Human intelligence and consciousness are fascinating and highly complex topics. Our FAQs provide insights into current developments in these areas, also in connection with artificial intelligence. Since our FAQs are regularly updated/expanded, it is worthwhile to stop by more often.

What is the greatest barrier to increasing our knowledge?

Knowing everything leads to knowing nothing at all. Knowing nothing leads to knowledge.

Albert Einstein once said: “I know that I know nothing.” Many successful scientists throughout history have been able to admit that they do not know things and were always aware of the fact that they may be wrong. This attitude of not knowing something can lead us to research it. It also means that people who have this attitude retain an open-mindedness that can lead to new and unusual inspirations.

Thus, in order to learn new things, it is extremely beneficial to adopt the attitude: Here is something that I do not know, a piece of knowledge that could change everything.

What is human intelligence?

The term intelligence comes from the Latin “intellegere”, which means to “understand, recognise” and refers to the ability to grasp unfamiliar situations quickly.

But it is interesting to note that: There is no universal definition of intelligence.

Researchers currently believe that intelligence is dependent on the following:

  • the speed at which we process information in combination with
  • the storage capacity of our neural networks.

But if intelligence only involved data processing and storage capacity like in a computer, intelligence would be simple to explain. But now even the latest research shows that the brain is not the only source of our intelligence.

Dr. Demis Hassabis, a British neuroscientist and distinguished expert in AI research, sums this up well: “You can’t have true intelligence and true thinking unless you have the ability to affect the world you are in and the ability to sense that world. This is called embodied cognition.”

We are forced to form a picture of the world for ourselves although we are missing information, or the full picture. Through trial and error, we develop our independent thinking and arrive at new conclusions. The speed and quality of the conclusions we form on our own constitute our intelligence, according to Dr. Hassabis. And how quickly we are prepared to discard old approaches in favour of new and improved ones.

What forms of intelligence are there?

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed by American psychologist Howard Earl Gardner in the 1980’s as he believed that traditional intelligence tests were insufficient for recognising and enhancing abilities.

He arrived at his concept of multiple intelligences by reviewing the theory of evolution, studying so-called “savants” and by analysing exceptionally talented people from history such as Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky and Gandhi.

Gardner openly admitted that his theory of multiple intelligences is incomplete. But this does not bother the researcher anymore as he has concluded that there is only one wrong: to think that there is only one single form of intelligence.

 

Examples of multiple intelligences:

 

  • Logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Verbal-linguistic intelligence
  • Visual-spatial intelligence
  • Musical-rhythmic intelligence
  • Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence
  • Interpersonal intelligence
  • Creative intelligence
  • Spiritual intelligence
  • Naturalistic intelligence
  • etc.

What stage is artificial intelligence at in comparison to human intelligence?

Cognitive intelligence (logical-mathematical): In terms of cognitive intelligence, machines are already ahead of humans in many areas. Areas where this kind of intelligence is needed include the games of chess and “Go”, driverless cars etc.

This kind of intelligence involves absorbing and learning information, deducing something from this knowledge and forming conclusions from this knowledge. This is often equivalent to what humans learn in school and in their academic studies.

Sensorimotor intelligence: Humans are still ahead of machines in this intelligence. In general, the human eye is very well trained. But a video camera can detect wavelengths even in the infra-red and UV ranges, where a human cannot. Microphones can pick up sounds noticeably better than the human ear.

This difference is more prevalent when looking at the senses of smell and taste – where machine sensors are significantly superior to those of humans. However, humans are able to combine these sensory impressions, which a machine is not yet able to do fully. Nevertheless, this could change within a few years.

Emotional intelligence: Machines have barely shown themselves capable of this kind of intelligence. Humans can empathise with other people, they can feel sympathy, empathy, compassion, pity, grief, fear etc. Hormones control the brain in these tasks. These are therefore chemical processes.

Until now it has only been possible to simulate the electrical processes (neural networks), not the chemical processes (hormones) in the brain. What machines are already able to do is to “read” the emotions of a human by observing human body language, in the face, in gestures etc.

Social intelligence: This is the ability to detect the mood in a human group, e.g. team spirit. Machines have not yet shown themselves capable of this kind of intelligence.

Can human intelligence be enhanced?

Many intelligence researchers believe that the brain’s capacity has largely been maxed out, that evolution has reached a limit in the development of the human brain that can barely be surpassed. Unfortunately, this limiting belief is very widespread in society, which means it is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The thought that the genes we inherit and our intelligence cannot be changed is just as dangerous.

Dr. Bruce H. Lipton, an American developmental biologist and stem cell researcher, has scientifically proven that our thoughts control our genes and are thus definitely modifiable.

It is also scientifically proven that our brains can be trained, and trained in all areas: Analytics, creativity, intuition, improvisation etc.

