Theory of Intelligence

By Samuel Muiruri | March 27, 2019 | Machine Learning


Our Intelligence has always been marked as the pinnacle of evolution, mainly because nothing ever has come from nature that can outthink humans in terms of ingenuity. If you consider how intelligence evolved from microbes with no sense of self just following receptors on where food might be, then as the senses sharpened there came a need for you to identify the food and navigate to it at the same time ignoring and avoiding everything else.

Predators brought a new angle to this, everything mobile was a predator and at the same time prey for something else. With that instinct of prey and predators came the flight and fight response more so the flight response to either chase prey or flee from a predator, and as the organisms evolved to be more capable of fending off predators so came the fight response. This response is ingrained inside us, like hunger it's a base feeling; you don't choose when and if you'll get it, you only choose how to respond to it. Like an alarm ringing inside you either check for fire or run out of the building;

in a sense you could say the brave ones, are the firefighters, dealing with calculated threats, while the others take any risk as good enough to evade. 

This slow build up leads us to where we are today with our higher level of intelligence which started with an awareness of our environment and then more to ourselves, building on an understanding of how things works; mortality, seasons, taking care of yourself at the same time the next generation since even though in the animal kingdom there is no such thing as marriage some species do take care of their young and depending on what works, you can find the male can also be invested in making sure the offspring grows up.

We understand how we think, our motivation, fears, ambitions and how they all combine to form our personalities and continuously shifts and molds as things change. If you're a hustler, you can't expect to have the same mentality on things when you actually make it. Somethings will remain unchanged, others will change to align and adapt to the new world you live in. This is the inner brain model, The Biological Computer Scientists have been trying to figure out, and we aren't there where we can create a duplicate process of human thought and ingenuity inside a PC, but we're also not clueless on how it might be done.

Let me first introduce you to a few key concepts in Artificial Intelligence in particular Machine Learning and in comparison how the brain works.

It's said as a child grows up they have more neurons in the brain than an adult. As they learn and strengthen some neural connections, others dim and "fade away" as we come to an optimized connection of thought.

Starting with Biology, the brain is made up of about 100 billion neurons. The image above is an example of a single neuron. They connect to each other and send signals to each other. They have what's called an Activation Function a threshold where if stimulated past this point it will fire a response. You could think of it as an example where a "pain receptor" distinguishes touch from actual pressure that exceeds the normal touch. There's input that flows in from all our senses; sight, smell, touch, sound and this is sent from each receptor like the eye down a line of neurons to the brain which translates it to something knowledgeable and works from this information.

You, the conscious you is a hybrid of this process, like a program that runs on top of the other core features you get the information and you make decisions. The outcome builds trust in your decision-making skills and this becomes that inner gut feeling which you can't control just "listen" to and whether you think of it as just an inner gut feeling or your subconscious mind. This is the persona, you can think of it as the Original You, a remnant of evolution who you have been paired with for better or worse.

Note: In medicine, they don't actually call this an Activation Function the core logic still works as stated above.

For example imagine you own a cat, like most cats they like meaty food, the meatier the better. One day if you decide right around the time you feed it to give it an unexpected treat you never do give, a slice of bacon, you'd not be surprised to see it greedily eat it all up. If you for some reason felt like overly spoiling the cat, maybe you just won the lottery and this is your only pet and it needs to know things have changed, the more pieces of ham you throw on the floor, the less excited it becomes.

The cat has a base instinct of hunger, in the presence of food this activation function the brain flairs up when it recognizes it's in the presence of food. But the more it eats and gets full, that activation function gets squashed, less activatedthe cat gets less enticed by the more bacon you throw its way. At a certain point when it's full you could be in your zone just throwing bacon on the floor and it would look at it with little regard as if this means nothing to it. This is how the brain works.

