TED Conversations

Stephan Ruiz

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People aren't smarter than they were, it's the information technology that makes information more available which broadens their horizons.

As proposed by Mr Flynn, people were more closed off than they were in the past, and that bringing up an abstract idea was a difficult concept for past generations. As they were taking the literal context of a hypothetical situation. However, hypothetically, if we could go back in time and were to expose someone from a previous era, would they be able to adapt to the new environment, and adjust to the technology, or would it be conceptually demanding? I feel that they could adapt, as you know have people from primitive societies using today's technology.

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  • Nov 15 2013: Yes I would agree with your assessment. Although I would argue that if you took someone from centuries ago and placed them in our time, they wouldn't be able to adapt to our society. The importance of early years learning is too crucial to creating an understanding of our environment. However, I believe if you took an infant from centuries back though, they would adapt fine.
  • Nov 18 2013: Having data readily available makes people appear smart and for some makes them think they are smart. Are we smarter than the caveman who figured out how to make tools and spears out of rocks? no.
  • Nov 18 2013: My immediate thought was, if you sent someone back in time would THEY adapt to the past? The idea of being "smart" is very dependent on circumstance. In a century where everyone knows how to ride a horse, a person from the future who couldn't ride one would probably be considered "stupid". How many people could cook their own meal from scratch over an open fire? Or grow their own food? Or sew their own clothes?
    I think there would be a learning curve for someone going back as well as someone going forward.
  • Nov 17 2013: What knowledge? And what is each individual interested in deal with in reality? Where does food come from really? What about all the propagaqnda and misleading information? Garbage in Gargave out. etc.
  • Nov 17 2013: First of all, I don't believe that IQ Score = Smartness.
    Furthermore, the more availability of information only helps in some degree for a portion of the people who are willing to learn new knowledge. In modern era, many school dropouts are still not very smart. You simply shouldn't define someone who could operate a few iPhone or iPad, be able to talk or send text on the internet as being smarter. You simply couldn't characterize many current people as smarter when they just know how to play games on some smartphone or gaming gadget, but still as uninformed as many people of older generation in the past.
    The difference in the ability to operate modern electronic gadgets is only the adaptivity of what's available, and these new gadgets were all created by the past generations. So we really can't say that we are smarter than the older generation. Those of us as TED participants usually acquired more knowledge from conventional learning institutions than from the TED Talks or Google for that matter (Of course that helps a bit, but not entirely true). Again, if we look at all the world population, what proportion of them are SUBSTANTIALLY BENEFITED BY THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET? Even in the U. S., I doubt that there could be more than 5% who are the beneficiary of such "information superhighway revolution".
  • Nov 17 2013: I don't think the problem is how smart we are now if comparing with how smart we were. The big deference is how we use our intelligence now. It's clearly in a different way. We have too much information and knowledge now, but the speed of changes do not allow penetrate deep the information. Tomorrow something that we believe as true can be a big mistake. Nevertheless, we have to remember that this is the more productive era in the human history. We've never generated as knowledge and cutting-edge science as today.
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    Nov 16 2013: That implies that our minds always were ready to exploit the information.So by your own logic, we have always been smart, just not informed?
  • Nov 16 2013: I don't agree completely but partially. Information technology has just increased the speed of access of the information. Now I am thinking that was Aeroplane invented before information technology or after information technology ?
    Were we living the primitive era before Information Technology happened ?
    The television which I used to watch movies and serials was dream or reality?
  • Nov 15 2013: The evidence is pretty clear, the IQ tests had to have gotten harder over the years to keep the 100 score the average and mean. IQ tests are typically taken without the benefit of technological aids.

    Thing is though, IQ and intelligence aren't exactly the same thing. IQ measures some very specific aspects of intelligence, which have increased over the years due to better education (for a given value of better, it may have been at the cost of other things they could have taught instead). Other aspects of intelligence may have undergone different trends--without the statistics, its hard to say.