Section 1

In one of the MIT Artificial Intelligence¹ classes, we briefly discussed what intelligence meant to different people.

My simplistic way to look at intelligence was:

Intelligence is how we retain what we comprehend and perceive as knowledge, and how we intuitively adapt and apply this knowledge to the various day-to-day tasks in the environment’s context.

Of course, the word intelligence is way too ambiguous and unspecific of a term to be used without a qualifier. I am talking about Human Intelligence.

We weren’t trying to define intelligence, knowing that even Alan Turing, had trouble doing so, and he ended up creating the Turing Test to test if a machine-intelligence can match human-intelligence.

Professor Winston (MIT CSAIL) in the class said that his Ph.D. advisor Marvin Lee Minsky did not bother defining intelligence either and said, intelligence is a ‘suitcase’ word, and you can stuff many words into it.

Intelligence is a suitcase word

So when you think of human intelligence what words come to your mind?
Sentience? Intuitiveness? Coherence? Reasoning?

There are many more words. Some are duplicates of each other, but this is what I came up with.

  • Sentience — ability to experience, feel, perceive things individually
  • Awareness — ability to be cognizant of events and surroundings
  • Self-awareness — mindful knowledge of one’s character, feelings, motives, and desires
  • Intuitiveness — what is perceived to be true without rational thought
  • Perception — ability to see, hear or become aware of things through the senses
  • Alertness — being fully aware and attentive
  • Interpretation — ability to decipher an expression or a situation
  • Coherence — the quality of being logical and consistent
  • Ability — the capacity to act
  • Insight — a deep understanding of a person or things
  • Decisiveness — the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively
  • Acumen — the ability to make sound judgments and quick decisions
  • Comprehension — the capacity to understand
  • Judgment — the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions
  • Discernment — the ability to judge well
  • Realization — an act of becoming fully aware of something as a fact
  • Consciousness — is the state and quality of awareness, knowledge of external objects or something within oneself.

On further thought, I added more words. I think a modern suitcase would also include sense, emotionality, reasoning, responsiveness, and conscientiousness.

  • Sense — the physiological capacity to perceive information via sight, smell, touch, taste, and touch; and additionally ability to sense pain, temperature, heart activity, etc.
  • Emotionality — a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
  • Reasoning — the act of thinking about something in a logical, sensible way.
  • Responsibility — accountability towards others
  • Conscientiousness — desire to do what is right well and thoroughly, taking obligations to others seriously

It is interesting to compare Human and Machine Intelligence keeping above words in mind.

Then again Conscientiousness is another suitcase term. You can stuff other words in it. So are words like self-awareness, creativity, and emotion.

  1. A combined Business Strategy and Artificial Intelligence class taught by MIT Sloan School of Management & MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) professors.




Section 2

In an earlier section, I defined Intelligence as:

Human Intelligence is how we retain what we comprehend and perceive as knowledge, and how we intuitively adapt and apply this knowledge to the various day-to-day tasks in the full context of the environment.

Marvin Minsky described Intelligence as a “suitcase” term. A suitcase that you can stuff words like sentience, awareness, self-awareness, intuitiveness, perception, alertness, interpretation, coherence, ability, insight, decisiveness, acumen, comprehension, judgment, discernment, realization, consciousness, sense, emotionality, reasoning, responsibility, conscientiousness, and more.

Human Intelligence enables humans to think, reason, decide, retain, experience, use symbols to build complex descriptions, recognize patterns, and most importantly merge concepts to form new concepts.

Conscientiousness itself is another suitcase term. You can stuff other words in it. So are words like self-awareness, creativity, and emotion.

To remove ambiguity and to differentiate we tend to use a qualifying prefix for such suitcase terms.  Consider the following sets of examples:

  • Human Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, and Reconnaissance Intelligence
  • Spacial Awareness, Self Awareness, Emotional Awareness, and Covert Awareness.
  • Computational Creativity, and Malevolent Creativity, i.e., creativity for calculated harm.

