Intelligent Automation #1 — What is Intelligence?

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Intelligent Automation #1 — What is Intelligence?

As I sit in front of my computer on a hot Thursday morning and knowing that I will be working remotely for a while due to COVID, I am grateful that I can think, I can write, and I am intelligent. But, one second. What is intelligence?

I am starting a series of posts that will be focused on Intelligence Automation. This is more of a passion project and my intent behind these posts is to educate myself further by doing additional research on these topics and sharing what I know along with what I will learn.

Intelligent Automation has two basic components as the name indicates: Intelligence and Automation. In this context, Intelligence refers to Artificial Intelligence. And, this is where things get really complicated. “Why?”, you might ask. Because we don’t have a proper definition of “intelligence”.

So, let’s start with that: What is Intelligence?

There is a parable called “Blind men and an elephant”: Here’s the tale from Wikipedia

“ It is a story of a group of blind men who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant’s body, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then describe the elephant based on their limited experience and their descriptions of the elephant are different from each other. In some versions, they come to suspect that the other person is dishonest and they come to blows. The moral of the parable is that humans have a tendency to claim absolute truth based on their limited, subjective experience as they ignore other people’s limited, subjective experiences which may be equally true” ( Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant )

Intelligence has been discussed throughout human history. We don’t have a proper, all-encompassing definition of intelligence. 2500 years ago, Socrates gave one definition of intelligence “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.” while Oscar Wilder said “The intellect is not a serious thing, and never has been. It is an instrument on which one plays, that is all”. A more recent work by Howard Gardner proposed 8 types of intelligence in his 1983 book Frames of Mind:

  1. musical-rhythmic,
  2. visual-spatial,
  3. verbal-linguistic,
  4. logical-mathematical,
  5. bodily-kinesthetic,
  6. interpersonal,
  7. intrapersonal,
  8. naturalistic

Creators of Artificial Intelligence thought of analytical intelligence — which most of us usually think of when we talk about intelligence — when they first coined the term. And, as Robert Frost aptly said “And that has made all the difference.”. But, in the case of Artificial Intelligence, I would have changed the previous verse “I took the one less traveled by,” to “I took the one more traveled by,” as the researchers that came up with AI took the more common definition.

Next post, I will be writing more on Intelligence to be followed by what AI really is. Then, we will be ready to discuss Intelligent Automation.