Scientists developed a method to transfer intelligence. However, something went wrong and everyone got an IQ of 300 on the current scale. And that means EVERYONE: Stephen Hawking, Donald Trump, Pamela Anderson, that weird kid in 3rd grade that eats paste, the toddler that was born the second it happened, the people on the psych ward,... Everyone who can be considered human. However, it only happens to the people that are alive right now. Anyone born after the experiment is not affected and evolves their IQ normally.

There are obviously a lot of upsides to this: the entire world becoming hypergeniuses would mean a lot of new scientific discoveries. Many people would likely give an arm and a leg for this chance. But what are the downsides? There are bound to be things about this that don't work out in a good way.

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    $\begingroup$ No, IQ does not work that way. IQ is not an immutable unit of measurement. You cannot even score 300 on most standard IQ tests. IQ only tells you in terms of standard deviation how far you are from the average of the group the test was designed for. This means that the average IQ will always be 100, as that is how it is defined. Current certified IQ tests are only accurate for plus/minus 2 standard deviations, that meas from 70 to 130 points. Anything outside of this range means that the IQ test is not suitable to accurately measure the intelligence of the candidate. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 21:57
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    $\begingroup$ @vsz It's just a crazy high number I chose to quantify the new intellect everyone has. What I'm trying to say is: everyone on the whole world suddenly became insanely smart, like smart beyond comprehension, off the scales smart, like this indicates. $\endgroup$
    – Nzall
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ Define intelligence. $\endgroup$
    – Nobody
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Beta For a point of view of the "uplifted" person, read the classic "Flowers for Algernon" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowers_for_Algernon by Daniel Keyes, or modern "Understand" web.archive.org/web/20060209125736/http://… by Ted Chiang. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ 1- The new supersmart scientists reproduce the mechanism and give everyone who is newly born a 300 IQ. 2- One of them dusts off this question and gives a better answer than this. (joke) $\endgroup$
    – GWLlosa
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 17:09

16 Answers 16


I will answer several side questions to light up yours. I tried to mainly focus on the special features of your scenario (sudden rise in intelligence and newborns being normal).

Does the capacity to be a powerful villain increase faster than the capacity to prevent criminal actions, when intelligence rises ?

There is no answer to this question, but it has to be considered.

You can argue that it is easier to drop a bomb in an hospital than to prevent it, for example, and conclude that villains will become proportionally more efficient than good guys, due to the increase in intelligence.

You can argue the other way around as well. For example by saying that since good guys are more numerous, the total gain in intelligence is way greater than for villains.

Therefore, the increase in overall intelligence could be more destructive than constructive, just due to that effect.

Will people mentally support their new intelligence ?

I have not an IQ of 300, but if tomorrow I suddenly do, this will radically change my view of the world. I will perhaps think that I wasted most of my life in futilities and probably conclude that I used to suck at tactical games. Taking this in consideration, it is possible that a non-negligible portion of the population turn mad.

Will IQ of 300 severely injure children development ?

Children do not have high IQ (in comparison with adults), in fact most of the cognitive capabilities come quite late (capacity for abstract thinking comes usually during adolescence, 12-16 ans according to Piaget). How will high cognitives capacities injure the capacities of children to acquire other abilities normally learnt during childhood, such as social behaviour ?

That could turn really bad. Especially when combined with the following part :

How will the terrible generation gap be managed ?

Since newborns after the event of massive geniuses making will not be geniuses, it can causes several problems. For the people having experienced normal IQ, compassion could smooth every thing, since they remember being normal. But for the young, it will be hard to understand how can somebody be so stupid. Of course, they are geniuses, they will be able to figure it out, but will they have the patience to deal with such stupid people ? And if they do, how ?

Of course they may want to make them geniuses as well, that would be a good scenario.

But they could also conclude that prolonging their own life is a way better investment than turning normal people into geniuses.

How will the elites cope with the sudden equality of all ?

Since everybody get the exact same intelligence in your scenario, how will our current society, which rewards people based on abilities, deal with everybody becoming totally equal suddenly ?

Maybe people will consider being smart enough to govern themselves, without the need of a proper government. People previously in charge could react quite violently against that.