Categorizing Human Intelligence

There are many theories that classify Human Intelligence.  The three popular ones are by psychologists Raymond Cattell, Robert Sternberg, and Howard Gardner who categorized Human Intelligence based on tasks, cognition, and modality respectively.

Task-based categorization

Psychologist Raymond Cattell identified two task-based distinct forms of Human Intelligence, Fluid and Crystalline Intelligence.

  1. Fluid Intelligence (Gf) is the ability to reason and solve novel problems, independent of any knowledge from the past, and identify patterns.  It includes inductive and deductive reasoning.  You use fluid intelligence to find your way from the airport gate to the car rental kiosk, figuring things out on the go and adapting to your environment.
  2. Crystallized Intelligence (Gc) is the ability to use accumulated skills, learned knowledge and experience. It relies on accessing information from long-term memory. Once you have traveled multiple times, you recall how you navigated from the gate to the kiosk using long-term memory.

Cognition-based categorization

Robert Sternberg provided a cognition-based description of intellectual capability “Theory of Successful Human Intelligence.”  He associated the workings of the mind with three components. Meta-components tell the mind how to act, i.e., to solve problems and make decisions. Performance components do tasks assigned by meta-components. Knowledge-acquisition components are used in obtaining and selectively combining new information.

Sternberg’s “Theory of Successful Human Intelligence” describes three fundamental aspects of Human Intelligence:

  1. Analytical Intelligence is the ability to analyze and evaluate ideas, solve problems and make decisions.
  2. Creative Intelligence involves using creativity to 1) solve a problem when experiencing a novel situation for the first time or 2) automate a task which has been performed multiple times.
  3. Contextual Intelligence is the ability that individuals use to find the best fit between themselves and the environment, either by 1) adapting themselves to the environment, 2) selecting an appropriate environment or 3) shaping the environment to better suit their needs.

Modality-based categorization

Howard Gardner has described numerous and distinctive types of intelligence in his books and updated in his videos.

In “Theory of multiple intelligences,” he describes the following forms of Human Intelligence based on modality:

  1. Linguistic Intelligence: People high in linguistic Human Intelligence have an affinity spoken and written words. It’s a kind of skill that poets, writers, journalists, orators have.
  2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: Logicians, mathematicians, scientists have that kind of Human Intelligence. People with this intelligence are good at mathematical proofs, scientific reasoning, and experimentation.
  3. Musical Intelligence: People with Musical Human Intelligence can appreciate and produce music by voice or by an instrument, or conduct music.
  4. Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence: People with Bodily-kinesthetic Human Intelligence can use the whole body (e.g., athletes and dancers) or part of the body (e.g., hands in the case of a craftsperson) to solve problems or to make things.
  5. Personal Intelligence: Personal Human Intelligence is inward looking (Intrapersonal) and outward looking (Interpersonal). Intrapersonal Intelligence is the understanding oneself and ability to distinguish between feelings.  People with Intrapersonal Intelligence can symbolize and represent complicated and highly differentiated sets of feelings.  They have high emotional and social intelligence and contribute positively to smart groups. People who exhibit Interpersonal Intelligence are better at understanding, motivating, leading, cooperating and working with others.  Strong interpersonal intelligence would be an asset to those who are teachers, leaders, politicians, clinicians, religious leaders, etc. Personal Human Intelligence is closely related to Emotional Human Intelligence (EI) and is the ability to handle intrapersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
  6. Naturalist Intelligence: People with Naturalist Human Intelligence can differentiate between individual plants, insects, and animals. A botanist, zoologist or biologist exhibits this intelligence. We also display this intelligence when we select one a jacket over another or go for a hike in the woods.
  7. Spatial Intelligence allows people to work in space that’s close by. A chess player, a surgeon, an airplane pilot, a crane operator exhibit spatial intelligence. This is how we find our way around a large territory or space.
  8. Existential Intelligence is the intelligence of philosophical questions like that of existence, knowledge, or reality; and artistic or esthetics questions.  For instance,  What does it mean to love? Why do we die? What’s going to be in the future? Only humans exhibit existential intelligence. Gardner made a case against Spiritual Intelligence and proposed Existential Intelligence instead.
  9. Pedagogical Intelligence: Some people have better teaching skills or abilities than others. Teaching Intelligence allows us to be able to teach other people successfully. People who can adapt teaching (method and content) to the audience have higher Pedagogical Intelligence. Source: Howard Gardner
  10. Moral Intelligence or Ethics Intelligence involves establishing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality using notions such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime.

