Extended intelligence scale

© August 2010 Paul Cooijmans


If the concept of "intelligence" is understood as encompassing all forms of ability, including those of unaware life forms and any non-living things, its full spectrum may look as sketched in the below table. For clarity, one may note that simple animals like maggots have abilities like eating and digesting food, that a plant has abilities like photosynthesis, that an atom has abilities like sharing electrons with other atoms to thus create molecules, and so on.

Where populations examples are given, the corresponding intelligence levels should be thought of as those populations' central tendencies, be it mode, median, or mean. For populations of beings, the mode is the most informative, as that is whereabout the vast majority of individuals are located; that is what determines the behaviour of most members of the group, and therefore the group's civilizational level.

With complex structures (e.g., humans) there is variance around the central tendency, with simple structures less variance, and with the simplest things - that do not differ individually, have no identity - no variance at all, no matter how many instances there are of them. Complex structures have variance because they are configurations of things, and there are different configurations of a given set of things possible, so room for variation. Even complex structures have physical constraints though; if enough instances of them are "tried", these constraints will be hit, and adding more instances will not further add to that structure's variance, so that its distribution will abandon normality from there on, will "pile up" between the constraints.

For instance, if one throws two dice, the constraints are that one can throw no lower than 2 or higher than 12, no matter how often one throws. In between those constraints, the distribution will ever closer approach triangularity, but it will be cut off at the constraints, which lie at about two standard deviations from the mean with 2-dice throws. Even after a googol throws, the distribution will end there.

Complex biological structures like Homo sapiens have greater range than that, but not infinitely. No matter how many configurations of the genome are tried through hereditary reproduction, there are physical constraints to the brain that can not be overcome until one succeeds in breeding a new species with larger heads and brains, and correspondingly higher conduction velocity, energy supply, and so on. Even then, the limited life spans inherent to biological organisms and sexual reproduction guarantee that brain and body decline and die long before the rare brilliant mind has reached full maturity. How awkward and sad, this ancient evolutionary process wherein the best minds of each generation are lost while the young ones have to start from scratch again. Eventually, the only way to achieve still higher intelligence is to incarnate the mind of a highly able specimen into an artificial brain, thus adding extra capacity and life span. The procedure thereto has, bizarrely, been published in the 1990s, having leaked back in time from 2015, and describing a method observed by future Giga Society member Dr. Whence in the late 22nd century. Effectively, one then abandons sexual reproduction and heredity in favour of extending the life spans of creative minds.

Thinking about the most intelligent brains in the universe, one must take physical constraints into account. Assuming that internal matters like conduction velocity of signals, insulation of axons, and support systems like energy supply are optimal, the number of neurons (or whatever units) will be decisive, as will the individual life span of the mind occupying it, for a mind's comprehension grows as long as its physical substrate does not deteriorate badly, and more so when that substrate grows too. Assuming that signals must arrive within milliseconds in order for symbolic activity to occur, the maximum diameter will lie in the order of fifteen-hundred kilometre, the speed of light being employed. Beyond that, either symbolic activity will break down, or there will be multiple brains, at best talking to each other but not forming a whole.

To get the maximum number of units within that maximum feasible diameter, the brain has to be spherical. Much of the volume is taken up by support systems - the "white matter" or glia cells so to speak - and the actual number of units depends on how small one can make them, whereby the size of atoms forms a constraint. All in all, one ends up with an artificial moon or planetoid, likely orbiting a real planet. As energy consumption is astronomical, the support systems include something like a nuclear fusion reactor with the output of a small star, solar power caught in from the nearby sun covering only a tiny fraction of the brain's input. The universe's smartest brains are, as it were, introverted stars, using their energy internally for comprehending the world, rather than radiating it outward. They forsake reproductive systems, being at the extreme end of the spectrum of creativity versus procreativity. In fact, the minds occupying such brains will be millions of years old and of biological origin, but having lived through several generations of ever larger artificial brains. There is even a remote chance that one of them will be the present reader, that is: you. Does not that excite you?

