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Advances In Artificial Intelligence Essay, Research Paper

Advances in AI With advances in technology many researchers have become captivated with the pursuit of Artificial Intelligence. Numerous fields of study have tried to contribute their knowledge in order to create intelligence. However, years of research have thus far been unable to create human intelligence. The endeavour seems doomed to fail, for a century of thought which has tried to simply define intelligence has yet to succeed. This lack of a concrete tangible definition does not preclude its existence but merely points to its complex nature. Human intelligence could be viewed as being as diverse as its population however this type of analysis leads us to the individual and becomes useless. There is no doubt that there are universal patterns of what could be considered intelligence and it is these patterns which may give us insight. Because these patterns of intelligence could be linked to humanity s evolution, much time is devoted to find what forces or factors are responsible for them. There are few who would still adhere to a model of Nature vs. Nurture rather substituting the vs. for via. Both environmental and genetic factors contribute to human intelligence, however which of these, if any, is more important in shaping intelligence is a source of fierce disagreement. It seems apparent that those who posses higher levels of intelligence are accorded a certain amount of privilege. Therefore where intelligence comes from is essential in determining the validity of endowing privilege on those who posses it. Is it the case that the very definition of intelligence is socially constructed in order to maintain the existing social inequalities? Is it the case that social inequalities are merely a reflection of the variance in intelligence? Do social inequalities reduce the oppressed ability to develop intelligence? Is intelligence merely a small factor contributing to the uneven distribution of resources within our world? Is intelligence a product of hard work or just luck? Evolution of Intelligence Before we can begin to examine the modern day conceptions of intelligence, it is necessary to look at how human intelligence has evolved. For the purpose of simplicity I am making the assumption that the general theory of evolution is accurate. That is that human did not spontaneously appear on Earth and are a product of millions of years of evolution. Therefore it is conceivable that the very way in which we think was once quite different from today s mode of logic and reason. Amaury de Reincourt looks at a turning point in the evolution of human intelligence in her article Sex and Power in History . In this article she examines the rise of patriarchy out of matriarchy. She iterates how this shift was a result of man s gradual development of his role in procreation. This marked a mental threshold from magico-symbolic thought processes to rational thinking. The creation of life was now understood in terms of causality rather than mysticism. From this point forth, all the female-oriented myths were reinterpreted patriarchally. The cyclical nature of female-oriented thought was replaced by the linear thought patterns of male-oriented thinking. This further led to the notion of progress and later reflective thought. The mythology that prevailed under matriarchal rule was replaced by the masculine thought process of rationalism and logic. The overall effect is that tension replaced repetitive rhythm. This led the way to the concept of time as being unidirectional instead of the lunar-vegetal cycle which previously set-up the notion of time. History could now be viewed with a beginning, middle, and an end. This had great significance in releasing man from the endless repetitive cycles of time, which could now be seen as a linear development with unique moral significance for each step of the way. It is apparent from this article that logic and reason are not value neutral, they are concepts which are steeped in a particular ideology. What it also inadvertently points to the idea of interpreting intelligence from completely opposite perspectives. Thinking in terms of cycles instead of our linear modes of thoughts produces completely different types or patterns of intelligence. It serves as a caution in trying to determine and define the very slippery notion of intelligence. Intelligence defined The inherent difficulty in studying intelligence is reflected one of psychology s maxims; the human mind s greatest challenge is to understand itself . This has nonetheless not deterred psychologists in attempting to measure this ambiguous concept. The first to propose and design an intelligence test was Alfred Binet. He was summoned by the French government to design a test that would be able to alert educators of children who might benefit from remedial instruction. The test was so successful in determining school performance that it was accepted throughout the western world. In 1916 Lewis Terman from Standford University adapted it for use with American children. It thus became the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test and is the test most commonly referred to when speaking of an IQ test. This test and others like it take a holistic approach to intelligence. They point to the idea of intelligence as a unified trait. This idea was expanded in 1927 by Spearman who noticed that all the items on the Stanford-Binet test were correlated and thus proposed a general factor, which he termed g , of intelligence. He viewed the different items as measuring specific factors he termed s . The concept that intelligence can be viewed as a singular trait is one that has lost its appeal over the years. In an article published by the Progressive Labor Party Racism, Intelligence and the Working Class , the authors bring some of the common criticisms that have be directed at such tests. The political agenda they wish to push clouds some its points but the overall criticism of IQ tests is that they are designed to measure a particular type of ability defined