Understanding intelligence in terms of thermodynamics has my nod. But I don't see this as the opposite of computers or robots setting their sights on taking over the world. It only allows the possibility they'd see it as in their interest to include us.
A single equation grounded in basic physics principles could describe intelligence and stimulate new insights in fields as diverse as finance and robotics, according to new research.Alexander Wissner-Gross, a physicist at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cameron Freer, a mathematician at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, developed an equation that they say describes many intelligent or cognitive behaviors, such as upright walking and tool use.The researchers suggest that intelligent behavior stems from the impulse to seize control of future events in the environment. This is the exact opposite of the classic science-fiction scenario in which computers or robots become intelligent, then set their sights on taking over the world.
The findings describe a mathematical relationship that can "spontaneously induce remarkably sophisticated behaviors associated with the human 'cognitive niche,' including tool use and social cooperation, in simple physical systems," the researchers wrote ...The new research proposes that entropy is directly connected to intelligent behavior."[The paper] is basically an attempt to describe intelligence as a fundamentally thermodynamic process," said Wissner-Gross.The researchers developed a software engine, called Entropica, and gave it models of a number of situations in which it could demonstrate behaviors that greatly resemble intelligence. They patterned many of these exercises after classic animal intelligence tests.In one test, the researchers presented Entropica with a situation where it could use one item as a tool to remove another item from a bin, and in another, it could move a cart to balance a rod standing straight up in the air. Governed by simple principles of thermodynamics, the software responded by displaying behavior similar to what people or animals might do, all without being given a specific goal for any scenario. [emphasis mine]