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Offline paros

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Intelligence as an Illusion?
« Reply #25 on: 01/03/2008 16:59:09 »
Okay so it is a demonstrable given that trying to pin down what "most people mean" by the word intelligence is a failed project from the beginning. Fine. 

Okay so it is a demonstrable given that anyone can post into this thread and give their "own personal defn" of the word intelligence. Fine.

We can go around in semantic and cultural circles like this all day long.  Fine.

(another_someone is calling for a defn of intelligence as if it is a floating entity existing in an invisible platonic realm of ideas.  So using this poetic metaphor, he is going to refer to nonsense categories such as the "group intelligence of all bacteria of some certain species."   Or even more bizarre, he is going to refer to the "group intelligence of all human beings on earth".   I can form disembodied, metaphorical categories until I'm blue in the face.  This does not lead to progress in science.)

This is why we must define intelligence as a biological fact.  We must forget the linguistic/semantic game of trying to tie down what "most people" mean when they use the word.  I don't really care what most people mean.  That game is useless to science and biology. I hope you all see that fact as clearly as I do.

Intelligence must be scientifically defined as adaptive behavior.  An insect can change its behavior in a tiny margin and only through repeated trials of aversive stimulus pairing.   As you go up the "totem pole" of intelligence,  each successively more intelligent organism can change its behavior to a wider degree. At the top is homo sapiens that can change their behavior so rapidly and effectively that they have harnessed fire and developed complex language and use technology and drive cars etc etc.

Any other alleged definition of intelligence is doomed to failure. And you don't have to accept this conclusion on faith.  Eventually this forum thread itself is going to demonstrate the truth of it.
 

another_someone

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« Reply #26 on: 01/03/2008 17:22:19 »
Intelligence must be scientifically defined as adaptive behavior.  An insect can change its behavior in a tiny margin and only through repeated trials of aversive stimulus pairing.   As you go up the "totem pole" of intelligence,  each successively more intelligent organism can change its behavior to a wider degree. At the top is homo sapiens that can change their behavior so rapidly and effectively that they have harnessed fire and developed complex language and use technology and drive cars etc etc.

Any other alleged definition of intelligence is doomed to failure. And you don't have to accept this conclusion on faith.  Eventually this forum thread itself is going to demonstrate the truth of it.

I would disagree that any other definition is doomed to failure, but I am quite happy with the definition you have offered (it is actually not so far from the definition I proposed - I used the term 'problem solving', whereas you are using the term 'adaptive behaviour' - I don't see a huge gulf between them).

The problem I have is that you seem to be implying that collectives of individuals (societies, even species) do not exhibit collective adaptation behaviour.  I cannot accept this assertion.

As you say, homo sapiens have harnessed fire and developed complex language, but what you quite rightly did not say is that an individual homo sapien harnessed fire or developed complex language.

Then again, we are not the only species to have developed language (in various forms), and there are species (such as bats and dolphins) that have learnt to use sound in ways that until the 20th humans had not learnt to master (and even then, they could only learn to master with the development of machines, and then the development was as a collective, since no individual could have made the development possible on their own).
« Last Edit: 01/03/2008 17:25:16 by another_someone »
 

lyner

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Intelligence as an Illusion?
« Reply #27 on: 01/03/2008 17:38:27 »
I  think it could be very hard to distinguish between 'intellectual' . 'cultural' development and the strictly 'biological' development - such as the development of immunity to infections.
Are we sure that this particular endeavour is worthwhile? The word 'intelligence' is a very catch-all term. One might have to define a set of subdivisions of the word before measurement would become worthwhile.
 

lyner

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Intelligence as an Illusion?
« Reply #28 on: 01/03/2008 17:41:44 »
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As for doing science on the unmeasurable - try measuring entropy
Not really fair; entropy change can be calculated using readily measurable quantities.

Can you?  What units is entropy measured in?

Perhaps it's a dimensionless quantity. There are lots of those.

Just looked it up; it's Joules per Kelvin. Things you can easily measure.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2008 18:16:58 by sophiecentaur »
 

another_someone

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« Reply #29 on: 01/03/2008 17:52:40 »
I  think it could be very hard to distinguish between 'intellectual' . 'cultural' development and the strictly 'biological' development - such as the development of immunity to infections.

Agreed.

Are we sure that this particular endeavour is worthwhile?

I personally think the distinctions are arbitrary and meaningless.  If it behaves like intelligence, then it is intelligence, whether you regard it as 'intellectual' (whatever that is), 'cultural' (collective intelligence), or 'biological' (I assume you mean genetically derived intelligence - and if someone invented a genetic computer, in the same way as we use silicon based computers, how would we make the distinction?).

