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Nova Spivack on “A Universal Classification of Intelligence”

5 February 2008 No Comment

Nova proposes defining a universal scale to measure intelligence in a recent post [LINK].

This is an interesting topic and not one I’m sure I can fully comment on in one sitting. The first task in defining such a scale would be to define "intelligence". Is recognizing a pattern a form of intelligence? Say a 2D pattern vs 3D? What about 4D? E.g. A pattern of events over time?  Is learning from prior behaviour? Is it the ability to sustain one’s own life? Or is it something else?

In thinking about this I become aware of the limited view or dimensions I as a human have on such a topic. For example, if I asked a dolphin (in dolphin language of course) to define intelligence, they might say it’s the ability to communicate through motion in the water, or the ability to form a relationship with a human.

But an ANT for example has no concept of humans, or any other species to my knowledge. Do ants communicate (in a combative form) with bees for example? Cross-species communication seems to be a higher form of intelligence. Maybe a bees’ definition of intelligence is being able to follow orders given out by the queen?

Like time, is intelligence relative to a particular viewpoint? For example, do ants see intelligence as the ability to participate as part of the collective? if so, this would call into question OUR ability as humans to define what intelligence is.

Is intelligence driven by goals? Or productivity? The ability to achieve what you want? Or is it a side-effect? Acting "intelligently" often results in being more productive or in a faster-track to achieving an objective. E.g. a monkey can eat tasty ants with less effort by utilizing a tool than by digging out the ant-hill. So it intelligence driven by efficiency? Or laziness? Or effective use of resources?

What about higher-order beings? Say beings that transcend 4 dimensions and exist in say 5? what would they consider intelligent? The ability to optimize time spent in a particular version of the universe? 

Or tangential measures of intelligence, for example, if creation of tools is a measure, (manipulating the physical surroundings) would an act of betrayal (manipulating other beings) be an even higher form?

Intelligence itself first needs to be defined somehow before it can be measured but this itself may prove the most challenging task of all.

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