Appendix : on the implications of high IQ

(part added following a discussion in the comments)

An important thing has to be noted : no strict implication can be proven between high IQ and any other mental ability. The reason is that you can not manipulate a person IQ, therefore you can not experiment and draw conclusion.

However, strong correlations have been established, for example relating high IQ to high job performance. But correlation does not mean implication, it might be that a third factor is the root of both high IQ and high performances.

For example, it is not clear that high IQ implies high imagination. It might be correlated, and it even might be that imagination implies high IQ (since imagining things is a mental exercise, it would be a valid theory).

Therefore my whole answer is based on the fact that you can not predict clearly the effect of the IQ surge. Will that make people more open minded ? Will that make people reconsidering their old views ? In the context of worldbuilding you need to ask yourself the question but no answer can be dismissed as incoherent.

We may argue that yes it will, and this point of view is totally legit. Geniuses tend to be open minded, open to criticisms and imaginative. But if we do not explicitly include them in your definition of "genius", your "geniuses" are not assure to have this traits. Conditioning have been proven powerful (see Milgram experiment or the third wave), should not be underestimate (for example when talking about soldiers loyalty to government) and we do not know if rise in IQ (or any form off intelligence) would make people aware of it and/or capable of overcoming it.

Genius can have irrational behaviour, a traumatic example is known in science. When quantum physics was build, Einstein (widely recognize as a genius) refuse to accept part of the theory, because he strongly believed in a deterministic universe (he was quoted to say "God does not play with dice"), when the theory was based on a non deterministic universe.

His beliefs make him refuse a scientific theory. Anybody can spot that he was wrong to refuse the theory for this reason, but he did, and this show us that geniuses can have opinions fully based on unverified beliefs.

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    $\begingroup$ "People previously in charge could react quite violently against that". With what? With an army or a police force, where everyone in that force knows that the orders they receive just come from a bunch of has-beens? $\endgroup$
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ @gnasher729 It is sure something which count against wild repression. However, it is not clear that sudden surge in intelligence will change the opinion of somebody toward hierarchy (particularly for soldiers, since they are trained to obey). In fact it is not clear that it will change the opinion of anybody on anything : it may be that everybody just get better at defending their old views. We may consider the latter not to be intelligent, but it will depend heavily on the definition of intelligence. $\endgroup$
    – Kolaru
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ It is important to remember that the elites are not losing the money they have amassed... Money would still work the same way it does now, independent of intelligence. Except if the people stop using it outright. $\endgroup$
    – Jose Luis
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Kolaru: There's a reason why they don't want the brightest people as soldiers... Don't you think an IQ of 300 would overcome "training to obey" within two seconds? Defending their world view: My current world view would be full of holes when looked at with an IQ of 300. Why on earth would I defend it? $\endgroup$
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ @gnasher729 I have added an appendix to clarify my point. I do not claim that geniuses will stick on their old positions, but I affirm that it is a possibility which should be taken in consideration. $\endgroup$
    – Kolaru
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 1:31

Society across the world is already struggling with the rising education rate. Most of the jobs that need doing do not require any special intellect. Many people of high intellect, probably most, resent having to do work that does not challenge them intellectually.

So I think the main downside to sudden 300 IQ for everyone is that the overwhelming majority of work would now be "beneath" everyone. Additionnally (although less impactful) a lot of the entertainment industry would instantly become obsolete, and the education sector would need a complete overhaul. It would take a couple of years before automation can compensate for the change in the work force, and by then we'd be on track for an earlier singularity.

A lot of the other answers grossly overestimate what intellect, alone, can do. Most of humanity's current strength comes from our huge industrial efficiency. No matter how smart you are, most of the work was done by the giants whose shoulders you're standing on. No intellect can compensate significantly for the sheer time and resources needed to push back the frontiers of science. Progress has a lot of bottlenecks.

