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The nature of human intelligence January 12, 2006

Posted by techandother in Uncategorized.

In writing my last post on email client satisfaction and dependence on users, I dedicated the 45-minute commute home to thinking about the nature of people’s intelligence, whether technological and otherwise. No radio, etc. 🙂

I’ve thought up a basic roadmap, but need other’s comments to fine-tune it. Here’s what I came up with so far:

Otherwise known as ‘book smarts’ Being knowledgeable is something to can attain experience or study. Being knowledgeable seems to be useless without the intelligence to know what to do with all of that information, except for on Jeopardy.

Intelligence seems to be inherent in a person, though there seems to be ways to increase one’s intelligence. Intelligence seems to be the ability to know what to do, even if you don’t know how. Suprisingly, intelligence seems to have the ability to grow via the brains situational profiling.

dependencies on each other
It seems that knowledge is the useless storage of information without intelligence. Intelligence is the inability to accomplish recognizable goals without knowledge.

It seems that the ideal environment for making one’s self more “intelligent”, then, is to start with a basic library of knowledge to work with, and to be placed in enough situations where your mind becomes efficient in searching through that knowledge and coming up with the best solution to a given situation.

There are two venture capitalist investors.

The first has seven years of training, and seven years of practice. After 14 years, the first investor is able to recognize good investments in the area of his expertise, and to be successful.

The second investor has 14 years of training, but no practice. Although the second investor is more knowledgeable about investing, he/she has a hard time applying that knowledge practically since he/she can’t recognize what situation they are in.

Something interesting happens as time goes on, however. At this point, the first investor is able to leverage 100% of their knowledge at year 14, and will continue to do so until year 21. The second investor can leverage 0% at year 14, and perhaps 100% at year 21. In short, the second investor could possible be twice as good as the first, but perhaps take 1/3 (133%) more time to get there. In this respect, it seems as if the second investor has an advantage.

However, as we all know, the learning process doesn’t stop at the end of the knowledge-gathering. The use of knowledge via intelligence opens up more opportunities for knowledge, and this continues in cycle.

If we apply this principle to our example, the first investor is at 100% knowledge in year 7. As they approach year 14, they approach 100% intelligence, as they learn how to leverage that knowledge. Through years 7-14, however, this process opens them up to more knowledge-gaining opportunities, and they may, perhaps, be at 200% of their original knowledge, and since they were utilizing this knowledge along the way, at full efficiency. Therefore, the first investor would arrive at year 14 with the ability to make use of all 14 year’s work of knowledge.

This is in contrast to the second investor who arrives at year 14 at a much lower efficiency, as they are only able to utilize the intelligence naturally inherent, not learned.

What does it all mean?
It seems like this makes the case for not only a broad-spectrum, short-duration education (such as a 4-year liberal-arts, or ‘something of everything’ education) to facilitate multi-situational effectiveness. In addition, it also seems that the stockpiling of knowledge needs to be weighed against the cost of not using the majority of it, as that would have been time better spent a.) efficiently using the knowledge you have, and b.) opening opportunities for knowledge that is more relevant to current situations.

Help me out here, and post your insights!



1. Technology and Otherwise » Deconstructing Scoble II: Images and Graphics - February 15, 2006

[…] This is something I never thought of, but is a great idea that TechCrunch seems to use quite frequently. Take a page from Nike’s playbook and use their branding. Everyone knows the “swoop” logo. The next time you’re doing a story about Nike, don’t wait for your reader to see your zippy headline, start reading and see that “Oh, this is about Nike”. Just throw the logo in there. People don’t want to read what the story is about, they want to know what the story is about, and as quickly as possible. Billions of dollars have been spent by these companies to make sure their logos are instantly recognizable. Use it! One word of caution, though. I would discourage the use of logos simply to make a story seem more legitimate. Adding a logo makes a story seem more legitimate/knowledgeable, but all that means is that it had better be legitimate/knowledgeable. The harder you try to make a poor post seem legit, the bigger of a flame war you’ll get into. The […]

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