Has Humanity Gotten More “Intelligent” with the Advent of the Internet?

Today I had a thought regarding the rise of the internet as a method for humans consuming information. I felt it was “novel” enough that I figured I’d write it down here.

Observation #1: Over time, humanity has used many different mediums to communicate and consume information. Some examples would be information communicated via oral tradition, art, books, radio broadcasts, telephones, television broadcasts, and the internet. Each medium differs in aspects such as whether it’s bi-directional, how much connectivity it provides (i.e.: how many people are sending/receiving information), who gets prioritized, and how much information is actually being transferred.

Observation #2: Individual humans differ in their level intelligence. I would argue that generally, more intelligent people are prone to take more extreme positions. When they’re correct, they are viewed as a genius; and when they’re incorrect they are viewed as crazy or a conspiracy theorist. There is some correlation between brain connectivity and intelligence.

Idea: If you draw a comparison between “humanity” and “a human”, then you could generally view the introduction of the internet and social media to humanity as comparable to an increase in connectivity in neurons within the human brain. An increase in connectivity in the human brain would likely be associated with an increase in an individual’s intelligence. An increase in connectivity for humanity might correlate with an increase in humanity’s “collective intelligence”.

To expand on the thought, it might explain the emergence of seemingly more “mainstream” conspiracies lately; such as anti-vaccination movements, people that believe the earth is flat, and people who believe the moon landing was a hoax (to provide a few examples). Previously, when humanity was “less intelligent” collectively due to the reduced connectivity prior to the introduction of the internet, more “extreme” ideas could not spread to the mainstream efficiently (to compare to the individual, the “extreme” idea could not propagate effectively to take a foothold within the human brain). Now that we are more connected via the internet, humanity is collectively more “intelligent”, and hence more prone to adopting extreme ideas into the “mainstream”.

Let’s just hope that humanity ends up being one of the successful, “genius” types of intelligent and not one of the “conspiracy theorist” or “crazy” types…

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