I was inspired by this article at Scientific American – You can increase your intelligence: 5 ways to maximize your cognitive potential about the ability to continuously develop and grow your intelligence.
The first point he author makes is that intelligence is multi-factor talent that includes elements such as cognition, memory, processing in addition to competency and logic.
I am broadly of the belief that cognition is the most important skill for a networking. Recognising and diagnosing problems in a multifaceted problem space is the core of my job.
First of all, let me explain what I mean when I say the word “intelligence”. To be clear, I’m not just talking about increasing the volume of facts or bits of knowledge you can accumulate, or what is referred to as crystallized intelligence—this isn’t fluency or memorization training—it’s almost the opposite, actually. I’m talking about increasing your fluid intelligence, or your capacity to learn new information, retain it, then use that new knowledge as a foundation to solve the next problem, or learn the next new skill, and so on.
From Wikipedia – Fluid and crystallised intelligence where Fluid intelligence is
Fluid intelligence or fluid reasoning is the capacity to think logically and solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge. It is the ability to analyze novel problems, identify patterns and relationships that underpin these problems and the extrapolation of these using logic. It is necessary for all logical problem solving, e.g., in scientific, mathematical and technical problem solving.
and crystallised intellgence
Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use skills, knowledge, and experience. It does not equate to memory or knowledge, but it does rely on accessing information from long-term memory.
Crystallized intelligence is one’s lifetime of intellectual achievement, as demonstrated largely through one’s vocabulary andgeneral knowledge. This improves somewhat with age, as experiences tend to expand one’s knowledge.
The author claims that research shows that Fluid Intelligence can be trained and developed. Importantly, the research shows that your cognitive capacity increases by training on new and unrelated disciplines and maths it with research that shows the brain physiology is changed by such training.
Here’s the thing: After that initial explosion of cognitive growth, they noticed a declinein both cortical thickness, as well as the amount of glucose used during that task. However, they remained just as good at Tetris; their skill did not decrease. The brain scans showed less brain activity during the game-playing, instead of more, as in the previous days. Why the drop? Their brains got more efficient. Once their brain figured out how to play Tetris, and got really good at it, it got lazy. It didn’t need to work as hard in order to play the game well, so the cognitive energy and the glucose went somewhere else instead.
I think the actionable items from the article are stated in the middle of the article:
These five primary principles are:
Do Things The Hard Way
which are fully explained and supported. I want to call out one paragraph on “Do Things the Hard Way”
Technology does a lot to make things in life easier, faster, more efficient, but sometimes our cognitive skills can suffer as a result of these shortcuts, and hurt us in the long run. Now, before everyone starts screaming and emailing my transhumanist friends to say that I’ve sinned by trashing tech—that’s not what I’m doing.
In short, technology can reduce our ability to understand what we are doing through abstraction.
In the SDN transition, this is a risk for my profession. Using an SDN GUI that allows users to feel like they understand the network and networking. In fact, their competency will be limited and true understanding will be lost.
Which is GREAT NEWS for consultants like me. I’m available for hire for all the new things which build fluid and crystallised knowledge at the same time.
Intelligence isn’t just about how many levels of math courses you’ve taken, how fast you can solve an algorithm, or how many vocabulary words you know that are over 6 characters. It’s about being able to approach a new problem, recognize its important components, and solve it—then take that knowledge gained and put it towards solving the next, more complex problem. It’s about innovation and imagination, and about being able to put that to use to make the world a better place. This is the kind of intelligence that is valuable, and this is the type of intelligence we should be striving for and encouraging.