Is complex emergence necessary for intelligence under limited resources?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Sep 19 2005 - 08:54:21 MDT


> The answers that others offer to your questions are, pretty much: no
> you cannot really avoid complex systems, and mathematical verification
> of their friendliness is the very last thing you would be able to do.
> The main defining characteristic of complex systems is that such
> mathematical verification is out of reach.

There is no question that human mind/brain is a complex system which
achieves its intelligence via emergence, self-organization, strange
attractors, terminal attractors, and all that great stuff....

And there is little question that emergence-based intelligence is
intrinsically very difficult to predict and control with a high
degree of reliability, thus rendering verified Friendliness an
unlikely outcome.

However, these observations don't tell you much about whether it's
possible to use digital computers to create an intelligence that
DOESN'T rely critically on the emergent phenomena typically
associated with biological complex dynamical systems.

Semi-similarly, the human mind/brain probably uses complex emergent
phenomena to add 2+2 and get 4, but, a calculator doesn't, and a
calculator does a better job of arithmetic anyway.

One may argue that flexible, creative intelligence is fundamentally
different than arithmetic, and is not achievable within limited
computational resources except via complex, unpredictable emergent
dynamics. In fact I strongly SUSPECT this is true, but I haven't SHOWN
that it's true in a convincing way, and I'm not 100% convinced
it's true.

If you have a strong argument why this contention is true, I'd be
very eager to hear it.

On the other hand, some others seems pretty sure that the opposite is true,
and that it IS possible to achieve powerful intelligence under
limited resources without requiring unpredictable emergent phenomena.

However, I haven't seen any strong arguments in this direction either.

-- Ben Goertzel

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