The word 'intelligence' is a very catch-all term. One might have to define a set of subdivisions of the word before measurement would become worthwhile.

In that sense, ofcourse, one could use measures like IQ (and we would then get into debates about IQ vs. EQ, etc.); but this inevitably must have a degree of at very least anthropomorphic bias, if not cultural bias.

The kind of definitions we are talking about above ('problem solving' or 'adaptive behaviour' capabilities) avoid either cultural or anthropomorphic bias.  Within those definitions, I don't think we need subdivisions; although it may be argued that the concepts are not as easily quantitatively measured as IQ.
 

another_someone

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« Reply #30 on: 01/03/2008 18:03:13 »
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As for doing science on the unmeasurable - try measuring entropy
Not really fair; entropy change can be calculated using readily measurable quantities.

Can you?  What units is entropy measured in?

Perhaps it's a dimensionless quantity. There are lots of those.

All absolute measures must be dimensionful.  Only relative measures can be dimensionless, since the dimensions of the things being related cancel out, leaving no residual dimensions to work with.

If you are dealing with absolute measures, then you have to define an arbitrary unit measure (something that equate to the number 1 in your unit of measure, whether it be 1 inch or 1 metre, you have to be able to say what the 1 relates to).

You can use dimensionless ratios, so a 1:1 gradient is dimensionless, since it matters not whether you deal in inches or metres, it is still the value 1.
 

lyner

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« Reply #31 on: 02/03/2008 10:24:58 »
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All absolute measures must be dimensionful.
How about Pi and e????
Those are two ratios which are 'measurable'. And then we quote and measure percentages all the time.
Anyway - entropy's J/K.
 

another_someone

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« Reply #32 on: 03/03/2008 02:24:59 »
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All absolute measures must be dimensionful.
How about Pi and e????
Those are two ratios which are 'measurable'. And then we quote and measure percentages all the time.

Not really.  If you want to obtain the mass of an electron more accurately, you do experiments to make the measurement; but if you want obtain the value of PI to greater accuracy, you run a computer program to calculate it.  I would not regard anything to calculate with a computer program to be a measurement, but a calculation.

Anyway - entropy's J/K.

OK, I accept that this is used for heat entropy, but how do you apply this to changes in entropy at constant temperature?
 

lyner

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« Reply #33 on: 03/03/2008 09:10:18 »
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OK, I accept that this is used for heat entropy, but how do you apply this to changes in entropy at constant temperature?
The same way you can measure the slope of a mountain without going up or down far. You could use a vanishingly small temperature change - as in differentiation. And we can measure Pi or e when we observe stuff around us - later confirming that the same ratio exists in the world of Maths. We can compare the rates of decay of two processes independently of the units we use for the time or the energy produced; that ratio is 'real' but has no units.

But we drifted off topic again.
We can say that entropy is somehow related to intelligence in as far as intelligence  (or evidence of it). It relates to making things happen, or reducing entropy, to establish some order and introducing a pattern. You could say that an intelligent organism would produce the same result quickest or with least energy expenditure. Monkeys and typewriters is a good example of this.
The problem with going down this road is that it depersonalises the concept and mixes up two essentially different things.

Our appreciation of intelligence, where it relates to another human, is not really the same as when observing some 'blind' process of evolving. Scientists constantly warn against anthropmorphising; a bacterium doesn't 'want' to resist the drug in the same way that I 'want' to get better when I am ill. Or am I just being an arrogant human?
 

another_someone

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« Reply #34 on: 03/03/2008 16:58:22 »
The problem with going down this road is that it depersonalises the concept and mixes up two essentially different things.


But. is personalisation good science?

Our appreciation of intelligence, where it relates to another human, is not really the same as when observing some 'blind' process of evolving. Scientists constantly warn against anthropmorphising; a bacterium doesn't 'want' to resist the drug in the same way that I 'want' to get better when I am ill. Or am I just being an arrogant human?

I think it is not only being an "arrogant humans", it is also post hoc rationalisation.

OK, the simplest issue in this case is why did not "want to get better"?  Do other animals (or even plants) have these wants? - otherwise, why do they get better?  Why do they fight off disease?

My own observation of human behaviour, despite their own distorted self image, is actually highly irrational in motivation, but the motivation is rationalised after the event (this is not to say that there is not method in their madness, but that at the time they make the decisions they do, they are not as consciously aware of the method as they would like to think, and that it is only after the event that they sit back and imagine that they had a carefully thought out plan of action all along).  This is just as true of myself as it is of any other human being.

