USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

Intelligence and Knowledge: Or Lack Thereof?

During a lecture at Hong Kong University, Professor Li repeated the words knowledge and intelligence, but with a careful deciphering between the two.  Following the lecture, our professor (Andrew) questioned the use of these two words, which got me to thinking about my own interpretation of knowledge and intelligence and how it pertains to our architectural experience as we venture through various urbanistically, technologically, and complexly developed places in Asia.

Knowledge is generally thought of as something that is priceless, intangible, and by and large sought after throughout the course of one’s lifetime.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines knowledge as, “(i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical and practical understanding of a subject; (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information; or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.  Philosophical debates in general start with Plato’s formation of knowledge as ‘justified true belief.’”   Intelligence, on the other hand, is something that is required to gain and retain knowledge.  I view intelligence as something that, for the most part, is inherent rather than something that is acquired, such as knowledge.  Intelligence could also be defined as the use and collection of instantaneous information, like the way government agencies are able to make national decisions with the click of a button.

While getting familiar with Shenzhen, China (and looking back at Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong), it becomes tremendously apparent how much further along these countries seem to be than the United States.  Does this suggest that these Asian countries have acquired more knowledge or encompass more intelligence than the US?  Or, is the rapid advancement taking place here simply due to the immediate implementation of ideas?  The simplest ideas are carried out in the most complex and effective manner in the cities we have visited.  Ideas such as the articulate subway systems, the shinkansen (bullet train), and simply innovative thinking are all concepts that require knowledge and intelligence to produce.  America has this same measure of knowledge, but it takes the intelligence and initiative to actually put these ideas into operation.

In an article from the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman discusses the unintentional comparisons of China and the United States that an American automatically notices, once stepping foot into a place like China.  Not only do ideas and concepts seem far more advanced than the US, but things also happen at a much faster pace.  Ideas are formed and executed in a point of a finger.  Friedman goes on to say how China is taking advantage of their system, and rightfully so.  The United States has as much potential as China, but without the actual use of this potential, it will become completely worthless.

America needs to produce the “kind of focus, legitimacy, unity and stick-to-it-iveness to do big things,” says Friedman.  Is this something that requires more knowledge or more intelligence on North America’s part?  Or is it both?  As mentioned before, knowledge is something that the United States already encompasses, but are we lacking in the “intelligence” aspect of it all because of this lack of implementation?  In my opinion, intelligence is shown through the testing of new ideas, formed from knowledge…the risk of trying new things, new ideas, new concepts.  We are able to see how successful numerous ideas are, purely due to the fact that China/Asia has already tested these ideas are.  So what is holding the United States back?  For these ideas to be successful, the US needs to act on these ideas now, before they slip through our fingers.



Filed under: America, Architecture, China

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AAU FALL 2013:

University of Southern California
School of Architecture
Asia Architecture and Urbanism
Study Abroad Program

Andrew Liang
Bu Bing
Steven Chen
Yo-Ichiro Hakomori
Andrew Liang
Yuyang Liu
Neville Mars
Academic Contributors:
Thomas Chow, SURV
Bert de Muynck, Movingcities.org
Manying Hu, SZGDADRI, ITDP, Guangzhou
Clare Jacobson, Design Writer, Editor, Curator
Laurence Liauw, SPADA, Hong Kong
Mary Ann O'Donnell, Shenzhen Noted, Fat Bird, Shenzhen
Paul Tang, Verse, Shanghai
Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai
Daniel Aguilar
Hong Au
Michael den Hartog
Caroline Duncan
Nefer Fernandez
Christian Gomez
Isabelle Hong
Jin Hong Kim
Ashley Louie
Javier Meier
Paula Narvaez
Ashlyn Okimoto
Tamar Partamian
Samuel Rampy
Luis Villanueva
Krista Won
Tiffany Wu

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