14 December 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The risks of intelligence

Dear friends,

The topic for this Sunday maybe described as the mummy and daddy of philosophy, psychology and
everything else that is human: The risks of intelligence.

These are some quick ideas of mine on the subject:

Intelligence is such a big subject in the history of human culture that any discussion on the topic
wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface. But at the heart of the subject we have a clear idea of
what intelligence: the bringing together of our knowledge to our actions.

How we solve "problems" is a direct function of intelligence. Problems that are solved to our
satisfaction are evidence of intelligence; although it might be argued that problems that are not
solved to our satisfaction are not necessarily evidence of absence of intelligence. A good outcome
is evidence of intelligence, I would argue, is because there are so many things that can go wrong
between a desire and an action to bring about the desired, that bringing about the right results
must involve, at the very least a significant reduction in the factors that might affect a negative
outcome. If we want to find a cure of an ailment, mixing two random chemicals together are going to
have a different result than if we embark on a systematic understanding of the problems and the
function of chemicals.

But there is a fundamental issue with intelligence: it is amoral. In other words, like all
biological functions, it does not have a safety feature against inappropriate or, worse, unethical
use. But if intelligence is indeed a biological function, it also means that all human beings have
the potential to inherit this characteristic. So what might give one an advantage is the nature of
knowledge or experience one has.

The risks of intelligence, I would say, are directly linked with this advantage someone might have.
In the normal sense of risk, we usually do not use this term if we are guaranteed that the outcome
of an action will benefit everyone: now whether that benefit is equal to all, fair or reasonable is
a detail we need not examine here. No one really speaks of risks if good things are guaranteed. On
the other hand, we usually associate risk with negative outcomes. We insure a car because there is a
real chance we might not use it correctly to take us to our destination.

Thus I would conclude that the risks of intelligence are associated with the use of intelligence:
not so much to give us an advantage over others, but rather to disadvantage others so that we have
unfair advantage over others.

Best Lawrence

PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao

Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The risks of intelligence

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