The Basics of Neurological Intelligence
Updated: Sep 19
Hi my name is Nils Erickson, and over the last few years I have been researching things that are intelligent. As I studied I found a model that I believe explains all intelligent behavior, from people to evolution to AI. I want everyone to understand the world through this new lens, so I made this blog to share the things that I learned with you.
What is intelligence? Psychologists have tried to quantify and understand intelligence using models such as the general intelligence model by Charles Spearman, which states that intelligence can be measured and assigned a number. Over the years the general intelligence model inspired IQ tests and standardized testing in schools. This model was very incomplete, and also incorrect however, so new theories have been created over time to overcome the shortfalls of the previous theories. The triadic model by Robert Sternberg for instance states that there are three different intelligences that work together to create every intelligence, the creative intelligence, analytic intelligence, and the practical intelligence.
The models employed by psychologists all have one limitation in common. You cannot use the model to create an intelligence; However, in the field of artificial intelligence, researchers have taken a different approach to understand intelligence. Instead of defining what intelligence is, they attempt to recreate it using artificial neurons. Artificial neurons were meant to act like the biological neurons in your brain, they send electrical signals to each other, and have different connections to help them perform brain functions. AI researchers understand intelligence not by the characteristics that it has, but in a language of neuron types, and architectures. By creating their own intelligences they are able to see the way intelligence works, but without having to define all intelligences by their specific traits.
The New Model
My new model of intelligence attempts to merge two methods of understanding intelligence. It states that intelligence comes from the interactions of neurons, and it explains the different functions and properties that qualify something as a neuron. For this reason I call my new model neurological intelligence. Also many more things qualify as a neuron in my new model. Any thing that can perform the functions of a neuron is a neuron; A cell in a brain, a circuit in a computer, a person, and a bacteria could all be considered neurons in the model of neurological intelligence so long as they are performing an intelligent function.
So what are the different properties that make things a neuron? These properties can be split into three categories:
There are four levels of neurons, each with their own three properties, on top of the properties of all the previous levels.
The first level neuron has a collective identity, meaning that it is known by the role that it plays in its network. It is oriented for proposition, meaning that it proposes some truth value to other neurons. And it has purely impersonal or external relationships.
The second level neuron has an individual identity. It is oriented for abduction, meaning that it tests its propositions against data it collects, and alters them accordingly. Its relationships with other neurons are personal, or in other words they can insight an inner response.
The third type of neuron has a representative identity, meaning that it is capable of representing a concept, or a thing. It is oriented for induction. Induction states that it is possible to understand many different things after identifying a pattern in how a few things behave. The neuron has a leadership relationship.
The fourth neuron is capable of understanding right and wrong. It has a moral identity. Meaning that it understands how its actions can help or hinder the whole intelligence. It is oriented for deduction. Deduction means that you can use specific statements to find other true statements. It has a safety leadership relationship, I might also refer to this as a ministering relationship.
There are other notable properties of neurons such as their abilities to follow ethical codes, and the ability to have the opposite orientation, which means that you use the logical methods explained above, but in a different manner. I will explain this in a future post titled "Ethics and Epistemology".
"Leviathan" by Hobbes explains how people form the intelligence which is society, as represented by the giant in the front cover picture.
It might be hard to understand from the description of intelligence that I offered how these neurons can explain how intelligence works. So we will use two examples. First we will see how we can act as neurons in society, and then we will see how a business can act as an intelligence.
To act as a first level neuron you first need a collective identity. Collective identities are called social roles in sociology. When you perform your social role you help society to stay normal. Social roles tell people what to do in society. There are written and unwritten rules in society. When we follow these rules we are said to be socially normal. When we go against them we are said to be socially deviant. Following social rules allows the intelligence which is society to function properly. Being socially normal is synonymous to being faithful to society. In Christianity being faithful to God means that you are willing to keep God’s commandments. Lastly, when you are in your social role you interact with others who are also in their own social roles. This is like acting out a play. You both try to convince each other that you fit your role, and you go your separate ways understanding each other’s roles in society, but not really anything about the person you interacted with.
