By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider
Too smart for their own good.
Smarter than their britches.
These are the kinds of semi-polite insults that are sometimes used to take down someone that seems to be highly intelligent.
This can be especially used whenever the person evokes the know-it-all kind of stance and tries to lord over others with their professed smartness and smarty-pants attitude.
Not everyone that might be in the intellectual high-end rankings is necessarily the type that wants to make sure that you know they are the mental giant in the room, but it does seem to happen with great regularity and presumably to the delight of the brainy colossus that is overtly full of their own boastfulness.
How shall we weigh the brainiac in terms of gauging their peak-level intellectual power?
I suppose you could remove their brain, place it on a scale, and see how much it weighs.
Probably not very conducive though to their continuing capacity as a living, breathing, functioning human being. Speaking of physically measuring the brain, there have been all sorts of efforts to try to dig up brains of famously smart people and do various dissections of their brains, doing so in hopes of being able to ascertain what made them so sharp.
Nowadays, the usual measuring stick for figuring out someone’s intellectual proficiency is the IQ (Intelligent Quotient) test.
Using a standard such as the classic Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale test, which was first promulgated in 1916, there are often published rankings that try to make claim to whom among us is the topmost intellect. Stephen Hawking was around an IQ score of 160, something that we know due to his actually having undertaken an IQ test.
Albert Einstein’s score of around 160 to 190 is an estimate based on analyses of his writings and works (he apparently never took an IQ test, though he could have done so, but perhaps opted purposely to not take it or never had cause to take one).
Typically, if you can score 115 or above you are labeled as someone with a high IQ.
Getting a score of over 132 will get you bumped-up into the highly gifted category. The 145 and above is considered at the genius level.
The highest ever recorded is supposedly a score of 263, but there is some disagreement about the matter (this score is attributed to Ainan Celeste Cawley, born in 1999 and alive to this day).
Questioning The IQ Measurement
Not everyone believes in the IQ bandwagon.
Some would say that the IQ test is a questionable means to measure someone’s intellectual prowess.
There are predetermined aspects such as the nature of your language, your culture, and your propensity to solve puzzles, all of which makes critics decry that the IQ number is at best a surrogate of intellect and at worst a misleading gauge of intellect. There are also concerns that those that perchance score high on the IQ test will then consider themselves a kind of special class of human, perhaps encouraging them to look down upon others. The Mensa group, which is a high-IQ association, admits only those that have at least a score of 132 or other such scores depending upon the IQ test being used.
Another qualm about IQ tests is that it seems to judge your bookworm kind of thinking, more so than a true “smartness” indicator.
I’m sure you’ve seen the common portrayal in movies and TV shows of the highly intellectual person that cannot tie their own shoes and cannot open a paper bag. If someone can do really well on tests that ask about obscure numeric patterns or mind-numbing word games, does this really showcase intellect? It might, depending upon your definition, but it generally is not considered the same as measuring your smartness.
Some believe that being smart is different from having a high intellect.
You might so happen to be highly intellectual and also highly smart. There are some that believe you can be highly smart, perhaps tip-top smart, and yet not necessarily have an extremely high intellect. Generally, the odds are that you’d score well on an IQ test, but the high IQ doesn’t necessarily translate into being highly smart, and nor does the aspect of being highly smart necessarily indicate you’ll be an A+ on an IQ test.
Another concern about any of the IQ tests is that your intellectual performance is being measured only at a given point in time.
Maybe at a relatively young age you could score a quite high IQ, but later on in your middle-aged years you aren’t able to score as high. Does that mean you’ve dropped in your intellect? This takes us into the other word that some like to use, the word is “wisdom” and for which once again there is a debate about the relationship between wisdom, intellect, and smartness.
You might gain wisdom as you grow older, at least that’s the usual expectation.
Will you also increase your IQ?
Some claim your IQ is your IQ, no matter what your age and when you perchance take an IQ test. This though does not bear out in terms of the reality, which is that people can take an IQ test at different points in their life and have differing scores. Plus, you can take a different kind of IQ test and score differently on it that you might on some other also “valid” IQ test.
The debate that really gets people bubbling on the IQ topic involves whether your IQ is based on nature versus nurture.
Are you born with a particular IQ level that will ultimately surface once you become of an age to be able to express it?
