So what is the evidence of intelligence? I would suggest the ability to construct artifacts or events with Specified Improbability (the usual term is Specified Complexity, CSI, etc. but those terms are too confusing).
Thus factories with robots, smart cruise missiles, genetic algorithms, bacteria, a collective network of ants, etc. can be considered intelligent systems. The problem is that we have no means of distinguishing real from artificial intelligence in any formal way. With no disrespect intended toward those with severe mental handicaps, yes such people are conscious, but there is a point a robotic automaton might be capable of generating more Specified Improbability than such an individual. Thus the line between real and artificial, as far as what is produced, becomes blurred.
Some of us have imagined building robots that will land on a planet and tame it and build cities. They will act pretty much like human engineers and construction workers — doing research on the environment, gathering information, and building structures for human beings that will later colonize the planet. It is a dream, but it is, as of this juncture, possible in principle. Hence, the line between real and artificial intelligence gets blurred.
Why do I throw this out? Well:
1. I see RDFish and Mapou and others commenting, and maybe they want to chime in
2. From an empirical standpoint, I don’t think it does ID much good to try to distinguish the outcomes of real vs. artificial intelligence, since we can’t formally demonstrate one from the other anyway, at least with regard to Specified Improbability
What we can say is that given a system with an initial condition and certain boundary conditions, even assuming it is intelligent, it will probably not create certain kinds of Specified Improbability. For example, let us assume bacteria are examples of AI. We do not expect them to create multicellular creatures based on what we know about their capabilities. We can even assume the process of natural selection is AI (where Natural Selection is an AI genetic algorithm in the wild), given it’s level of intelligence, we do not expect it to build extravagant artifacts. I pointed out the reasons here:
How Darwinists confuse the extravagant with the essential.
We can say an adding machine is intelligent, but we do not think, in and of itself it will build a space shuttle.
If a certain AI system (like Natural Selection in the wild) is incapable of constructing certain artifacts, it suggests a greater intelligence was required to construct it. A greater intelligence than Natural Selection in the wild was needed to evolve flight from primitive bacteria, for example.
We rate the capability of various intelligence systems, and it is reasonable to affix limitations on them. This I think is a better way to frame the problem. Whether the Intelligence that made the wonders of life is God, A Computer in Sky, Aliens, the Borg Collective, some mechanistic intelligence…it is irrelevant to the design inference. We might however be able to make statements about the level of capability of that intelligence.
I will say this, it appears to me, the intelligence that makes a creature as awesome as a monarch butterfly seems far beyond the collective intelligence of humanity, and certainly far above the “intelligence” of natural selection in the wild. For some, they call this intelligence God, other leave it as an open question, but it seems clear to me it was an intelligence of great ability.
I know many of my ID colleagues will disagree or will remain skeptical of adopting such a convention. I put the idea on the table however, because I think it needs to be discussed.