Monday, 25 August 2014

Effects Of The Intelligence Revolution II

Poul Anderson, Brain Wave (London, 1977).

The characters discuss the consequences of their author's premise and thus anticipate some of the later events in the novel. Human reactions are quicker so road accidents are down but some might get bored with the speed limit so that accidents, when they do happen, would be worse.

Sheila: "'But if people are smarter...they'll know enough to -'" (p. 45)
Mandelbaum: "'Sorry, no...Basic personality does not change, right?'" (pp. 45-46)

Does Mandelbaum mean that basic personality cannot change or just that it has not (yet) changed along with the increase in intelligence? Everyone's personality, like everything else, has already undergone the greatest possible change, from non-existence to existence. Physical changes in the brain, which is what happens in the novel, can certainly change personality.

Lewis sees a bit further:

"'Eventually, no doubt, increased intelligence would affect the total personality, but right now you're not removing anyone's weaknesses, ignorance, prejudices, blind spots, or ambitions; you're just giving him more power, of energy and intelligence, to indulge them - which is one reason why civilization is cracking up.'" (p. 46)

Later in the novel, intelligence not only increases but also overcomes instinct and changes human nature.

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