We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Intuition vs Intelligence

"Indians are very good at intuition, they do many things by intuition and not by intelligence. I learned to derive simplicity of user interfaces in my products from my Indian experience". A very strong Steve Jobs statement made me think hard on the difference between intuition and intelligence.

And as I thought more on that, it occurred to me, he is so correct. Intuition could be also termed as in a lay man's terms, "the common sense". Take an example of "the complex way in which Indian drive on the roads". No doubt there are tons of road accidents, however over a period of time, people learn to drive a pattern and learn to cope up. Indian democracy since its inception is always cited as one of the miracles on the earth. It has still survived inspite of severe predictions in terms of its fallout and this country getting into all kind of chaos. I can go and and on, citing examples.

What is Intelligence then? Intelligence in my thinking is a formalized intuition. For example. if you try to observe the way traffic flows at a busy interjunction in India where a casual look would showcase absolute chaos. A prolonged look will help you derive a pattern. If you look at the eyes of the motorists and how they signal each other, if you look at the necks of the motorists, the way they nod signalling each other. These all are patterns that you can observe. So if you try to derive a formula out of this chaos, I am sure after a while you will be able to find a pattern in this chaos too. Defining this pattern is nothing but intelligence.

Why is it that in-spite of third class education, third class services, third class politicians and third class governance India still survives? Indian youth still hopes high? Its because of this same intuition. The problems arrive when this intuition does not get converted into intelligence.

A good question to ask is, what converts the intuition into intelligence? In my understanding many times formalism and frameworks are responsible for that job. For example a good education system converts your intuition into a world class intelligence. However, since India lacks all these formalism on almost all fronts, India is a country in shambles the way we see it today. What does western world offers? It offers Intelligence. What does western society teach, they convey an idea of formalism which results into intelligence. That is why our most intelligent people are seen flocking western world, in search of fellow intelligent members who would help them prosper. That is why India can not produce a Nobel prize, where as only handful prize winners in existing Indian society are American residents. (Amartya Sen for example), because India simply does not offer the intellectual growth that is needed, it offers intuitional growth, which most of us witness and observe in our daily lives. Indians lives on their intuitions.

Great that Steve Jobs witnessed it so prominently in his 7 month stay in India. And great that this actually resulted into a better world with so many products he integrated and built.

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