cover image Morphing Intelligence: From IQ Measurements to Artificial Brains

Morphing Intelligence: From IQ Measurements to Artificial Brains

Catherine Malabou, trans. from the French by Carolyn Shread. Columbia Univ., $28 (224p) ISBN 978-0-231-18736-7

French philosopher Malabou (Before Tomorrow: Epigenesis and Rationality) continues to ponder the ever-evolving definition of intelligence at the dawn of AI in a directionless and unprovocative analysis. This slender volume centers on what Malabou dubs the three “metamorphoses” of intelligence throughout recent history, from the innatist view, which prevailed for much of the 20th century, through the era of epigenetics in the 1980s, which demonstrated the role and importance of neuroplasticity, to the present moment, which finds humanity on the cusp of artificial intelligence. Quoting heavily from such thinkers as Michel Foucault and Jean Piaget, she argues that at this moment it must be conceded that human intelligence is no different from artificial intelligence, as “a set of dispositions that are exposed, fragile, open, and contingent in their topological organization and that do not reflect any predestination or plan.” As such, Malabou wonders why serious thinkers do not “give up intelligence as an independent philosophical question.” She hastily outlines some vague ideas for educational reform, such as the “neurohumanities”— a fusion of the humanities and neuroscience—to accommodate this paradigm shift. But Malabou underdelivers as a philosopher and neuroscientist, providing very little new insight to the topics addressed. (Feb.)