IQ tests and Artificial Intelligence

December 13, 2018

Reading time ~3 minutes

Recently I saw another article in a newspaper where the author held some misconceptions about intelligence quotients. This article made the connection to artificial intelligence which sparked my motivation to explain some things about quantifying intelligence. Intelligence tests are often subject to discussions. Intelligence test measure primary the performance an individual on said test. The result is called intelligence quotient (IQ). This argument is often used to invalidate the relevance of the IQ score. However, studies showed that the result is a good predictor of success in other areas of life. This psychometric test is a useful tool in diagnostic psychology.

Although they are mainly a tool of diagnostic psychology sometimes the term IQ appears in discussions about artificial intelligence. When analyzing intelligence there is the problem that there is no known method to quantify behavior and possibilities of cognitive systems. Because IQ is a famous measure to quantify intelligence people often come back to referring to IQ. If we had a number for intelligence we could optimize algorithms and artificial intelligence would probably a solved problem. As an alternative scientist try to evaluate cognitive systems via the environments in which they act. OpenAI uses Atari Games to measure the performance of their algorithms.

An IQ test has to be carefully designed, which is an expensive process. When lots of people perform this test you get a result where the distribution of the results is gaussian-shaped. The scaling is then chosen so that the expected value is 100. Using this knowledge how do we interpret an IQ score? An IQ score can be compared to the shape to see in which percentile of the population a score is in. By definition, the expected value 100 but a Gaussian distribution has another value: the standard deviation. For many tests, this is 15 e.g. Stanford-Binet and Wechsler adult. Cattell Culture Fair III uses 24. What you need to remember is that the test results are not comparable as the percentile is different depending on the test.

There are two reoccurring misconceptions about IQ tests. First: it is not possible to give someone an IQ without the individual taking the test. The IQ is the result in a test. Although a person might appear very intelligent or less so the results on the IQ test cannot be predicted with high confidence.

Second: Very high scores are not possible. Most tests are norm-oriented, which means that they are designed for the typical human. If you score very high or low the result is not as accurate.

What is the IQ score if every question is answered correctly? It is not possible to get IQ results which are above 160 points on Stanford Binet.

When people talk about IQ numbers combined with artificial intelligence they want to talk about a qualitatively new type of intelligence. A new type, which is on a next level, called artificial general intelligence or superintelligence. Because it does not exist yet it is hard to imagine. We may imagine a smart person or the artificial intelligence we know from the movies, but a super intelligence is far more.

Related and Recommended Reading:

Robert J. Sternberg: International Handbook of Intelligence

Raven’s Progressive Matrices