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Humans + AI: Mapping Intelligence

A map of definitions of intelligence, human and machine.

Click on the image for the full size pdf.


The advent of next-generation “Artificial Intelligence” demands clarity on what we mean by “intelligence”, human or other. Here we map a variety of definitions that have been proposed.

There are today and there will remain forever different dimensions to the intelligence of humans and the intelligence of the machines we have created.

The distinctive intelligence of humans will always in some way transcend that of machines.

Uncovering and developing what is most uniquely human about our intelligence is perhaps the most important challenge (and opportunity) our species faces.

Dimensions of Intelligence


Definitions of Intelligence

“a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximize its chances of success.”
Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig

“a behavior appropriate to the ends of the system and adaptive to the demands of the environment”
Allan Newell and Herbert Simon

“a combination of many mental processes directed toward effective adaptation to the environment.”
Encyclopedia Britannica

“an agent’s ability to achieve goals in a wide range of environments”
Shane Legg & Marcus Hutter

“a combination of many mental processes directed toward effective adaptation to the environment.”
Encyclopedia Britannica

“ability to correctly interpret external data, to learn from such data, and to use those learnings to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaptation”
Kaplan and Haenlein

“achieving complex goals in complex environments”
Ben Goertzel

“autonomously acquire an extremely wide range of specific knowledge and skills and can improve its own cognitive ability through self-directed learning.”
Peter Voss

“the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings.”
Howard Gardner

“an ability to use optimally limited resources – including time– to achieve goals.”
Ray Kurzweil

“the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience”
Mainstream Science on Intelligence

“am ability to hold multiple perspectives and ask intelligent questions.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“an aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment.”
David Wechsler

“The capacity to acquire capacity.”
Herbert Woodrow

“an ability to learn from experience, to reason, and to understand complex ideas.”
Linda Gottfredson

“an ability to integrate, organize, and apply knowledge in a self-determined manner to solve complex problems or learn new skills and concepts.”
Edward Deci and Ryan

“an intelligence… acts to maximize future freedom of action, or keep options open… [it] doesn’t like to get trapped.”
Alexander Wissner-Gross

“an ability to carry on abstract thinking.”
Lewis Terman

“an ability to generate novel and useful ideas.”
Robert Sternbeg

“the ability to see hidden connections, to discover what is important, and to make sense of the world.”
Maria Montessori