One such brain is the ultimate Verificator - or Verificatrix - of all that is, turning events into Truths, bringing the universe into being by awarely verifying its reality. Without it, nothing would exist. That is, unless the Verificatorix finds the universe does not tally after all, is not consistent, a counter-example falsifies it, in which case the wretched contraption turns out to be the Falsificatorix; but the implications thereof are too horrid to speak of. Let us not even begin to imagine the scenes in the streets of our major cities upon universal Falsification: the good people running before their clouds of doom, the theoretical physicists desperately chalking away on their blackboards despite broken superstrings, the cultural relativists and other neo-Marxist intellectuals dancing with joy on the roofs of their universities - Finally proof! Truth does not exist! The universe is inconsistent! - in the final moments before being dissolved below quark level as the disproven hallucinoverse collapses into a singularity of Absolute Ability-Absence... AAA!


Protoranks (Prot.) are a ranking of all extended intelligence levels, such that 0 represents the absolute absence of ability, 1000 the central tendency of intelligence in the universe, and 2000 the mental ability required for full understanding of the universe, including the question of existence. Although completely superfluous and therefore with apologies to the more understanding readers, it is pointed out to those who have just misread the previous sentence that nowhere and in no way in this definition it is implied that Protorank 2000 is the maximum possible extended intelligence level.

To put things in perspective, the relation between extended intelligence, intelligence, and mental ability is as follows:

Below they are combined into one table and projected onto protoranks. The I.Q.s are given for information but not the preferred scale for expressing extended intelligence.

