Social Evolution

In an earlier section of discussions entitled ‘Catalysts of Change, the discussion of ‘Social Catalystsfollowed the introduction of technology, economic and political catalysts. For, in many ways, changes in social attitudes are often an effect caused by more powerful changes in the human ecosystem. However, in this section of discussions, the idea of social evolution is immediately positioned after the preceding discussion of potential technology evolutions. For it is possible that the various technology evolutions previously outlined may lead to a profound change in the nature of humanity, which may then cause equally profound changes in economics and politics around the world.

What might cause this chicken and egg reversal?

While accepting that there is much uncertainty surrounding any predictions concerning some brave new world that may await future generations, history suggests that the inequality of fortunes across the entirety of the global population is unlikely to disappear any time soon. In fact, there is a distinct probability that inequality will increase, not only in terms of wealth, but more importantly in terms of ability. This increase in ability will possibly be reflected in both physical and mental enhancements attributed to genetic manipulation of the human genome plus additional augmentation associated with AI and prosthetic extensions of the human physiology, i.e. body and mind. While this inequality may initially remain anchored in wealth and the opportunity to access the technology, inequality could be further extrapolated by the possibility that enhanced sections of humanity may have a profound advantage over other sections of the population depending on only a vague notion of natural evolution.

Note: While the scenario suggested above is far from certain, it is possible that we might see the seeds of this future in the world today in the concept of IQ and the Wealth of Nations . The link makes reference to a 2002 book that argued that not only does the IQ of an individual act as an indicator of future income, but the average IQ of a nation is also an indicator of future wealth. However, the controversial aspect of this book really lay in the suggestion that different ethnic groups have different average IQ levels. 

While controversy surrounding the book referenced above needs to be put in context, it is assumed that most people will accept that a person’s inherent intelligence can be a great asset, which might then be used as a general indicator of future success. Of course, in this respect, the concept of IQ as a measure of intelligence also needs some clarification along with a recognition that intelligence, in isolation, is no guarantee of success. However, with these initial caveats highlighted, it might be accepted that statistically, people with a higher IQ may fare better than people with significantly lower IQ, especially in term of the future being suggested. If so, social evolution might become increasingly stratified by ability, e.g. cognitive and physical, such that the focus of this section of discussion will pursue this idea as the primary catalyst of future social change. Therefore, we might start this discussion by referencing the following chart as a general characterisation of the stratification of ability by cognitive intelligence.

However, we possibly need to make some further justification of the implied assertions in the chart above that IQ is an accurate measure of human intelligence and that intelligence is then a reasonably accurate indicatot of employment potential. Of course, this also requires us to clarify what is meant by intelligence and any method by which it might be measured. 

Note: Before attempting to discuss the complexity surrounding such issues, it might be highlighted that the bell curve or gaussian function being used to quantify IQ distribution are only a statistical measure within some given population and, as such, cannot be used to prejudge where specific individuals might sit within the value range. This upfront clarification is possibly necessary before discussing the idea of the average IQ distribution within any ethnic group.

Given the concern expressed above, we might continue with a relatively uncontentious chart that apparently shows the IQ distribution of men and women. Here, the statistical measure suggests that women have a slightly higher and narrower distribution of IQ than men and while any specific man or women may sit anywhere along the respective curves, there is a probability difference between the genders in a similar fashion as if we were to consider height or weight.

Of course, trying to explain why this difference exists and what it means in the broader context of any society is more complex and while it requires an honest debate of different ideas, it should not be biased by prejudice or ideology. Again, this point has to be highlighted as the notion of ‘political correctness’ can often bias or skew the discussion of legitimate issues towards an ideological assumption rather than being weighted towards factual evidence in as much as it may be known. On the basis of all the clarifications made in this opening introduction, we shall continue the discussion of human intelligence and its implications on future social evolution.