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Just published: Intelligence - Theories and Applications

Last year’s volume of the “Heidelberger Jahrbücher” (2021), whose very first volume was published as one of the oldest journals in the world as early as 1808 (sic!) and which is now published regularly by the “Society of University Friends” (see also my blog post: Heidelberger Jahrbücher 1957-2019: a real treasure trove), has been translated from German to English and is available now with Springer International. Under the editorship of Rainer Matthias Holm-Hadulla, Michael Wink and me, 23 interesting contributions on the topic of “intelligence” are gathered in the new volume on >560 pages.

The contributions to this volume are presented in the following paragraphs in keyword form. At the beginning of this list is the contribution that undertakes a detailed classification of all the following chapters: In the introductory chapter “Intelligence: Theoretical Foundations and Practical Applications - A Multi- and Interdisciplinary Summary”, Rainer M. Holm-Hadulla (Psychiatry and Psychotherapy) and Hannes Wendler (Psychology) illuminate the deep structure lying behind the individual contributions and draw connecting lines. - Here comes the list of all contributions in alphabetical order (in the volume itself, the individual contributions are arranged following the seven sections of the introductory chapter):

  • Ines Al-Ameery-Brosche and Franz Resch (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) in their contribution “Emotional Robotics - Curse or Blessing in Psychiatric Care” point out the dangers as well as the advantages of “social robots” and medical IT applications, which can be seen as tools but not as a substitute for human attention.
  • Theresia Bauer (Minister for Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart) delivers a chapter entitled “Political Intelligence? A view from practice between politics and science” a practical report from the world of political action. Wisdom and trust in science play an important role here.
  • Michael Byczkowski (SAP) and Magdalena Görtz (Urology) write about “The Industrialisation of Intelligence”, using medical examples to show how the interplay of observation, experience, cognition and skills lead to intelligent insights.
  • Andreas Draguhn (Physiology) describes the “Neurobiology of Intelligence” and deals with an essential biological correlate of intelligence: the brain. Important framework conditions for genetically based “biological” intelligence show that good physical conditions, diverse stimuli and conducive social interactions in the first years of life are favourable for its development.
  • Claudia Erbar and Peter Leins (Biology) take an evolutionary-theoretical perspective in their contribution “The intelligent game with coincidences and selection” and use numerous examples to show intelligent constructions of evolution as they are used today by bionics.
  • Klaus Fiedler, Florian Ermark and Karolin Salmen (Social Psychology) use the term “metacognition” to describe possible errors and deceptions in rational judgement and decision-making in the application field of law, medicine and democracy. Quality control of one’s own thinking is called for.
  • Dietrich Firnhaber (Covestro AG, Leverkusen) takes a close look at strategic planning for dealing with uncertain facts in his contribution “Intelligent handling of complexity by companies”. He shows that uncertain knowledge about known uncertainties can be used productively.
  • Thomas Fuchs (Philosophy and Psychiatry) concludes in his contribution “Human and Artificial Intelligence - A Critical Comparison” that human intelligence is something specifically human that cannot be put on the same level as artificial intelligence, i.e. algorithm-driven machine data processing.
  • Joachim Funke (Cognitive Psychology) describes different conceptions of the construct in his contribution “Intelligence: The Psychological View” and at the same time points out their “dark side”, i.e. the destructive potential of intelligent action.
  • Sebastian Harnisch (Political Science) takes a look at the concept of “political intelligence and wisdom”. Historical roots of these concepts are presented as well as current developments in the 20th/21st century.
  • Sabine Herpertz (Psychiatry and Psychotherapy) distinguishes between mentalisation, empathy and caring in her chapter on “Interpersonal Intelligence”. She describes their neurobiological correlates and draws practical consequences.
  • Vincent Heuveline (Mathematics) and Viola Stiefel (Computing Centre) describe in their contribution “Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms - True Progress or just Digital Alchemy?” the basics of AI and the limits of its possible applications. They plead for the improvement of AI competences, e.g., in schools, and at the same time for the sensible handling of AI from an ethical and ecological point of view.
  • Thomas Holstein (Molecular Biology) assumes that the entire cellular and molecular repertoire of our nervous system was already formed at earlier evolutionary stages over 500 million years ago. The ability of neuronal systems to carry out cognitive decision-making processes enables associative learning and intelligent problem solving even in organisms that we consider simple, such as the sea snail. Specific genes play a central role in this. Comparative genomic studies make a decisive contribution to understanding brain evolution.
  • Magnus von Knebel Doeberitz (Tumour Biology) shows new possibilities of artificial intelligence in the field of medicine. Many current advances in medicine would not be possible without AI. He places an Internet of Medicine alongside the Internet of Things.
  • Katajun Lindenberg and Ulrike Basten (Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy) describe the “development of intelligence in connection with the use of digital media” from a clinical perspective. In view of the increasing use of digital media by children and adolescents, advantages and disadvantages in relation to mental development are discussed here in the form of an overview article
  • Vera Nünning (English Studies) takes up our framework topic in her contribution “Intelligence in and with Literature” by analysing its representation in two current novels by Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro respectively, thus making the powerful experiential world of literary works comprehensible for understanding the self and the world.
  • Manfred Oeming (Theology) in his contribution “Intelligentia Dei” makes clear on the one hand the science-friendliness of the Bible, on the other hand he warns against too much faith in technology, which is connected with some “promises of salvation” of the apologists of artificial intelligence.
  • Gudrun Rappold (Genetics) describes what happens “when intelligence is impaired”. Using the example of the developmental disorder “autism”, she clarifies genetic mechanisms that negatively influence the development and function of neuronal networks and circuits, but also open up treatment options if recognised early.
  • Under the title “Meta-Intelligence: Understanding Control, and Coordination of Higher Cognitive Processes”, Robert Sternberg (Cognitive Psychology) raises the question of whether various higher processes of cognition can be summarised under the umbrella term of meta-intelligence.
  • Thomas Stiehl and Anna Marciniak-Czochra (Mathematics) deal with the topic “Intelligent Algorithms and Equations? - An approach to the intelligence of mathematical concepts“. They show analogies between human intelligence and the intelligence of learning algorithms. The parameter estimates and resulting predictions possible with computer simulations make complex issues manageable.
  • Christel Weiß (Medical Statistics), in her historically oriented chapter “Statistics and Intelligence - A Changing Relationship”, places the development of statistical methods in the context of “measuring intelligence”, but also deals with the intelligence of data, methods, users and consumers of statistics.
  • Michael Wink (Biology) deals with “Intelligence in Animals” and shows many examples of intelligent behaviour such as hammering, fishing and poking. Animals are capable of amazing cognitive feats, such as problem solving, memory and orientation, and social behaviour.

An impressive collection, I think! Even if I do not share all interpretations of the respective intelligence concepts, the assembled diversity of perspectives alone remains a gain in itself. May the volume be granted a favourable reception!

Source: Holm-Hadulla, R. M., Funke, J., & Wink, M. (Hrsg.). (2022). Intelligence—Theories and Applications. Springer International Publishing.