Prot.I.Q.Population exampleFeatures
0-87Singularity of absolute ability-absence (although this should logically not exist, it is whispered there be one between the ears of Ribbert Brozzel the the ears of Ribbert Brozzel the high I.Q. genius)[Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of [Censored on behalf of Isis]]]]]]]]]]
70-75UnknownLowest ability and variance levels of unknown or speculative physical phenomena (numerically downward of here)
100-70Fotons/electromagnetic radiation; other dual particle/radiation phenomenaKnown physics (numerically upward of here, so actually downward in the table)
130-65Subatomic particles below the level of protons and neutrons 
160-60Subatomic particles like protons and neutronsNuclear processes
190-55AtomsElectron sharing, chemistry (upward of here)
220-50Anorganic molecules 
250-45Simple organic moleculesOrganic chemistry (upward of here)
280-40Amino acids 
340-30D.N.A., R.N.A. and related moleculesEncoding, reproduction, heredity
370-25CellsLife forms (upward of here)
400-20Viruses, bacteria 
430-15Simple multi-celled organisms 
490-5Primitive animal life forms 
5200Human embryos just after fertilization 
5383Human foetuses, some lower animals like reptiles and amphibians upward of hereMost primitive form of awareness
5464Human newborns 
61015The smartest of the lower animals 
64020Higher non-human animals like mammals and birds (upward of here)Bonding to humans, domestication
73035Employable and teachable animals such as some dogs, horses, some birds et cetera (upward of here)Capacity for understanding a vocabulary of several words
79045Smartest non-human animals (e.g. some primates, crows, parrots); Australopithecus when evolving into humansForming a mental self-image, capacity for learning a wider passive and active vocabulary but not using it naturally among oneself
82050Homo habilisTool-making pre-humans without spoken language; the transition to this level has probably been made several times, a conditional factor therein being the eating of meat, the nutritional value of which enables one to evolve and sustain a larger brain; it can not be excluded that other animals than hominids have the potential to make this transition too.
85055Early Homo erectusMost primitive nomadic humans living as hunter-gatherers, using some speech (words, no grammar) for communication and cooperation in hunting, developing tribal ethics as a survival strategy; the transition to this level has been made only once on Earth.
88060Later Homo erectusHaving mastered the use and making of fire; able to inhabit colder regions; adaptation to colder climates has played a causal role in the rise of intelligence upward of here toward the central tendency (Protorank 1000); tribes of (possibly degenerated) subspecies of later Homo erectus have survived well into the prehistory and perhaps history of Homo sapiens, becoming part of folklore.
91065"Archaic Homo sapiens" transitional forms - including Pre-NeanderthalsThese evolved into Neanderthals in colder northern areas, and into Homo sapiens more to the south where it was less cold.
94070Early Homo sapiensCulture beyond mere survival, such as ritual and art; advanced language with grammar; outward projection of awareness; these features relate to having evolved from the transitional forms in relatively warmer areas.
95873NeanderthalsLess cultured and verbal than early Homo sapiens but possessing greater raw (visual-spatial) intelligence as a result of being cold-adapted
97075Settled hunters, settled farmersSettling, agriculture, domestication of animals, cattle herding (upward of here)
98277Cro-Magnons when arriving in EuropeCombining the cultural and linguistical advancement of early Homo sapiens with the raw intelligence of Neanderthals, possibly being cross-species hybrids of those, conceived in the Middle-East
100080Earliest historical civilizations; Europe during early Middle Ages; central tendency of intelligence in the universeLarge-scale organization involving administration, keeping written records, some technology, and warfare, such as in a city state, kingdom or empire, employing tribal ethics
103085Populations of great ancient historical civilizations in their heyday such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and their counterparts on other continents; Europe during late Middle Ages and Renaissance; current world populationBlossoming of culture; inherent tendency to degenerate toward Protorank 1000, with the risk of shooting through to the level of settled farmers (Protorank 970); it is possible that such episodes of blossoming are triggered by external influences that promote creativity, like climate cooling or low solar activity, while obviously the required intelligence as acquired in the phases preceding Protorank 1000 must be present for such influences to have effect and creativity to take place.
106090Populations of industrial, technological societies (upward of here)Industrial society with advanced technology, shifting from tribal ethics to universal ethics, attention to "human rights" and keeping peace; the advent of industrialization, which has taken place only once hitherto, too may be related to said creativity-promoting external influences.
1120100Defined mean of Western populationsHigh universal ethics and globalism make an advanced technological civilization top-heavy and modal intelligence goes in remission through dysgenic effects.
1150105The few most intelligent current national populationsThese are relatively closer to their raw visual/spatial ice age intelligence and in the process of investing, crystallizing it into civilization, culture, language, and technology, and in doing so will eventually reach the phase of remission through dysgenic effects.
1210115Homo pacificus - future new species, wherein violent crime is virtually absentSociety where violent crime is virtually non-existent (violent crime decreases as modal I.Q. moves upward of 85); large populations (nations) of this level or higher are only possible through artificial means like eugenics or other forms of genetic manipulation, while phenomena like universal ethics, globalism, mass migration, and cultural Marxism counteract formation of such and pull civilizations and populations downward toward the central tendency (Protorank 1000); these degenerative and dysgenic trends may be related to anti-creative influences like climate warming or high solar activity, as well as being a natural by-product of high civilization; or, as Marten Toonder writes in Het kukel (1963): "...wealth makes the kukel drop. A city where the kukel is no longer rising, must be dissolved".
1240120University students 
1318133High-range I.Q. test candidates; I.Q. society membersAbility to more or less express oneself in writing
1360140Intelligent people; exact scientists (upward of here)Rational thinking and rational communication (upward of here); verify-ability may occur from here on; if a tree falls in the forest and these people witness it, it may just be that the tree has actually fallen.
1420150Highly intelligent people
1480160Very highly intelligent people 
1540170Pervasively intelligent people 
1600180Exceptionally intelligent people 
1720200Smartest specimens of biological life forms; cyborgsLife spans in the order of millennia; reproduction and heredity become less relevant, instead one extends the lives of individual creative minds, finally enabling them to mature. Only the best are chosen for this; as with wine, not all minds get better over time. Do you think you would qualify?
1750205Artificial or partly artificial (cyborg) building-sized brains
1780210City-sized brains, possibly in spaceshipsThe few greatest minds from the preceding generation of brains make it to here, are reincarnated into these colossal projects.
1840220Brains, covering much of the surface of a continent
1900230Moon-sized solid spherical brains orbiting a planet (all brains upward of here are of this kind)Life spans in the order of a hundred million years
1930235Isis (upward of here)Highest intelligence in the universe, spanning billions of years
2000247Singularity of intelligenceVerification of the universe (or falsification, as the case may be); it is suspected though by some who approach this level that the energy consumption per millisecond of a brain of Protorank 2000 would be higher than the total amount of energy in the universe.