What intelligence actually means

Roger Schank, speaking at our first ‘Software for Domain Experts’ conference in Athens last week, gave a theory of what intelligence means – or to be more precise, how we usually use our intelligence.
Perhaps the most interesting way we use our intelligence is when we spot patterns.
To tell an old family story – at my father’s mother’s wake, my uncle was sitting outside the house in Battersea on a doorstep, and an old lady walked by who said it was very sad news that she had died. My uncle asked her who she was, and she told him. My uncle put some patterns together and realised it was the lady who had (at this point the story is not so clear but she’d had a colourful past which he’d heard about – or was illegitimate – or something). But he’s putting together patterns based on little bits of information.
To give another example, in city restaurants tonight, old friends who work in a similar field but not together, will meet for dinner and talk about what they were doing, and someone will say what they will doing, and trigger another story about someone’s experience, an their conversation will go like that – “that reminds me of ..” “i think i know that guy” “once we had something like this in Paris”
This is all mundane stuff but this is how we use our intelligence.
And computer can’t do this or anywhere close.
Roger told an example about IBM’s Watson, supposedly the world’s most advanced ‘artifical intelligence’ – which basically reads Wikipedia pages in a sophisticated way, like Google does.
In the Jeapardy quiz show (which Watson famously won), the question was asked of ‘what was the anatomical oddity U.S. Gymnast George Eyser, who won a gold medal on the parallel bars in 1904.”
The answer is that Mr Eyser had an artifical leg.
Watson read the Jeapardy Wikipedia page, which had notes about his leg, but Watson couldn’t understand what it was actually saying. So Watson gave the answer that is leg was an ‘anatomical oddity’, not that he had an artificial leg. But Watson can’t spot patterns.
When we really develop artifical intelligence, it will spot patterns – as well as you can and my uncle can. But we’re nowhere near there yet.

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