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Intelligence and Ethics

While intelligence certainly involves some level of calculating, analyzing and reasoning, it seems to go beyond that. We also associate with intelligence, collateral characteristics such as communications, emotional awareness and even some things we consider to be spiritual. The ability to apply the results of reasoning and calculating in a manner associated with “wisdom” is also key. Wisdom is connected to ethics or the analysis of what is right and what is the best thing to do.

This raises a question about whether or not all of the qualities other than pure calculating, can be accomplished with calculations of some form. Basing analyzing and reasoning on calculations does not seem a stretch. But emotions, wisdom and ethics are more difficult to conceptualize.

Ethics, once correctly framed, is actually an extrapolation process similar to any other scientific prediction. We take known facts, select values for key variables, extrapolate a result, evaluate the condition of the result, and recycle the process, changing the key variables to predict different results. Eventually, by comparing the predicted results, we can reach conclusions about how the changes in variable effect the outcome and possible select choices to produce a desired outcome. The fuzzy areas are in the framing process and evaluation process. We know those areas can be handled to a certain degree by calculations, but we need to know they have consistency at level of granularity that makes them useful.

Wisdom can be considered as applied ethics, but it also often implies an understanding of human response and therefore, human emotion. Emotions are mental states that seem to be more intuitive than driven by reasoning. They can be classified into groups such as: anger, fear, happiness, excitement, sadness and more. Each of these base emotions is mostly driven by primal survival programming. That simple programming lends itself easily to calculations, but the swirl of emotions interacting with our more analytical reasoning processes does not. Understanding this mixing bowl of algorithms is what makes human interactions complex and breaking it down into more simple and discrete calculations will not be easy, but it can be done.