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  • Throughout the 20th Century

  • the average score on IQ tests across the world grew significantly.

  • Does this mean humans are getting smarter?

  • Is intelligence going to keep growing?

  • And what will intelligence mean in the future?

  • Will emotional intelligence, showing understanding of others,

  • be considered more important than abstract logic?

  • Will humans be eclipsed by intelligent machines?

  • We asked some of the planet's leading intelligence experts

  • to share their views.

  • During the 20th Century, IQs around the world

  • increased 30 points, which is huge.

  • The difference between 100 and 130

  • is the difference between someone ranked as average

  • and someone rated as gifted,

  • and so what that shows is clearly intelligence can be increased.

  • Academic intelligence or analytical intelligence can be increased.

  • Creativity, you learn by having good parenting and good schooling

  • that encourages you to be creative.

  • And common sense you learn from the mistakes

  • you and others make in your life and how to fix them.

  • Increasing quality of nutrition, better education,

  • and greater exposure to more new technologies

  • are all factors behind our increasing intelligence -

  • but will we ever hit a limit?

  • It's pretty clear we won't

  • because we're going to keep on

  • finding problems, creating problems,

  • that require new tools and we're going to keep the old toolset

  • and get some new ones and that's been going on

  • ever since the industrial revolution.

  • I don't know if we'll reach the limit of human intelligence

  • because we don't know what the limit is.

  • The one thing we can be pretty sure of

  • is that we all could do much better than we're doing,

  • so regardless of what that limit is

  • people could be much smarter if they focused on,

  • "How can we make the world a better place?"

  • We have no idea what the limit of human intelligence might be.

  • I think in society today

  • we've only scratched the surface

  • on our intellectual capacity

  • and we will continue to grow.

  • Moving forward I'd like to see us...

  • embrace the notion that intelligence is truly malleable,

  • that we can grow and develop and get smarter.

  • But not all our experts agree.

  • I don't think intelligence is rising at all

  • and I don't think it has risen for a very long time.

  • The earliest humans like us with our brain capacity go back 315,000 years

  • and we know now that those people were involved in long distance trade.

  • Go back 100,000 years and people were developing paint workshops

  • and a little bit later

  • they were developing plaques with abstract symbols.

  • Those people were clearly modern human beings

  • with intelligence like ours.

  • I don't think intelligence has changed since then.

  • One issue with trying to determine

  • whether intelligence is increasing or not is how we measure it.

  • IQ tests focus too specifically

  • on abstract logic to tell us everything we need to know

  • about a person's intelligence

  • So maybe we're looking at intelligence the wrong way.

  • Perhaps it's time we stopped thinking about intelligence

  • as an inbuilt quality we each have

  • but as something more fluid.

  • I would like to see society...

  • place less emphasis on intelligence as it's conventionally defined

  • because basically it's very much viewed as individual,

  • whereas in fact most of what we do in the world is in groups

  • so we work in teams, we work in groups,

  • we work together mutually to solve problems.

  • I think we need, as a society, to put more emphasis

  • on real-world intelligence

  • How do you use - whether it's your IQ or your creative intelligence,

  • how do you use these kinds of knowledge and skills

  • for a common good?

  • If we start to think of intelligence as a way of improving the common good

  • we also need to ensure that everyone's perspectives are included.

  • The neurodiversity movement,

  • which has been growing exponentially in the last few years,

  • makes the argument that individuals

  • with different kinds of neurological capacities

  • should not be excluded but should be integrated into society

  • because they have so much more to benefit that society.

  • It was developed by autistic activists

  • who argued that autistic people,

  • people with intellectual differences,

  • all people had the capacity to shape and change the world.

  • Somebody like Greta Thunberg is a perfect example

  • of someone whose different style of thinking

  • has led her to be able to...

  • It may be that we can all come together

  • to use our different forms of intelligence to improve the world,

  • but what about artificial intelligence?

  • Are we likely to be out-thought, out grown,

  • or even replaced by intelligent machines?

  • I would say that artificial intelligence and human intelligence

  • really are two completely separate phenomena.

  • I would say that artificial intelligence really isn't bound

  • by the limits of human intelligence, for better or worse,

  • and so there may be things that humans remain better at

  • and things that artificial intelligence is better at.

  • I think one of the great fallacies is the whole idea

  • of using computers as analogy to brains.

  • Our wet, organic brains are very, very different from computers.

  • The kind of intelligence we have is responsive to environment

  • in a way that a computer isn't

  • so I don't think computer intelligence and human intelligence

  • are in any way comparable.

  • Well that's a relief.

  • So although AI will change so much about our world

  • it sounds like our old wet brains won't be eclipsed.

  • And while our experts don't all agree

  • that our species will keep getting smarter...

Throughout the 20th Century

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Will humans keep getting smarter? | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/07/30
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