Intelligence is overrated.
by The Bayesian Observer
Peter Norvig is, by now, well known to have stressed in ‘The Unresonable Effectivenes of Data‘ that “a decent learning algorithm with tons of data can do much better than a very advanced learning algorithm and little data”.
Einstein is famously reported to have said “Success is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration”.
I see a kind of parallel between the two trains of thought above. In particular, I have noticed that a lot of people build their careers based on a reasonable amount of intelligence + lots of hard work, while some others build their careers based on sheer intelligence. Invariably, the ones with careers based on hard work are monetarily more successful. In contrast, the ones with careers based on intelligence tend to get lazy after a while. Examples of the intelligence category are tenured professors, and examples of the hard work category are people in sales, consulting, and general management. Notice that the latter category also requires intelligence, but it is the hard work that is directly tied to the payoff. On the other hand, publishing papers sitting in the ivory tower is much more heavy on raw intelligence than hard work.
I feel this observation explains a lot of the different between the difference in (monetary) success rates of the two types of people. It should serve as a relief to people who overrate the value of intelligence.
The best case of course is to have lots of intelligence *and* be very hardworking. Just like a super cool learning algorithm showered with tons of data. However, a very good alternative is to have reasonable intelligence and a ton of hard work!