by the ruling class. In essence this argument points to the fact that these tests are culturally biased. Hence, the scores are not only indicative of only one potential pattern of intelligence but furthermore they do not reflect an objective universal pattern of intelligence but rather one that is socially constructed. The first of these criticism was addressed in the mid 1960 s by J.P.Guilford. He devised a 180-factor model of intelligence, which classified each intellectual task according to three dimensions: content, mental operation, and product. This theory is the predecessor to Gardner s theory of multiple intelligence, which was developed, in the last 15 years. This theory identifies seven independent intelligences on the basis of distinct sets of processing operations applied in culturally meaningful activities (linguistic, logico-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal). This theory addressing both of the major flaws, which were present in some of the earlier, tests. Nonetheless, Gardner s theory is just that a theory, it is not rooted in strong empirical data. However, I believe that this is, to date, the best theory of intelligence that has been developed. Nature or Nurture? Gardner proposes that there are seven distinct types of human intelligence patterns, which manifest themselves to varying degrees in each of us. This might begin to account for the infinite variations in human abilities. There could possibly be more than just seven but even five types, for example, of intelligences could be mixed in varying degrees to produce the diversity of human existences throughout the ages. However this does not speak to the origins of intelligence. Is the type and degree of intelligence that we possess a product of our genes or does our environment determine it? A more sensible question might be to ask which, nature or nurture, is in the driver s seat? Researchers have been trying to design experiments to investigate this very question for at least a century. The most common type of study has been one, which investigate the intelligence in identical twins reared apart. This should allow the researcher to differentiate between the effects of nature and nurture on intelligence. The results have given us estimates as high as 70% for the attribution of genetic influence on intelligence variance(Ken Richardson, Understanding Intelligence). Although these results seem to be conclusive evidence for the view that intelligence is primarily genetic it is not without its critics. It is fairly rare for identical twins to be reared apart, therefore producing small sample size and thus results that can not easily be generalized. The environments that separated twins are brought up in are likely to be similar, making it difficult to accurately attribute variations in intelligence to their genetic makeup. The most common criticism of all such studies is the very measurement of intelligence. Without an accepted definition, intelligence can not be accurately measured and thus trying to understand its development is somewhat futile. There are so many factors that contribute to human intelligence and development that trying to find causal links is an exercise in fantasy rather than a scientific endeavour. For us to understand exactly how intelligence develops would be to unravel one of the most illusive mysteries facing humankind. I don t however, believe that this puzzle is likely to be solved in the near future. Social Deconstruction Whichever determinant one believes to have the greater influence on intelligence, it is undeniable that the other still plays a part. Therefore, the environment in which we are raised has a direct effect on the type and the degree of intelligence we may develop, the only ambiguity is how large or small this effect might be. Even if only 30% of the variation in intelligence is attributable to environmental factors, this effect should still be detectable. Victoria J. Molfese, Lisabeth F. DiLalla, and Debra Bunce from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale conducted a study, which attempted to measure the effects of socio-economic status, home environment, and biomedical risk factors on intelligence test scores of 3 to 8 year olds. Home environment quality was evaluated according to maternal intelligence, characteristics of the home, and parenting practices. Although the researchers found that home environment was the best predictor of scores on intelligence test scores, the definition of a superior home environment seems fraught with biases. The conclusion that the researchers draw is a valid one based on their data but may not easily be generalized. A good home environment is undoubtedly essential to the intellectual development of young children but what constitute such an environment is certainly open to debate. Differences in values may lead to incorrect assessment of home environment and thus skew the results. The second measure that they employed, as a predictor of intelligence test scores, was that of Socio-Economic Status. This is, in my opinion, is a more objective factor. The results from the study showed that SES had a greater effect on predicting intelligence test scores of 5 to 8 year olds. Many studies have also shown that early adolescent test scores are positively correlated with SES. These results would seem to suggest that as children become older and gain an awareness of their SES their intellectual development suffers. This could be the result of stigmatization, once the individual realized that they do not posses the things that others in their environment do, they may feel inferior. Conversely their peers might treat them in a negative manner leading to what Goffman termed a spoiled identity . Because money is often equate with morality, those children who are monetarily disadvantaged might feel and be made to feel that they are inferior which might affect their self-conception and lead to decreased motivation. It is extremely difficult to draw any conclusion because of the dynamic relationship of the multitude of environmental factors that work together to shape intelligence.