Thus, it’s a DNA kind of thing. Or, are we all perhaps born with the same IQ potential and your upbringing and environment will dictate how far your IQ will emerge? Perhaps it’s a nurturing element for which some of us happen to get the proper intellectual inspirational blooming and others of us don’t.
The half-in half-out answer is usually stated that you are born with some IQ capacity and it will either emerge or not depending upon your environment and how you are raised.
If we put a baby in the woods to be raised by wild wolves, and the baby happened to have an IQ of 260, which we had not yet been able to measure of the tiny tot but say we guessed that the tiny baby had such an IQ, would the genius level IQ ever be showcased? Would being among wolves allow for the IQ to come to the surface? Would a tree make a sound if it fell in the woods and there was no one around to hear it?
Darwin had an interesting take on intellect.
He proposed that your intellect might contribute toward your survivability in a manner you might not have previously considered. Sure, we would guess that if you had an IQ you could hopefully figure out how to make fire and hunt gazelles, which would presumably enhance your chances of survival. Darwin also hypothesized that topnotch intellect would attract mates and therefore boost your chance of survivability and for carrying on your legacy of high intellect.
For those of you that might have been beat-up by a strong-armed muscle rippling bully as a child, and for as much as our society seems to be keen on humans having muscular bodies, it is perhaps a surprise to consider that intellect might be so revered and be on Darwin’s favorites list.
We are used to the trope that the nerdish kid is the one that is physically meek and mild. The physical imposing one is the one that gets ahead and readily attracts all the mates. Our fascination with the character Spiderman is representative of this kind of imagery.
Learning From Parrots About IQ
A recent study of budgerigars, a type of parrot, provides an ingenious glimpse of how we might try to test Darwin’s hypothesis.
Researchers in China tried to construct an experiment to see whether female budgerigars would be more attracted to male budgerigars that demonstrated greater intellect than other male budgerigars involved in the study (this was research done by the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing).
The male budgerigars were presented with a difficult foraging task. Some were shown how to solve it, but this happened outside the gaze of the female budgerigars.
The female budgerigars were able to watch the male participants try to open a container and access food. The males that had no prior training (i.e., not being shown the trick), were generally unable to open the container. The males that had the prior training could open the container. Presumably, the female budgerigars would infer that the males that were successful in getting the food were the intellectually sharper ones and the males that failed at doing so were intellectually inferior.
I’ll steer clear for now on the question of whether this is a gender-biased study and merely note it for your noteworthiness.
In any case, the outcome of the study was that the females tended to prefer the males that had succeeded in obtaining the food from the container. You might argue that it suggests the females were more attracted to the seemingly higher intellectual males. In a manner, it provides evidence to support Darwin’s hypothesis on the matter.
I realize that you are perhaps a bit skeptical about the experimental approach and whether the designed experiment really is on-target to Darwin’s theory.
For example, how do we know what the female budgerigars were really thinking about?
Maybe they ascribed other attributes to the males that succeeded in the task, and those attributes might have little or nothing to do with a perceived sense of intellectual prowess. Furthermore, the females were never allowed to try to undertake the task, so they were not fully aware of what the task consisted of and had to base their “choices” as to the males based solely on watching them perform the experimental task.
Another potential weakness about the study involves our overall conundrum about how to measure intellect. The means of figuring out how to get into a locked container might be considered a problem-solving kind of task, which might or might not require high intellect, and therefore we could debate if intellect is truly being encompassed and exhibited in this study. Were the males merely showcasing keen problem-solving skills rather than high intellect per se?
Based on the experimental design, we need to accept the idea that we are to infer that the container access matter is a sign of good problem solving and that correspondingly, a good problem solver is ergo a high intellectual. Recall that earlier it was pointed out that smartness and intellect are not necessarily the same. Why should we believe that keen problem-solving and intellect are necessarily the same?
They probably are not, most would likely say.
Is this problem-solving task a valid surrogate in lieu of administering to the budgerigars our now-accepted IQ measurement tool, namely the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale test?
Makes one kind of chuckle to consider how we might get the budgerigars to take a conventional IQ test. Ponder, how might we ask these Australian parakeets to take an IQ test. These gregarious parakeets are typically referred to as the budgie, and I’d suggest it would be quite interesting to watch as the budgie “read” a conventional IQ test and pencil in, or shall we say peck in, their answers.
Let’s get back to human intellect.
The parrot study was mainly to illuminate that intellect is presumably a quite important matter and that Darwin was a proponent of the belief that intellect ties to survivability, doing so for humans and other animals too.
