Intelligence and Prediction

Cleaning my office today, I found a sheet of paper covered in my own handwriting. I had been somewhere without my journal when an epiphany had struck. I’m cleaning office now, and didn’t want to throw it away. Here it is for posterity, such as that may be.

One measure of intelligence is the ability to take a set of observations at varying degrees of confidence and accurately predict outcomes. The greater the intelligence, experience, and capacity for reason, the more detailed the predictions become, the more distant they can be and the fewer and less confident the observations upon which they are based.

When I was the Director of Technology at RESMARK, the president was my good friend and we would spent long hours planning and discussing strategy. One afternoon we were his office, discussing his weekly meeting with our investor. He told me of the struggles and debates in the meeting over our ship date and our budget; over perceived velocity; over staffing and technology requirements. Partway through our discussion, he said that the investor had asked him to produce a line-item budget breakdown.

I jerked upright, startled. Suddenly something was wrong. This request was not in keeping with everything I knew about the relationship between the investor and the president up this point. I reevaluated my assumptions, and nothing fit. Then one assumption change DID fit. I considered it, thought through the range of consequences and they all ended up at the same place. I looked at the president and announced, “You’re going to get fired in the next three months.”

I was right. About 10 weeks later, the president called me in and told me he had been let go.

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