March 10 , 2017 /


This started by my wondering how INTEL got its name thinking it might have had something to do with intelligence, you know, computers as smart machines. Only partly right. Intel Corporation was founded on July 18, 1968 by semiconductor pioneers Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, and widely associated with the executive leadership and vision of Andrew Grove. When they started this new company, they named it Moore & Noyce. They did the paper work with this name for the first 8 weeks, but didn’t think this name was catchy or it gave an idea about the company. Then, a while later Noyce’s daughter, Penny Noyce, suggested the portmanteau INTELl (INtegrated ELectronics).

A lot has happened since 1968, especially in the world of computers where we now have AI, artificial intelligence. Why was it called artificial? Apparently computer scientists could not think of a better word for memory and since AI comes from machines and not people per se, it was a name that had some magnetic appeal, no pun intended.

We also have an “intelligence community” of sixteen different agencies in the government whose budgets last year totaled over 53 billion dollars which might suggest that intelligence is expensive. The former president of Harvard, Derek Bok, said, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” That presumed that education produces intelligent citizens and that is still an open discussion. The appropriation for the federal education budget for 2016 was 68.1 billion dollars. It’s obvious that intelligence is costly but we might ask two questions. Has it been a good investment and, are you happy with the results?

What about individual intelligence and what constitutes that? I first learned about I.Q. tests (Stanford-Binet) when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade and I was given a test. Apparently I did well because the school wanted me to skip a grade which my parents rejected. As an 80 year old, I was very interested in this article which is a fairly good summary of the structures, origins and outcomes of individual differences in intelligence on both children and adulst. We know now that there are different kinds of intelligence and Howard Gardner’s work on “Multiple Intelligences” broke a lot of new ground beginning in 1983. Gardner chose eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. He later suggested that existential and moral intelligence may also be worthy of inclusion.

Intelligence as defined by the academic world is the mental capacity for abstract reasoning, planning ability, logical thought, conceptual complexity and problem solving. High intelligence is thought to be associated with flexible, adaptive and goal-directed behavior, particularly in new situations. There are many people of high intelligence with street-smarts and who are school drop-outs.  There may be little correlation between school and intelligence.

There has been an enormous amount of research on the brain and how it works and how different brain structures may be associated with artistic and scientific creativity. Einstein said that he thought visually not verbally and his brain showed a well-connected corpus callosum and an enlarged Sylvian fissure. Apparently he was slow in learning to talk and rebellious as a child in school, questioning authority. That got him into trouble more than once.

Of late there has been much discussion emanating from Daniel Goleman’s work and from the 1995 publication of his book Emotional Intelligence. Goleman is an internationally known psychologist and science journalist. For 12 years he wrote for the New York Times reporting on the science of the brain. He has developed the argument that non-cognitive skills can matter as much as I.Q. for workplace success in Working with Emotional Intelligence (1998, Bantam Books), and for leadership effectiveness in Primal Leadership (2001, Harvard Business School Press). Goleman’s most recent best-seller is Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence (Harper, 2013).

My brief response to emerging kinds of intelligence, not really all that intelligent, but at least somewhat focused is this short piece that was just fun to write and think about:



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