Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It is hysterical to me that conversations about intelligence can be had with a straight face. There is an abyss there, a place that exist beyond our own human-centric notions and needs, and somehow we are completely blind to it. We run around on a plateau with our eyes shut. One day we will drop over the edge and that will be that. That is what comes of running around blindfolded on a plateau, it’s like a game of Russian roulette, you can be okay for a maximum of five rounds before oblivion snakes its hand around your ankles and pulls you into the darkness. We are only just barely beginning to understand the workings of the human mind, and even in these studies, there is little hope of finding an objective truth. The assumptions that are made at the beginning of any undertaking have direct bearing on the results that such an undertaking will yield. The beginning is also the end.
Where we start determines where we will end. And we as human beings begin all undertakings from the point of view of a human being: can we eat it, can we wear it, can we fuck it, will it cause us to experience emotional well being, or a more comfortable material existence? Will it perpetuate the species, or advance our treasured ideals? We are only interested in ourselves. We assume that we are the crown of creation, the best direction that evolution could have taken.
And what if this is not the only world in which life thrives? What if this is just one direction that evolution may take when restrained within a certain set of conditions? Not the best, or the most unique, or the most special, just one of many?
So much of what we think is colored by the idea that there was a supreme maker and that we were the best that he could do. Let’s suppose that we accept that our ideas about a supreme maker are all egotistical fancies, stories that any schizophrenic would tell themselves, or any available listener, to justify that alluring suspicion that they are special. We want to be special. We have created a mythos or two to give credence to our specialness.
Each individual human wants to be the best, the most adored, and these desires that color our most personal impressions of the world around us also worm their way into the expressions of the collective. The village, the state, the nation, the race, the species….mine must be the best. My existence is justified by my righteousness, my righteousness is justified by the existence of a creator whose existence is implied by my own. Everything that I come up with that originates from my humanity ends with my humanity. It is an endless feedback loop.
It is hell.
It is life as a human animal.
We may ask: what is intelligence?
In the case of humans, Intelligence is a process of evaluating information based on currency and relevance to the human intelligence rather than on detail or accuracy. Our intelligence is self centered, self serving. Our intelligence is the ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience. We are all about profiting ourselves.
But suppose that we are just one direction that evolution may take under certain conditions. Suppose that different conditions dictate different forms of intelligent life. The values that arise from that other evolutionary process would be different from our own. What is important and useful in material, and intellectual and even emotional terms, to one system is not shared by all systems.
Sometimes the interaction between a pair of intelligent systems is profitable for both systems. Sometimes it can profit only one and not the other, and at other times it may be neither harmful nor beneficial to either system. Not in any obvious way. Given that situation, how then would we measure intelligence? How would we define it?

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home