Considering AI and IQ
In the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the presumed overarching goal consists of trying to make machines that seem to exhibit the equivalent of human intelligence.
I’ve tried to word that sentence carefully. Notice that I’m saying that the machine is not necessarily the same as humans in terms of how human intelligence exists.
Many would assert that if we can reach intelligence in machines and do so in a manner that might be quite different from how humans arise to intelligence, we have nonetheless succeeded in achieving artificial intelligence.
The famous Turing Test is a somewhat simple notion of how we might measure whether AI has been achieved or not. Generally, it consists of having a machine that has presumably AI that competes with a human that presumably has human intelligence, and another human asks questions of the two competitors. If the human inquisitor cannot differentiate between the two competitors and is unable to state which is the AI and which is the human, one could infer that the AI has achieved human intelligence.
For my detailed assessment of the Turing Test, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/turing-test-ai-self-driving-cars/
For the notion of so-called Super-Intelligence, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/super-intelligent-ai-paperclip-maximizer-conundrum-and-ai-self-driving-cars/
Whether we are facing a grand singularity, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/singularity-and-ai-self-driving-cars/
For my article about why some say we should start over on the AI pursuit, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/starting-over-on-ai-and-self-driving-cars/
For conspiracies about AI, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/conspiracy-theories-about-ai-self-driving-cars/
Here’s a good question to contemplate. How high is up?
I mention this because the question arises as to how much intelligence do we need to say that there is an AI that is indeed intelligent?
Suppose an AI system can pass the Turing Test.
Suppose further we give the AI an IQ test.
Many would claim that a score of 70 or lower is an indicator of an intellectual disability. Imagine what we would be pondering if the AI took an IQ test and got a score of say 50.
What a dilemma!
We have an AI system that appeared to pass the Turing Test and seems to be intelligent, and yet at the same time did quite poorly on the IQ test. I realize you might assert that the AI would have been unable to succeed at the Turing Test if it did not have a sufficient IQ, presumably an IQ of at least around 100, which is the “normal” average that usually is scored. I’m not so convinced that you are correct in that assertion.
I’ll shift our attention though from the bottom side of the IQ scale to the top side of the IQ scale.
How high up will we want the AI to score?
If the AI can score at say 115, which is the considered high-IQ range, would that be sufficient?
Consider this scenario.
Your life is in the hands of a robot that must decide what to do and potentially save you. You can choose a robot that has an IQ of 50 (considered intellectually disabled), or one that has an IQ of 100 (intellectually average for a human), or one that has a score of 115 (high IQ), or a score of 160 (Stephen Hawking’s score), or 190 (exceeds genius), or even let’s say the never-yet-human achieved score of 300 (knocking the socks off the IQ test!).
I’m guessing you’ll pick the highest possible number.
You would presumably use the logic that the higher the intellect of the robot then the greater the chance of it making sure your life is saved. Why take a chance on a robot that has “only” an IQ of 160 (Hawking’s level and Einstein’s level), if you could pick one that is off-the-charts at 300? If you could get yourself a robot that had the AI equivalence of two-times the score of Einstein, it would seem unwise of you to take anything lower.
Right now, AI systems are being built and deployed, but there isn’t anyone especially measuring what their intellectual score is. The belief seems to be that if the AI can “do the job” it was intended to do, hopefully it is intellectually commensurate enough. Should we be pleased with this approach? Are you willing to be at the mercy of an AI system for which no one even knows how intellectually low or high it is?
We also need to revisit the earlier points about smartness versus intellect.
I can tell you straight out that the AI of today does not have smartness.
The AI of today is brittle and considered narrow and lacks what often is referred to as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).
I also earlier mentioned the notion of wisdom, which, again the AI of today would be far below any kind of wisdom scale (not even anywhere on such a scale). There are ongoing efforts to try to imbue AI with common sense reasoning, but it is a long slow road, and nobody knows whether it will ever even succeed.
For my assessment of common sense reasoning efforts, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/common-sense-reasoning-and-ai-self-driving-cars/
For plasticity in Deep Learning, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/ai-insider/plasticity-in-deep-learning-dynamic-adaptations-for-ai-self-driving-cars/
For the boundaries of AI, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ai-boundaries-and-self-driving-cars-the-driving-controls-debate/
For the AI irreproducibility problem, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/irreproducibility-and-ai-self-driving-cars/
AI Self-Driving Cars and IQ
What does this have to do with AI self-driving driverless autonomous cars?
