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IQ with Computers

  1. Mar 24, 2005 #1
    When you use a computer, your intelligence in many areas effectively increases drastically. You have unlimited memory as fast as you can type, you can find many kinds of information in seconds, and you can write or use programs to perform many mental tasks (for example, a human armed with a computer can play perfect Boggle). A human with a properly programmed computer would score several standard deviations higher than a human without such aid on many IQ tests. Since most people have access to computers at any time, should such tests therefore discard all questions that can be answered easily by computer?

    I wonder what it would be like to grow up in a symbiotic relationship with a computer, memorizing very little deliberately, using the computer for all rote tasks. Would that result in someone more or less capable than someone with a more normal upbringing?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2005 #2


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    Why not up the ante and just make cyborgs that can directly access a built-in computer?
  4. Mar 24, 2005 #3
    No reason but that the technology isn't there yet--that's where wearable computing is going. If the option were available (and without serious disadvantages or risks or excessive cost) I know I'd do it. But standard I/O devices are enough for the principle.
  5. Mar 24, 2005 #4
    You might consider actually thinking about it instead of making flippant remarks. There are a number of possible takes on this that I can think of.
  6. Mar 25, 2005 #5


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    It wasn't a flippant remark. My guess is that built-in devices is where we're eventually headed. In this case, the person should be more capable of performing just about any computing task than a normal person without access to an artificial computing device.
  7. Mar 25, 2005 #6
    Okay, I apologize for assuming the opposite. The question I had in mind was whether the increased availability of data of a human + computer would tend to decrease the human's ability to work with data himself. For example, would a human + computer be less adept at constructing arguments in a history course? To integrate many different facts together requires that you are aware of all of those facts while you are thinking about them, so the computer would not help much here for memory. On the other hand, the human might learn to conceptualize as he reads, forgetting details but remembering how they work together, and entering his ideas into the computer as part of that process. In each idea he could link (or have the computer automatically link) back to the supporting facts, so that once he finished reading and it was time to do his essay, he'd already be mostly done. Such one-pass thinking might miss things, however.

    To be a thorough expert in some area, I think there is no substitute yet for human memory because its associativity is much better than any linked file system on a computer. For knowledge that you are not trying to be an expert in, I think a computer's memory is better.

    A computer is just plain better, of course, for computation.

    One other idea is that the human might develop other kinds of intelligence to enable the computer to help more. Much like the shift from static to fluid intelligence in the past hundred years, a human symbiotic with a computer might develop different ways to think.

    Or, having a perfect electronic memory at hand might just retard the person's development, since he would not be prodded by many of the mental challenges a normal child faces.
  8. Mar 26, 2005 #7
    A computer merely helps you fulfill whatever intellectual potential you had.

    You could naturally be a better guitarist than Hendrix, but if you don't play the guitar, you'll never realize it.

    Using a computer promotes thinking. Programming stimulates your sense of logic and mathematics. Using a keyboard and a mouse devellops your eye-hand coordination and your hand dexterity. Playing some videogames will further inhance those abilities, as well as improve your sense of three-dimentional perception.

    In a way, you're just practicing abilities you already had.

    Now having the computer built in to your brain wouldn't help with most of those things. You gain intelligence through interfacing with the computer, just like you become a better guitarist by interfacing with a guitar. If the computer is part of you, you're increasing you're initial potential, but how will you practice those abilities if you just have to think about something to have it pop up on the screen?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2005
  9. Mar 30, 2005 #8
    I'd say computers are mere tools too.
    You have to use your own intelligence to figure out all the equations you'd want to feed the computer to even get any results.

    Call me conservative, but no, I don't think we should directly interface with computers. I'm not worried that computers will take over social life, even for geeks like myself, but I do think cyborg-like interfacing could leave us in a quite unnatural situation. Considering the following:

    1) The unit fails. Since we never had to remember anything, or use very little effort finding information. That might leave us very narrow-minded. Having our creativity (would you call it that? I'm no psychologist) constantly stimulated is good, but we wouldn't learn to express it without the help of the unit.

    2) Less wealthy people, especially in the 3rd world, may not be able to have the unit fitted. This would leave the wealthy with an even more profitable position, thus increasing the difference in social layers.

    But still, I think many kids nowadays don't know how to use their computers to the full extent. When I suggested Physicsforums for one of the students in my class he responded by laughing and telling me I should know better than to suggest some "stupid forum", and then he went back to his online game thing. And a lot of people don't even know about the Wikipedia, and even trying to learn how to code is too far out to even grasp.
    This may, of course, only apply to Norway, since I haven't done any research in any other countries.
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