Alex Wissner-Gross: A new equation for intelligence

Speaker: Alex Wissner-Gross

Length: 11:48

Summary

“The question of whether machines can think is about as relevant as the question of whether submarines can swim” – Computer scientist Djikstra criticising early computer scientists obsessions with machines ‘thinking’.

Alex looked at developing a universal equation of intelligence. Many of the recent intelligent computer programs made actions to maximise future options – not to be ‘trapped’.

His equation is  F = T ∇ Sτ

  • F is Force of intelligence
  • T is strength to maintain future actions
  • With diversity of future options S over time horizon τ

Universes with more entropy are more conducive to intelligence. Alex discussed Entropica, a program that seems to make it’s own goals by maximising long term entropy. This naturally allows it to balance a pole upright, tool use, social networking, play the stock market – even without being instructed to do so. All these inherently human traits can be encouraged by this one equation.

From this experiment, the following conclusions can be drawn

  • The ability to take control of our universe is not a result of intelligence, but a requirement for intelligence.
  • Goal seeking is important to maximise future actions, even at the cost of today’s action
  • Intelligence is a physical process that maximises future freedom, and resists future confinement

A fascinating talk, with important implications in philosophy of intelligence and computer science in addition to the fields mentioned during the experiments. Strongly recommended.

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