In fact, most computers are far more rational in their decision making than humans, yet it is this very rationalisation that is regarded as being contrary to the notion of intelligence (whether it is right to regard it so rather depends on what you regard as intelligence).

On a wider, more rational, basis, we are just a bunch of cells.  Each cell in the human body is in essence (on its own) no different in general methods of operation from a single celled bacteria.  Thus there is no reason, at a cellular level, to regard human intelligence to be substantially greater than bacterial intelligence (one may have a caveat regarding the number of genes in the human genome compared to the number of genes in a bacterial genome having an influence on the matter, but even that is complicated by many factors we do not yet know about how the genes work in each).

http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/03_00/gandg_quickswitch_3_24.shtml
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Bacteria have the reputation of being primitive, unsophisticated types. But this microscopic menagerie of organisms has the uncanny ability to rapidly adapt to vastly different environments and evade host immune systems. While random mutation has been thought to explain this ability, Richard Moxon, of Oxford University, believes bacteria have a slicker, quicker system.

In the March 10 issue of Science, a group of American, British and Italian scientists present the deciphered genetic sequence of Neisseria meningitidis—the bacterium responsible for life-threatening infections like meningitis and septicemia. Within the approximately 2.2 million building blocks of DNA code the researchers predict 2,158 genes. They hope knowing the genes will eventually help them find good targets for drugs.

Searching through these genes, Moxon has identified a set of "contingency genes," which contain a region with a higher rate of mutation than other areas of the genome. Mutations in these regions garble the whole gene sequence, effectively switching the gene off. Moxon calls these stretches of DNA "switch regions."

When bacteria invade a new host, they face a hostile battlefield. If this were a bacterial video game, it would be called "Adapt or Die." Swarms of immune cells attempt to wipe out the invaders, some with toxic chemicals and others with molecular harpoons. Still other immune cells just eat the invaders whole. The invaders must brave not only this shower of cellular ammunition but also varying temperature, acidity and humidity.

"Contingency genes are the bacterium’s answer to the rapidly changing landscape," says Moxon.

Each gene can be flicked on or off, and the switching mechanism is random mutation within the switch region. Each time a bacterium divides, one mutation within the switch region might turn the gene sequence to rubbish, effectively turning the gene off. A mutation in a switched-off gene’s switch region might restore that gene’s activity.

Contingency genes function like a "library of thousands to millions of potential variants," says Moxon. With one of these genes, the bacterium has two variations on hand. Two genes provide four alternatives. With 20 contingency genes, a bacterium would have a repertoire of more than a million possible variations. When Moxon’s team analyzed the genome of the bacterium N. meningitidis, they found 65 possible contingency genes—enough to put billions and billions of variations in the bank.

Moxon believes that mutations occur frequently in the switch regions because they are filled with short repetitive sequences of DNA’s four building blocks—A, C, G, and T. Replication in such repetitive sequences is prone to "slipping and mis-pairing," says Moxon. When repair machinery surveys the DNA before the replication step, it sees the mis-pairing and either adds or subtracts a base. This causes the DNA sequence to be shifted either one place to the left or right. Such mistakes can eventually prevent the gene from being read, effectively switching it off. In the next generation of bacteria, another slip and mis-pairing in the same region could turn the gene back on.

Contingency genes provide an intriguing potential explanation of how a population of bacteria can rapidly adapt. According to his hypothesis, randomly flipping genes on and off creates unique genetic combinations in the rapidly reproducing population. With so many genetic variants, some are likely to survive even the most concerted onslaughts of the immune system.

The finding has implications for drug development, Moxon points out, because a drug targeted at a gene’s product will not be of much use if the gene is frequently switched on and off. In any population of bacteria, some cells will succumb to the drug, while others survive to reproduce.

With the complete sequence of the N. meningitidis genome in hand, researchers can now choose to target genes that lack switch regions. Furthermore, the research offers clues about which genes to avoid and which to target in other disease-causing bacteria.

Ofcourse, humans are more than the sum of their cells, and this is why I have stressed that what we regard as intelligence is primarily a networking function.  It is the networking of individual human cells that creates what we perceive as the intelligence of a human being; but then one has to extend that to regard the intelligence of all co-operative systems (whether we are talking about co-operative bacteria (and bacteria, in one way or another, do co-operate), co-operative ants, or the intelligence of human societies as co-operative entities).

