Human Intelligence vs. Artificial Intelligence

Human Intelligence vs. Artificial Intelligence

There are four major differences between human and artificial intelligence and it is highly unlikely that we will be able to bridge this gap on any of the four levels into the indefinite future.

What are they?

  1. The five transcendental desires manifesting our awareness of perfect truth, love, justice/goodness, beauty and hope.
  2. The formulation of conceptual ideas (abstract interrelational ideas that can be used as predicates and objects).
  3. Self-consciousness, experiencing of experiencing, presence to self, and the experience of inwardness (David Chalmers’ hard problem of consciousness).
  4. Transalgorithmic mathematical thinking (manifest by Gödel’s theorem).

Each will be discussed in turn.

Computer Chip

We have already discussed one obvious difference between human and artificial intelligence—the presence of the five transcendental desires manifesting our awareness of perfect truth, love, justice/goodness, beauty and home.

As we showed, the source of these five kinds of transcendental awareness must be God (perfect truth, perfect love, perfect justice/goodness, perfect beauty and perfect being themselves).

For a proof of this, see above—Second Topic as well as Chapter I –Third Topic. Since we do not have the capacity to give artificial intelligence these five kinds of transcendental awareness and desire (because only God can do this) we can assume that computers will never be enlightened in this way.

Formulate Conceptual Ideas

There’s a second difference between human and artificial intelligence—the capacity to formulate conceptual ideas. In Section II below (Human Intelligence versus Animal Intelligence), we will discuss the need for heuristic notions in formulating conceptual ideas (abstract ideas which are interrelational and can be used as predicates and objects).

We will there show that animals do not have conceptual ideas (because they cannot pass Chomsky’s syntax test), showing that they do not have the heuristic notions needed to ask questions and formulate these conceptual ideas.

It is unlikely that artificial intelligence will ever have the capacity to formulate conceptual ideas, because we will not be able to give heuristic notions to them. Why?

If Bernard Lonergan is correct in asserting that the origin of all heuristic notions is what he calls “the notion of being” (the notion of complete intelligibility), and the origin of that notion must be “being through itself” or “complete intelligibility itself,” then God alone (who is the only reality that exists through itself and is an unrestricted act of thinking) can cause this notion.

Since this notion is the origin of all other heuristic notions, then only God can be their ultimate source. For an explanation of this see Section II. below on this topic.

Computer Code


There is a third difference between artificial  and human intelligence—self-consciousness.  The recent work of David Chalmers, called “the hard problem of consciousness” brings this to the fore. He notices that there are various dimensions to the inwardness of subjective experience that cannot be replicated and therefore cannot be produced by physical processes alone. Phenomena such as delight, appreciation, enjoyment, awe, and wonder, manifest not only an experience of the outward world, but an experience of inwardness—an experience of experiencing.

Chalmers works backwards from what he calls “the easy problems of consciousness” (i.e. any phenomenon that can be explained by an aggregation of physical processes) to the “hard problem of consciousness” (i.e. any phenomenon – such as the above experiences of delight, appreciation and awe which are not able to be explained by an aggregation of physical processes).

The problem with describing inner experiences by means of physical processes is that physical processes have no “inner sense” – that is, no “presence to self” – “no awareness of self.” Physical realities have no “inwardness” – no “interior depth” – but only “outwardness” which can interact or be aggregated with other physical (“outward”) realities.

Thomas Nagel looks at it the other way around – from the vantage point of physical processes. He notes that physical processes are “objective” – they can be shared in a consistent way with anyone who has the means to observe them, but subjective “experiences” – “inner appreciation and enjoyment” – cannot be shared with anyone. They are un-shareable because the “inwardness” of subjective experience cannot be objectified – “made outward.”

If Chalmers and Nagel are correct then self-consciousness, “experiencing of experiencing,” “experiencing of inwardness,” and the experience of owning feelings and states of appreciation, delight, awe, etc. will not be replicatable by artificial intelligence—which by definition can be reduced to physical and outward processes.

Unprovable Propositions

There is a fourth significant difference between artificial and human intelligence manifest in Gödel’s theorem. The famous German mathematician Kurt Gödel first formulated the proof of the non-rule based, non-algorithmic, transcendent nature of human intelligence in 1931.  It was revised on several occasions by John R. Lucas  and by the eminent physicist Roger Penrose.