At the Cybernetic AI Self-Driving Car Institute, we are developing AI software for self-driving cars. One question that nobody seems to yet be asking is whether we are supposed to be aiming for regular cognition or something more pronounced such as superior cognition. This ties to the discussion herein so far about intellect.
Allow me to elaborate.
I’d like to first clarify and introduce the notion that there are varying levels of AI self-driving cars. The topmost level is considered Level 5. A Level 5 self-driving car is one that is being driven by the AI and there is no human driver involved. For the design of Level 5 self-driving cars, the automakers are even removing the gas pedal, brake pedal, and steering wheel, since those are contraptions used by human drivers. The Level 5 self-driving car is not being driven by a human and nor is there an expectation that a human driver will be present in the self-driving car. It’s all on the shoulders of the AI to drive the car.
For self-driving cars less than a Level 5 and Level 4, there must be a human driver present in the car. The human driver is currently considered the responsible party for the acts of the car. The AI and the human driver are co-sharing the driving task. In spite of this co-sharing, the human is supposed to remain fully immersed into the driving task and be ready at all times to perform the driving task. I’ve repeatedly warned about the dangers of this co-sharing arrangement and predicted it will produce many untoward results.
For my overall framework about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/framework-ai-self-driving-driverless-cars-big-picture/
For the levels of self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/richter-scale-levels-self-driving-cars/
For why AI Level 5 self-driving cars are like a moonshot, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/self-driving-car-mother-ai-projects-moonshot/
For the dangers of co-sharing the driving task, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/human-back-up-drivers-for-ai-self-driving-cars/
Let’s focus herein on the true Level 5 self-driving car. Much of the comments apply to the less than Level 5 self-driving cars too, but the fully autonomous AI self-driving car will receive the most attention in this discussion.
Here’s the usual steps involved in the AI driving task:
- Sensor data collection and interpretation
- Sensor fusion
- Virtual world model updating
- AI action planning
- Car controls command issuance
Another key aspect of AI self-driving cars is that they will be driving on our roadways in the midst of human driven cars too. There are some pundits of AI self-driving cars that continually refer to a Utopian world in which there are only AI self-driving cars on the public roads. Currently, there are about 250+ million conventional cars in the United States alone, and those cars are not going to magically disappear or become true Level 5 AI self-driving cars overnight.
Indeed, the use of human driven cars will last for many years, likely many decades, and the advent of AI self-driving cars will occur while there are still human driven cars on the roads. This is a crucial point since this means that the AI of self-driving cars needs to be able to contend with not just other AI self-driving cars, but also contend with human driven cars. It is easy to envision a simplistic and rather unrealistic world in which all AI self-driving cars are politely interacting with each other and being civil about roadway interactions. That’s not what is going to be happening for the foreseeable future. AI self-driving cars and human driven cars will need to be able to cope with each other.
For my article about the grand convergence that has led us to this moment in time, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/grand-convergence-explains-rise-self-driving-cars/
See my article about the ethical dilemmas facing AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ethically-ambiguous-self-driving-cars/
For potential regulations about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/assessing-federal-regulations-self-driving-cars-house-bill-passed/
For my predictions about AI self-driving cars for the 2020s, 2030s, and 2040s, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/gen-z-and-the-fate-of-ai-self-driving-cars/
Returning to the topic of cognition and intellect, let’s consider how the matter of the level of intellect applies to the advent of AI self-driving cars.
We’ve so far considered whether there is a need to aim for a “highest feasible” intellect for an AI system that we might be constructing and fielding.
For AI that is designed and built to drive a car, what level of intellectual prowess should be the overarching goal?
First, you could say that we should aim at the level of intellect as exhibited by humans in the case of performing the driving task.
That would seem to be a reasonable marker as to the intellect that we as a society expect for execution of driving a car.
In that case, you would be hard-pressed to suggest that any kind of “higher” intellect is needed per se. Generally, the average person is able to obtain a driver’s license and legally be able to drive a car. As such, we’d presumably say that an “average” IQ is sufficient for the driving effort, and therefore we could be satisfied with an average IQ in terms of the AI that would be driving a car. Perhaps a score of around 100 would be satisfactory.
Suppose we pushed to get the AI of a self-driving car to a higher level of IQ.
