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Much hype has been generated by people promoting apocalyptic views of artificial intelligence (AI) as something that threatens the future of mankind. Views on this are often polarised: some authors believe AI is the brave new world of possibilities and will give humans everlasting leisure; others believe the advent of superintelligence will mean the extinction of the human race.

I have a more nuanced view, which I will illustrate in this article. Before doing so, however, some entertainment in the following video.

This video shows one of my roosters, Vitali, taking a ride on my vacuum cleaning robot. The robot is artificially intelligent: it can map the house, find its way through it and avoid bumping into the walls or other obstacles. It will go back to its docking station when it is done or when it needs to recharge. The chicken is not known to be intelligent, but chickens are smarter than many people think: they have a social hierarchy (the pecking order), can keep track of up to 100 other chickens’ rankings in the group and can be taught various tricks. Who is the more intelligent one, though: the chicken or the robot?

I like to view this through the model I have been using for years and that I have based a couple of my books on: the Integral Model, originally conceived by Ken Wilber and modified by myself for use in e.g psychology, service management and people management. This model looks as follows.

The world is divided into four parts here, making two splits:

  1. The split between things concerning the individual (upper half) and things concerning a group or collective (the lower half);
  2. The exterior (objective, outside) view on things (the right hand side) and the internal (subjective, inside) view on things.

This split results in four quadrants, on which we can map various aspects:

  1. The upper left quadrant, with individual internal aspects, such as emotions, cognition, morality, etc.
  2. The upper right quadrant with individual external aspects such as physical growth, health and behaviour;
  3. The lower right quadrant with collective external aspects, such as social structure, politics and organisation;
  4. The lower left quadrant with collective internal aspects, such as culture and communication.

All these aspects can go through development, which is shown as the concentric circles in the model: higher development of an aspect is indicated by being further out from the centre: the longer the arrow, the more developed that aspect.

This model can be applied to intelligence: some authors seem to think intelligence is a one-dimensional thing that is either small or large. However, we know that there is a difference between cognitive intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), social intelligence (SQ) and other types of intelligence. These types of intelligence can all be mapped to the Integral Model: there is intelligence, and development in intelligence, in all aspects that are shown in the figure.

What does this mean for our chicken and our robot?

In my view, artificial intelligence is currently limited to a narrow area of practical capabilities – which is why it is commonly called artificial narrow intelligence (ANI).

By Dolf van der Haven.

Buy Dolf van der Haven’s book, Service Management: It’s All About the People.