Intelligence and Intellect

The terms Artificial Intelligence and Artillect are thrown around freely in discussions concerning computers, however such terms are not clearly “defined”. What is Intelligence? What is intellect? Why have I capitalised Intelligence? Why have I put inverted commas around “defined”?

Science likes clarity so why haven't these terms been given definitions. Because they can't be in scientific terms. So such terms get left to the realms of philosophy or religion, and the scientists continue to interchange their usage freely. Now I have no intention of attempting definitions of the two, but I do want to draw some conceptual differences between the words to highlight how such words could be used. It is this distinction that is essential to an understanding of my proposals for a computer-integrated curriculum.


The distinction that I draw between Intelligence and intellect is similar to the distinction I would draw between Wisdom and knowledge. Intelligence and Wisdom are often taken as being beyond definition - hence my inverted commas above, however that does not need to concern us greatly here. In a computer-integrated curriculum it is the distinctions that matter rather than absolute definition. At this moment in time we can define what a computer is capable of (and develop mechanisms for updating curricula as technology develops), however recognising the processes that distinguish Humanity from the machine is a starting point for determining the appropriate curriculum.


So let's begin by examining the term intellect. What do we normally consider as intellect - the ability to reason to ability to be logical. Conceptualising in the sense of recognising a commonality ie understanding what is the colour red when looking several objects that are red. Given the abilities of the programmer these are processes that can be programmed, in other words a computer can do them. As in the case of recognising redness, humans may be more capable as it is effectively an instantaneous response (in human terms) and for a computer to carry out such a recognition might require a good deal of processing power. A computer can recognise red, can be programmed to put brush to canvas, but can a computer paint a work of art? Unless the computer had a database of photos of works of art for comparison, can a computer recognise a work of art? Show the computer the Mona Lisa, will it know the difference from a smiley . A computer has no aesthetic appreciation, and it is not creative in the artistic sense.

Creative Design
A computer can build buildings, robots can be instructed either by design plans or by humans to construct artifices that it would be difficult for humans to do (now or in the future). But what about creative design? Cad software can draw up plans very quickly but without the creative input of the designer those plans would be limited. What about problem-solving in design? Are there limitations for computers in solving these problems? I have no doubts there are but need professional advice concerning this. Are there limitations in practice to problem-solving? I could conceive of an automated decision lacking in human expertise and perception that would ultimately be destructive. Maybe that expertise could ultimately be programmed, but how many experts just know what to do - being wise in their field.

I shall be going into this later but I draw the attention of all Pirsig-lovers to his notions of Quality and the technical manual in solving the problems of the motor-cycle maintenance. A computer is a glorified technical manual, and cannot have the Quality that can be in Humanity. And interestingly what about the Zen, can computers have Zen?

Above I mentioned the issue of artistic creativity. I would like to develop this in order to recognise other important human faculties. In films we have images of artists looking for inspiration in front of a canvas, we have writers with writers' block, and we have Archimedes in his bath finding a principle. These people we often term genius, can a computer have genius?

It is generally accepted that a computer cannot have genius but do those suggesting they can have artificial intelligence or artillects say the same? What about those unusual human prodigies who can do tremendous arithmetic calculations in their heads? Are they geniuses? If a computer were to do the same calculation, would you call that genius? I think not.

Insight & Intuition
If we described genius by the words inventive or creative, then we could find majority agreement that a computer does not possess those abilities. So we need to examine what is inventive or creative genius. When a genius creates something, s/he has an insight. When artists paint they talk about being connected to the creative muse, and that what they then do intuitively feels right - intuition. In some tradition Intuition and Wisdom are the same.

Let us consider human awareness through the senses - seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching. We can programme sensors to input information into the computer, and from that sensory information the computer can process and draw conclusions by logical reasoning. But can a computer see, smell, hear, taste and touch the way humans do. No. What the human perceives is different to that of a computer - beyond - more holistic. However the computer is capable of sensory awareness beyond that of humans, robots can work on the moon, be used to collect data in volcanoes. So a computer can do things humans cannot and could never do. This should never be forgotten that computers are a tool to help us when consideration of computer capabilities and their limitations are placed in context. For the doomsdayists, do we conclude that robots are more intelligent because they can function at higher temperatures than humans?

What about communication? For passing information, computer communication offers tremendous capabilities for increasing speed. Email offers the capability of sending information across the world almost instantaneously. Does the ability to communicate faster mean that the computer is more intelligent?

Computers can process the information of financial transactions immediately. Both of these aspects of communication - information processing and transmission - have radically altered our daily lives because in our global economy, which is based on financial speculation, the computer has been able to increase the speed of transaction. As well it has enabled speculators all over the world to become part of a 24-hour speculation bonanza. So whilst on a day-to-day basis people struggle to eke out an existence, these humans push buttons to generate vast profits themselves whilst causing untold chaos to the rest of humanity often untraceable to their source of origin. It is putting computers in the hands of morally-bankrupt people like this that creates the fear we all have of computer domination. Because the morally-bankrupt can make more profits using a computer, does that make the computer intelligent?

A bad workman always blames their tools. With nuclear weapons we had people who made us fear nuclear weapons through their lack of human morality and Natural common sense. Now we have coke-sniffers whose insatiable greed destroys businesses, strips assets, and generally damages the balance of Nature. To be afraid of such ignorance is legitimate, but the tool itself is not the problem it is the ignorance of the user, and the ignorance of the society that gives such users great power.

Compassion, Love and Emotions
So now we reach the human faculties that are the stuff of fiction - love and emotions. We have the contemporary problem of the proliferation of pornography through speed of communication made into a more serious issue because it covers the deeds of paedophiliacs. We have film extrapolating the satisfaction through software of the male sexual desire of Arnold Schwarzeneger's flying partner in The Sixth Day. We have Blade Runner's love for an android, and we have the relationship between love and communication. Can love be expressed in writing? Can love be expressed through a phone call? Can love be expressed through video-conferencing? If not then love is something a computer cannot express ie a computer cannot receive love, process it and transmit love. Can a computer have compassion and how important is this?

Sleeping and Dreaming
The title of the story the movie, Blade Runner, was based on, Philip K Dick's “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, throws up more questions for consideration in this context concerning the importance of sleep and dreaming. These two compose 1/4 to 1/3 of our daily life, even more if you are a student, yet how much discussion is there of the role of both within our current school curriculum?


So I can now summarise the distinctions that are so important in forming a philosophical basis for the computer-integrated curriculum:-

Summarising the Distinctions