Intelligence: Real or artificial?


Throughout the history of the artificial intelligence movement, researchers have strived to create computers that could simulate general human intelligence. This paper argues that workers in artificial intelligence have failed to achieve this goal because they adopted the wrong model of human behavior and intelligence, namely a cognitive essentialist model with origins in the traditional philosophies of natural intelligence. An analysis of the word “intelligence” suggests that it originally referred to behavior-environment relations and not to inferred internal structures and processes. It is concluded that if workers in artificial intelligence are to succeed in their general goal, then they must design machines that are adaptive, that is, that can learn. Thus, artificial intelligence researchers must discard their essentialist model of natural intelligence and adopt a selectionist model instead. Such a strategic change should lead them to the science of behavior analysis.

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Correspondence to Henry D. Schlinger Jr..

Additional information

I am grateful to Dennis Kolodziejski for his helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper, which was presented in November, 1992 as part of the Faculty Forum series at Western New England College titled “Artificial and Natural Intelligence: Differences and Implications.”

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Schlinger, H.D. Intelligence: Real or artificial?. Analysis Verbal Behav 10, 125–133 (1992).

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