The TUR has been so strong this week! Great posts and solid discussion. This conversation about the intelligence level of the USA has really got me thinking. I was doing some reading on the so-called “Information Age” that we are just starting to enter and, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I feel like these “America is dumb” intellectualists really are curmudgeonly and backward. They are applying Industrial Age standards to Information Age citizenry.
Before you all come after me, let me explain. It is widely estimated and generally agreed upon that we will see machines capable of replicating the computing power of the human brain in twenty years or so. It is also widely suggested that we will have machines capable of replicating the computing power of the entire human race in an additional twenty years, although technological predictions more than fifteen to twenty years out are exceedingly difficult. Whatever happens, in another 50 years, awesome computing power and worldwide access to information at unimaginable levels will be readily available.
What will this mean to the average Information Age human? What we term as “intelligence” today, i.e. picking out Iraq on a map, or knowing the capital of Hungary is Budapest, will be irrelevant. Access to that information will be so fast and so readily available, you will not need to “know” it. Knowledge will no longer be information based. You will need to know how to properly access and apply information, not necessarily what that information is. And, who in today’s society is most capable of accessing and quickly applying multiple streams of disparate input? Why, it’s the Xbox player and internet user.
Let’s not bring up reality TV. I think we can all admit it is a low-brow, mind-numbing form of entertainment and will most likely be gone in ten years. It is currently either enjoying its peak or past its prime. Either way, cultural mistakes happen. See early 1990’s men’s hairstyles, mid to late 1970’s automobile design, and the prevalent usage of the idiom, “son” as an exemplifier, as in, “I totally banged her, SON!”
Now I’m not saying I am totally convinced by this logic and please feel free to poke holes in it, but I think it shows a distinct lack of… let’s call it “touch”, to try and gauge current intelligence levels based on standards from the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. The world has changed, access to information has changed, and our brains must change as well. The hardwiring of our minds should not be concerned with wrote memorization, which is really all that knowing that the Earth revolves around the Sun is (I challenge any of these authors to supply the necessary physics), but should rather be focused on the speedy application of multiple electronic stimuli. So, let those kids play that Xbox and aimlessly surf the internet. They are building the skills of tomorrow!