Was the history of the human intelligence more like a stock chart?

Besides time, every uni­ver­sal phe­nom­e­non char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly behaves like a stock chart, occa­sion­al­ly going up and down, and so did the his­to­ry of human intelligence. 

In record­ed his­to­ry, intel­li­gence in the ancient peo­ple of Chi­na, for exam­ple Con­fu­cius (born 551)  and Egypt, the first peo­ple to have a year con­sist­ing of 365 days divid­ed into 12 months, was high, with many excep­tion­al­ly smart indi­vid­u­als. But they were looked down upon as “sages” and “gods,”, and their intel­li­gence was val­ued in terms of the intel­li­gence of artists and craftsmen.

And the Greek civ­i­liza­tion, after its peak with Pythago­ras (b. 570 BC), Socrates, who came first and his stu­dent, around 400 BC fol­lowed by Pla­to’s stu­dent Aris­to­tle (b.384 BC), saw a quick decline in intel­li­gence for more than the next thou­sand years.

Intel­li­gence in ancient India was also at its peak with Sri Krish­na in the Mahab­hara­ta age (around 5,500 years ago) and with Chanakya in the time near­ly par­al­lel to the Greek philoso­phers. How­ev­er, this last­ed only a few hun­dred years before it declined.

And the same pat­tern can be seen in ancient Rome and Han China.

When we go through human his­to­ry, we can clear­ly detect these stock-mar­ket-like ris­ing and falling cycles of the lev­el of human intelligence.

History of human intelligence and the stock market chart

Yes. Those who cre­at­ed the ear­ly lan­guages were real­ly more intel­li­gent than those who cre­at­ed the lat­er ones. While Pla­to, Aris­to­tle, and Aquinas were real­ly smart, lat­er philoso­phers such as Leib­niz and Kant can be thought of as “genius­es” only in terms of their intel­li­gence being greater than that of an aver­age per­son of their time.

But the same goes for sci­en­tists too. Isaac New­ton was far more advanced than those who fol­lowed him, such as Ein­stein and Hawk­ing. And Leonar­do da Vin­ci was a giant com­pared to his con­tem­po­raries, Michelan­ge­lo and Raphael.

Chanakya, teacher of Tak­shyashila, India, not only pre­pared and enthroned Chan­dragup­ta Mau­rya, pre­vi­ous­ly noth­ing more than a sub­ject of Mag­a­dh, the intel­li­gent brah­min also devel­oped a strong ecopo­lit­i­cal the­o­ry, “Arthashash­tra” (Eco­nom­ics), which is still cit­ed and enact­ed by almost all the rulers in the world.

The intel­li­gence of William Shake­speare has yet to find its match in lit­er­a­ture. In the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, Albert Ein­stein scored the high­est point among all the con­tem­po­rary sci­en­tists by the­o­riz­ing space­time in a nov­el way, which has still been incred­i­bly baf­fling to thinkers, sci­en­tists, and philosophers.

Dur­ing World War II, the trend of human intel­li­gence col­lapsed into the war men­tal­i­ty, which cel­e­brat­ed the mur­ders and killings of mil­lions of peo­ple for no appar­ent cause.

Nev­er­the­less, the trend of human intel­li­gence did­n’t see a long down­trend after the space race began with the world’s first arti­fi­cial satel­lite, Sput­nik 1, which was launched by the Sovi­et Union in 1957.

Many intel­li­gent peo­ple have won the Nobel Prize, which Alfred Nobel found­ed in 1895, writ­ing his last will, leav­ing much of his wealth to the estab­lish­ment of the prize.

Why was the history of the human intelligence like a stock chart?

Fac­tors like con­tem­po­rary socio-polit­i­cal, eco-cul­tur­al, and world-lev­el war events influ­ence the lev­el of expo­sure of human intel­li­gence. Although the most imme­di­ate impact of the fall of the Roman Empire, which was com­plet­ed in 476, was the break­down of com­merce and trade, the sur­vival of the Latin lan­guage to the present day is anoth­er major cause, which also slowed and halt­ed the rise of human intel­li­gence worldwide.

The rapid polit­i­cal col­lapse also severe­ly ham­pered many oth­er aspects of human intel­li­gence, includ­ing edu­ca­tion, sci­en­tif­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal research, lit­er­a­ture, art, archi­tec­ture, music, and oth­ers, end­ing the chaos near­ly a thou­sand years lat­er, along with the West­ern Renais­sance in the 14th century.

In the dawn of the 20th cen­tu­ry, World War I dragged almost all the world to par­tic­i­pate and cel­e­brate the death fes­ti­val for near­ly 5 years, tem­porar­i­ly paus­ing “log­ic” and human intel­li­gence to sur­ren­der to the war men­tal­i­ty and let­ting the intel­li­gence chart go down dur­ing the period.

How­ev­er, intel­li­gent peo­ple’s activ­i­ties con­tin­ued with renewed vig­or after the war, rais­ing the indi­ca­tor to a new record in the his­to­ry of physics—for exam­ple, Ein­stein’s two the­o­ries of relativity.

The trend of human intel­li­gence, like that of the stock chart, which also ris­es and falls due to var­i­ous exter­nal caus­es, has been ris­ing and falling all over human history.


Although it just seems to be going up and down for hun­dreds of thou­sands of years, this is not to say that human intel­li­gence can­not be ele­vat­ed to a new high. For exam­ple, if the AI com­put­ers reach that stage, intel­li­gence may not have to return to its ear­li­er point in the pattern. 

Per­haps human intel­li­gence will con­tin­ue to fol­low this pat­tern for anoth­er few hun­dred thou­sand years, if not so far, but what we are see­ing today sug­gests otherwise.

Not sat­is­fied only with the capa­bil­i­ties of self-dri­ving cars and voice assis­tants, intel­li­gent peo­ple of 2022 have already start­ed dream­ing about the Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence of the “next level.”

Let us wait a lit­tle longer to see if the next-lev­el AI’s intel­li­gence cycle fluc­tu­ates like a stock chart or climbs up to eternity.

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