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Support Aeon Donate now As I was growing up in England in the latter half of the 20th century, the concept of intelligence loomed large. It was aspired to, debated and — most important of all — measured.
At the age of 11, tens of thousands of us all around the country were ushered into desk-lined halls to take an IQ test known as the Plus. The results of those few short hours would determine who would go to grammar school, to be prepared for university and the professions; who was destined for technical school and thence Benefits of modern technology essays work; and who would head to secondary modern school, to be drilled in the basics then sent out to a life of low-status manual labour.
The idea that intelligence could be quantified, like blood pressure or shoe size, was barely a century old when I took the test that would decide my place in the world. To say that someone is or is not intelligent has never been merely a comment on their mental faculties.
It is always also a judgment on what they are permitted to do. Intelligence, in other words, is political. Sometimes, this sort of ranking is sensible: But it has a dark side. As well as determining what a person can do, their intelligence — or putative lack of it — has been used to decide what others can do to them.
Throughout Western history, those deemed less intelligent have, as a consequence of that judgment, been colonised, enslaved, sterilised and murdered and indeed eaten, if we include non-human animals in our reckoning.
But the problem has taken an interesting 21st-century twist with the rise of Artificial Intelligence AI.
In recent years, the progress being made in AI research has picked up significantly, and many experts believe that these breakthroughs will soon lead to more.
Pundits are by turn terrified and excited, sprinkling their Twitter feeds with Terminator references. To understand why we care and what we fear, we must understand intelligence as a political concept — and, in particular, its long history as a rationale for domination.
Nor does it have a direct translation into German or ancient Greek, two of the other great languages in the Western philosophical tradition.
Indeed, they were obsessed with it, or more precisely a part of it: Although today many scholars advocate a much broader understanding of intelligence, reason remains a core part of it. So when I talk about the role that intelligence has played historically, I mean to include this forebear.
The story of intelligence begins with Plato. In all his writings, he ascribes a very high value to thinking, declaring through the mouth of Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living.
Plato emerged from a world steeped in myth and mysticism to claim something new: And so he launched the idea that the cleverest should rule over the rest — an intellectual meritocracy. This idea was revolutionary at the time. Elsewhere, the governing classes were made up of inherited elites aristocracyor by those who believed they had received divine instruction theocracyor simply by the strongest tyranny.
Aristotle was always the more practical, taxonomic kind of thinker. He took the notion of the primacy of reason and used it to establish what he believed was a natural social hierarchy.
In his book The Politics, he explains: So at the dawn of Western philosophy, we have intelligence identified with the European, educated, male human. It becomes an argument for his right to dominate women, the lower classes, uncivilised peoples and non-human animals.
While Plato argued for the supremacy of reason and placed it within a rather ungainly utopia, only one generation later, Aristotle presents the rule of the thinking man as obvious and natural. Needless to say, more than 2, years later, the train of thought that these men set in motion has yet to be derailed.
The late Australian philosopher and conservationist Val Plumwood has argued that the giants of Greek philosophy set up a series of linked dualisms that continue to inform our thought.Essays should answer the question by taking a stance and making a case based on argument and facts.
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Introduction Education is the basis of the modern world with it becoming standardized in all first world countries. Essays should answer the question by taking a stance and making a case based on argument and facts. The best essay in each category will be published on The Economist’s Open Future website and.
Essays by Isaac Asimov about technology and space Copyright © by Edward Seiler and Richard Hatcher. All rights reserved. The Fire of Life. Introduction Though perhaps best known throughout the world for his science fiction, Isaac Asimov was also regarded as one of the great explainers of science.