The Equation for Intelligence: Implications

I am surprised that since the TED Talk by Alex Wissner-Gross there hasn’t been more positive discussions on the implications of the Equation for Intelligence (F = T  Sτ) — in other words why people haven’t been blown away by it. Most of the discussion has been from people working on Artificial Intelligence (an oxymoron if there ever was one) and in general they don’t like it.

However Michael Schaef, a physicist, has been blown away by the force of intelligence and I have paraphrase some of his comments below:

Is it a Break-Thru Like Chaos Theory?

I believe, this simple equation will change the way we see and understand the world. It may lead to a better future for mankind. I remember in the 80ies, when I studied physics, Chaos Theory emerged into physics. It provided a scientific explanation for the behaviour of complex systems. Once you understand that small differences in the initial conditions of non linear systems can yield to wildly diverging outcomes (butterfly effect),  chaos theory is simple and obvious. The Equation of Intelligence has similar qualities. Once you understand it, it is so obvious that you wonder why it was not formulated much earlier. As physicist, I really like the simplicity, beauty and generality of the equation. I also like the idea that we now can describe intelligence as a force that changes the physical world.

Hierarchy of Intelligent Systems

Let me point out, that intelligent systems are often hierarchical. Cells form plants, animals and humans. Humans form families, tribes, nations. The entire biotope of the earth is an intelligent system. Think about mankind. Each individual person has a model of the world, and the interaction of all humans form an implicit model of the world of mankind. Evolution, with survival of the fittest, is a form of intelligent system. Any believe system or memes, like a religion, atheism, capitalism or communism have a build-in set of models of the world and create forces in the world. It would be really interesting to analyse how good different believe systems are in terms of maximising the future freedom of the system. In terms of force to change the world and in terms of direction. There could be memes that have a lot of force but are misguided and die out.

Evolution on Steroids

Because intelligent systems actively increase their chance of survival, intelligent systems are systems with an accelerated evolution. "Blind" evolution depends on random variations and the power of selection. Intelligent systems can boost the chances of survival by using force to move to states with higher chance of survival.


Self-Organising Systems

Self-organising systems are examples of the force of intelligence — such as a city, a beehive, an ant colony, a slime mould, computer games and software.


Cartographical representation of a self-organising map (U-Matrix) based on Wikipedia featured article data (word frequency). Distance is inversely proportional to similarity. The "mountains" are edges between clusters. The red lines are links between articles. (Click to enlarge)

Finally Michael Scharf concludes:

The simple formula

F = T

explains how intelligence applies forces to the world that maximises its future freedom action. If we understand and apply it, we might be able to act more intelligently, which means we may put us in a better state for the future. It might provides us with cues on how to act more intelligently as individuals, as families, as communities, as companies, as countries and as mankind.


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