Luckily, our current information network, the internet, will be able to educate everyone at a very high speed -- why I presume the "dark age" would only last a decade. Imagine giving everyone 300 IQ before information was digital.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagrea with teaching becoming obsolete. You need intelligence to make a child understand a new thing in a comprehensive way, Students need intelligence to understand something new. They have 300 IQ and learning will be faster, but you can't suddenly learn history and all french vocabulary just beacause you're intelligent. Teaching would become easier, not obsolete. $\endgroup$
    – Tyrabel
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ Additionnally (although less impactful) a lot of the entertainment industry would instantly become obsolete => what makes you think so? even geniuses can enjoy a video game or a blockbuster, do you have specific examples in mind? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ Do you really think that Miley Cyrus would exist as a performer if the average IQ was above the "drivelling idiot" level? $\endgroup$
    – Stephen
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Tyrabel Thanks for the comment; I didn't realize that's how that sentence read. I absolutely agree that teaching itself would stay relevant; I meant to mean that the teaching industry would need a complete overhaul. I'm editing my answer to state that instead. (For the record, I originally wrote "everything related to teaching would instantly become obsolete", in essence.) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ @NicolasDaoust: My experience would point out that just because one is genius, one may still watch dumb movies, play mind-numbing games, etc... Genius-level intelligence means that one is capable of extraordinary focus and reasoning, it does not mean one only "think" 24/7. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 7:12

Technically speaking, it's not possible, since IQ is defined to be 100 at the median of the distribution - everyone would have IQ=100.

But let's not nitpick and assume that everyone gets IQ equal to 300 at current scale. It is pretty meaningless anyway, since it is so far at the right end of the (normal) score distribution that there are no tests calibrated to cover it - people would probably max out the scores and their IQ would not be measurable.

So let's rephrase the situation: everyone gets a huge memory boost, enhanced cognitive abilities far exceeding Newton, Einstein and Gauss combined, while keeping their personality more or less unchanged and sane. We'd be reaching transhumanism and maybe singularity in just a few years. Although, higher intelligence does not automatically mean rationality and mental stability, so I'd expect sociopathy and various mental disorders to be (much) more pronounced. Science would get a huge boost anyway.

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    $\begingroup$ That's why I said "at the current scale". Indeed, such an event would recalibrate the scales so that it's 100 again. $\endgroup$
    – Nzall
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ Also, isn't the meaning of IQ dependent on age? I seem to recall an IQ test I told me in 4th grade they said this; a 10-year old with an IQ of 300 isn't as intelligent as (say) a 20 year old with an IQ of 300, who isn't as intelligent as a 40 year old with an IQ of 300. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ That's for children, where IQ measures their developmental age. A 3 year old with a brain equal to that of an average nine year old would have an IQ of 300 to that scale. But you don't use that above 18 years. $\endgroup$
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ -1 Your answer is resumed to 2 sentences... not really a complete answer. $\endgroup$
    – Jose Luis
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Nzall the scales wouldn't need to be recalibrated as IQ would become completely meaningless since everyone has the exact same intellect. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 3:44

Speculating on what could go wrong is idea generation, IMO. I've tried to outlay everything that I think wouldn't and why. (there's already a pretty good answer here that talks about how people would become depressed because of a perceived lack of living up to their potential -but that already happens everyday)

Ok, lets forget about IQ and go with, everyone's super-crazy-smart.

We can also forget about the next generation being dumb; surely, as with any Scientific Experiment, it's repeatable. Some of our greatest discoveries have been 'mistakes'.

Ok... so:

What is the downside to everyone being capable of understanding anything that they set their minds to learning?

Without a change in the amount of willpower people have to accomplish a task, this changes nothing. If you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

Without a change in personality, certain jobs are still not available to them. Your attitude and personality will probably be the deciding factors of employment (as if they aren't already).

Intelligence is not wisdom. And the ability to comprehend has nothing to do with the ability or desire to achieve. Those with experience will still be sought after, over those at entry level. Experience is one of the things that garners wisdom.

At first I was going to make a joke about how you're not going to be able to get anyone else to mow your lawn for you, but that's not true. Plenty of people with college degrees are busy flipping burgers.

The privileged will remain so. Old money isn't just going to up and disappear. Land rights: also unchanged. Logistic and utility companies will still rule the Earth. You still have to wake up everyday and go to work so that you can pay for these things, no mater how smart you are (especially if everyone else is as smart).