Another factor with a bearing on this is the close association of language with intelligence.  The use of language has always been associated with intelligence, but language is in essence nothing other than a networking tool.

Half a century ago, it was thought that humans were the only species to posses language (and also incidentally the only species to use tools).  We now know that this is not so, but it is still regarded that human language provides us with higher bandwidth communication than most, possibly than all, other species, so the human network (i.e. human society) has more information processing capacity than most other similarly sized communities of organisms.  But this relates not to the intelligence of the human individual (which I think is much overrated), but to the intelligence of the wider human society.  No individual human being is capable of achieving much more than a lion or giraffe (possibly even less), but a network of humans, using high bandwidth communication to co-ordinate their efforts, can achieve a lot more.

Going back to your question about whether bacteria 'want' to get better, or whether humans 'want' to get better; my answer is that each, in their own way, equally 'want' to get better; but what humans have is a language by which they can try and rationalise and express the rationalisation of their actions, so humans can say they 'want' to get better, whereas a bacteria does not have to tools for post hoc rationalisation or expression of such abstract ideas to other bacteria.  Although bacteria do have substantial networking tools, in all likelihood they fall far short of the networking tools available to humans.  Ofcourse, the difficulty here is comparing like with like, insofar as humans are not single cellular entities, and so one should in all fairness compare a large colony of bacteria to a large colony of human cells that make up a human being; but in doing so, the contrast is probably even more stark, as the networking tools bacteria have really do not scale up effectively on that scale in the same way as human networking tools do.
 

lyner

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Intelligence as an Illusion?
« Reply #35 on: 03/03/2008 21:14:04 »
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But. is personalisation good science?
Why should it be? There is more to life, the World and everything than Science - unless you insist Science includes every discipline.

If you really think it's worth while to put bacteria and humans on some sort of scale of intelligence then go ahead. You will need a log log scale to include all living things and to assign them a number. Logical relationships tend to have a complexity relating to the factorial function so, if we deal with ten times the number of variables with our brains, the complexity may increase by a factor of 3.5million.

You are right to 'explain' some of the ways we operate as post hoc rationalisation but we also do a lot of ante hoc rationalisation too. We can have desires for all sorts of things and express these desires before we have or haven't obtained or achieved them. You will probably cheat by saying we are post hoc rationalising the fact that we have expressed desires but there is a distinct difference- if only in the ability to 'think' and communicate in the subjunctive mood. When you say that computers can be more rational than humans you are pointing out where they are falling short; it is not a feature of their superiority; it is a shortcoming.

I appreciate your wish to de-mystify us but there is a risk that, in following that line, you lose the wonder of it all. You seem to be almost afraid of the fact(?) that we have something special about us. Do you see this view as risky in some way?
 

Offline rhade

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« Reply #36 on: 06/03/2008 10:47:08 »
If one is good at maths, but not English, does that make that person unintelligent? Or one could be a writer, but not much good at maths (like me) does that make one less intelligent? Or supposing you have a talent at sport. The brain has to make thousands of computations to kick a ball a particular way, etcetera ( I'm stealing one of Dr. Karl's points here). There are many different ways to view intelligence.
« Last Edit: 19/09/2008 13:37:02 by rhade »
 

another_someone

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« Reply #37 on: 06/03/2008 19:28:12 »
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But. is personalisation good science?
Why should it be? There is more to life, the World and everything than Science - unless you insist Science includes every discipline.

I am not sure what you mean by 'insist Science includes every discipline'?

Science is a tool for analysing the universe around us.  I accept your comment about not de-mystifying everything, but the nature of analysis is to demystify, and so those things one does not wish to demystify one should not seek to analyse.

This topic inherently invited an analysis of intelligence, thus it is not at all unreasonable to apply an impersonal scientific approach to that analysis.

If you really think it's worth while to put bacteria and humans on some sort of scale of intelligence then go ahead. You will need a log log scale to include all living things and to assign them a number. Logical relationships tend to have a complexity relating to the factorial function so, if we deal with ten times the number of variables with our brains, the complexity may increase by a factor of 3.5million.

It actually is more complex than that (and this goes back to the issues of network bandwidths again).  The more processes you try to run in parallel, the more the limiting factor becomes the communication between the processes rather than the raw processing capability of the individual processes (the only exception to this is in a narrow range of problems where the individual parts of the problem can indeed be worked on without reference to other parts of the problem - but the majority of real world problems do require a more synchronised form of processing, where information is passed between sub-processes on a regular basis, and where contentions between processes need to be managed).