Would we gain much?
It is not especially convincing that a higher intellect is going to make that much difference in undertaking the driving task. Are expert-level drivers that race cars of a higher intellect? There doesn’t seem to be much study on that matter, but I’d guess that those race car drivers are more versed in the driving of cars and yet are not intellectually especially at a higher level than the rest of us. Are professional drivers such as cabbies or truck drivers at a higher level of intellect than average car drivers? Again, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to suggest they are.
If we don’t seem to have a base of high intellects that drive cars, in other words no set of high IQ’s that happen to drive cars and that have been studied to see whether they are somehow more proficient at driving cars, we are left to speculate about the higher IQ and its relationship to driving. You could claim that a higher intellect might be able to think more rapidly when driving a car and be able to mentally add something to the driving chore.
Perhaps a higher intellect would allow a human driver to be more adept at piecing together the clues of the driving scene.
They might be able to see that there is a car up ahead and that there is a pedestrian on the sidewalk, and be able to put together puzzle pieces in a manner that lets them know the odds are that the car is going to hit its brakes, due to the pedestrian likely stepping onto the street, which will then cause the cars behind the stopped car to come to a sudden halt, and will cascade into a potential car crash. Notably, all of these mentally complex calculations being undertaken in a fraction of second, faster and more completely than someone of a lesser but average intellect.
In that manner, a higher intellect might foster being able to envision more complex car-related traffic possibilities. A higher intellect might enable the driver to find clues about the driving situation that those of an average intellect would fail to piece together. A higher intellect might suggest that the driver would be faster at processing the driving situation. This faster mental processing might allow for being able to sooner avoid adverse driving moments. Whereas an average driver might get “caught off-guard” because of not having detective-like realized the clues of a pending driving problem, a higher intellect might be more likely to do so. And by mentally processing it faster, this gives the higher intellect driver more available options since they sooner ascertained that some driving action was needed, upping the chances of being able to select among more early escape options.
For my article about the speed of cognition aspects, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/cognitive-timing-for-ai-self-driving-cars/
For the role of defensive driving mental calculations, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/art-defensive-driving-key-self-driving-car-success/
For the human foibles of driving, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ten-human-driving-foibles-self-driving-car-deep-learning-counter-tactics/
For the driving complexities, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/prevalence-induced-behavior-and-ai-self-driving-cars/
For my article about scene analysis, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/street-scene-free-space-detection-self-driving-cars-road-ahead/
Will Higher Intellect Boost Driving
I realize you might argue that perhaps the higher intellect is not necessarily going to get all of those driving advantages.
Similar to the study of the budgerigars, perhaps driving a car is a problem-solving task and not as influenced simply by having higher intellect. You could assert that being able to perceive a driving scene and make life-critical decisions about operating a car is more so a problem-solving task rather than a purely intellectual exercise.
Thus, we might be barking up a wrong tree by trying to lay claim that the higher intellect will ergo lead to being a more adept driver.
The higher intellect might allow someone to be a better or faster problem-solver, but this is not axiomatic. These are two different items, whether being a topnotch problem solver versus having a high intellect. Presumably, if a higher intellect wanted to be a topnotch problem solver, they might have an easier time of doing so, prodded on by their high intellect, though it is not automatically the case.
We can also wonder whether a higher intellect might actually work against the notion of being a better driver of a car.
Remember the earlier mention that we as a society seem to assume that the higher intellect is often in the clouds in terms of not paying attention to day-to-day elements of life. We portray high intellects as unable to tie their own shoes. If that’s the case, it would seem that suggesting they are going to be driving a car at a higher plateau of driving proficiency is actually the opposite of what we should expect. We apparently should be worried about these higher intellects driving a car. They might be less able to do so in comparison to an average intellect driver.
Why would it be the case that a higher intellect might be a poorer or worse driver than someone of an average IQ?
You might at first assume that certainly the higher intellect would win at any task involving intellectual effort. The physical aspects of driving are generally rather simplistic, involving pushing a brake pedal and an accelerator pedal, and steering a wheel, all of which even a very young child can do. It’s the intellectual aspects of driving a car that appear to make the difference of being a proficient driver versus one that is not so proficient. A driver that cannot think quickly enough and tie together their sensory clues is one that is seemingly more likely to get into car accidents and create untoward traffic conditions.
