The UK government, and top American universities, are now beating the bushes for the brightest among the young of what I call the 80-class (those whose children are being generally dumbed down by state schools). The Conservative government is pushing a sluggish Department of Education, and avoiding aggressive tactics by teachers’ unions, in order to carry out its new policy of ‘free schools’ (those initiated by parents but claiming state funds) with teachers who are natural teachers, not necessarily with teacher-training diplomas. Harvard, Yale. MIT and others are increasingly surveying the brightest students at UK state secondary schools in order to offer them scholarships.
The reason is that the various power-groups of what I call the 20-class (generally those who have been privately educated) increasingly need many more numerate, scientifically-trained recruits than ever before in order to keep on running the show. Of course, some of the brightest young people of the 80-class find their way with difficulty into the 20-class via elite universities, new businesses or some specific marketable talent (stand-up comedy is currently fashionable), but many do not, unlike America.
But if the UK is only, let us say, 20% efficient in identifying and helping talent at a young enough age at present, America is far from 100%. Even the college/university entrance SAT exam has been dumbed down over the years and many more parents are having to pay for additional cramming. (America and the UK are becoming more like China in this respect.)
However, as massive debts will have to be paid off (or inflated by money-printing) over the next 10-30 years in Western Europe and America, the 20-class will still have to continue to pay the bulk of the income and corporation taxation needed to keep the 80-class alive, particularly the growing number of young adults without jobs, even if the huge cost of cradle-to-grave welfare is steadily reduced to basic food-, heating- or television-channel-stamps (in order to prevent them rioting in the streets too frequently). If this can be maintained for 30 years or so then the worst will be over because populations will then be slimming down at a fast rate (the rest of the world, mostly within 30 or 40 super-metropolises, doing so a generation later).
But there is one flaw in this pull-the-ladder-up-Jack strategy (unconscious though it may be at the present time among the 20-class). This is that it will work only if the 20-class in the advanced countries get very close indeed to 100% efficiency in selecting the brightest talent. If they overlook more than a few of these, then there’ll be many more groups of self-taught, highly expert Internet hackers than there are now. Such hackers are already constantly able to penetrate the most crucial electronic systems on which we are now totally dependent. Indeed, some poachers-turned-gamekeepers of the hacking world have already said that they are surprised that major breakdowns of whole countries have not already happened. Rumours have it that some hackers have already been bought off by governments and banks. But they will have been the sane hackers.
Governments know what to do — at least in the US and UK where are more than enough clues from advanced genetics research. Twenty years ago it was naively believed that high intelligence was owed to one or two ‘special’ genes. It soon became apparent that hundreds, if not thousands, of genes are involved. After skin cells, nerve development is the first stage in the growing foetus. Probably pretty well all our 20,000+ genes — as they come on stream in the foetus — are involved directly or indirectly in brain development. In short, most healthy full-term babies born without handicaps or seriously harmful genes, are capable in an ideal environment of potential intelligence as high as is necessary in any high-tech economy.
A currency catastrophe (or a very long economic recession) is inevitable. But getting over, or through, either of these will be as decorous as a vicar’s tea party compared with what a malevolent hacker, or group of them, could do. Disruption of electricity in our cities and cessation of financial information between banks for more than a day or two would plunge us immediately into a hunter-gatherer existence — albeit via a generation of savagery as populations thin themselves out accordingly. Go to it, advanced governments, as fast as you can!