You are right to 'explain' some of the ways we operate as post hoc rationalisation but we also do a lot of ante hoc rationalisation too. We can have desires for all sorts of things and express these desires before we have or haven't obtained or achieved them. You will probably cheat by saying we are post hoc rationalising the fact that we have expressed desires but there is a distinct difference- if only in the ability to 'think' and communicate in the subjunctive mood. When you say that computers can be more rational than humans you are pointing out where they are falling short; it is not a feature of their superiority; it is a shortcoming.

I was not talking about superiority or inferiority, just difference (excepting that I suggested that some might at once suggest it was, as you put it, a shortcoming in them, and yet suggest that human rational thought is what makes them superior to other animals - and possibly highlighting something of a slight double standard there).

With regard to rationalisations of our actions, I am not saying we do not have desires, but what I am saying is that we are too complex simply to be driven by a single desire, but have many desires (not all of them are always enumerable or capable of unambiguous expression), and without exception, each decision we make is subject to conflicting desires, and our way of resolving those conflicting desires is anything but rational (in fact, they would be very unlikely to be resolvable by rational means).  Because they are not subject to rational resolution, the resolutions are also inevitable inconsistent to some extent.

A person who is driven by one desire, and one desire alone (even if only on a temporary basis), without any balance of desires would not be considered a healthy human being.

But the fact that we can express desire, in linguistic form, does not make the underlying forces any different.  If I can express sexual desire for a woman, does it make that sexual desire any different to the sexual desire a different species of animal might feel, despite that fact that I may have a linguistic expression to describe that desire and the other animal may possibly not have such (at least, not in a form we would understand as language - although clearly, most animals are capable of finding ways of expressing their sexual attraction).

I appreciate your wish to de-mystify us but there is a risk that, in following that line, you lose the wonder of it all. You seem to be almost afraid of the fact(?) that we have something special about us. Do you see this view as risky in some way?

The notion that somehow humans are inherently superior to other animals seems more reminiscent of the idea that we are God's special creatures, rather than that which follows from our understanding of evolutionary science.  Clearly, there are people from a religious background who do see this as being the case, and within the confines of religion (for those who feel comfortable there), that may be so; but within the realm of science, it does not make sense.

On a wider bases, this is an issue that applies not only to species, but then why not to races.  If we are superior species, then could we not also regard one race as superior to another?
 

Offline paros

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« Reply #38 on: 08/03/2008 03:33:52 »
I would disagree that any other definition is doomed to failure, but I am quite happy with the definition you have offered (it is actually not so far from the definition I proposed - I used the term 'problem solving', whereas you are using the term 'adaptive behaviour' - I don't see a huge gulf between them).

There is no relationship between those two things!  "Problem solving" is business-speak. It is like an executive/corporate buzzword.  That's the way somebody who reads the Wall Street Journal would try to define intelligence in relation to an IQ test that they wholeheartedly believe actually measures something.

Anyway....
I think in terms of a scientific/biological/neuroscience perspective,  problem-solving would be subsumed under the behavior normally called PLANNING.   What is the "problem" that intelligence provides a "solution" to?  It's a failed way of looking at this.   In any case, it is fine for a philosopher to look at the world as "problems" with "solutions" but in science no such claims can be made.  We have to be a little more careful with our wording. 


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The problem I have is that you seem to be implying that collectives of individuals (societies, even species) do not exhibit collective adaptation behaviour.  I cannot accept this assertion.

"Collective adaptation behavior" is a mental abstraction.  The only reason you cannot accept the assertion is because you are inventing mental categories up in your own head and then demanding I cater to them.  What you are probably going to do now is  conflate "adaptive behavior" with something like BIOLOGICAL CHANGE, and then point at a tree that heals itself and demand I admit that its "adapting its behavior".


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As you say, homo sapiens have harnessed fire and developed complex language, but what you quite rightly did not say is that an individual homo sapien harnessed fire or developed complex language.

I'm pretty sure what I wrote was that humans have the ABILITY to control fire, which is completely different from saying "fire was harnessed".   I was not intending to point at technology and go "LOOK! Problem solving! Intelligence!".  I think that's what your own mind read, but it's not what I wrote or intended to communicate.   The use of fire is not in our genetics.  It is culture and has to be picked up by watching someone else do it during our lifetime.  That means that you have a suite of behaviors that you are born with, but using fire is not one of them. That particular behavior has to be learned.   So the suite of innate behaviors does not contain those which you engage in now as an adult.   It follows that your behavior changed.  More accurately, it follows that your behavior adapted.



