Caesar: the nature of intelligence

Caesar: veni vidi comedi

Caesar: veni vidi comedi


I was watching the prelude to Planet of the Apes and admiring how chimps which as far as I could see had never seen a lock after being given the “intelligence virus”, could suddenly because they are now intelligent, could understand how a lock worked and pick it.
I know how to pick a lock as I was once taught this by a locksmith, but I’ve only ever picked one lock for real – an old yale lock on the bench. But until I was taught how I simply lacked the concept of how to achieve this. Likewise, I’ve knapped flints made fire by rubbing two sticks together. However, even when I have a concept of what I’m trying to achieve, it takes time to learn the physical technique. The same is true of language, of maths of reasoning, science – none of it is “innate”.
The best way to describe this is in terms of research on a “vocabulary of gesture”. What this really means, is that people learn to put movements together into a fluid whole. So, e.g. we learn to “throw a ball”. But this is not a single action. It is instead a series of actions: holding the ball, moving the hand to a ready position, accelerating the hand and ball, flicking the wrist and releasing all as a series of very exact timings of contracting and relaxing muscles. But once mastered we can perform this as a single fluid movement which once learnt, can then be incorporated within other movements as in “catch and throw” a ball. And it can be adapted to “throw a dart”, “throw a Frisbee” each with subtle changes which once learnt can themselves be performed as a single fluid whole.
But it takes time to learn this “vocabulary” of gesture. And without practice no one can develop this vocabulary. Intelligence can reduce the time to learn, it can enable us to understand more complex concepts to infer more complex relationships, to have a wider vocabulary of concepts from which we may pick and choose the raw material from which to build new concepts. But like gesture, until we have the basic vocabulary of concepts, no matter how intelligent we are, we cannot build the complex until we have the basic building blocks. And it always takes time.
But perhaps just as importantly, is that whilst we learn one thing we are not learning something else. So, e.g. if we learn how to play football, we are not learning French (unless we happen to be in France). And with all subjects, there is a phase of “learning to learn”. In that we must first understand what it is we are trying to learn. Some see “intelligence” as a simple act of learning “knowledge” as in a series of facts. But one does not need intelligence to recall a vast series of “facts” because Google can recall facts, but it  is clearly dumb.
http://questgarden.com/107/97/0/100805095423/process.htm

http://questgarden.com/107/97/0/100805095423/process.htm


So, what we need to do in order to understand these facts is to classify and link and order and connect them so that we begin to understand the relationships. So we need to group ideas together in the same way that people once grouped the various types of life together.
At first these groups were purely to help file away the information about the various animals, but as we know, eventually the theory of Evolution provided a conceptual relationship tying them all together.
And once we have this overall structure of how various things relate to each other, we can e.g. use it to predict things. E.g. if an animal is a cat, then we expect it to have fur, rear young, have canines, protractible claws. But these generalities can also be wrong. Because most cats are solitary we might conclude that all cats were solitary, but we would be very wrong when it comes to lions.
So, “intelligence” comes not only from gathering a lot of knowledge, not even from knowing the rules and relationships which connect this knowledge, but also from knowing when rules predicting behaviour break down, and that is when experience is needed.
So, how on earth can injecting an ape one day lead to a massive increase in “intelligence” the next? It is akin to having an old PC – and putting a massive memory in place with an ultra fast CPU. Yes, the potential is there, but if you still have basically the same software then all it will do, is perform the same task it has always done, but just quicker.
So, yes, the chimps would have figured out a problem quicker, but fundamentally, if they couldn’t work it out before their “intelligence” was enhanced, they would only perform the same task quicker – which is still not working it out … but only not working it out a lot quicker!

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