learning, Business, Concepts, Operations Management, Productivity, Getting Stuff Done

Intelligence is the velocity of learning

There is a strong link between learning and intelligence, but it's not what I thought.  

I came across a simple and very obvious idea yesterday that I had never considered before and decided to capture it here to share.  This is pretty raw, we will see how it evolves over time.  But I think that if you use the relationship I'm about to describe as a model, it could reveal weaknesses in systems where learning is important.

So, to start looking at this idea you first need to define the terms.  Consider what happens if we define learning and intelligence in the following way:  

What is learning?

Learning is the ability of an entity (a person, organization, business, computer network, etc.) to correctly adjust a plan or strategy in real time based upon new or revised input.  

Seems simple enough...

What is intelligence?

If learning is the ability to dynamically adjust to new input, intelligence is the velocity in which a person or organization can learn.  Put simply, a more intelligent person, system or organization identifies good input and reacts faster than the baseline person, system or organization.

The term "reacting to signal vs. noise" is very important in this model.  The input must be real and the adjustment fast.  Adjusting fast to a bad input is not intelligent.  Adjusting slow to a good/true input is also not intelligent.  


Applying these definitions to a model has all kinds of  interesting implications.  

For instance, consider organisms in an ecosystem, businesses in an economic system, sports teams... Any time game theory, competition or a competitive advantage is involved in a working system the velocity of learning (intelligence) makes a huge difference.

Choosing a winning business

If I am selecting a job, choosing where to invest my money or even selecting a purchase I can use historic performance to evaluate learning and organizational intelligence...  I can use these ideas to select a more intelligent business.

Evaluating how I spend my time

If I apply these definitions to myself I can use this as a measure of how I am spending my time.  

If my goal is to read to build intelligence, output can be measured in terms of change... So for instance, if I spend my mornings drinking coffee and watching youtubers (I do sometimes), but none of the content I consume shifts my perspective or approach to solving a problem it is very possible I am just wasting time.

I also think about the activities that I have enjoyed the most... All of them involve rapidly changing conditions.  Sailing, climbing, hiking, start up projects, business transformation.... the common element in each is the need to constantly adjust approach to manage risk due to an infinite set of dynamic input variables.  Before today, I had never connected risk management to "learning on the fly" in this way before but now that I see it, it's hard to un-see it.    

Anyhow, I found this very interesting and grabbed it as a note here for future reference.

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