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DPRG: Re: Little Ricci 2

Subject: DPRG: Re: Little Ricci 2
From: Kevin Ross kevinro at nwlink.com
Date: Wed Jan 7 14:30:18 CST 1998

Warning: Dangerous and slippery slope ahead!

The very core problem with calling something intelligent is a lack of
definition of what intelligence actually means. This is one of those
philosophy problems that people have been arguing about for all time. In my
experience, this argument turns normally rational people into blithering
fools who will make outrageous claims that can't be proved or disproved.

I had one college professor make an extremely convincing argument that
overhead projector was intelligent based on the behaviour it demonstrated
when dropped on the floor. In response to external stimuli, it managed to
destroy itself according to the laws of physics that it learned during its
construction. He was able to defend his argument with incredible logic, and
nobody in the room (of 35 pretty good computer scientists) was able to
create a proof that he was wrong.

The key (and fallacy) to his argument is that the word intelligence has an
abstract definition, not a measurable one. His claim that the object was
intelligent could not be disputed in any rational or measurable way.

Moral to the story:  Intelligence is a subjective quality.  There is no way
to argue about a subjective quality since there is no basis for measurement.

Rule of thumb:  My own personal habit is to replace the word Intelligent
with the word Beautiful whenever I read it in a paper. This keeps my mind
>from trying to defend my own 'intelligence', and also allows me to
understand the authors views while taking into account the subjective nature
of the claim. I read 'The robot demonstrated intelligence as it interacted
with the environment. ' with the factual equivalent 'The robot demonstrated
beauty as it interacted with the environment.'

Kevin

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