Artificial Intelligence: What Are We Trying to Achieve?

Artificial Intelligence: What Are We Trying to Achieve?

Jeff Allen, Denise Allen, and Paria Tajallipour

Intelligence is a simple word that we hear or use all the time and we each have a general understanding of its meaning. Intelligence is designated goal for creators, scientists, and scholars in the areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). But do we have a clear understanding of, and acknowledge, what we are trying to achieve? What is intelligence?  If we are looking to achieve human intelligence in machines and sentient robots which includes emotions and self-awareness, should we not at least know what we are trying to achieve? Science fiction can supply some clues to the future of machine intelligence, but can it be achieved, and do we want it achieved?

—Now, the question is, which types of intelligence do we want our AI to possess?—

Machine Learning and AI

Machine learning is a basic tool for building artificial intelligence (AI). The machines are watching, listening, training, and learning. The goal is to achieve the ability to make prediction and decisions without being explicitly programmed to make those decisions or predictions. Machine learning has looked to develop computer algorithms that can automatically learn and experience by using, manipulating, and modeling data. While a broad generalization of the field, artificial intelligence is currently used to look at customer trends, make prediction based on market trend, business operations, detect fraud, filter misinformation, and even recommend your next dinner date. AI programs have improved to the point that today’s automated assistants and chatbots can easily be mistaken for a “live human.” Artificial intelligence exists in our smart phones, cars, social media, computer games, banking, service organization, and security systems. These AI systems rely on statistical relationships of data for reasoning, problem solving, and generalized learning to adapt to new situations and find solutions to mimic human intelligence. Developers of strong AI look to provide machines with the capability to perform all the intellectual tasks that a human can perform through deep learning, machine learning, supervised learning, and unsupervised learning.

Human Intelligence: The Gold Standard

Human intelligence formed the base framework of building artificial intelligence, and so it is here we begin. Human intelligence is a combination of cognitive functions that create an ability to learn and grow from knowledge and experience, understand ourselves, and connect with others. This general definition of intelligence includes our implicit and explicit knowledge, abstract reasoning, understanding of cause and effect, creativity, judgement, common sense, adaptability, and ethics. We make intelligent decisions most often based on received data, knowledge and information that forms facts and figures, but at other times form perception, emotion, and insights that our uniquely human brains intelligently process and, when needed, prompt our action.

A quick search on the internet will show you that intelligence has many types. Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University, developed the Theory of Multiple Intelligences to show several aspects of a person’s intelligence and intellect. In his theory, Gardner proposes eight different types of intelligence: spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic (A Beginner’s Guide to MI, n.d.). You might be born with one or two types of intelligence. For example, you might be great at learning a language or maybe you are an amazing singer. You can also develop and gain an intelligence during your life (i.e., interpersonal intelligence). Now, the question is, which types of intelligence do we want our AI to possess?

Artificial Intelligence: What Is Our goal?

AI can do so many things faster, longer, and more accurately than people and can mimic human decisions, responses, and actions to a degree once only imagined in science fiction. Many modern-day functions simply couldn’t exist without AI, building on computing power and layering on this extremely sophisticated form of intelligence.

Still, with all the wondrous things that AI can carry out, with the ability to fool people into thinking they’re talking to a real person, and with all the robots and machines that act, learn, and grow, an AI can’t think conceptually, can’t feel emotion and use it as part of its processes, and can’t tell that although someone is smiling and laughing, they’re hiding sadness or depression. Although sensors installed in robots can help them “feel” an impact and transfer that “feeling” to the AI to show it was hit, an AI still relies on human input and development to learn, grow and act based on that input, without the benefit of the human brain.

Based on what we know now, AI can mimic humans but are not yet human nor fully experience human intelligence. However, with the rapid progress in the field of machine learning, it is perhaps possible that in near future, we will have machines that have true feelings. But is that something we are looking for?

Question that May Decide Our Future

If AI can never be human, does it mean that an AI machine can’t make better decisions than humans? AI works very well in kind environments, but not so well in wicked environments. Do we understand enough to risk leaving certain decisions solely to AI without human monitoring or intervention? The answer to this question is certainly “No,” a hard “No.”

We need a true needs assessment. Where are we (humans and AI)?  Where do we (humans and AI) want to be?  Finally, how do we decrease the gap between where we are now and where we want to be?  We can only begin to get the right answers about machine learning and AI by asking the right questions and exploring what is known and what we need to learn. We invite you to join us on this journey.


A beginner’s guide to mi. (n.d.). MI Oasis. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from

Allen, D., Allen, J., & Tajallipour, P. (2022, January 7). Artificial intelligence: What are we trying to achieve? Information Matters.  Vol.1, Issue 12.

Jeff Allen

Dr. Jeff M. Allen is an internationally recognized scholar of wisdom that assists organizations to the make evidence-based decisions that fosters individual wisdom and cultivated collective wisdom. He serves as a Regents Professor of Information Science at the University of North Texas. Latest Book: Fostering Wisdom at Work