It is estimated that something like 40% of practical projects fail. In the area of international economic development some 35% of investment projects fail wasting around $75 billion each year.
The number of projects that go wrong even within higher income countries is significant. Reference can be made to the information technology saga associated with the National Health Service during the last couple of decades and currently the HS2 "project" where lack of operational performance and extraordinary multi-billion budgetary over-shoots indicate that there is something wrong with how such projects are planned, designed and implemented. We do not have to stray very far into the domain of government economic policies to realize that promises are seldom delivered and the constituency is expected to endure prejudicial disappointments as a result of falling real wages, rising income disparity and the destruction of savings.
Although, those involved, would be offended if it were stated that this is a failure to apply intelligent and well-informed reasoning to the decisions that lead to policies and plans, as well as incompetence in their implementation, but this is the case; they are a failure in applied intelligence.
Covid-19 has brought into focus many issues concerning the lack of financial security of the majority of the people in the UK because of an extreme dependency on a system dominated by provisions by various governments, or the pursuit of policies where "normal" involvement in the "economy" has failed to provide individual financial security for the majority. These governments has conducted their affairs in such a manner as to place social services, the police and health services in a precarious state of affairs. For those who might claim that economic policies are there to help the intelligent rise to the top need to question their own presumptions when in practice the outcomes reflect an undeniable significant deficit in applied intelligence
Although Adam Smith's image has adorned the back of the £20 note, his message has been severely distorted by those who have confused his message with their own interpretation of what Charles Darwin set out as the fundamental element in evolution. Darwin did not lay out some master plan to explain that "competition" arising from within species is what maintains evolutionary paths. What he stated was that
those whose genetic make up and adaptability fashioned their status as being able to survive in any particular ecosystem environment. In other words survival within any ecosystem depended on the degree to which a species was adapted to the conditions of that ecosystem.
If one takes care to read Adam Smith's contributions in his book, "The Wealth of Nations", published in 1776, with care, it is apparent that he does not refer to some crude competition between individuals but rather to a natural process of perfection achieved through the dedication of individuals to some pursuits that have meaning for the individuals concerned. In modern times this is what Thomas McNeill was referring to when he spoke of students' motivations
to excel in, and to constantly improve, their capabilities of expression in both intellectual and practical works. In is worth noting and reminding ourselves that such capabilities become evident when individuals combine theory with practice.
In practice, and within the modern economy, it is well-established that those who produce goods and services and who adapt to change in the economic ecosystem are more likely to survive whereas those who resist change and whose products and services go out of fashion, end up with an extinct product or service that cannot survive in the economic ecosystem concerned.
Adaptive intelligence is a basic flexibility and ability to observe and deduce what is needed to respond to any particular situation. We now come to an important conclusion in our quest to discover what intelligence is. This might not lead directly to any method to measure this type of intelligence but the nature of this type of intelligence that has an obvious beneficial value for individuals, society and the economy, lies somewhere within this terrain.
Claude Elwood Shannon
The nature of adaptive intelligence is how we as individuals learn from experience and progressively adjust our behaviour related to all aspects of life, including complicated situations. It is a combination of how we observe and accumulate experience and knowledge and how we deduce and react to different situations. In order to understand how the human mind works in relation to this combination of factors, George Boole, studied this issue and developed a mathematic logic to explain the process of human deduction. He published his conclusion in a book entitled, "The Laws of Thought - The Mathematical theories of logic and probabilities""
, in 1853.
Today, this form of mathematics is known as Boolean Logic. Although, as we will see, Boole's contribution was of seminal importance, beyond explaining how humans deduce or draw inferences, this form of logic did not find much practical application. However, in 1927, Claude Elwood Shannon, a student at MIT wrote a Ph.D paper entitled, "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits"
where he explained how Boolean Logic could contribute to a more efficient circuit design. His efforts laid the foundation for Boolean logic to become the foundation logic applied in information technology hardware design and most of the computer programming languages and scripts used today and in the operation of the World Wide Web.
So there is a direct connection between the way information technologies and telecommunications operate and how human process the signals
, how they receive and weigh them up - measurements
- and translate these into information
related to a structure of relationships, or knowledge
. Humans have the ability to absorb signals received as messages from other people, observing nature and phenomena and hearing about events and consequences of those events to build up a mental model of what is happening around them. Note this is a dynamic process which ends up as a repository of knowledge held by each individual. The interesting factor is that the significance of this information and knowledge, the inferences they draw from it can be very different with each individual possessing their own semantics in terms of the meaning of words used to name events and processes
. There is an intimate personal significance of the accumulated knowledge to which these events and processes have contributed, representing the scope and content of each individual's personal experience.
Most people have the capacity to apply their mental facilities to making sound decisions as long as their conceptual models possess realistic notions of existing cause and effect relationships, they have a realistic ideas of the probabilities of events and the information that have access to is of the appropriate quality. So disasters resulting from corporate and government decisions or policy implementations, all boil down to an "explanation" that conditions changed and so things did not turn out as expected. On closer inspection, this boils down to just three things:
- That the cause and effect relationships that were assumed to exist, were incomplete or wrong
- The assessment of the probability of events was inadequate
- The quality of the information used to take decisions on the design was unreliable
It should be becoming apparent that the ability act intelligently, to reflect adaptive intelligence, depends upon signals received, measurement, data, information and knowledge. Clearly, someone who does not have access to reliable information or have sufficient experience will be unable to make a reliable decision, those with more information should be able to make a better decision. However, please note, in either case, the outcome of their decisions are not a reflection on the intelligence of either person it is a consequence of their status with respect to access to good quality information and their life experience up to that time they needed to take a decision. Remember, what was stated about how IQs rise with exposure and experience, this is why deciding children's future based on such a test at a specific time (11 years of age) is an absurdity. Experience in Portsmouth showed that many children's scores improved if the tests were taken at later life stages at 12, 13 or even higher ages. Intelligence is not an absolute, it is very much determined by our surroundings in terms of signals, signs, symbols, data, putting this together, information and the accumulation of or access to relevant knowledge. Different cultures from society to individual families have different cultures in terms of how information and knowledge are accessed and handled. The alignment of intelligence and culture is not far fetched.
Thomas McNeill, based on the American work establishing the influence of culture on IQ test results had noted that there was a correlation, depending upon the nature of parents and their occupations, and children's performance in IQ and other tests. He realised that some additional schooling could help fill in gaps in knowledge and end up with their passing such tests if provided with additional years of tuition. This proved to be correct from the results of the borderline student monitoring and transfer process established in Portsmouth ( see final sections of IQ nonsense 1
). When McNeill first made his proposal for monitoing borderline cases, which turned out to be a successful scheme, he had shown parallels between the American work on culture pattern tests and local situation in Portsmouth. Amongst the American work was the convincing comparison of Hopi Indian children and American urban children IQ test results, had demonstrated the cultural factor as being important. McNeill then showed his own records of observations of the cultures of different families in Portsmouth and the associated IQ test and other examination results to justify the monitoring scheme. The Chief Education Officer at the time, who appeared to be befuddled by McNeill's presentation, declared at the end of the session, "Well, it is a good job Portsmouth doesn't have any Hopi Indians!!" Fortunately the Education Committee saw the sense and logic in McNeill's proposal and voted to implement it, to the benefit of many.
There is still further to go in this question to understand what intelligence is, we will come close to understanding as we continue this journey. The next piece is in preparation ;-)