No links were found between biomedical risk factors, such as preterm and low birthweight babies, and intelligence test scores. This study shows a link between SES and the development of a pattern of intelligence, which is tested through conventional IQ tests. It is hard to generalize these results to other types of intellectual patterns such as those in Gardner s model. However, if SES affects IQ through the process of stigmatization than there seems to be no reason why it should not affect the development of other types of intellectual patterns such as interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. We have all experienced the negative effects that stigmatization can have so it isn t hard to imagine that being stigmatize due to a factor which is enduring and beyond one s control could potentially have profound effects. A study conducted by Steve Henry, Ph.D. Gen. Dir. Planning, Eval. & Grant Procurement, looked at the correlation between ethnicity and SES and achievement on a standardized test for 4000 students in grades 3, 5, 8, and 11. The findings showed that ethnicity accounted for 6.5% of the variability in scores while SES accounted for 15.9%. There was also a strong link between SES and ethnicity. White students were twice as likely to come from a higher SES bracket than were minorities. This study again suggests that a low SES is a strong predictor of success on standardized achievement tests. It also points to the fact that ethnicity by itself is not a good predictor of achievement. This is in line with mountains of evidence gathered over the last two decades which debunk the myth that race is correlated with intelligence. The horrors of World War II awoke the world to the reality that associating inferiority with a particular race can have dire consequences. More recent sociological investigations have questioned the entire notion of race. Race can be seen as a way of classifying a group of people based on physical traits that have been given a social meaning. It is a social construction used to maintain a hierarchy, which favours the dominant race . Having darker skin does not correlate with lower intellectual abilities but does correlate with lower socio-economic status. As we have seen low SES also correlates with ethnicity. It would suggest that the mere belief the visible minorities are intellectually inferior puts them at a socio-economic disadvantage, which leads to poorer intellectual development. In order to properly assess the variance in intelligence across humanity, we must first strip away some of the widely held myths about social groupings. It is extremely important to examine and deconstruct the social meaning behind existing groupings such as race, gender, and sexuality before we can properly asses what environmental factors contribute to the formation of human intelligence. Intelligence as a privilege There is no doubt that the people who demonstrate greater intellectual ability are accorded more freedoms and privileges in our World. As I have iterated intelligence is not a value-neutral concept and is subject to social construction. The first of these constructions is that particular types of intelligence are more valuable to human evolution. Scientist who posses high level of, what Gardner termed, logico-mathematical intelligence are accorded greater prestige while social workers who demonstrate high levels of interpersonal intelligence are given less. The social construction of intelligence can warp our perception of the usefulness of certain types of knowledge. It is my opinion that various patterns of intelligence should be accorded equal importance to ensure that human intelligence is allowed to evolve in all of its diverse manifestations. However, this type of social construction of intelligence transcends all other social constructs. That is that all races , for example, should demonstrate an equal distribution of all the patterns of intelligence. The current conceptions of what types of intelligence are most desirable can not be attributed to socially constructed groups such as race or gender. Therefore we are all subject to equal discrimination based on the type of intelligence in which we demonstrate the greatest aptitude. However, as I have already mentioned, the mere belief that a group is endowed with particular patterns of intelligence can influence development. The second dimension of intelligence that endows privileges is that of degree. Without relying on conventional IQ test to show that humans differ in levels of intelligence, it seems that life experience has taught us that we are not all as intelligent regardless of what type of intelligence we are referring to. Some of the variance can be attributed to micro and macro environmental factors but for evolution to work intelligence must be passed down from generation to generation. Therefore it seems reasonable to suggest that if all environmental factors were controlled we would still end up with varying degrees of intelligence across all populations. Viewed in these terms, intelligence seems to give a great deal of privilege quite arbitrarily. However, intelligence does not develop in a completely passive manner. We are not slaves to our environment or our genes. The development of intelligence is also dependent on effort. Learning is not easy regardless of much intellectual privilege you might have. The dimension of merit further complicates the assessment of intelligence as a