What is Intelligence?
When I was younger I was fascinated with the question of talent, and understanding why someone was better in school, sports or games. As a young boy, it matters a lot to be good at various activities and I was curious to know what made the difference. Later I began to realize that people that were good at one thing, in general, were good at other things.
Contrary to popular belief, I found that those who had a talent for school activities, also had a talent for sports and games. As I read more I found that just as there is something like overall “health” there something like overall “intelligence” that gives people the potential to learn faster and excel at many different activities.
When I first realized this, I became fascinated with the IQ measure, a measure obtained by psychological tests that can be correlated to something called the “g” factor, a general intelligence that correlates to activities like linguistic, mathematical and spatial skill. If one has a talent for one, chances are one has a talent for all.
When I started talking about this, I also realized the taboo of general intelligence in the west. In Norway in particular, excelling in sports was good, excelling in school was okay, and being intelligent was pretty bad. The problem is that general intelligence seemed to imply the taboo that some people are better than others. Books were published to counter this threat, and some proposed several intelligences to ensure people that everyone was good at something.
The same tendency can be seen today with the threat of machine intelligence. The threat of machine intelligence is ultimately not just that machines can do some of the things you can do but better. It is that everything you can do, they can do better.
For each human, the idea that they are replaceable is a scary thought. If your significant other finds someone else, one can always feel threatened by the feeling that the other person is a better version of oneself, an upgrade. Usually we quickly draw back to the idea that this is really an impossibility - that everyone is unique and everyone can do something best.
In a trivial sense this is true. Everyone is better than everyone else at being themselves. If it also is true that anything can be lovable, then chances are you can be loved by someone who loves you in spite of, or even because of, your flaws and unique quirks. From what perspective can we then say it is a flaw? The lover can be sure the quirk is perfection itself.
Being best at being ourselves can be a meager comfort when the realities of life unfold. But if we avoid facing our shortcomings, this can only lead to further delusions. To see the truth we really need to accept and appreciate who we are - with the eyes of love all flaws are revealed.