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Then again, we are not the only species to have developed language (in various forms), and there are species (such as bats and dolphins) that have learnt to use sound in ways that until the 20th humans had not learnt to master (and even then, they could only learn to master with the development of machines, and then the development was as a collective, since no individual could have made the development possible on their own).

That's simply false, sir.   Bats did not "LEARNT" to use sonar to navigate.   Natural selection produced that ability in their genes.  That is completely different from learning.   Cats have much better reflexes than human beings.  Birds of prey have much better vision than human beings.  However, human beings are many orders of magnitude more intelligent than birds.  What's the essential difference?   The difference is that we can CHANGE our behavior, and they cannot.

Let me make an analogy. A computer can perform long division several million times a second, and do so for hours on end, without messing up a SINGLE DIGIT.   Does this make your computer more intelligent than you?  Of course not.  They burn the circuitry into an integrated circuit during manufacture, and the entire behavior of that microchip can be completely described by a list of short machine code instructions.  (The list is called the Instruction Set). The chip's behavior cannot CHANGE.  In fact, if it does change, it is considered faulty.  Again, you can change your behavior, and the long-dividing supercomputer cannot.

I don't mean to get personal here, but I'm looking at your other posts on this thread, and you are attributing intelligence to bacteria, which don't even have a central nervous system.  I think you are trying desperately to define intelligence as some sort of ability to survive in an environment, and it's not working, and so you are posting ever more absurd sentences in this thread.   Yes, if you look at an entire species of bacteria, some of them are very good at surviving.   

I just want to tell you, very clearly now, that intelligence is NOT "ability to survive in an environment".   It has never meant that in any sense at all.  Plants and bacteria are the stupidest forms of life possibly imaginable since they have no central nervous system.   
 

Offline paros

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« Reply #39 on: 08/03/2008 03:55:24 »
If one is good at maths, but not English, does that make that person unintelligent? Or one could be a writer, but not much good at maths (like me) does that make one less intelligent? Or supposing you have a talent at sport. The brain has to make thousands of computations to kick a ball a particular way, etcetera ( I'm stealing one of Dr. Karl's points here). There are many different ways to view intelligence.

Yes because nearly all of them are wrong.  When young students start studying neuroscience or Artificial Intelligence they bring with them suitcases full of prejudices about how the mind works.  These prejudices can be couched in everything from religion to philosophy or even a false belief that the brain is like a motherboard inside a PC.

Let me just shoot down one of the things you implied in your post here.  You (implicitly) claimed that intelligence is somehow measurable as computations per second. 

Well, a microprocessor sends signals across itself roughly 10 thousand times faster than signals travel in the brain of a squirrel.  (We are talking the difference between nanoseconds vs milliseconds).  Yet show me a single supercomputer that can control a robot with the acrobatics and grace of a squirrel balancing on a branch.    If anything, motor coordination has something to do with good integration, rather than raw computational speed.  We build microprocessors a certain way because we require to understand how they work, so we can program them, so we can use them.   I guess the comparison here would be the wiring diagram of a squirrel's brain.  Is it possible, even in theory, to look at that diagram and "understand" how it operates?
 

another_someone

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« Reply #40 on: 08/03/2008 04:41:23 »
I would disagree that any other definition is doomed to failure, but I am quite happy with the definition you have offered (it is actually not so far from the definition I proposed - I used the term 'problem solving', whereas you are using the term 'adaptive behaviour' - I don't see a huge gulf between them).

There is no relationship between those two things!  "Problem solving" is business-speak. It is like an executive/corporate buzzword.  That's the way somebody who reads the Wall Street Journal would try to define intelligence in relation to an IQ test that they wholeheartedly believe actually measures something.

Anyway....
I think in terms of a scientific/biological/neuroscience perspective,  problem-solving would be subsumed under the behavior normally called PLANNING.   What is the "problem" that intelligence provides a "solution" to?  It's a failed way of looking at this.   In any case, it is fine for a philosopher to look at the world as "problems" with "solutions" but in science no such claims can be made.  We have to be a little more careful with our wording. 

I think we are getting a bit bogged down in semantics here.  Problem solving, in business speak, may well have associations with planning, but we are not talking business here, and problems, and solutions to them, exist in many domains.  If I give you an arithmetic problem to solve, you don't need any planning to solve it, you just do it.

In the context of our original conversation, I used the example of bacteria being challenged with antibiotics, and in that context, the problem is how to survive in an environment containing antibiotics.  It is in that context that I meant there was little difference between the way you are referring to adaptive behaviour and what I was referring to problem solving.

