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Is ChatGPT “Intelligent”?



With the word “intelligence” literally in its name, the question has to be asked – just how “intelligent” is AI? And what is “intelligence” anyway? What makes someone (or something) smart?


As someone who was identified as “gifted” at an early age but has always struggled with different facets of emotional intelligence, I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of what makes someone “smart,” and what qualifies as “intelligent”?


I remember feeling super defensive the first time I learned about Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. All sorts of questions went through my mind…How could all of these different areas be considered intelligence? How are these different modalities all placed at the same level? – I felt very threatened because if we opened up the world to different ways of being smart, it lessened my identity of being smart.


I am tone deaf and have no rhythm, so clearly that is not an area of “intelligence” for me. I scored really high on an IQ test, though! Clearly that must count for something! I can find the derivative of an equation, so some would say that makes me smart…but I’ve never scored very high on an empathy assessment.


So does that make me less “intelligent”?


I’m still not sure if I was more threatened by the use of the word “intelligence” in Gardner’s work and if I would have been more at peace had he used “ability” or “aptitude.” But the fact remained that there were definitely things I was not good at…that may be of value.


Putting the critical reception and discrediting of the theory aside, Gardner’s overarching idea that intelligence isn’t limited to one single general ability does resonate and has been packaged and re-packaged in different formats, all showing us that there are a variety of ways to be smart.


I just read the book The 6 Types of Working Genius by Patrick Lencioni which centers around a fable depicting Bull Brooks and his quest to better understand his own work frustration. Through the first part of the book, he stumbles upon the “working genius” model which suggests that there are six types of working genius:

  1. Wonder – You see potential and ask a lot of questions.

  2. Invention – You see ideas and solutions.

  3. Discernment – You assess ideas.

  4. Galvanizing – You bring people together and rally others to act on ideas.

  5. Enablement – You bring ideas to life.

  6. Tenacity – You push ideas to completion.

Each type is based off of what brings an individual joy and energy, and the book discusses how we are at our best when we are in situations (work, relationships, etc) where we are in our “working genius” and not a place of frustration. Lencioni makes clear that no one of the types is better or more important than any other, and all of them need to be covered by a team in some way in order to be successful.


I found this concept to be a twist on the “Strengths Based Leadership” approach (the idea that we all have different strengths, and instead of trying to be good at everything, we should, instead, surround ourselves with a well-rounded team that address all of the strengths) – or the PACE Color Palette or enneagrams or Myers-Briggs…


What’s different about this book, however, (at least in my mind) is the use of the term “genius,” which generally connotes some high level of intellectual capability. Through the use of this term and some of the discussion in the book, Lencioni does raise these types from a place of skill or ability to place that intelligence as well.


In my current quest to better understand Artificial Intelligence and the potential (and challenges) it offers to our world, I wonder if platforms such as ChatGPT offer any of these types of genius?


While I am sure I’m overthinking the use of specific words in different contexts in this conversation, I do find the use of “intelligence” to be an interesting choice when it comes to AI. “Intelligence,” according to Google/Oxford Languages, is defined as “​​the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” To me, this “apply” part of the definition seems to be key.


In Lencioni’s working genius model, application plays a key role for each type of genius. Each type acquires certain knowledge and then applies it in a different way. While we have seen numerous models of AI’s ability to acquire (and even to synthesize) information (maybe even knowledge), have we seen any true, valuable examples of application?


As we consider where human opportunities lie in the future and the possibilities for which we should be preparing our students, it seems we have six options right here (and that’s not even touching on the category of “emotional intelligence” that could be an entirely separate conversation).


I know that I can’t compete with a computer when it comes to information recall, so I am not even going to try. I can’t write an intelligible response to a question faster than ChatGPT, so maybe I shouldn’t even try there. I could pretty much never debug a computer program, so I’ll leave that alone as well. Absolutely there are places where AI has an advantage over us.


And that opens the opportunity for us to focus on what current technology can't do.


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