Alex Wissner-Gross studies intelligence through physics and computer science. He has developed an equation for intelligence that is the equivalent of the physics equation E=MC2 . Look at how he came to develop this idea and see if you agree that this equation captures some or all intelligent behavior.

Why you should listen:

Lately Wissner-Gross started wondering: Why have we searched for so long to understand intelligence? Can it really be this elusive? His latest work posits that intelligence can indeed be defined physically, as a dynamic force, rather than a static property. He explains intelligence in terms of causal entropic forces, ultimately defining it as “a force to maximize future freedom of action.”

Who is he:

Wissner-Gross is a fellow at the Harvard Institute for Applied Computational Science and a research affiliate at the MIT Media Lab. He has a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard and bachelor’s degrees in physics, electrical science and engineering, and mathematics from MIT.


  1. What is the significance of entropy in human intelligence? Discuss your answer with someone.
  1. How did Wissner-Gross come to the idea of a single equation for human intelligence?
  1. How is the program Entropica like a human mind? What are some uses for this kind of artificial intelligence? Discuss possible effects on our culture.
  1. How does Wissner-Gross view the concept of cybernetic revolt, compared to the historical view?
  1. Explain the connection between a bottleneck and goal seeking.
  1. At the end of his talk, Wissner-Gross sums up his theory in a single sentence. Discuss this summary with someone.

A new equation for intelligence, with Alex Wissner-Gross


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