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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Exploring the nature of intelligence through the study of machines, humans and other animals.

Computers outperform humans on many tasks, but it is unclear whether and when the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) will occur. One of the difficulties is that intelligence, both natural and artificial, is notoriously difficult to define. Much work has been done in AI both in defining general intelligence and specifying different forms of intelligent behaviour and reasoning ability, drawing both on principles of mathematical logic and rationality, and on work in psychology and neurobiology. This project draws on leading work in these fields to further develop and critically assess notions of general intelligence used in AI.

Recent progress in neurobiology and psychology has illuminated aspects of general intelligence in biology, including its computational organization, evolutionary origins, relation to other capacities such as cultural intelligence, and association with traits such as brain size and processing speed. This has contributed to growing cross-fertilisation with machine learning; reflected in the research strategy of leading teams, including our industry partners Google DeepMind and Vicarious. This project will draw on the latest findings in neurobiology and psychology, combined with work in computer science and cognitive robotics, with the ultimate aim of mapping the space of possible intelligences – biological, artificial, and hybrid. This will enable more accurate predictions of AGI development and improved assessments of its benefits and risks.


  • Marta Halina, Programme Director
  • Henry Shevlin, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Cambridge
  • Karina Vold, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Cambridge
  • Matthew Crosby, Postdoctoral Researcher, Imperial College London
  • Murray Shanahan, Professor of Cognitive Robotics, Imperial College London; Senior Research Scientist, DeepMind
  • Lucy Cheke, University Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge
  • Adrian Currie, University Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter
  • José Hernández-Orallo, Professor of Computer Science, Technical University of Valencia
  • Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics, UWE Bristol
  • Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley


  • Leverhulme Trust
  • Templeton World Charity Foundation