Most people would answer “of course!” Who would not want the cognitive power to be able to see reality at a higher level, and use that perspective to develop new knowledge?
The funny thing is that we are just now getting a better idea of how this happens. The old view is that genius is something that a few people are born with. Einstein comes to mind with his quirky look
There is no doubt that Einstein was very smart. But what is less well known that when he worked on his own, he did not produce his greatest ideas. In fact, those came in a sengle period while he was instensely connected with other very smart people. As Steve Johnson pointed out some time ago — all of the great new ideas that we attribute to a single genius, in fact came out of extended conversations.
In other words, genius emerges out of a social context. BTW, that might explain why poor people tend to stay poor. Just look at the social context that they are stuck in. Only a very few heoes are able to break out of it.
So how does this social context work? What are the key components? Can they be reproduced? Great questions. Here are a few answers.
We used to think that the social context looked a lot like school. Education was what enabled us to change our lives. We are now realizing that while school achieves some things, it does not build genius.
In fact, the social context works through team building. Teams are composed of individuals who are highly engaged in a shared challenge. Teams need (1) a defined goal that pushes them to accept a challenge that cannot immediately be overcome, (2) the opportunity to share resources, (3) appropriate communication, (4) strategic decision making, (4) measurable leveling up.
BTW, John Wooden would say that I have just described his notion of how a basketball team should practice.
This bag of components is the secret sauce that produces genius and it can be reproduced. And schools are starting to try to do this.
Let’s assume that I am right. Let’s project ourselves 50 years forward in time. And let’s assume that the current rate of producing genius out of people is around .01%. That means 1 out of every 1000 person creqates 1 bit of new knowledge that adds value to the world. Over 50 years, in a population of 1000 persons we get 1 great new indea. In a population of 5 billion? We get 5 million great new ideas. Not bad! Let’s say we could increase the rate to 1%. 1 out of every 100 people create new knowledge of the above type. In a population of 5 billion, we get 50 million great new ideas.
One more thought here. Ideas are not just a solution to a give problem. They are a resource that can be combined with other ideas to develop innovatoins. Like the idea of a steam engine (Watt) with boring technology that improved cannon performance (Wilkinson). With 50 million new ideas, you get an explosoin of opportunity — if institutions are available to share them.
Wow! Consider, btw, that if individuals would have this capacity, individual contributions to institutions would become much, much more valuable. Who would be the boss then? Not folks who game the system to retain power.
Think about it!