Thursday, May 6, 2010

On Intelligence

A quick update on what I've learned recently. Lately I've been doing much reading, which left little time for writing, but don't worry, its not like I'm going to stop writing. Isn't writing with more knowledge better?

I read in the book 'On Intelligence' by Jeff Hawkins about, well, as the title suggests: Intelligence. It states that intelligence can be defined by a simple equation:

Intelligence = Memory <-> Prediction

I'm going to elaborate a little on this. Memory is everything we store in our brains. It could be our own experience, what we've heard or seen, or what we've read. Prediction is the ability to guess accurately what will happen next. In the equation above, intelligence is the interrelatednesss of memory and prediction. We predict things based on our past memories, based on what we've experienced before. Like a medical student can predict that this patient has this disease because he read somewhere in the textbook that the symptoms of this disease fits the patient. In mathematics we learn by steps until we can solve a mathematical question. The first thing we do is memorize the steps. We repeat and memorize the steps until one point where we don't have to memorize anymore and start predicting. "Oh, I've seen this equation before, and I know how I can solve this". You start predicting and automatically know what to do next and get to the answer.
We predict at every, and even in the simplest levels, and its all based on memories. An example of everyday life is predicting your friend's voice. Your brain does this predicting unconsciously so you don't realize its happening. Even before your friend starts saying anything, your brain predicts how his voice will sound like, and when he starts to speak, your brain will acknowledge the prediction. Let's say if suddenly your friend starts to talk, and what comes out is not his voice but your Uncle's voice. Now wouldn't that be weird? Your brain feels that its prediction is violated, it will become confused, and you will start paying attention to the difference.

So basically, the more you read, the more you experience, the more memory you have. Predictions are based on past memories, hence the more memories, the more predictions you can make. Now that would make you more intelligent right? Not necessarily. Reading a lot stores a lot of memories, but without the ability to predict, the memories are for nothing. Prediction is based on past memories, but not just one or two memories. Prediction is based on the combinations of memories, because nothing in this world is exactly the same as you read it in a book, or exactly the same as your past experience. The most intelligent people in the world are not the ones who remember the most, but the ones who can relate from one memory to another, and make predictions from it. In business, the market is never stable. An intelligent businessmen won't make an investment based on what happened to the market yesterday. He makes prediction of the market tomorrow, based on the market yesterday, the day before, weeks, month, even years before. He predicts a pattern, does an analysis, and invests according to the pattern.

A good doctor is not a doctor who sit in his room all day reading textbooks. A good doctor is a doctor who routinely meet different patients with the disease, note the similarities and differences between them, detects a pattern, and predicts whether the next patient has the same disease. He predicts the course of the disease, and expects what manegement to be given next if this happens, what management to give if that happens. These predictions can't be found in textbooks. The occurences of disease is different in each and every area. A disease might be common in one place but not another. So a doctor bases his predictions not only by the textbooks he reads, but also from the area and environment of the place he works in.

Do you know the mere difference between reptiles, mammals and humans? Reptiles and other non-mammals don't have a neocortex, the layer of the brain where memories are scattered and stored. So they can't remember, so, intelligence is out of the way. Mammals have neocortex, but covers a relatively smaller area than humans brains. So, they can store memories. However, their neocortex is only 3 layers, in comparisons to humans which have 6 layers of neocortex. This difference, it shows, prevents the ability of mammals to predict. Humans, having 6 layers of neocortex, is blessed with the ability to predict.

That makes us different from animals. Non-mammals don't have memories, you can teach an iguana to use a hammer for a million years and it won't even recognize that you've been its teacher for a million years. Mammals like monkeys have memories. When taught to hammer nails again and again, they will soon learn to hammer nails, but they can't predict. So all they know is that hammer is used to hammer nails. Humans are blessed with the ability to predict. We've seen and known that hammers are used to hammer nails, but we also know that it can be used for other stuffs. Like breaking open things

So basically, without memories, we are iguanas, without the ability to predict we are monkeys, and with both the ability to remember and predict, we are intelligent human beings.

Conclusively, to be intelligent, we need to gain a lot of memories, and smart to associate them into predictions. As the equation goes:

Intelligence = Memory <-> Prediction

So go read and experience a lot of things in the world, but always intelligently associate what you've learned with one thing or another. Prediction, after all is the key to success in life. Successful businessmen predicts the market, successful architects predicts the future buildings, successful fashion designer predicts the future fashion trend, successful engineers predicts the future technology...the lists goes on and on...


xiraburkhan said...

"The most intelligent people in the world are not the ones who remember the most, but the ones who can relate from one memory to another, and make predictions from it" <<---xpernah trfikir.. thanx ~!!! *mau ambiL ini quote ye~ * :)

Lutfi Fadil said...

Okies, sila2~...mmg utk dishare pon =)

Sakinah Omar said...

I always enjoy reading your writings.
theres just one small problem.
for a 42 year old lady,the font you use is rather small,thus making it a bit hard for me to read.
So I would most appreciate it if you can do something bout it.^_^

Lutfi Fadil said...

Sakinah Omar: Oh, yeke? writings are nothing without my readers, so I guess its something I can definitely do for my readers. I've enlarged the font for my last 2 is better now? =)

Raja Noor Izzuddin said...

Lutfi Fadil, your article "On Intelligence" is awesome and eye opener.

However, I believe you might agree that we human being can achieve greater proportions of intelligence only through the collective human being experiences(tacit + explicit knowledge).

As Sir Isaac Newton said, "I was able to see further because I stood on the shoulder of Giants".

Keep up the good article. And hope we can meet up some day and have a life-changing conversations.

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