Is Intelligence a myth?

Human Intelligence


Humans like to ascribe some credence to their endeavours and discoveries as going some way to proving that they are intelligent beings, but is it fair to judge the achievements of a few as the sum of progress for the whole?

As many attempt to move ever closer to the holy grail of Artificial General Intelligence I cannot help but wonder if we humans are even qualified to determine if something else is ‘intelligent’ when we could scarcely prove our own intelligence, let alone that of an inanimate object. Are we just kidding ourselves into believing we are a truly intelligent species or are we intelligent but with caveats perhaps?

Would a truly intelligent being display such belligerence to its life support machine? An author, polymath and widely regarded knowledgeable person that I have found myself paying particular attention to of late is Noam Chomsky. Mr Chomsky puts forward a very interesting question in a number of his publicly available talks on YouTube. He raises the question, is it better to be smart or stupid?

If we look at the evidence available so far it would appear that being the most ‘aware’ mammal on the planet has done us very few favours. The ‘so called’ lower forms of life, do not seem to exhibit our self-destructive tendencies. In fact there is much evidence to suggest other forms of life have learned (now there’s an interesting word!) to work together to serve a common and unifying purpose. One has to wonder if this world might be a better place without us altogether.

Has this alleged increase in intelligence (or is it just awareness) over the course of our evolution brought with it unparalleled arrogance? Without any recent tangible evidence of Gods existence in the modern world have some now decided that through technology they can now assume the role for themselves? I note with considerable alarm the comments of certain influential members of society who identify as ‘trans-humanists’ that are eagerly wanting to upgrade their particularly limited human bodies so that they can live for hundreds of years through technological advancements.

I will come back to this particular topic in another post as I find the whole subject of how to attempt to cheat death in this way quite narcissistic, but for now I will simply pose the following question: did the trans-humanists ever stop to consider that they are actually meant to die to satisfy their right to live? Our technological developments have brought many wonders to the world, few would dispute this, but for every ground breaking way we find to save lives we cannot help ourselves from inventing (or discovering) ways to end them – is this the behaviour of intelligent beings? The ego in some of us still seems to be rigidly stuck with the ‘I’ worldview rather than the ‘We’ and for those egoists that cannot accept their mortality I struggle to understand why they are not putting all of their effort into making the future a more desirable place to be before trying to reach it before anyone else?

Despite the wishes of the transhumanists I am of the opinion that nature is and always has been one step ahead of us. We are learning all the time, more and more people are starting to wake up from this slumber and realise that we are all in this together, to do nothing is to wait for the end credits. I would like to put the idea forward that right now, as I write this, human consciousness is still evolving and perhaps much more than we realise.

Are we starting to regain an awareness that has faded into obscurity since the days of our early ancestors, the recognition that all life is joined together like the strands of a spider’s web? Upset the balance at our peril. We are yet to prove our true claim to the lofty realms of intelligent beings but what we can probably start to claim with some confidence is our ever increasing awareness that we are both the problem and the solution to most of the threats to our existence.




An unpaid debt?

Collective Responsibility

Do you, like me, find yourself questioning whether we are precipitously close to tipping our planetary home beyond a point of no return sometime soon? A point upon which nature would casually shake us off as a dog might shake off water after an outing into a lake?

I have been a keen follower of world events for many years now. Thanks to the Internet we are more aware than ever of the relentless destruction and over exploitation of our world’s natural resources that is happening every day. Resources that it is dubious that we could ever rightfully claim ownership of in the first place. As we endlessly continue to exploit and consume I find myself forced to consider the question: When might this colossal debt need to be paid back?

Rather than seeing ourselves as the almightily powerful and rightful owners of this ball of spinning mass in outer space, I am wondering if all along we have merely been trustees tasked with keeping it in good working order for the benefit of all life that exists upon it?

It is apparent to me that nature has her own means to make us take note and consider our position. One might even wonder whether she has already started to do so. But will we take heed in time? There is no greater danger to humankind right now than the existential threat of self-destruction. I am not at all convinced that the majority of my  fellow humans across the globe have yet realised just how serious this is. Right now, I’m not even sure if it is possible to find a way back out of this dead end, but we would be absolute fools to not even bother to try!

Every day I am grateful to this planet for providing me with the resources I need to stay alive and be this entity that I call ‘me’. Every day that I continue to see nature abused for profit or greed I remain determined to do what I can, in my own small way, to at least try and change what might otherwise be an inevitable outcome. There is too much on the line right now, we owe this to future generations surely?

With this in mind, the future is not looking like a great place to be right now. If we somehow manage to avoid the ever present risk of nuclear war in the first instance then there is likely to be even greater inequality and competition for resources in the not too distant future. If we already look bad for our selfish ways now then what might we look like when there is more to feed and less to feed them? This truly is a recipe for disaster and it will take the utmost will and determination to have any hope of changing this.

This will not be an easy task, the most intelligent species on the planet is unfortunately not worthy of that title. Ignorance and greed abound. This job will require some help, if you have a care in the world like me perhaps you might join me and the other contributors to this site and we can open an organic discussion as to how we might restore some balance back into the World?  If I didn’t believe in my ability to cause change I would have not even bothered to write this. And if you did not in some way believe in what I have written you would probably not even bothered to read this far.

The collective power of determined individuals should not be understated. As a collective we have more power than we realise. I hope that you will take this opportunity to participate in the solution rather than the problem. Perhaps you already have some clear ideas about where our species has gone wrong in the past, and on that basis how we might avoid making similar mistakes in the future? If you would like to contribute to this site with your own blog posts on the theme of ‘Collective Responsibility’ then please get in touch. If you have any other ideas, comments, suggestions, feedback or anything else to offer then any help is welcome. Whatever brought you here, I hope you now leave with a bit more to think about than when you arrived…

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