One of the up-sides: Consensus that global warming is upon us.

Downside: Savvy capitalists realize that to affect change would bankrupt them.

Net score: zero.

Total difference from reality: negligible.

Only that which would be immediately apparent:

Bowling averages are way up, mini-golf scores are way down.


Unfortunately, super-intelligence does not magically turn a bad person into a good person. It makes him more dangerous.

Downsides ? Criminals, tyrans, crooks will have a super intelligence. You don't fall into a fraud because you're not smart enough, you fall because you're confiant and naive.

Selfish people will gain new ways to take profit of the other.

You had bad guys ? BIM, 300 IQ and you get james Bond super villains.

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    $\begingroup$ But if that prince from Nigeria has defrauded a dozen elderly ladies in the USA, each angry and with superhuman intelligence, how would he be able to hide from them? $\endgroup$
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ That "Dumbest Criminals" show will be the first victim... $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @gnasher729, that Nigerian Price scoff will use his 300 point IQ to not leave traceable evidence in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – user6511
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ But the USA criminal investigator with a 300 IQ will be able to trace the untraceable. $\endgroup$
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ "Unfortunately, super-intelligence does not magically turn a bad person into a good person." That's a question for game theory isn't it? And since we don't have IQ's of 300... it's likely questions that we cannot be sure that we have answers to. $\endgroup$
    – NPSF3000
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 5:55

What is the consequence of everybody having the equivalent of 300 IQ now?

Everyone will score about 300 on IQ tests. Seriously.

Most high IQ individuals will tell you that IQ tests do not test intelligence. They test ability to do well in IQ tests.

The mind is a beautiful plastic machine. Like every part in the body it is able to adapt to challenges like nothing we can imagine.

The vast majority of difference in ability comes from training. People will continue to have vastly different levels of training.


I would like to chip in with a few implications resulting from a world full of hypergeniuses.

Clinical Neurological Depression - resulting from an over-extensive neuronal network. Neuron constellations will be, on average, less well served by the deeper chemical mechanisms of the brain.

Mind Management: Clarity and Train of Thought - so many avenues, too many possible considerations, not enough time! Unable to switch off. Unfinished thoughts run amok and threaten to escape, likely leading to:

A prevalence and emergence of schizoids and a trend towards introspective/introverted behaviours - an increasing population of personality disorders marked by dissociation, passivity, withdrawal and an inability to form warm social relationships. And:

A probable increase in recreational drug use, and dependency on Dopamine stimulants like Cocaine.

Aggression - where still evident, will likely change from hot-blooded to cold and calculated.

  • $\begingroup$ Especially if it is artificially-induced. $\endgroup$
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 17:54

Andrew Wiles has (my guess) an IQ of 180, studied mathematics full time for many years, and it took him seven years to prove Fermat's "Last Theorem". An IQ of 300 relative to Wiles is about the same as Wiles relative to an individuum who is quite far more stupid than the average. Wiles did mathematics that I have no chance in hell to understand, and I can do mathematics that the person at the bottom has no chance in hell to understand, so an IQ of 240 will let you do things that Wiles couldn't understand, and the IQ of 300 would do the same to the person with a 240 IQ. That person would figure out Fermat's Last Theorem in a day or two. Just to get an idea what we are talking about here with an IQ of 300.

How can I claim someone with an IQ of 300 would have discovered Fermat's Last Theorem in two days? Consider what maths a person with an IQ of 60 could do in 7 years, given good training. Very, very little. In seven years time, you might be able to find a 14 digit prime number. Wiles could do that in two days. I probably could in two days, with no help. Now with the same distance in brain power again...

Question: Can you hide who and what you are if you but also everybody else has an IQ of 300? I don't think you could.

