Minds and Machines

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 391-444

First online:

Universal Intelligence: A Definition of Machine Intelligence

  • Shane LeggAffiliated withIDSIA Email author 
  • , Marcus HutterAffiliated withRSISE@ANU and SML@NICTA

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A fundamental problem in artificial intelligence is that nobody really knows what intelligence is. The problem is especially acute when we need to consider artificial systems which are significantly different to humans. In this paper we approach this problem in the following way: we take a number of well known informal definitions of human intelligence that have been given by experts, and extract their essential features. These are then mathematically formalised to produce a general measure of intelligence for arbitrary machines. We believe that this equation formally captures the concept of machine intelligence in the broadest reasonable sense. We then show how this formal definition is related to the theory of universal optimal learning agents. Finally, we survey the many other tests and definitions of intelligence that have been proposed for machines.


AIXI Complexity theory Intelligence Theoretical foundations Turing test Intelligence tests Measures Definitions