Intuition Machine
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Intuition Machine

Speaking to Ourselves and General Intelligence

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

All cognition involves the interpretation of language. But what is the difference between the brain’s interpretation of its senses and the interpretation of language?

For starters, the interpretation of language should appear to be simpler because another agent who vocalized or wrote the expressions did so with an intention of conveying meaning. Language is conditioned so the interpreter can understand it.

However, our environment doesn’t condition its expression for an agent to understand it. Here is the interesting observation, it is the agent itself that conditions how it interprets its senses.

A living thing interprets its environment by virtue of the evolutionary path that it traversed to be the individual it has become. So it senses the world by virtue of both its nature and how it developed in this world (i.e. nurture). It makes sense of the world because it has pre-established its own mental language on how to interpret the world. The language an agent uses to understand the world is the private language that it has developed through its interaction with its world. Said differently, we speak to ourselves to understand our world. We condition what we say so we can understand what we sense better.

That language comes pre-wired at birth (i.e. nature). But general intelligences like humans are able to abstract and extend their innate language to many more complex domains.

What are the cognitive skills that humans by nature have that evolved from our distant primate ancestors? What are the prerequisite skills necessary to leverage the use of human language?

Tomasello argues that these skills are: (1) Joint attention, (2) perspective taking, (3) dual-level collaboration, (4) cooperative communication, (5) enforcement of social norms, and (6) a sense of moral obligation. In general, an inclination towards social and cooperative interaction is a pre-cursor to language development. Said differently, we frame our language as if we are speaking to others. We speak to ourselves like we speak to someone else.

Thus going back to our original question, humans understand their reality because they condition their interpretation from the intrinsic motivation of sharing experiences. There is nothing more fundamental to a human being’s sense of meaning than to share experiences.

Extending this even further, there cannot be a general intelligence that is also absent this kind of intrinsic motivation. Fundamentally, it is empathy that is the mother of invention, connection, and expression.

Empathy is the mother of invention

One cannot achieve general intelligence without empathy. This simple idea motivates this book:

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