Knowledge and intelligence

LTU links to a lecture by Alan Kay on (ostensibly) the history and current state of programming. But he actually talks about confusing our beliefs with reality, the origin of ideas, “tinkering” as opposed to proper science and engineering, the abstraction-concretization-abstraction cycle etc etc.

Something he says about half way though the lecture reminded me in some ways of Rand’s “intellectual pyramid.” He considers knowledge and outlook to be superior, in most cases, to pure brain power, IQ. And he shows this by comparing Leonardo da Vinci to Henry Ford. “[Leonardo’s] IQ could not transcend his time,” whereas Ford had Newton, and those who built upon his ideas, to thank for his success. Kay says: “One of the wonderful things about the way knowledge works [is that] if you can get a supreme genius to invent calculus, those of us with more normal IQs can learn it. So we are not shut out from what the genius does. We just can’t invent calculus by ourself but once one of these guys turns things around, the knowledge of the era changes completely.”

A provocative quote, to end this: “If you take the word engineering seriously, and I do … we haven’t got it yet in software. We really don’t know how to do it.”

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