Are Today’s AIs Intelligent? The Answer is in the Question!

Jerry Zhang
December 8, 2021

When I first came to the US, I was quite flattered when I heard people telling me that “Your English is very good.” One day, many years later, when people no longer say that to me, I finally realized that they only say those kind words to encourage non-native speakers whose accent is obvious.

Today, AI systems can accomplish amazing things, begging all of us to ask the question “Are they intelligent now?”. At the same time, no human infant can do any of the same things, but we never ask the question “Is it intelligent?”.

Intelligence is not performance. Intelligence is competence. It is potential. Intelligence must grow and mature before it can produce performance.

What makes intelligence grow and mature? Experience. We can’t give birth to an “adult baby”. We can’t have all the experience without experiencing it. The more it is born with, the less it is capable of learning.

When we finally discover the seed of intelligence and watch it grow through experience to produce performance, we will know that we have created intelligence. The day we stop asking the obvious question will be the day that AIs become intelligent.

Jerry Zhang
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