If you want to get into an argument about dictionary definitions, we can go down that track, but I don't see it would be constructive.  The main issue is using definitions we can agree upon, and I am happy to use the term adaptive behaviour if you are uncomfortable with the term 'problem solving ability' because it means something else in your dictionary.

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The problem I have is that you seem to be implying that collectives of individuals (societies, even species) do not exhibit collective adaptation behaviour.  I cannot accept this assertion.

"Collective adaptation behavior" is a mental abstraction.  The only reason you cannot accept the assertion is because you are inventing mental categories up in your own head and then demanding I cater to them.  What you are probably going to do now is  conflate "adaptive behavior" with something like BIOLOGICAL CHANGE, and then point at a tree that heals itself and demand I admit that its "adapting its behavior".

So are you really telling me that collectives cannot learn - that nations and societies do not learn by observing and adapting?  If that is so, then societies cannot develop, for all they can learn is whatever one individual learns in their own lifetime.  Societies develop by a cumulative process of learning, so that the learning of the society as a whole can exceed the learning of any one member of that society - or would you disagree with that idea?

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As you say, homo sapiens have harnessed fire and developed complex language, but what you quite rightly did not say is that an individual homo sapien harnessed fire or developed complex language.

I'm pretty sure what I wrote was that humans have the ABILITY to control fire, which is completely different from saying "fire was harnessed".   I was not intending to point at technology and go "LOOK! Problem solving! Intelligence!".  I think that's what your own mind read, but it's not what I wrote or intended to communicate.   The use of fire is not in our genetics.  It is culture and has to be picked up by watching someone else do it during our lifetime.  That means that you have a suite of behaviors that you are born with, but using fire is not one of them. That particular behavior has to be learned.   So the suite of innate behaviors does not contain those which you engage in now as an adult.   It follows that your behavior changed.  More accurately, it follows that your behavior adapted.

If one is going to get personal here (which I don't regard as constructive), you might wish to check for yourself what you wrote before claiming it was something else.  What you wrote is online, as available to you as to me:

At the top is homo sapiens that can change their behavior so rapidly and effectively that they have harnessed fire and developed complex language and use technology and drive cars etc etc.

Your words, not mine.

I am not claiming to be infallible, and I don't mind if you maybe occasional misquote me, or falsely believe I have misquoted you; but I do mind your getting confrontational about such accusations.  Yes, I might have made a mistake, and maybe on another occasion I will make mistakes, but in this case the mistake is on your part not mine.

I would not be able to learn to drive a car unless society had developed all the technologies required to build a drivable car (no one human being could ever have done that on their own).


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Then again, we are not the only species to have developed language (in various forms), and there are species (such as bats and dolphins) that have learnt to use sound in ways that until the 20th humans had not learnt to master (and even then, they could only learn to master with the development of machines, and then the development was as a collective, since no individual could have made the development possible on their own).

That's simply false, sir.   Bats did not "LEARNT" to use sonar to navigate.   Natural selection produced that ability in their genes.  That is completely different from learning.   Cats have much better reflexes than human beings.  Birds of prey have much better vision than human beings.  However, human beings are many orders of magnitude more intelligent than birds.  What's the essential difference?   The difference is that we can CHANGE our behavior, and they cannot.

I suggest you learn a bit more about animal behaviour before you start asserting that all animals act purely out of instinct, and cannot learn from those around them.

The most obvious examples of learned animal behaviour is with circus animals, or domestic animals; but that these animals have the capability to learn clearly indicates that equivalent wild animals must have similar capabilities, and if they have those capabilities, it must be because there is an evolutionary advantage in them having that ability, and that advantage can only make sense if they actually use that ability in the wild.

I have not actually made a study of bats (although I know a man who has, if you really desire a definitive answer on the matter), so I cannot say to what extent bats learn or instinctively know how to echo locate, but I would guess that the innate ability is as natural to them as seeing is to use, but the interpretation of the meaning of the echoes depends on learning as much as we have to learn to interpret what we see.

Then we get to simpler organisms than animals - so, lets go back to bacteria.  Clearly, bacteria do not use sound or sight as we do, so one cannot expect them to 'see' or 'hear' what other bacteria are doing, but they do change their behaviour through information passed between bacteria.  The most complex aspect of this is the transmission of plasmids between bacteria.