Question: Would you be able to suppress lots if people if you but also everybody else around you has an IQ of 300? I don't think you could. (Why couldn't you? Because there is nobody who will be willing to do the dirty work for you. Hitler and Stalin didn't suppress anyone themselves; it was their massive support system that did. That support system would be made up of people with an IQ of 300 who would see through every lie you tell them). You can suppress people because they think that they won't survive outside the group of people that supresses them. But with an IQ of 300, the smallest group of people can achieve outrageous things. Just imagine a department store with 100 employees, and the boss is shouting at and supressing the employees. He can do that because they are helpless. With an IQ of 300, it takes them an hour to get an agreement, contact all the suppliers, raise money for initial stock, rent a location, and outsell their old boss because that old boss is alone on his own in his store.

I think that kind of IQ would be an absolute equaliser. You couldn't have any structures anymore where someone orders and someone obeys. If people look at society and how it should be run, they will quite quickly come to the same conclusions.

All these mad terrorists would come to the realisation that their ideas were totally messed up very quickly. Criminals for who crime is business wouldn't feel any need to commit crime anymore. Those who just have mental problems would figure out that they have a problem and they couldn't hide it.

The biggest danger would come from people living in third world countries who might think about taking revenge for a long time of mistreatment.

With that IQ, everyone could create as much wealth for himself or herself as they wish without doing it at the expense of others. The amount that everyone wants would likely go down. And doing things at the expense of others would become very difficult.

And with that kind of IQ, the problem that the next generation doesn't have the same IQ would certainly be solved.

  • $\begingroup$ It's 170, so close enough. :-) $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 (Ignore if you were not being serious; my sarcasm detector isn't working right.) I'm not sure how credible that source is. It gives no references, seems fairly random, gives an IQ for Einstein who AFAIK never took the test, has many people > 4 sigma including a number of them over 200, and gives Stephen Hawking a relatively paltry 160 (between Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe; insert punchline here). I do appreciate them ranking Neil Peart at 150, though. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ I think this overestimates the power of IQ. Why couldn't you suppress people with an IQ of 300? And why only a day or 2 to prove Fermat's Last Theorem for someone with an IQ of 240? I also strongly disagree that it would solve terrorism, exploitation, and poverty. Reminds me of the Alpha+ colony from Brave New World. $\endgroup$
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ If people look at society and how it should be run, they will quite quickly come to the same conclusions. I absolutely disagree. People never come to the same conclusions, including equally intelligent, well-educated people. One's worldview and personality play a far greater role than one's IQ in forming judgments on "shoulds." $\endgroup$
    – DLosc
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ IQ of 300 is worlds away from what you know as "intelligent, well educated people". They are (if the quoted 170 is correct) 130 IQ points above Andrew Wiles. 130 IQ points below Wiles would be an IQ of 40, which I think would count as severly mentally handicapped. So you go from mentally handicapped to absolute genius, and then add the same step again. $\endgroup$
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 23:34

They would do research and trivially reproduce the "IQ300"-error. This would result in a world full if equally very intelligent people. Don't know what that would lead into? Maybe problems with lack of diversity?

reasoning is: I would assume that if WE are able to make the mistake of producing IQ 300 humans, a world full of IQ 300 humans will be able to reproduce the error and turn it into a solution to give their children IQ 300. Assuming that is desirable of course.

Then you get into an interesting combination of problems: It turns into a sort of nuclear arms race for intelligence. Any group of people who cannot reproduce the error, will not have it for their children and they turn into a slave caste. This will force everyone to try to reproduce the IQ 300 , and whoever succeeds before their lifetimes run out, will belong to the ruling caste. Maybe this will even produce speciation.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Markus. Welcome to Wolrdbuilding. Could you expand a bit your points? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 7:05

I don't know if anyone here has mentioned this but I think you have to ask what changing people's IQ to 300 would mean biologically. IQ is a useful metric, but I'm not sure that it could be boiled down to 1 thing at a biological level that you could just amp up. To give everyone a 300 IQ, you would have to change the brain in ways that could alter personality, drive, mood, introversion/extroversion, etc.

If it was done, maybe there would be no more extroverts or no more introverts. Or everyone would become really moody. Or emotionally placid. I think even the idea that you'd have more innovation is suspect. Innovation requires more than IQ. It also requires collaboration from people who are different. You might run the risk of creating a uniform society with only 1 or 2 personality types. If this was the case, I would think some people would choose not to undergo the change, if they were given the option.

