Programming Your Intelligence

This is a first draft for an introductory chapter of the fifth book of my “Coffee Break Python” series. If you want to follow the updates of this book, subscribe to my Python email training program where I’ll announce the book as soon as it’s ready.

A large body of psychological research divides your general intelligence into fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence}. [1]

Fluid intelligence is your ability to quickly adapt your thinking to solve new problems, while crystallized intelligence is your ability to apply learned knowledge and experience. While you can increase crystallized intelligence by collecting new experiences and acquiring more and more knowledge [2], fluid intelligence was often considered to be a rather static factor which you cannot change.

But taking a stand against the common belief of his peers, Professor Walter Perrig from the University of Bern showed in a famous 2008 article [3] that fluid intelligence is learnable by training small working memory tasks over a relatively short period. Brain puzzles can make you smarter!

The purpose of this textbook is to improve both your fluid and your crystallized intelligence. The former by presenting you with well-known working memory tasks and the latter by teaching you new knowledge in the area of programming and logic. It’s a book full of fun brain games which you can solve daily to keep your brain function healthy and vivid. But it’s also a Python learning book that teaches you to read and understand Python source code quickly—an enormously important skill that every master coder has acquired as a result of studying myriads of code snippets.

Let’s dive a bit further into the topic of intelligent behavior. While both fluid and crystallized intelligence are important predictors of personal success, they are not the only ways for you to access intelligence. Intelligence comes in many forms and is all around you. If you want to maximize your results, you need to foster intelligent behavior of all systems you control. So how do you access intelligence beyond your own (and what’s intelligence anyways)?

Merriam-Webster defines intelligence as

  • “the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations”,
  • “the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment”, and
  • “the ability to perform computer functions”.

In other words, there are the following three types of intelligence:

  • Individual Intelligence: this type of intelligence is the most popular. It’s about how fast you can learn, comprehend, and adapt to new environments and circumstances.
  • Collective Intelligence: this type of intelligence is all about how you can tap into synergies, relationships, and the existing structures that are all around you to solve problems.
  • Computing Intelligence: this relatively new type of intelligence is least understood because it exists only for a few decades. It’s about how you can leverage the infinite computing power that is all around you.

Once upon a time, you could master only one type of intelligence and still succeed in life. Say, you have been a very intelligent individual who didn’t know about collective and computing intelligence—the latter didn’t even exist then. You could obtain a Professor title at your local University and you’ve been set for life.

This would never work today: As the world becomes more and more interconnected (social media, improved mobility, and speed of communication), you also needed to master the art of collaboration to reach your goals (collective intelligence). Think about your environment: is there a person who excels in this second type of intelligence while being average in the first type? Most of us know at least one such person.

You know intuitively how to use your mind (individual intelligence) and the minds of others (collective intelligence). But if you are like most people, you have a very bad intuition regarding how to use the mind of computers.

The third type of intelligence, computing intelligence, only exists for a few decades—a too short time frame to leave any biological traces (the other two types have): Evolution couldn’t adapt our brains to account for this third type of intelligence. And, yet, it is widely recognized as one of the most powerful sources of influence in the 21st century. Even Merriam-Webster includes this type of intelligence into the official definition of intelligence.

The most successful persons today master not one, but all three types of intelligence. Consider Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. They all nourish their individual intelligence—for example, by reading a massive amount of books. They all leverage collective intelligence—for example by creating organizations with tens of thousands of smart people working together towards common goals. And they all rely on computing intelligence to a degree that has never been seen before in the history of the world.

A sure way to become successful in your own life is to tap into all of these three powerful sources of intelligence. If you understand how you can increase your own, collective, and computing intelligence, your life will blow up. Soon, you’ll create massive value for society, enjoy monetary success way beyond your wildest dreams, and create a healthy and thriving environment for you and your family.

And the best news is: All three types of intelligence are learnable: there are many ways of increasing your individual intelligence, both in practical as well as biological manners. The second type of intelligence is learnable even to a much greater degree than the first type. After all, we are all social.

Finally, the third type is also learnable—even more so than the other two types. Today, everyone can learn to code and control computing intelligence to harvest its full potential…

(… to be continued.) 🤗🐍

[1] Undheim, Johan O. “Ability structure in 10-11-year-old children and the theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence.” (1976): 411.

[2] Kievit, Rogier A., et al. “A watershed model of individual differences in fluid intelligence.” Neuropsychologia 91 (2016): 186-198.

[3] Jaeggi, Susanne M., et al. “Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105.19 (2008): 6829-6833.

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