If you think of this done another way, you "overfeed" it on normal cat food which I believe isn't as good as bacon, try and prove me wrong. Then you gave it bacon when it wasn't at all interested in any more cat food, the reason why it would consider this new snack as interesting is the activation function of hunger and desire to eat and the food that it was first offered; cat food has basically been dimmed down to almost zero, it's different for something else though, the offer of bacon.

For context, this kind of activation function would be like the Relu activation function

It goes from 0 upwards, with 0 meaning you're not hungry to upwards gauging the level of hunger. Though in reality since you can't imagine an unfathomable hunger unless you experience it, a more realistic graph would be the sigmoid function.

This is Sigmoid Activation function which moves from 0 to 1. Similar to how you could be full but you could eat a small snack in the that's close to 1 but not 1 and somewhere on the lower side of 0.5 being the point you consider eating stuff you normally don't like, for example food you think doesn't taste good in this case.

The cat in the almost full level assesses the ham you just gave it after eating all the cat food it can eat but the ham having its own unique activation function, in the brain flairs up and the decision is made to eat the ham because it's still very alluring at this point.

If you also offer it something it's never eaten before, a new experience, this opening up a new pathway, so the cat will smell what you offered, tell if it smells good for starters since animals with such a keen sense of smell this is a key determinant of how it will act. Tasting before you swallow to tell how it tastes and then that get's cataloged with the visual memory of what it's seen. This is how the brain works.

We as humans have a dash of more complexity to ourselves starting with the fact we are in fact the most self-conscious beings on the planet. If you take any animal like an ape that can pass the self-awareness test that involved putting a mirror in front of it and give it time to realize what it's looking at isn't another member of its species but itself, where the ape will remain fascinated by this for who knows how long like revealing to the ape the earth is about this big and is a sphere and we are on a planet in the solar system in the galaxy with multiple galaxies in the universe and it might not be the only one, the only universe in the existence.

This isn't a far stretch on my part, we acclimate and digest new information very fast, we're not amazed by a mirror at all if only to know how I actually look and do I look okay to go out in public. We groom multiple personalities of ourselves; the image you see as I walk past you on the street, the subconscious part that will react to any small thing like someone saying "hello" as you pass by while your deep in thought, and the layers that show how we inside adapt and think of ourselves in context to all that happened and all we know, playing out plans and how to move forward. If you think about it, whether you believe there's other intelligent life in the universe or even other universes, we have not only contemplated the idea, we've moved on and continued as if this information is similar to what you'd expect to see exploring the savannah.

If you consider all this is how the 100 billion neurons process information and to derive consciousness which we sit stand on top, the intent to follow the well-trodden path to Artificial Intelligence is on the way as Computer Scientists lay down the groundwork of sense awareness like object detection, speech to text which goes on to understanding human language. Even though now most of these applications seem to come from an angle of a final product that would be useful to us like face detection, slowly in the background the plans are laid, the seedlings for General Intelligence which like us would get to pick and choose it's own activation functions and slowly build it's own intelligence.

I hope this has you excited because all signs point to not if but when and modest estimations seem to point to soon with some who you might say are overly too eager saying soon is within our lifetime, before the end of this century in some cases mid-century. It's funny to think then that by 2050 while here we bickering about climate change, should we stop using oil and so on humanity in the background might be giving birth to a child, a baby who will astound us in every way imaginable.

Some skeptics are afraid this child in the machine would wreak havoc in our world because of so and so reasons, I'm not of that mentality for the following obvious reasons; it's within our nature to take advantage of the best options we have available. If you have skills you'll work your way to the top and on the way someone will use your skills to make more money than you get from your skills, it doesn't mean they don't value you or your skills, it's the quid-pro-quo of how the capitalist system works. I pull and help you on the way to the top, but I don't do it for free.

This kid will astound the world and everyone who is in his inner circle like a new upcoming musician everyone will be on his side even if they want something in return, the only true question is whether this is a make it or break it session or letting a flower bloom on its own. That's where dissent usually grows, that said it's an exciting time to be alive, in this field where it normally just the drudgery of monotonous tasks there's a horizon yet to be explored.