We already as a society are concerned about distracted drivers. A distracted driver is one that is not paying attention to the driving task. The distraction can involve a physical form of distraction, such as taking your hands off the wheel to manipulate your smartphone, or maybe turning your head to talk to someone in the backseat of the car and thus your head is now turned away from the driving scene. The distraction can also be a form of intellectual distraction.
When your mind is focused on a text that you have just read on your smartphone, you are no longer well-engaged in the driving task. Even if your head and eyes are now facing the roadway, your mental awareness of the traffic conditions is going to be weakened by your mental preoccupation with the text that you read. I know that there is a lot of concern about using a smartphone while driving, but we’ve already had other forms of mental distractions too, such as talking with others in your car and discussing say the latest in politics or some other non-driving related matter.
You don’t even necessarily need to have something prompt you to mentally become disengaged with the driving task. Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming while driving your car? Imagine you are driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, a six hour or so drive, and suppose it is a quiet traffic day and the main highway is pretty much empty. Nothing but miles upon miles of farms and rolling hills. For some people, they find themselves unable to concentrate on the roadway and their minds wander. This lack of mental connection to the driving task can catch them unaware if suddenly a tire blows or a deer darts across the highway.
One could suggest that at a higher level of intellect you might be able to multitask mentally more so than someone of an average intellect. If that’s the case, perhaps a minor mental distraction would not materially impact your driving, while for the person of average intellect it could have a more pronounced impact. In essence, if we imagine that intellect is like an apple pie, thinking about some text that you just got might consume half of the apple pie for an average intellect, but only a tiny slice of the apple pie of the higher intellect.
On the other hand, one could claim that perhaps the greater intellect is more prone to tossing their intellect at everything that comes along. In that case, whereas the average intellect might devote just a small mental slice to consider the text they just received, it could be that the higher intellect pours all of their mental capacity into thinking about the text, therefore having very limited intellect leftover to focus on the driving task.
For tests about human responsiveness while driving, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/not-fast-enough-human-factors-ai-self-driving-cars-control-transitions/
When humans get themselves into a tit-for-tat while driving, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/tit-for-tat-and-ai-self-driving-cars/
For my article about the role of greed, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/selfishness-self-driving-cars-ai-greed-good/
For my article about the dangers facing back-up drivers, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/human-back-up-drivers-for-ai-self-driving-cars/
Being Overly Smart Has Potential Downsides
I had earlier indicated that we often say that someone is smarter than their britches or too smart for their own good.
If we reword this to suggest that someone has too high an intellect for their own good, let’s see how that might impact their intellectual prowess and see how it could impact their driving.
I’ll consider these five exemplars of the potential adverse consequences of high intellect:
- Analysis Paralysis
- Shallowness of Thought
- False Over-Confidence
A higher intellect might be more prone to analyzing a myriad of options. Will that car ahead opt to make a sudden lane change? Will the pedestrian leap into the street? Is that traffic light going to change to red in the next few seconds? All of this thinking can produce analysis paralysis. The driver becomes preoccupied with analyzing what to do or what might happen, and as a result they aren’t making the kinds of rapid decisions that need to be made when driving a car.
A higher intellect might be dismissive of others. You’ve likely had someone that thinks they are so sharp that they dismiss other people’s ideas or suggestions. Unless they believe the other person is of an equal intellect, they don’t get much credence to the other person. A driver that is dismissiveness might opt to ignore a warning from a front seat passenger that tells them a car to their right is possibly going to intervene into their lane. This dismissiveness can undermine the driving effort.
Shallowness of Thought.
A higher intellect will often categorize mental tasks and then proclaim that a particular task is not worthy of their intellectual powers. As a driver, a higher intellect might be tempted to consider the driving task as menial. As a result, the person is unwilling to put much mental effort toward driving. They prefer to operate a car with a shallowness of thought. If they do so, it could spell danger as they are potentially underestimating what they need to be considering in order to be a safe driver.
A higher intellect might tend toward over-thinking every moment of the driving task. I knew someone that was looking at every angle at every step of driving a car. They made incredible mental leaps about the aspects that could go awry, almost to the degree that they even were calculating the chances of a meteor striking the earth in front of their car. This over-thinking can cause them to become muddled and overwhelmed about the driving task.
A higher intellect might believe that they are the best driver ever, which is fueled by their belief in their own astounding intellect. This leads to overconfidence. They assume that for any driving situation they will be able to mentally find a means of driving the car to escape. This type of driver can be riskier in their driving and get themselves into binds that they are actually unable to get out of safely.
