Intelligence and wisdom

2019-04-29

It’s surprising to think that with all we know, we still don’t really understand how thinking works.

We think of humans as the most effective abstract thinkers on the planet. Then we argue endlessly about the Monty Hall problem and get shown up by pigeons.

And here we are wrestling with the question of whether we’re smart and responsible enough to create an intelligent machine. We haven’t even agreed on the definition of ‘intelligent’. What the hell is an intelligent machine? For that matter, what is an intelligent animal?

Look, birds are pretty smart. There’s no shame being shown up by a bird. I think the underlying lesson is that everyone is good at something.

That includes different species. And it includes machines, too. It doesn’t have to be a scary idea that machines might think better in some ways than we do. Specialization can be a good thing. So can diversity. You just have to know what the constraints are.

Intelligence is knowing that a computer is good at math and a horse can run fast. Wisdom is not getting the horse to do your taxes.