Sunday, October 05, 2008

The relationship between rationality and intelligence

Every day, we make decisions on a continuous basis. We've come across many situations before, thus can reliably estimate a path of best resolution for experienced situations. In other cases, we haven't seen too much of a similar situation, but still develop an opinion, gut feeling and most likely undertake on a path for resolution.

We can call our thought and actions rational or not rational. The word rational refers to an ability to fully explain an action and most likely we'll agree that assumptions are not taken as an acceptable means of forming it, unless we have data/information to back up those claims. Thus, rationality involves an act or decision that is developed from a calculation and estimate of existing experiences. Irrational thoughts and actions are the products of assumptions, incomplete data or little experience. You could closely couple rationality with logic, although rationality may be a little larger than logic. Logic requires predicates and through logic and knowledge represented in the rules of logic, one can "reason" about the validity of claims, thoughts and actions. However, since logic follows those rules only, whenever knowledge is not embodied within the rules, the system cannot appropriately confirm or deny a specific claim, thought or action.

Intelligence could be seen therefore as the ability to act outside the realms of logic and rationality, based on the premise of uncertainty, and intelligent reasoning is the ability to infer new relationships through trial and error or 'logical reasoning' with analogous material and developing gut-feel probabilities that another situation will behave in similar ways or slightly different with expectations on how it will differ (although we could be really wrong there).

Induction is the ability to estimate the outcome of a situation based on a set of assumptions, initial states, goals and effects. Deduction is the ability to find out under which conditions a situation came to be. Both are intelligent actions.

A computer is a pure rational machine. It acts within the knowledge it was given and we haven't so far agreed that computers are really intelligent. Although some systems exist that can perform very specific tasks in a very efficient way, those systems are entirely rational and cannot deduce/induce new knowledge from their surroundings (enrich themselves with new programming).

Rational is also defined sometimes as "void of emotion and bias". This bias is caused by how easy it is for you to recall memory from similar situations. Stronger emotional situations generally are easier to remember (and this is generally for the good). Many times, we're over-compensating risks related to explosions, accidents or attacks, more than what is needed to appropriately reduce the risk. Some academic research is highly biased, because the author wanted to find the evidence that his claims are true, rather than remain open to find contradictory results. Rational reasoning thus requires us to eliminate the bias, not be guided by opinion, but rely on facts and computation to come to a conclusion.

The following text is related to power and rationality:

The interesting question that you can derive from the text is: "How can people in important governmental positions correctly apply the power that is given to them and make rational decisions in the interest of the people they serve?".

In order to make rational decisions, we may not be biased by irrational opinion. That is... the thoughts and arguments that we come up with must be fully explainable and not be tainted by personal expectations from the leader. We can choose to trust the leader on those claims, but without any explanation given, there is little reason to provide that trust.

Artificial Intelligence in this sense can be applied to some of these problems, although it should probably not be considered leading? There are some AI programs for example in research that can be used by the justice system to analyze historical cases. A current case can then be evaluated against the historical punishments, such that the judge has an extra tool to ensure the punishment given is fair and enough, considering the situation and previous cases. Certainly, each case by itself is one to be considered individually, but the programs give an indication of the similarity. It's thus a tool for the judge to verify his own bias, if any exists.

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