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intelligence simplifies

June 26, 20192 min read

Thinking on Sarah Perry’s idea that when we see a drop in complexity, we are seeing the results of intelligence. For example, a trail is order imposed on the chaos of nature; a human has been there.

Forest path in the Sierras, CA

Perhaps we could measure intelligence by comparing the chaos of reality to the simplicity a human imposes on that chaos. The greater the git diff, the higher the intelligence.

I’m reminded of Steve Jobs returning to Apple and cutting its product line to 4 products.

Apple had a dozen versions of the Macintosh, each with a different confusing number, ranging from 1400 to 9600. “I had people explaining this to me for three weeks,” Jobs said. “I couldn’t figure it out.” He finally began asking simple questions, like, “Which ones do I tell my friends to buy?”

“Here’s what we need,” he continued. Atop the two columns he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro”; he labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he said, was to make four great products, one for each quadrant.

- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

We still feel the effect of Jobs’ intelligent simplifying (and his leadership to make it happen) when it’s easy to set up an iPhone or MacBook, and everything *just works*