To act as a second level neuron in society you gain an individual identity. You still have your social role, but you are not just that, you are unique. Only people close to you ever know your personal identity. As an individual it is not sufficient for you to simply follow the rules of society. Instead you must use a process called repentance in order to improve your life. Repentance is when you notice that some action you have done, or behavior that you have is leading to negative outcomes in your life, and you adjust your behavior accordingly. It is helpful to have a role model when trying to repent. God sent his son Jesus Christ to be a role model for us, thus in the Christian faith the goal of repentance is not simply to improve your life, but to become Christlike. As an individual you also gain personal relationships. You can understand people at an individual level, and you can help them to improve their lives.
To act as society’s third level neuron you gain a representative identity. You can decide what you represent. Maybe you represent your family, or maybe you are passionate about your religion. As a representative your actions become the actions of that organization. As a representative you need to have goals and plans to achieve those goals. Preach my Gospel states: “Goals reflect the desires of our hearts, and our vision of what we can accomplish. Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action.”(Preach my Gospel 8:How do I Use Time Wisely?) The desires of your heart are the things that you represent. As you attempt to accomplish these goals you gain a new relationship as a leader. You have to lead others so that they can help you accomplish your goals.
To act as society’s fourth level neuron you adopt a moral identity. As a moral person you recognize that people’s actions can have positive or negative consequences, and you try to only do what is right, as well as help others to do what is right. In order to have a moral identity you have to be able to deduce the causes of events, and the causes of your actions. One way to help you to reflect on your life is through writing down your experiences, especially your meaningful ones. Later in life you will be able to read these accounts and gain wisdom and inspiration from them. Elder Neil L. Anderson encouraged us to record our spiritual experiences. He said “Embrace your sacred memories. Believe them. Write them down. Share them with your family. Trust that they come to you from your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. Let them bring patience to your doubts and understanding to your difficulties. I promise you that as you willingly acknowledge and carefully treasure the spiritually defining events in your life, more and more will come to you.” (Spiritually Defining Memories Apr. 2020) That is a great promise of this level of learning. Along with the act of doing what is right you gain the relationship of a minister. As a minister you are responsible for other people’s needs. This requires you to be committed to helping others, to act immediately when someone is putting themselves in a dangerous position and train and instruct others on how they can improve.
Businesses are intelligent. I used to work at the YMCA as a swimming instructor, so I understand that particular business fairly well.
The first level neurons in the YMCA learn to swim program are the parents. They take on the identity of parents or customers of the YMCA. This is a collective identity because every parent has this same identity. They are able to act by taking their kids to swimming lessons on time. Their interaction with the YMCA is a one way, monetary interaction. (They also talk to the teacher at parent teacher discussion day, so their contribution is a little bit more complex. These interactions include paying for swimming lessons, watching their kids if they want to, and listening to the instructor’s report about their child on the parent day.)
The second level neurons are the kids. Children are known individually in swimming lessons. The instructors learn their names, and keep track of how well each child is doing. Children can adapt to the instructor’s lessons by learning, and depending on the class they can suggest activities to do and games to play. They are always getting feedback from the instructor on how well they are doing, and how they can improve.
The third level neurons are the instructors. Instructors have the identity as the leader of the class. They come prepared to class with a plan for how they will help the children improve, complete all of the requirements of the course, and have fun while they're at it. The instructors have a special relationship with the kids as their leader.
The fourth level neurons are the lifeguards. Lifeguard is a first level identity, because it puts them in a group, but it is also a fourth level identity, because it means someone that you trust with your life. Lifeguards make sure that everything that goes on in the pool is done safely. They make sure that the pool has the correct levels of chemicals, the people are following the rules, etc. They are also always scanning the pool to see if someone needs help, and are always prepared to help them if needed. A lifeguard’s relationship with the people in the pool is one of a first responder, and a safety leader.
There are other people that work at a pool, but they can all be categorized as third or fourth level neurons. The aquatics coordinator for example represents all of the aquatic activities in the recreation center, she assigns instructors to their classes, and plans out the year on a quarterly basis. She is responsible for what happens in the aquatics department. For these reasons she would be a third level neuron. Also note that even though a lifeguard’s only job is to keep the people in the pool safe, everyone in the pool is responsible for safety.