Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy   Master of Data Science for Public Policy  

Individual and collective intelligence: Insights from biology and technology

The advent of high-profile AI policymaking has exposed the fact that many policymakers know little – not just about artificial intelligence, but about the nature or science of intelligence more generally. Despite the fact that humans identify strongly as being intelligent, many aspects of our intelligence are not open to immediate introspection, but rather require science to really understand them. Intelligence itself is a physical process with physical constraints following natural laws. These constraints and laws determine not only what can and cannot be expected of either humans or AI, but also how technology more generally impacts the way humans interact – that is, our societies.

This course gives an overview of intelligence, focussing primarily (but not exclusively) on natural intelligence. We look at the physical laws and limits of computation, the ways biological organisms exploit computation individually, as well as how both biological evolution and human designs work around the constraints on these computational laws. A mechanism of particular focus for governance is sociality: Working cooperatively and/or competitively to produce and exploit public goods based on the knowledge and computation of other, similar organisms. We will look at basic social organisations of other species and then look at the aspects of human intelligence that account for our unique attributes, such as language and communication technology more generally. We will look at how emotions, consciousness and ethics interact to help individuals and societies self regulate – that is, preserve and project versions of themselves into the future. Throughout the course we use AI modelling (agent-based models) to understand both individual and collective intelligence through hands-on experience of developing intelligent dynamics.

This course is for 2nd year MIA, MPP and MDS students only.