Furthermore, advanced technologies exist that are already providing us with valuable assistance in increasing our human intelligence (see question on brain waves).

Why do brainwaves affect our intelligence & consciousness?

German neurologist and psychiatrist Hans Berger discovered in 1924 that the human brain emits electric waves since it is an electrochemical organ. Its electricity is measured in brainwaves. Current scientific knowledge tells us that there are five categories of brainwaves:

Gamma (100 – 38 Hz or cycles per second)
Gamma were detected later than the other brainwaves, less is known about them so far. They have been seen in states of peak performance (both physical and mental), high focus and concentration and during mystic and transcendental experiences. One of the characteristics of gamma waves is a synchronisation of activity over wide areas of the brain.

Beta (13-40 Hz)
Beta waves are associated with our waking consciousness. We usually carry out our day-to-day activities in beta state.

Alpha (8-13 Hz)
Alpha waves are slower and only appear when we are in a relaxed state (light meditation, daydreams, rest, spending time outdoors etc.). If there is a lack of alpha activity over a prolonged period this can be a first sign of worry, stress and illness.

Theta (4-8 Hz)
Theta waves are even slower and are associated with the first sleep stage, dreams, deep meditation etc. People are “hyper-influenceable” in theta state. They are also capable of learning vast amounts of material in a very short amount of time. Theta is the state in which “super learning” takes place.

Delta (½ – 4 Hz)
Delta waves are very slow and are mainly emitted in the deep-sleep phase. A small number of people (e.g. Zen monks) can maintain consciousness even when they are in delta. Being in delta state whilst awake is also linked to mystical powers.

It has now been scientifically proven that our lives and our perception are very strongly influenced by the brainwaves that we produce consciously and unconsciously.

What positive effects do brainwave training and meditation have on the brain?

American physicist and psychologist Dr. James V. Hardt founded the Biocybernaut Institute in 1983 and has been helping people for decades with his patented Neurofeedback brain training.

This training takes place in alpha and theta states and has scientifically proven that working with brainwaves boosts IQs, increases creativity, relieves fear and depression, increases pleasure and efficiency, delays the ageing process etc. Positive effects of this kind can be detected after just seven days.

Similar positive impacts can also be achieved through regular meditation (improved IQ, healing traumas, increased creativity etc.). However, this requires more time. For this reason, meditation is not only a method for dealing with stress, but it also has a profound impact on our brainwaves and thus our intelligence, our consciousness and our mental and physical health.

What causes harm to our brain and our intelligence?

If there is a lack of alpha activity in the brain over a prolonged period as a result of stress, preoccupation, hecticness, sleep deprivation etc., this has a negative impact on our health and intelligence. It can lead to illness, anxiety etc. This is why holiday and recovery periods are so important for the brain as the brain produces regenerating alpha waves during these phases.

In his trainings Dr. James Hardt found that the following foods, drinks and substances suppress production of important alpha waves:

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Garlic
  • Onions

 

The following conditions also suppress alpha waves in the brain:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Worry, restlessness, fear
  • Anger and hostility
  • Sadness and depression
  • Apathy

What are some examples of good mental exercises?

Tom Wujec, author and professor at Singularity University, gives some great recommendations in his book Pumping Ions – Games and Exercises to flex your mind:
Challenging authorities; cooking a gourmet meal; continuing the numerical series 2, 4, 8, 16 for as long as possible; programming a website; transforming a bad mood into a good one; asking your boss for a pay rise; visualising a friend’s face; getting through a difficult text; meditate on infinity; explaining to a four-year-old why the sky is blue; bluffing in poker; searching for the truth etc.

What is consciousness?

The term “consciousness” derives from the Latin “conscientia”, which literally means “to know together”.

Why am I me? What is this “I”? And what does this “I” perceive and not perceive? What do I know and what do I not know? Consciousness tells us who we are. Everything begins with being conscious of the fact that we have a consciousness, a self-consciousness.

We humans can learn both from our environment and from our own conclusions that we draw. This means that there exists a part or an aspect within us which is greater than the limited ego. This is why we can ask ourselves questions and talk with ourselves. There is an ego and a self within us. And using this self, this greater part within us, we can generate intuition, creativity, knowledge etc. – it literally allows us “to know together”.

It can also cause contradictions, which we notice when we have the feeling of being torn between following our heart and mind. There is a permanent dialogue taking place between the ego and this greater aspect within us. The more conscious we are of this fact, the further we broaden our consciousness.

All people incessantly strive and struggle for a higher consciousness – consciously and unconsciously.

Given the fact that AI researchers are attempting to recreate human intelligence and consciousness, these researchers in particular are realising how very complex we humans are thanks to our intelligence and our consciousness.