Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What is Intelligent about “Intelligent Aliens”?

The term “Intelligent Aliens” has been used countless time in this blog, but what exactly does it refer to? ‘Aliens’ just means creatures from another planet, or living in spaceship colonies, and not endemic to planet Earth. Intelligent on the other hand, does not mean having a high IQ, or high alien IQ. IQ is something Earthlings use to measure intelligence, but it is largely a matter of two things, memorizing definitions and being able to use them in language, and memorizing processes for rather elementary mathematics. Reading comprehension might be added as a third, but once the definitions of all the words have been memorized in gory detail, fitting them together to pull out a meaning from a paragraph or two is less difficult than either of the two preceding tasks.

These two components of Earth-measured intelligence are easily automated, so by measuring these components of IQ, we are really asking the test-taker to act robotic and regurgitate word definitions and mathematics procedures. Some comprehension tasks might require integrating a bit of mathematics into language, or at least being able to sort out cause and effect in a page of prose, or keep a time sequence right, but it is not much by way of real intelligence.

Real intelligence is the ability to solve real problems. On Earth, we have nothing but problems. Every task in construction, repair, selection, contracting, assessing, investigating, organizing, transporting and so on involves incessant problem solving. Granted, the subjects on our IQ tests are prerequisites for many of these things, but problems can be quite involved, mutually dependent, based on hidden assumptions that need to be uncovered, sequential or branched like a tree, requiring the gathering of knowledge or information that is more or less sequestered or otherwise unavailable, or something else. The skills needed for these tasks are quite different from those prerequisite stages, and may be more difficult to teach in an academic setting.

Nevertheless, if an alien civilization is going to climb to asymptotic technology, problem-solving skills are what are needed, not linguistic erudition or computational prowess. Science progresses because some individuals find a problem that needs solving, perhaps to make a desired invention work or to minimize some costs or to fill in a gap in knowledge, or to test some theory in a new way, or in countless other ways. Then the individual, alone or in a group or organization, solves it. Science and technology progress further by another step, one of millions. When this goes on for a thousand years, asymptotic technology is reached. The basis for technology to rise to its culmination is the existence of large numbers of individual citizens of the alien world who can find and clearly identify problems and then do whatever is necessary to solve them. Finding resources to solve problems just becomes part of the problem. Aligning support to solve problems is another part of the solution. Seeking and gaining acceptance of the solution is yet another part of the solution. At the core of all these pieces, the driver for the whole process, is the ‘intelligent’ part of “Intelligent Aliens”.

It is time to introduce a new term, or rather to use one which is rather apparent from similar ones: “Asymptotic education”. Education is usually not thought of by us on Earth as a science, but in alien civilizations which have proceeded further toward asymptotic technology, it will be a very clear one. The process of bringing knowledge into each young or new alien will be understood, and it will not be chaotic or controversial. Chaos and controversy are the signs of a science which is not yet developed, and they dissipate as more understanding is gained and verified, and becomes part of the body of accepted science.

Asymptotic education will understand how to educate and how to verify that education is taking place. It will understand what are the conditions under which education can occur at the desired rate, meaning conditions which exist at the site of learning, which exist covering the tools used, which govern the external affairs of the young learners, and which pertain to any aliens, intellos or robots used in the education process.

How adult aliens will interact with young aliens is not clear; there are many alternatives. Suffice it to say that when the alien civilization has progressed fairly far in learning the science of education, it will understand what is the best way to have this interaction. Then it would be necessary for them to integrate the goals of education with any other goals which govern young aliens.

Education can become an all-encompassing term in an advanced alien society. Now what we call appreciation might be a significant part of alien education, where the young aliens experience things in the larger surrounding society. This could involve interaction with other adult aliens, with different areas in the city, with the exterior of the city or even different locations on the planet, or absolutely nothing at all but virtual experiences. Our understanding of education is not able to predict how an alien society will perform the needed experiences that it decides are the best way to educate.

It should be remembered that science is absolute, and not dependent on the planet in which it is discovered. The laws of physics are the same everywhere, and so are the laws of education, which are the body of knowledge and especially verified theories relating to implanting the whole body of information and practices into the young. On planets where aliens have different neurological structures, the inculcation might be different, but the body of knowledge that needs to be gained by the young should be remarkably similar. Since asymptotic technology is the same, and technology controls interactions with the city aliens live in, similarities must exist. With a different structure for hands on different alien planets, there would be a different type of manual controls, but what the controls would be able to accomplish will be similar.

To answer the question posed by the title, ‘intelligent’ means able to find, identify and solve problems of all manners, and it also could mean having received the results of asymptotic education. These would be the same.

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