Human Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the capacity of individuals to identify and manage emotions both their own and those of others. EI includes the ability to,

  • be mindful of their own emotions and those of others, i.e. emotional awareness or emotional sensitivity
  • harness emotions and apply them to cognitive tasks like thinking and problem solving, and
  • manage emotions, by adjusting, adapting or regulating their own emotions and those of others, e.g., by cheering up or calming down.

EI is closely related to Gardner Personal Human Intelligence.

Emotional Quotient (EQ) is how the development of Emotional Intelligence (EI) can be measured.

Social Intelligence (SI)

Social Intelligence is used to describe social perceptiveness.  Presence of Social Intelligence in a group makes the group collectively intelligent.  Women have much higher social perceptiveness or Social Intelligence then men.

Emotional Intelligence Vs Personal Intelligence Vs Social Intelligence.png

Non-Human Intelligence

Plant Intelligence

Plants exhibit intelligence in numerous ways.  Mimosa collapses its leaves temporarily when it is disturbed by dropping. However, upon continuous dropping, the plant learns to ignore the stimuli but continues to react to other disruptions.   Plants secrete defensive chemicals when they hear an audio recording of caterpillars munching on leaves. See New Yorker article.

Animal Intelligence

Like Humans, dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror. Monkeys can use tools like a stone to crack open nuts.  Birds, chimps, whales, bears, and octopi can plan for the future. Source: 1 and 2.  Some animals also have enhanced perception compared to humans.  For example, dogs, mice, and rats have an advanced sense of smell.  Dogs can hear high frequencies of up to 64,000 Hertz compared to under 20,000 Hertz for humans.

Animals have perception and rats have demonstrated sequencing.  Only humans have the unique capability of merging different concepts to form new concepts, allowing us to build elaborate, highly nested symbolic descriptions of situations and events enabling storytelling and generation.

Machine Intelligence

Machine Intelligence or Artificial Intelligence is machines exhibiting intelligent behavior generally displayed by humans, animals or plants.  Such intelligence is collectively called Natural Intelligence, which includes Human Intelligence, Plant Intelligence, and Animal Intelligence.

Collective Intelligence

When machines and humans working together collectively to achieve more than what humans or machines would accomplish working alone.  Collective Intelligence is notably higher in smart groups, or groups of people with higher social perceptiveness or social intelligence, where everyone participates equally in group conversations.  Women bring higher social perceptiveness to teams.  Diverse groups also have higher social perceptiveness.

Swarm Intelligence

Artificial Swarm Intelligence or Swarm Intelligence is a type of local collaborative intelligence between robots, agents or boids, interacting locally with one another and with their environment.  Swarm robots exhibit

  • awareness – robots are aware of other robots in local area and environment
  • self-awareness – robots are aware of their own skills
  • autonomy – robots proactively coordinate and navigate
  • solidarity – robots offer their skills and work in unison
  • expandability – robots are self-organizing when robots are added, and
  • resiliency – robots are self-healing i.e. when robots are removed from the local environment, they re-organize.

Collaborative Intelligence

Collective Intelligence is similar to Collaborative Intelligence in which agents, humans or machines, can independently to contribute to a problem-solving network.

We tend to use the term Intelligence quite widely.