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IQ/”Intelligence” in Cultural Context

TVs have “IQs” now—found in Best Buy

I was in Best Buy a few months ago looking at TVs and something caught my eye. Looking at the descriptions and features of certain TVs, I observed that certain TVs were being described as “intelligent” with “IQs.” This is one way how IQ-ism has seeped into mainstream culture and its evidence how IQ and intelligence are conflated.

The Bravia XR was heralded asThe world’s first TV with cognitive intelligence.” Though it seems that this phrase wasn’t thought through by their marketing department before they released the ad, since cognition is an action and “intelligence” is cognition. In any case, this TV is said tohave the power of the human brain.” The phrasing here implies that the human brain can be replicated in a machine. The “power” of the human brain is that it is a necessary pre-condition for our minds, and so the implication here is that this TV has the ability for mindedness. But implicit in the claim is that the mind is a collection of parts, that a collection of physical parts can count as a mind. The arguments below refute the claim that TVs are “intelligent” and can even one day be seen as “intelligent.”

Bravia states that the TV “in a sense” thinks like a human brain (nevermind the mereological fallacy here) and this cognitive intelligence allows the TV to do this.

I cannot imagine a complex, purely physical object having consciousness. So purely physical objects cannot have minds. Therefore my brain cannot possibly be my mind.

Individual physical particles are mindless. No collection of mindless things counts as a mind. Therefore a mind cannot be an arrangement of physical particles.

A mind is a single sphere of consciousness, it is not a complicated arrangement of mental parts. Though physical systems are always complicated arrangements of different parts and subsystems. Therefore the mind is nonphysical, and not a physical system.

Physical parts of the natural world lack intentionality, meaning they are not “about” anything in the same way thoughts are. No arrangement of intentionality-less parts will ever count as having intentionality. Therefore a mind cannot be an arrangement of physical parts.

The arguments given above conclude that mind cannot be an arrangement of physical parts, a (purely) physical object cannot have a mind, physical systems are arrangements of different parts, and that physical parts lack intentionality which is a mark of the mental. Thus, TVs cannot have “cognition” or “intelligence” as machines cannot be conscious.

Smart TVs are basically a mixture of computers, media players, and a TV. They can connect to the internet and do a whole slew of things that regular TVs cannot do since they lack the processing power. The “smartness” (the ability to hook-up to the internet, the ability to play media and use applications not found on regular TVs) runs through me—the TV only does what I tell it to do with the remote, though the TV has to have the ability to have apps, media, etc, it is but a passive machine that does nothing until I tell it to do something. (This is just like how genes work, they do nothing on their own until activated by and for the physiological system, the TV does nothing in its own until it’s activated by me.)

Just because a TV can be said to be “smart” or with “cognitive intelligence” does not mean that it is true. Indeed, the power of our TVs have increased since I was a kid. But this does not license the claim that TVs can do anything on their own—the human needs to tell the TV what to do; the human needs to be conscious of what they are doing to be able to tell the TV what to do.

People want “smart” TVs due to what they can do and so calling these TVs these certain descriptors will probably increase sales since people conflate IQ with intelligence. The TV is but a passive machine that awaits instruction from the human; it does not take initiative and do things without input from the human; therefore TVs are not—and cannot be due to what is argued above—intelligent.

Calling TVs “intelligent” is nothing more than a marketing campaign to sell more TVs. Sure, the TVs are nice and they have a whole lot packed into it making it better for the consumer to have one machine that does many things, but the claim that these machines are “intelligent” or have “IQs” fails, as it is (logically) impossible for machines to have those properties since machines are fully physical.

Seeing how TVs are even said to have “cognitive intelligence” and “IQs”—even if these terms are used in a specific manner—just speaks to how seeped in the IQ=intelligence claim is in our daily life, our daily discourse, and what we buy. This shows how IQ exists in a cultural context and how it is basically with us in our everyday lives. Machines cannot be intelligent, cognize, or have minds because machines are purely physical and what allows cognition (mind) is immaterial.