Stephen Wolfram Q&A

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Some collected questions and answers by Stephen Wolfram

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May 14, 2012

From: Reddit AMA

Do you think intelligence has “normalized”? Basically, with more people alive than ever before and college education available to a large percentage of the world’s population, do you think we are seeing fewer break-out intellects because the playing field is more level? For instance, no more Maxwells, Newtons, Einsteins, etc. Or is it just that we are unable to see the current visionaries while still living in the same generation as their bodies of work?

It definitely is easier to see “break-out intellects” in retrospect than at the time. It’s also worth realizing that the domains of greatest creativity have shifted over the years. Sometimes they’ve involved science, sometimes not.

Also, it’s usually harder to have something “break-out” happen when there’s an area that’s more institutionalized. So having more people can hurt, rather than help. Because it pretty much forces there to be more structure in place, and that makes “breaking out” harder.

In education, there’s been a tremendous trend towards intense “mass production”, which certainly doesn’t help in having “break-out” things happen.

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