privilege. If effort was the only factor which determined intelligence than it could not be considered a privilege. It would seem that there are limits to effort, one who does not have a certain level of intellectual capacity may never be able to attain high levels of intelligence regardless of effort. But conversely, there are those who may be underachievers as a result of lack of effort. We can however assume that all socially constructed groups are apt to show similar patterns of effort although being the oppressed might make one complacent about their chances to advance and reduce their willingness to make the required effort The ultimate privilege Are there different levels of advantages? We know that certain groups are given a host of privileges solely based on their membership to a socially constructed group. Peggy McIntosh lists some of these privileges that are endowed to whites in her essay White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women s Studies (1988). She illustrates quite poignantly how we take for granted many little and big privileges that the colour of our skin gives or takes away from us. She also cautions us about finding parallels between the privileges given to different groups. Since racism, sexism, heterosexism are not the same, the advantages associated with them should not be seen as the same (p.104). I think this also points to the suggestion that various privileges give us varying degrees of unearned advantages. Therefore the advantages given to a white male might be mitigated severely if that male is homosexual or the privileges given to a heterosexual male might be entirely negated because of the colour of his skin. Where does the privilege of intelligence fit in? We have seen that SES correlates with intellectual development and that if you belong to an ethnic minority you are more likely to be part of a low SES. We have also seen that intelligence manifests itself in a variety of forms and to varying degrees across all socially constructed groups. Therefore if everything else was equal, we should see even distributions of all groups in our educational institutions. We know however, that things are not equal. Ethnic minorities are put a decisive disadvantage when it comes to factors such as SES, which have been shown to correlate with intellectual development. They lack all of the privileges that white skin endows. Therefore it would seem that the disadvantages that ethnic minorities endure should translate to an under-representation in our educational institutions. A group of Canadian researchers looked at the representation rates of visible minorities among 1990 university graduates and the average 1992 earnings of these graduates. The results indicate that visible minorities comprised just over 10% of the graduates compared to their nine-and-a-half percent share of the 1991 population. Their representation increased from 10% at the undergraduate level to 19% at the Ph.D. level. Their earnings for 1992 were on average 101.9% of non-minorities. These results go in the opposite direction of what could be predicted based theories of white privilege. What I believe these results to indicate is that intelligence is the ultimate privilege. Someone who is given the privilege of above average intelligence is able to overcome all other disadvantages they experience as results of socially constructed stereotypes. In the knapsack of privilege, intelligence occupies the main compartment while other privileges fill the smaller pockets. This does not mean that those ethnic minorities that are endowed with above average intelligence do not suffer from the lack of privileges that whites might enjoy but that the advantages gained from intelligence overcome these socially constructed inequalities. The effects of white privilege become negligible in terms allocation of resources but are undoubtedly still present in terms of the more taken for granted privileges that Peggy McIntosh illustrates. Conclusion It is apparent that inequalities permeate our social structure. The sources of many of these inequalities are often subjective social constructs, which are kept in place for the benefit of those who reap their rewards. The deconstruction of these social groupings is essential if we wish to create a society in which everyone is given the opportunity to fulfil their potential. However, our potentials may not be equal in the strict sense of the word. Intelligence is a dimension of human existence, which may not be evenly distributed for the good of the collective. If everyone were really intelligent no one would have the patience to do more repetitive tasks that are essential to our survival. Viewed in this light, rewarding higher levels of intelligence with privilege seems to be a social construction in itself. However, as mentioned earlier the acquisition of intelligence requires hard work and should thereby be rewarded. If it were possible to devise a magical equation that could take into account privilege, potential and effort we might be able to endow the advantages of intelligence in an equitable manner. As researchers in many fields have come to realize, intelligence is an extremely difficult concept for us to wrap our concrete definitions around. However acknowledging that it manifest itself in various forms at varying degrees may help us to see some of the diversity that life has to offer in a more favorable light.

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