Marcelo Dascal

The concept of intelligence:

An informational proposal

Marcos Antonio Alves*


In this monograph we investigate some features of intelligence and information and we present a sketch of the concept of intelligence based on the notion of information. The work is divided in two parts. In the first half the notion of intelligence is investigated in relation to the common sense interpretation of this notion. This is followed by an analysis of the dualist and materialist perspectives on intelligence. We conclude the first part by considering some criticisms of these interpretations. In the second half of this work some studies of the concept of information, specifically by Shannon, Dretske, Devlin, Stonier and Juarrero, are considered. We then suggest an informational approach to intelligence. According to our view, intelligence can be characterised in terms of the efficient manipulation of information. We characterize information as an established structure that starts from the relationship between a receiver (a system that receives or captures a sign) and an object (a system of signs captured by the receiver) out of which meaning (a structure of signs attributed to an object) emerges. The meaning can be direct (intrinsic to the object, as smoke means fire) or indirect (depending on some code external to the object, as in the case of smoke meaning a party). Based on this informational characterization of intelligence, we classify intelligence in relation to its quantity and quantity. The quality of intelligence is determined, for instance, by the ability to efficiently manipulate information within a certain amount of time and in relation to the degree of informational complexity. The quality of intelligence is related to the way in which a system manipulates information, either just syntactically or also semantically or pragmatically. We conclude this paper with some considerations about questions concerning the possibility of modelling intelligence in machines.

* Marcos Antonio Alves was born in Santa Rosa, Brazil in 1975. In 1995 he graduated in Philosophy at the Universidade Católica de Pelotas. His graduation thesis was on a treatise by the medieval thinker William of Sherwood on the Aristotelian syllogism. In 1999 he got his master degree at the Universidade Estadual Paulista, campus of Marília/SP. The dissertation had as main subject the concept of intelligence in Cognitive Science. In his Ph D dissertation, to be submitted soon, he analyses the concept of information, and tries to formulate an informational theory of intelligence, according to which intelligence is determined by the efficient manipulation of information. He is married and has a son. He teaches Philosophy and Ethics at the Universidade do Oeste Paulista.