I am not saying that only higher intellects will potentially fall victim to the aforementioned mental guffaws. Any driver can suffer from analysis paralysis, and from dismissiveness, and from shallowness of thought, and from over-thinking, and from false over-confidence. I’d bet though that the higher intellect is perhaps more likely to find themselves falling into these traps. It is the basis for why we have as a society come up with the too smart for their own britches label.
Could an AI system for a self-driving car also be vulnerable to these same kinds of mental underpinnings?
Sure, each of these intellectual dangers can readily happen to an AI system. I don’t want you to though assume I am saying that AI is sentient, and it is succumbing to these mental impairments in the same manner that a human might. I am not suggesting or implying this.
Instead, I am trying to assert that the AI as a form of automation can suffer the same deficiencies and it is up to the AI developers to try to make sure that the AI is not caught off-guard by these computationally equivalent mental maladies.
For example, analysis paralysis can befall the AI if it gets bogged down trying to explore a large search space and fails to realize that time is crucial to making a driving decision. The AI could be so engrossed in assessing the sensory data and the virtual world model that it lets the clock continue to run. The running clock means that the world outside the self-driving car is moving and changing, which might mean that the AI is gradually losing out on options for making a vital car driving decision.
I had predicted that the Uber incident in Arizona might partially have occurred because of the time taken by the AI to try to assess the driving situation. Preliminary reports assessing the Uber incident appeared to have echoed that point. Though some might shrug their shoulders and say that’s just the way the real-time automation works, I am not one to fall into the trap of allowing automation to be some kind of independent amorphous entity that happens to do what it does. I hold accountable the AI developers that should be developing their AI systems to handle these kinds of real-time situations.
For my initial assessment of the Uber incident, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/initial-forensic-analysis/
For my follow-up about the Uber incident, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ntsb-releases-initial-report-on-fatal-uber-pedestrian-crash-dr-lance-eliot-seen-as-prescient/
For the responsibility aspects of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/responsibility-and-ai-self-driving-cars/
For my article about egocentric AI developers, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/egocentric-design-and-ai-self-driving-cars/
For my article about AI developers and groupthink dangers, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/groupthink-dilemmas-for-developing-ai-self-driving-cars/
Is superior cognition needed to drive a car?
We might debate the meaning of the word “superior” and be at odds about the notion of what being superior in cognition consists of.
If we use the everyday notion of IQ, the question can be rephrased as to whether higher IQ is needed to drive a car. There seems little evidence to suggest that any particular level of above average IQ is a needed element to drive a car, since the world at large appears to be able to drive a car, and we can reasonably assume therefore it involves an average IQ effort.
It could be that if we can achieve AI that can drive a self-driving car, we might want to see what it can do if it is pushed to a higher level of intellect. Perhaps we might have better driving and safer driving. This is not necessarily the case. We also need to be aware of the kinds of mental maladies that seem to at times correspond to having higher intellect, and whether those might be found in AI systems and therefore undermine the heightened intellect aspects.
I’ve not entertained herein the conspiracy theorists that are worried that we might be pushing the AI intellect to a point that it surpasses human intellect and then opts to take over humanity. The paperclip making super-intelligence mankind-overtaking AI I’ve covered elsewhere. For now, I’m merely trying to get AI developers to consider the degree of intellect that they are aiming to achieve in their AI systems, and also prodding the rest of us to also consider what level of intellect are we becoming vulnerable to in terms of AI systems that increasingly are entering into our lives.
I’ve highlighted the nature of AI self-driving cars as a key indicator of how the intellect might come to play. Many AI systems are not as involved in making immediate life-or-death decisions as those of AI self-driving cars. I would hope that we would be more concerned about the intellect prowess of AI systems in the role of deciding whether a multi-ton car is going to make a right turn or maybe come to a sudden stop, decisions on which the lives of humans hang in the balance. It sure seems like having superior cognition would be a handy capability, if properly designed and deployed.
The Einstein AI for self-driving cars has kind of a ring to it, doesn’t it.
Copyright 2020 Dr. Lance Eliot
This content is originally posted on AI Trends.
[Ed. Note: For reader’s interested in Dr. Eliot’s ongoing business analyses about the advent of self-driving cars, see his online Forbes column: https://forbes.com/sites/lanceeliot/]