In brief, Gödel showed that there will always be unprovable propositions within any set of axiomatic statements in arithmetic. Human beings are able not only to show that consistent, unprovable statements exist, but also to prove that they are consistent by making recourse to axioms beyond those used to generate these statements. This reveals that human thinking is not based on a set of prescribed axioms, rules, or programs, and is, by nature, beyond any program. Stephen Barr, summing up the Lucas version of Gödel’s argument, notes:

First, imagine that someone shows me a computer program, P, that has built into it the ability to do simple arithmetic and logic. And imagine that I know this program to be consistent in its operations, and that I know all the rules by which it operates. Then, as proven by Gödel, I can find a statement in arithmetic that the program P cannot prove (or disprove) but which I, following Gödel’s reasoning, can show to be a true statement of arithmetic. Call this statement G(P).

This means that I have done something that that computer program cannot do. I can show that G(P) is a true statement, whereas the program P cannot do so using the rules built into it.  Now, so far, this is no big deal. A programmer could easily add a few things to the program – more axioms or more rules of inference – so that in its modified form it can prove G(P). (The easiest thing to do would be simply to add G(P) itself to the program as a new axiom.)  Let us call the new and improved program P΄. Now P΄ is able to prove the statement G(P), just as I can. At this point, however, we are dealing with a new and different program, P΄, and not the old P.

Consequently, assuming I know that P΄ is still a consistent program, I can find a Gödel proposition for it. That is, I can find a statement, which we may call G(P΄), that the program P΄ can neither prove nor disprove, but which I can show to be a true statement of arithmetic. So, I am again ahead of the game. …This race could be continued forever.

Since human beings can indefinitely prove propositions which are not provable through the axioms from which they were derived, it would seem that human intelligence is indefinitely beyond any axiomatic or program-induced intellection.

Gödel’s proof shows that human thinking is not only always beyond axioms, rules, and programs (to which artificial intelligence is limited), but also capable of genuinely originative creativity (that is, capable of thinking without deriving from or making recourse to any prior axioms, rules, or programs).

How is this possible?

We must have some kind of  tacit awareness of mathematical intelligibility as a whole– a sense of how all the parts relate to each other as a whole.  With this remarkable general sense of mathematical intelligibility we can develop mathematics beyond the total implications of all past algorithms—we can be genuinely creative.

This is precisely what has occurred throughout the history of mathematics—from the time of Euclid, Pythagoras and Archimedes to the present.

Mathematical Intelligibility

Where did our general notion of mathematical intelligibility come from?  It does not come from the world of concrete space-time particularity (because the general notion of mathematical intelligibility is beyond all space-time particularity).

Similarly, it does not come from physical processes in our brain (because these processes, too are restricted to space-time particularity).  It seems that we have only one option left— it must be an integral part of our innate transcendental horizon of complete intelligibility which allows us to have a tacit awareness of perfect truth (see above–Second Topic—Perfect Truth).

Recall that this transcendental horizon of complete intelligibility presents us with a tacit awareness of everything about everything—and the general ways in which everything can be related to everything.  It is the source of all heuristic notions—what Lonergan calls the “notion of being.” He describes it as follows:

[T]he notion of being penetrates all cognitional contents. It is the supreme heuristic notion. Prior to every content, it is the notion of the to-be-known through that content. As each content emerges, the ‘to-be-known through that content’ passes without residue into the ‘known through that content.’ Some blank in universal anticipation is filled in, not merely to end that element of anticipation, but also to make the filler a part of the anticipated. Hence, prior to all answers, the notion of being is the notion of the totality to be known through all answers.

artificial intelligence

Rules, Axioms & Programs

All forms of artificial intelligence are based on prescribed rules, algorithms, axioms, and programs.  If Lonergan’s implicit solution to Gödel’s Theorem is correct, then no artificial (machine) intelligence will ever be able to replicate human questioning and creativity – let alone our quest for complete and unrestricted intelligibility.

Artificial intelligence has no consciousness of a horizon of greater intelligibility – let alone a horizon of complete and unrestricted intelligibility, and human beings will not be able to create such a horizon for it because any such horizon is beyond the domain of individuation and space-time particularity which means it is beyond the domain of macroscopic and quantum physics.

Furthermore, human beings will never be capable of creating a horizon of complete and unrestricted intelligibility because such a horizon can only be created by “complete and unrestricted intelligibility Itself” (and unrestricted act of thinking—God).

We will never be able to create artificial replicas of our own free and creative inquiry because we are mere restricted beneficiaries of a capacity given to us by a truly unrestricted intelligence.

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