Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic of conversation, spanning areas as broad as the use of robots in the NHS to China using facial recognition to serve customers. To date, AI has centred on creating machines programmed to think like a human. Scientists at the University of Cambridge are now advocating a wider exploration of intelligence in the development of AI. This wider understanding of intelligence includes seeing intelligence as not simply being connected to the human brain, but other species altogether.

Dr Kathelijne Koops, formerly from the University of Cambridge’s Division of Biological Anthropology, believes that a less anthropocentric view of intelligence or culture should be adopted when seeking to understand how the brain works. This in turn can be applied to how we approach the creation of AI. What would AI modelled on animals look like? Are we ranking the intelligence of AI in terms of their proximity to, and imitation of, the human brain?

Applicants of Biological Sciences should read into the idea that animals are able to plan for the future, while Computer Science applicants can further explore how algorithms used to build AI contain human behavioural patterns and biases. Human Science and HSPS applicants may want to explore the idea of anthropocentrism and the ways in which culture is present amongst certain animals such as species of primates.

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