  • $\begingroup$ You're not wrong but I don't think that's the point of the question. He's just assuming everybody suddenly become super intelligent. $\endgroup$
    – Tyrabel
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 17:47

Consider the types of questions that IQ tests ask:

  • Analogies (mathematical and verbal)
  • Pattern driven (spatial and mathematical)
  • Classification
  • Visual
  • Spatial
  • Logical

In general, it tests the ability and speed of your brain to

  1. Realize what the question wants
  2. Correctly interpret the image/equation/words into a problem space
  3. Make the connection to give the solution

What are the downsides?

There is no change in knowledge, so people are still not completely "equal" in terms of mental ability. Given a new math problem, people would still need to know (have knowledge) about certain things to be able to go about solving the problem (Children need to know that "+" sign means addition, and what addition actually is).

Knowledge, even in today's world, can be gained by any individual with the use of effort. Intelligence only reduces the effort required.

Since everyone now has the same amount of intelligence, it is interesting that running people through a schooling system could become much easier due to everyone learning at roughly the same speed. The drawback (to some) is that lack of effort now becomes much more apparent. The smart kid who barely had to try now has to get used to trying, just to stay at the average, while the not so bright, but still "all A" student, has an amazing work ethic and will now probably become way smarter/(more knowledgeable) than the other.

For the ones who come after, assuming they can't just reproduce the same thing the scientists did before, they would have to try and struggle. That immediate connection that could be made by the geniuses has to be slowly struggled out. The things discovered by geniuses might have to be rediscovered in smaller steps in order for the future generations to understand and catch up. Even then, that's not really a "downside" - since things can advance much more quickly than if it had never happened.

The only real downside that doesn't already exist in today's world would be the social strain between the two groups during the period where they both exist. The likely major communication gap, along with one group being perceived as "better", would definitely harm many relationships between the groups and possibly lead to major conflicts. The transition back into people who are less intelligent would be rough, while people get used to their leaders being incorrect more often then they are used too.


The result would be much the same as if everyone were given a billion dollars tomorrow. Some would invest it wisely, some would waste it, others would suffer psychologically from the massive change in their world. Intelligence, assuming it can be measured, is a resource that requires a certain character to employ successfully. So in your world, there would still be inequality, crime, success and failure because people differ in character enough to guarantee those things.

As for the generational problem, "dumb" newborns with the right upbringing and character traits would out-compete those in the "genius" generation who lacked the additional traits required to succeed.


This is essentially a philosophical question. How one answers will be determined by their personal philosophy. If they believe that intellect destroys emotional capacity, they will say the world will become cold or dangerous. If they believe that the most intelligent thing for people to do is to be as selfish as possible, and that selfishness excludes empathy or often results in behavior which is harmful to others (both, the second is not a given), then they will expect the world to become a place of high competition.

Avoiding simply reflecting ones own philosophy in answering this question is hard, but I am going to try it. What individuals and society will do, I cannot answer without simply saying what I believe intelligent people would do because they would be smart enough to figure it out.

But, we're not left completely incapable of thinking about this problem without involving philosophy. Our assumption is that this occurs on planet Earth, correct? In contemporary times? OK, right off the bat we know that human beings did not evolve this capacity. (And I will assume that they also did not evolve the ability to create this capacity, as that boils down to the same thing.) The planet and our situation on it might become a serious issue. We can assume that we would be intelligent enough to value our planet correctly so that we would not do anything which causes our extinction, but there are other things which might not be solvable.

Not everything in our lives is limited by intelligence. For instance, our inability to perfectly predict the behavior of nonlinear systems is not born of our lack of intelligence. That is a fundamental property of reality and mathematics. There may be general principles which unite the behavior of complex systems, we can't rule that out as impossible (the way we CAN rule out perfect prediction of most real systems), but there may not be such things. That may prevent us from accomplishing any sort of perfect utopia.

