Beyond the Information Age discusses a new way of thinking about computers, knowledge and understanding. See the editorial for more information....

The Size of Intelligent Systems

On the other end of the scale of space, intelligent-systems can be extremely large. The intelligent-system of the United States of America as a large country is governed by director knowledge, where some of it is stored as fixed knowledge in its founding documents. The Americans act as understanding-engines of this knowledge and perform the functions (understanding) that keep America alive. On a scale of size, the U.S.A. is nowhere near the largest intelligent system. Spatially the United Nations organization is actually larger than the U.S.A. but that's not all.

If you measure an intelligent-system by the reach of its sensors then robotic space projects are the largest human intelligent-systems. The Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn brings us data from sensors far from Earth. The Cassini space project is an intelligent-system consisting of a spacecraft connected to a team of engineers and scientists here on Earth via a radio link transmitting type EE data. The spacecraft has an energy sub-system that powers its understanding engines to convert type SE and other data types from its cameras and other sensors, to the type EE data of the radio link. On Earth, people and computers process this data into knowledge and understanding of Saturn and its moons. Fixed knowledge of the nature of Saturn's space is then made available on the Internet for all to read. You should note that without the radio link to the spacecraft the intelligent-system would fail and cease to exist. This is the same with our Mars Rovers, if we loose contact with the hardware the intelligent system fails. The spacecraft and rovers are not independent intelligent-systems and would die immediately if they lost contact with their understanding-engines here on Earth. Computers and spacecraft can only survive as a sub-system of a larger human intelligent-system. So far we have not been able to develop any intelligent-systems that can live independently, without the support of human intelligence.

Last Update: 2006-Dec-23