some jobs to earn extra credit, and enjoy the luxury of having more to spend then just on the basics. At this moment, most of the credit is created by machines and flowing to the few that own the machines. That is unsustainable, and has to stop if we want a better future. No; I am not suggesting to force everybody equal. I like there to be a large reward for hard work, becoming rich can be pleasant, but I don't want a large portion of the nation living in poverty.
One sentence to remember
What to remember from this page? I would suggest: superintelligence will open countless doors to better alternatives.