Also, while we may be intelligent enough to preserve our existence within an environment we did not develop to 'fit into', we may be required to do things which affect us adversely. We might know, for instance, that we could cure all cancer by taking some action, but that sufficient action would also result in the destruction of most potable water, resulting in extinction. We would then be forced to make a choice. The result of that choice, continued existence of cancer in the face of knowledge of how to cure it, would be bound to have psychological and emotional consequences. We might be able to ameliorate them a bit, but we would most likely not be able to eliminate them entirely.

Such situations would proliferate. Instead of our concerns being driven by what we can understand, they would, over time, be driven by fundamental physical limitations. Also, maintaining our identity may become a large issue. We are, fundamentally, feedback loops. How our environment affects us, and how we affect it, is the sum total of what we ARE. When we change our environment, we change ourselves. Cutting ourselves off so that our environment does not influence us would destroy us or, at the very least, change us so drastically that nothing which remained would resemble humanity.


"You have to go to school now! Hurry! I have just calculated that if you will not leave the house within 42 seconds, your chance of getting late to the first period will be 57.423 percents!"

"I'm just going to correct the relativity theory quickly and then calculate the cubic root of 190813108710. Only 13 more seconds!"

Most likely, a technology will be developed to maximize the IQ of everybody. People will get more and more intelligent and then develop machines that increase their IQ more and more. Other galaxies will be colonized within months; building a portal to a parallel universe in your backyard will become a normal hobby. Since at some point, everybody's IQ will eventually become close to infinity, science, schools, universities, etc... will become obsolete. Eventually, humans will become some sort of a "super-sapient hyperspace 10-dimension ancient beings" civilization.

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    $\begingroup$ Under the assumption that an increase in intelligence corresponds to a sharp increase in motivation, logical thought, awareness, and common sense, I might agree. However, since the question doesn't indicate that anything but intelligence increases, it's going to take a lot longer. $\endgroup$
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ @FizzledOut It doesn't matter if everyone has the motivation to achieve those kinds of goals, because you will still have a large number of people who do want to. There's also the fact that given how much smarter everyone is achieving those goals will be a whole lot easier, less work requires less motivation. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ Most likely according to what? $\endgroup$
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 17:43

If everyone is a super genius, then everyone is actually just average. It doesn't take a super genius to recognize that! You've raised the bar, but you raised it across the board.

The way I see it, there are plenty of highly intelligent people right now who are either never get the chance to do anything with it, or who "waste" it by under achieving. There's no obligation that comes with a high IQ, so that's their right. The point is, I don't think high intelligence is a predictor for success. I don't think it is a predictor of anything, really. Imagine being the smartest guy in a primitive tribe. Unless you figure out how to hunt better, or how to advance the tribe in some other way, nobody cares what your IQ is.

How much would really change if everyone was smarter? We see really smart people do dumb things all the time. My wife has a saying for this: "A lot of IQ. Not a lot of gee whiz." King Solomon asked for wisdom, not intelligence. I'd rather we all got a raise in wisdom, and intelligence stayed the same.

  • $\begingroup$ What are the downsides? Underachievers? $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan The downside is more likely to be overachievers. Someone always thinks they are the smartest guy in the room, even when everyone is equally smart. $\endgroup$
    – Mohair
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 19:25

A Neo-Luddite vanguard would emerge within hours demanding that all technology be destroyed and EMP bursts be deployed. Within days, the majority of humanity would recognize the wisdom in this and it would be accomplished by organized and distributed actors enacting the agenda of removing any and all objects which could potentially be leveraged for mass-terrorism (which would be just about everything when the population is that smart).

Whether or not that work would be achieved quickly enough to save humanity from complete self-annihilation is speculative. The very small subset of humans who had both pre-existing engineering education and a pre-existing disposition toward maniacal brutality would rapidly rise to the top, and they would most likely offer food and shelter to the imperiled masses in exchange for their loyalty and for lobotomizing themselves down to less dangerous intelligence levels.

Fury Road, pretty much.


The language of the question is vulnerable to an array of quibbles, but it's clear that the man's attempting to convey that everybody would be incredibly intelligent in a generalized manner. Those who are intelligent enough to pick apart the question should be intelligent enough to both discern his intended question and to discern what little value there is in bickering about definitions rather than answering the (clearly) implied question.


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