Curiosity, Passion, and Quantifying Human Characteristics

“You can’t light the fire of passion in someone else if it doesn’t burn in you to begin with.” – Thomas Friedman

In his The World Is Flat, Friedman speaks to the growing need for curiosity and passion in today’s job market. Core intelligence, as historically measured by the Intelligence Quotient (IQ), is and will always be important, but in a flat world it’s the curiosity and passion that will matter most.

Friedman references a Curiosity Quotient (CQ) and a Passion Quotient (PQ) that purportedly parallel the common IQ framework for scoring a person’s intelligence. More specifically, he expresses a comparative relationship between the three variables: CQ + PQ > IQ. But can curiosity and passion be measured like intelligence? More generally, can other individual characteristics be measured?

Traditional measurement is the process of obtaining a magnitude for a quantity. Things are measured by counting, and not by observation or estimation. It’s supported by strong criteria that support that measured value, such as a universal frame or scale of reference. By traditional measurement, we cannot really find CQ, PQ, or even IQ. However, there are other types of measurement…

In representational theory, measurement is defined as a correlation of numbers with entities that are not numbers. In information theory, measurement is actually a component of estimation with the uncertainty reduced infinitesimally to zero. Measurement means estimating through support of any number of measurable or unmeasurable parameters, and reducing uncertainty through various means until reaching a high-confidence end value. By the extended definitions of measurement, we can practically quantify anything!!!

So what do we get by measuring traditionally-unmeasurable human characteristics, emotions, abilities, and qualities? What do we get by identifying any new particular Qualitative Quotient (QQ) such as the CQ or PQ? Well, Friedman is on the right track here. We become smarter by surpassing our current understanding of intelligence. And as our QQs surpass the IQ, so does our ability to flatten the world, innovate, grow and succeed as a civilization and society.

The process of trying to quantify characteristics helps us realize the underlying factors that contribute to a specific quality. What makes someone passionate? How can we tell if someone is curious? Is it genetic, demontrated by experience, and exhibited sub-consciously? Can it be determined through the collective interpretation of dreams? Examining the underpinnings of qualities makes us more intelligent as individuals, organizations, and societies. Once quantified, we can look for patterns and trends in our data across different geographies, demographics, and slices of traditionally-measurable data.

What we’ll learn then, well, I’m curious to find out.

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