The idea of intelligence is going through changes.
In these days we frequently hear the word swarm intelligence.
Once in a while I read the term organizational intelligence but it's not as popular as the first one. In discussions it always gets confused with collective Intelligence which means something completely different.
Collective Intelligence is about an accumulation of IQ. For example a company as an entitity is expected to behave more intelligently (than e.g. another one) when its employees have more intelligence to contribute . The participiants of the collective already carry the high IQ.
Even though IQ cannot simply be summed up (unfortunately), something like a partial accumulation might actually take place.
Organizational intelligence though is something completely different.
It takes place at an extremely low level.
Organizational intelligence is not an output of the participants' minds but much more a result of the way something is organized. Ants probably provide the most common example. They have a habit of following very simple rules without questioning it, accidently creating an effect which is an optimization method for finding the shortest way from A to B, a method that has been transferred into a formal system as so called ant algorithms.
These algorithms can easily be applied to robots having no further AI and no other functions than following just these simple algorithms.
Since these algorithms contain no such thing as a concept of what a shortest distance could mean, it is interesting to see that they still work as method to find the shortest distance.
This also shows that the ants do not need a concept of distance and shortest way but that the effect results from the way the system is organized.
A quite similar effect can be observed with evolutionary algorithms.
They are being used for solving problems which do not allow to find the optimum (e.g. for time reasons). Evolutionary algorithms find solutions that get close to the optimum.
Regardless if somebody wants to believe in a god being the designer of evolution, fact is that the effect of evolutionary algorithms results from the way the system is organized, making a central controlling unit obsolete.
But why call optimization methods intelligence?
Let's come back to the swarm intelligence. Here we have the same effect.
Keeping a big amount of living creatures together instead of having them spread in all directions and further having them all do more or less the same is an effort which would demand a high perfomance from a central controlling unit guiding the swarm with its single intelligence.
This is probably why this output is considered the result of some kind of intelligence.
Again we have the same effect:
It was possible to proof that keeping up the functionality of a swarm can be achieved with only a hand full of rules. Again you can apply these algorithms to robots or reconstruct the swarm behaviour in computer simulations to see how the effect shows up when mindless virtual units simply follow a couple of instructions.
The important thing to take note of here is that these mindless units or living creatures do not need to have the intention of creating that effect.
They do not need a concept of distances, optimizations, swarms or whatever.
In all these cases the individuals' behaviour results in an "intelligent" system behaviour.
In other words what we observe here is an emerging system intelligence.
The system "swarm" as an entity can show an intelligence which the individual may have no idea of.
I wouldn't say this should lead to too much optimism, because certainly there might also be cases in which the system swarm shows signs of stupidity which the individual has no idea of, but the point that I want to make is not whether or not human mankind can be saved...
So the fact that a "swarm" as an entity CAN show intelligent behaviour should not lead to believe that it MUST show intelligent behaviour.
First of all it's more than obvious that this kind of intelligence is actually far more primitive than anything that we connect to the word "mind".
Having realized that this intelligence is not a result of the participants' IQ but does also emerge when simulated by mindless virtual units, the next question I am asking is:
Why should it only be observed among intelligent/living creatures.
The fact that we can easily simulate these effects in a computer, shows that they are simply based on logical principles that could also appear in non-living systems.
In this case, would we call it intelligence?
People tend to say no.
They tend to demand something like a consciousness or an intention that motivates a behaviour to call it the result of intelligence, considering it the result of mind and/or reasoning.
The whole discussion about Searle's Chinese Room and the Turing-Test is an example of how this idea of intelligence dominates at least one branch of philosophy and actually is pretty dominating in peoples' minds in general.
For a complete understanding of the term intelligence all of these concepts definitely have to be taken into account, however my purpose is to talk about a different aspect of intelligence.
So whenever I use the word intelligence I do not refer to it as the output of mind or reasoning.
The developments in the field of Information technology have caused a slightly more liberal usage of the word intelligence, talking about strong and weak artificial intelligence.
The so called weak AI
is interested in even the lowest units of intelligence.
Anything that could possibly be measured as a positive intelligent output is of interest for the weak AI, e.g. a simple algorithm that causes a group of machines to find the shortest distance to a target (antalgorithms) which can be considered a cognitive process.
In case of AI we have humans put this intelligence into the system and in case of ants we have living creatures being involved, so one could argue that this intelligent output can only appear where a more or less intelligent creature causes it from the background.
My hypothesis is that self-organization itself comes with the whole potential of intelligence, containing both: the molecules of intelligence and the glue that accumulates them to what we call mind.
And if somebody is curious about it, it would be my pleasure to explain how and why.