May 10 , 2022 /


Years ago I wondered 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 Andy Grove. When they started this new company, they named it Moore & Noyce. They did the paperwork with this name for the first 8 weeks, but they 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 blending two words to make INTEL (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 machine memory, because obviously AI comes from machines and not people. The dictionary definition of artificial is “made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, especially as a copy of something natural.”


We also have an “intelligence community” of sixteen different agencies in the government whose budgets totaled over 84 billion dollars in 2021 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 although we have plenty of evidence that many people are either incapable of critical thinking or avoid it altogether.


The appropriation for the federal education budget for 2021 –  $82 billion in relief aid for education and $73.5 billion in annual funding for the Department of Education.  These numbers do not include state and local appropriations and yet teachers remain overworked and underpaid.


It’s obvious that intelligence is costly and here are two questions. First, has it been a good investment and, second, are you happy with the results? Consider this definition of intelligence : “capacity of mind, especially to understand principles, truths, facts or meanings.”  Have we made any significant progress on that front?


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 older person I was interested in this article which is a good summary of the structures, origins and outcomes of individual differences in intelligence in both children and adults.


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.  Amen to that!


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 dropouts.  There may be little correlation between school and intelligence.  I wrote another piece on this topic,


One of my top, continuing concerns is whether or not there is learning, growth and change for the better taking place. I’m betting on the next generation to be and do better than we have done, especially recently. It’s time for the old white guys to pass the torch to a more diverse, younger generation.  I’m hoping they will dedicate themselves to helping make a healthier, safer, more peaceful world.  They have many good choices where to invest themselves in the years ahead.

Comments (4)

  1. You share a lot of interesting concepts here Gary. One thing I know for sure is that denying children and adults to learn critical thinking skills is problematic. The current political interference in curriculum is the path of autocracy.

    1. Thanks, Tara. The problem is that even when it is taught, it doesn’t mean it was acquired, and even if acquired it doesn’t mean it was used. Sad to say, we have too many who either cannot or do not think for themselves, do not do any checking for validity or do their own research. Thus, they depend on others who may or may not be trustworthy. And, you are spot on about political interference with curriculum and especially the teaching of history. What is behind it is what we mentioned previously, a dogmatic belief that has religious overtones that wants to control people, what they believe and what they can and cannot do. That is the path toward an authoritarian regime that is dangerous and ultimately destructive.

  2. Thought provoking post. It made me consider – what is intelligence and how may it differ from knowledge, educations, skills and the like? One possibility is that Intelligence is that adds value to our life, and the lives of those around us. What adds value and what doesn’t? I imagine that that depends on individual needs. When I think of ‘intelligent’ people in my life with natural, financial, medical, emotional and spiritual intelligence, to name a few, they are the ones who have all added significant value to my life in some way. Yes, computers and machines do add value too, but they’re a long way away from people in adding value in the areas of my life that actually matter 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kumud. Part of what Howard Gardner was getting at was that there are different kinds of intelligence but I believe you have eclipsed his basic observations and expanded our understanding even farther. I like that phrase, “adding significant value” and Daniel Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence was at the time breaking new ground. I remember an intelligence test designed with the help of street kids in urban Los Angeles. It was very different from the tests coming out of ETS, demonstrating that there is a category of street smarts necessary if one is to survive or thrive in that environment. Most tests are not culture free and reflect those who designed the test to measure whatever they included.

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