What intelligence quotient? Is there really a finely honed merit based tool for identifying the best and the brightest society has to offer? Like, off the top of your head: what is a neuron? How many neurons does the human brain have and what if we didn’t have any?
Human brains on average have 86 billion neurons. If we didn’t have any we’d be a sponge which have zero… Interestingly we were taught different until someone questioned it? In 2005 Dr Suzana Herculano-Houzel discovered that although 100 billion was used in all the science text books and journals they were all wrong. None of her colleagues knew where that figure came from so she set upon discovering the true figure. After liquefying human brains she then counted the neurons using a formula.
It’s the same with intelligence – with so many different definitions what we actually have are educated opinions. Intelligence is a formally recognized, organized and categorized structure of human perception. “Catching on, making sense of things or figuring things out” are three characteristics most experts agree on. “Reasoning, learning from mistakes and abstract thinking” are some others. Then there’s the ability to make sense of it all and translate that. The time it takes between individuals is of course taken into account.
Age and its association with either intelligence or wisdom are misleading and constrained understandings of both. After all Einstein was a 25 year old patent clerk when his “Theory of General Relativity” created shockwaves around the world. He was quoted as saying: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” He also said: “A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so” however the heyday of the twenty something physics genius is gone… Today’s average age for Nobel Prize winners in physics is 50 and over 65 for writers.
As with all good mainstream science we can dissect it, wrap it in a multitude of statistics, facts, figures and BS – then stick it into our textbooks. Now really much of the knowledge we retain is on a need to know basis not overcomplexity. Do most of us need to know what a synapse, a neuron or quantum tunneling is? Tesla said: “Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.” Tesla was hands on – believing much of theoretical physics lacked observed reality. It’s the reason why we can read dozens of different theories on its nature with none being real.
Speaking of real, the WAIS-IV, is the current test by which we measure IQ but it has many critics who say the tests are easy to manipulate. Much of this is done in the US as a means to a predetermined outcome. If I asked you why electrons don’t fly out of their orbits of the nucleus of an atom what would your answer be? This issue alone is too complex for the scope of this article because it indicts the entire educational system. How all tests are structured determines the outcome. Determines steering allocations of educational resources including federal discretionary funds. Besides there are plenty of books on the subject.
So then that aside, how smart are you in actual mind power? As of this writing the top three richest people in the world are each worth upward of 70 billion US. If we based intelligence on income most of the rest of the world would be mental microbes. If artistic talent were our measure, we would come to the realization that some of history’s finest artists died paupers.
Most top scientists will never win a Nobel Prize and live otherwise ordinary lives outside of being extraordinarily smart. The same can be said of many religious scholars like St Augustine whose writing is thought provoking and meticulous. In fact some of the most brain draining reads I’ve ever experienced involved philosophy which uses language to transcend mortal thought.
Above: ENIAC was 8.5 by 3 by 80 feet and weighed 27 tons.
Now here’s something I was thinking about: Arguably the first computer unveiled on February 14, 1946 was the ENIAC aka “The Big Brain.” The IBM-701 went public in 1953 and could do 16 thousand OPS (Operations Per Second). Today Intel’s fastest desktop CPU can do over 300 billion OPS. Today’s fastest supercomputer is the Sunway TaihuLight which has a speed of 93 petaFLOPS or 93 quadrillion OPS. So we’ve gone from 16 thousand to 93 quadrillion OPS in around 60 years. We might then conclude that these increases will continue exponentially and computers will shortly surpass the entire human collective in processing power.
While web searching even my most obscure concepts I came to an epiphany. We – the human race have unknowingly taken the next step in our evolution. Where in the past we could work on problems or ideas collectively, we couldn’t do it in real-time. Now we can almost instantly access and filter trillions of ideas and bits of data contributed by hundreds of millions of minds working virtually as one.
What also struck me is how rapidly “AI” (artificial intelligence) is advancing. Autonomous AI internet search bots will soon understand the content they gather using “AC” (Artificial Consciousness). Entire libraries will be read in seconds on quantum scales. These synthetic entities will be our greatest thinkers, inventors, designers, physicists, philosophers, physicians… They’ll access databases containing all the knowledge from the history of human existence. Only, as it may take humans years to go from concept to result, for AI we may be talking minutes.
Somewhere around here a metaphoric event horizon occurs as was predicted by Dr. John Lilly in his 1978 book “The Scientist” talking about “Solid State Intelligence.” Our machines will become self-reliant eventually controlling human thought through timeline manipulation. They’ll guarantee their own creation, evolution and man’s dependency on them. This for me was incredible – we came to the same exact conclusion years apart.
Philosopher Nick Bostrom suggests that if one were living in a virtual world it would be indistinguishable from a “REAL” one. Elon Musk like many others agree and fears we may already be living in a simulation meaning the change event already occurred. Contrary to popular belief this idea of reality being an illusion predates antiquity. It did not start with Bostrom nor with the Lillys of the world – everyone’s in on this game. Science or theology as in the Christian “Omphalos” hypothesis which presents that God created the world ten thousand years ago. The universe was already complete with stars, planets, Adam and Eve. Much like a well written simulated world program.
So now here we are in a simulation? However we exist, it’s real enough to us. Speaking of what’s real, we’ve touched upon wealth, talent, religion, philosophy, science… but the question was: “How smart are you?” The truth is that it doesn’t really matter because the quotient is an illusion. It measures what a committee decides intelligence is at any given point in time. This usually involves political and cultural interpretations. It doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be good at math or will now create a great symphony. It means that like millions of others you’ll pass or like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all University dropouts you can still go on to change the world…