17 January 2012

A World With a Human Population Average IQ of 200 Points?

For simplicity, imagine that instead of our current mean IQ score of 100, humans had an average score of 200. (Experts say this isn't a true "doubling" of intelligence because the IQ scale doesn't start at zero — and furthermore, the test isn't actually designed to yield a score as high as 200 — but we will set aside these qualifications for the purpose of argument.)...there's a very good chance that higher-functioning brains would help us invent technologies to fix some of our bigger problems. Haier explained that just as a team of 100 engineers is more likely to come up with a remarkable innovation than a team of 10 engineers (because there's more total brainpower working on the job), having 7 billion "geniuses" on Earth would likely lead to solutions to some currently intractable issues. _Twice as Intelligent
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Considering the reality of modern demographic change, indulging in the fantasy of a world of smarter people seems dangerously close to escapism. But if we can picture enough important benefits of having a smarter population, perhaps we can motivate ourselves enough to make it happen?
"When the brain mechanisms that underlie intelligence are understood, it is theoretically possible that those mechanisms can be tweaked to increase IQ," said Richard Haier, a neuroscientist and professor emeritus at the University of California at Irvine who studies intelligence. For the first time in human history, he said, "the concept that intelligence can be increased is reasonable."

...Haier believes greater intelligence, which he defines as the ability to learn faster and remember more, would be highly advantageous on an individual scale.
"Experiencing the world with a higher IQ might be more interesting for most people. They might enjoy reading more, might have a greater depth of appreciation for certain things and more insight into life," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

Furthermore, IQs of 200 would allow us to pursue activities and careers that most interest us, not just those we're mentally capable of, Haier said. We could master new languages in a few weeks, for example, or become brain surgeons.

Smarter humans would also be healthier and longer-living, the scientists said, because they'd have a better grasp of what behavior leads to these attributes.

...Even when scientists finally do discover the mechanism for ramping up intelligence, it is highly improbable that everyone would be given an immediate IQ boost. The "haves" would surely benefit from the neuroscience research more than the "have-nots," and this invites a further line of inquiry. As Hunt put it, "Suppose that in some future society, part of the population, say 10 percent, became hugely intelligent, while the rest stayed where we are now or even dropped behind a bit. What would that do to society?" _Twice as Intelligent
That is the most likely future, assuming that genuine intelligence boosting technology is perfected. Once highly intelligent people -- assuming they are emotionally balanced -- learn to cooperate in solving problems, most of them are not likely to want to baby-sit the Idiocracy. It could turn into quite a problem, but not an insoluble one.

Brain Imaging and IQ Video with Richard Haier, UC Irvine A nice overview.

Haier and Jung's Parieto-Frontal Integration Theory of Intelligence PDF

Haier and Jung et al Neuroanatomy of Creativity Abstract

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Blogger yamahaeleven said...

I'm going to guess that much will depend on how status driven the newly high intelligence population is. I speculate that there will be enough altruistic members, along with those who want to get insanely rich to bring up the other 90% shortly after their achievement.

Tuesday, 17 January, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks for your comment. But I suspect that you are wrong about that, Yama11.

Think about it for a moment.

Instead of high IQ, think of it in terms of a powerful personal weapon that could kill millions of people at a throw. If 10% of the population possessed such a weapon -- and were able to control their inclinations to use it indiscriminately -- would they be in a hurry to "bring up the other 90% shortly after?"

A human being is a lot more than his IQ. Besides intelligence, ... wisdom, grit, judgment, emotional stability, competence, and a lot more must be present, before a human could be happy and productive as a high powered cognitive entity.

Most people are somewhat unstable emotionally, and somewhat impulsive. A significant minority of humans are very, very unstable emotionally and extremely impulsive.

An alarming portion of humans are overtly and covertly violent, in beastly ways. Many are criminal, unscrupulous, and perilously corrupt.

Giving most incompetent, impulsive, violent, addictive humans the gift of high intelligence, would not solve their personal problems. It would make them the problems of everyone who came under their influence or power.

My advice in such a situation -- given the absurd Idiocracy that modern democratic humans have created for themselves -- would be to proceed slowly and cautiously.

Governments do not give security clearances to everyone, willy-nilly. Neither will a group of highly competent geniuses hand over great powers of mind to masses of humans in a great free-for-all.

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

It might be chaotic having a world filled with people like this, but they would be far too engrossed in their own interests to be concerned about politics, war, or building an automobile.

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Spoken with the humane generosity of a true gentleman and scholar, Bruce.

Al Fin analysts are not nearly so generous, nor so humane, nor so often gentlemen, when considering the potential for the unleashing of global chaos.

It is the opinion of Al Fin futurologists that too many "people like this" would be engrossed in their own interests, which would include: power politics, war, mass killings, revenge on a grand scale, ingenious crime, torture, and all forms of madness.

Caution is almost certainly best, when considering ramping up human potential to do both good and harm, on a broad scale.

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger yamahaeleven said...

I'm hoping Alfin analysts are not to be the first to achieve the "high intelligence" you describe. I would hope, and suspect, that a typical Gaussian distribution of current intelligence will advance and subsequently display a similar distribution, just with a much higher mean. Since they will have to get along in order to accomplish anything (distribution of labor) they will have to be minimally accommodating to the populace not yet advanced. Just because there is a terrific new weapon does not necessarily imply that it will be widely used.

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Intelligence is the dangerous weapon. Perhaps that wasn't clear from the earlier comment.

Or were you implying that just because ordinary joes of questionable emotional stability are granted fabulous powers of intelligence does not necessarily imply that they will use that intelligence?

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger yamahaeleven said...

Yes, that was the "weapon" I was referring to. It is difficult for me to grasp the idea that a super intelligent person would automatically become belligerent towards those less endowed. At this time, we already have vast differences in intelligence, yet most of the very smartest work their asses off trying to make things better for all.

Keep pushing buttons, Alfin!

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

The word "intelligence" may not mean what you think it means, Yama11. ;-)

Divided by a common language indeed!

Thursday, 19 January, 2012  
Blogger yamahaeleven said...

I use my interpretation of the definition from Wikipedia as it applies to humans, but it does sound like we are looking at it from different angles, like "Rashomon."

My definition boils down to "more of the same."


Thursday, 19 January, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

I should have corrected a big mistake made by the MSNBC.com writer: the average global IQ for humans is 90, not 100. And the average is actively declining over time, as differential birthrates perform their compounding magic.

Average IQ is meaningful in a society, due to the bell curve distribution of aptitude impinging on the required cognitive capacities for a wide range of occupations, professions, and vocations.

Countries with average IQs near 90, such as Mexico or Turkey, depend overly much on a relatively small smart fraction, located almost exclusively in large city centres.

A world with an average IQ of 90 is exquisitely dependent upon its smart fraction -- largely Europeans and East Asians.

Friday, 20 January, 2012  

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