Let me make an analogy. A computer can perform long division several million times a second, and do so for hours on end, without messing up a SINGLE DIGIT.   Does this make your computer more intelligent than you?  Of course not.  They burn the circuitry into an integrated circuit during manufacture, and the entire behavior of that microchip can be completely described by a list of short machine code instructions.  (The list is called the Instruction Set). The chip's behavior cannot CHANGE.  In fact, if it does change, it is considered faulty.  Again, you can change your behavior, and the long-dividing supercomputer cannot.

I think you are (in the modern context) confusing a computer with a pocket calculator.  Computers are programmable machines, and you can include programs that are adaptive and self modifying.

Again, you are not being consistent.  You object to looking at changes of scale (moving at looking at an individual human cell, to looking at the total human), yet you are at once saying a computer is unmodifiable because a chip is unmodifiable (which is actually untrue, as chips have memories, which means their internal state has been modified), but a chip is no more a computer than a single cell is an entire human being.

I don't mean to get personal here, but I'm looking at your other posts on this thread, and you are attributing intelligence to bacteria, which don't even have a central nervous system.  I think you are trying desperately to define intelligence as some sort of ability to survive in an environment, and it's not working, and so you are posting ever more absurd sentences in this thread.   Yes, if you look at an entire species of bacteria, some of them are very good at surviving.   

I just want to tell you, very clearly now, that intelligence is NOT "ability to survive in an environment".   It has never meant that in any sense at all.  Plants and bacteria are the stupidest forms of life possibly imaginable since they have no central nervous system.   

But the question as to whether a CNS is required for intelligence is getting involved with the means rather than the observed results.  Intelligence was a concept (even if poorly defined) that existed long before anybody considered the CNS, and even now we don't properly understand how the CNS works, or if what we regard as intelligence is only down to the CNS or other aspects - but these questions only apply to the implementation of intelligence in animals, not the definition of what intelligence is.

Are you really telling me that the only definition of intelligence you will accept is one that is implemented in a CNS, and if one can demonstrate a functional identical behaviour in a natural or artificial system that does not have a CNS, you would disallow it as being regarded as intelligence simple on the technicality that it is not implemented using a biological neurons?
« Last Edit: 08/03/2008 04:46:23 by another_someone »
 

Offline johnbrandy

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Intelligence as an Illusion?
« Reply #41 on: 20/03/2008 07:27:24 »
If you will permit me to address the fundamental issue, intelligence is the innate ability or capacity to interpret, respond to, and if needful, manipulate and organize information or stimuli from ones environment. The degree or sophistication to which this  function is capable is a separate issue. Ascribing human intelligence to nonhuman species or entities is useful and from a research perspective necessary. Such research  affords insight and knowledge into human intelligence as well as nonhuman intelligence. But I suspect there is a danger, intellectually speaking, to equate human intelligence to nonhuman species, or entities, such as bacteria. Certainly, nonhuman species and entities have identical or similar capacities. Many have, in certain respect, superior and truly unique capacities. Should we judge those instinctual abilities under the rubric of human intelligence? I believe this would be a categorical error. Further, intelligence is, in one sense, what intelligence does. If one is proficient at math and not grammar, this does not mean that such an individual is, in any real sense unintelligent. Few, otherwise intelligent individual, are proficient in all disciplines. As well, the idea that intelligence is an illusion is demonstratively false. Such opinions deny the entire history of intellectual evolution. This very notion itself qualifies as illusory.           
« Last Edit: 22/03/2008 02:01:27 by johnbrandy »
 

Offline rhade

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Intelligence as an Illusion?
« Reply #42 on: 20/03/2008 11:12:37 »

There is no relationship between those two things!  "Problem solving" is business-speak. It is like an executive/corporate buzzword.  That's the way somebody who reads the Wall Street Journal would try to define intelligence in relation to an IQ test that they wholeheartedly believe actually measures something.

 
But are you sure you just don't have the right type of intelligence for business? I share your dislike for jargon and modish or inflated diction (only a bad writer uses modish or inflated diction), but that does not mean that business people don't have the right type of intelligence for the job. I've been working with creative people. They are very creative, as the type of intelligence they have leads them to be, but they went out of business.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2008 17:24:05 by rhade »
 

Offline rhade

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Intelligence as an Illusion?
« Reply #43 on: 22/04/2008 13:05:53 »
By the way, I hope everyone wasn't so busy posting on this forum they missed the article on Intelligence by Catherine Zentile on this very site.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2008 17:24:28 by rhade »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Intelligence as an Illusion?
« Reply #43 on: 22/04/2008 13:05:53 »

 

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