What is Genius? A Conversation with David Krakauer

From Newton and Einstein to Steve Jobs, we have an insatiable curiosity about geniuses. But do we actually know what “genius” is? Do we even understand “intelligence”? Evolutionary theorist David Krakauer has his doubts. He also thinks we need a better understanding of “stupidity,” which he calls “the greatest problem facing the world today.”

Krakauer is a provocateur who readily jumps across academic boundaries. As the first director of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, he’s cultivated an interdisciplinary environment that has brought together an unlikely group of colleagues - including geneticists, game theorists and even a cartoonist. This summer he’ll leave Wisconsin to become the president of the Santa Fe Institute, another intellectual hotspot famous for its maverick scientists and interdisciplinary work on the science of complexity.

Recently, we collaborated with Nautilus Magazine to produce an episode of their “Ingenious” series (which you can see here). These multimedia articles include a video interview broken down into segments—some of which you can see below. In the interview, Steve Paulson talks with Krakauer about intelligence and stupidity as well as scientific breakthroughs and the nature of creativity.

David Krakauer - Q2 from Nautilus on Vimeo.


David Krakauer - Q4 from Nautilus on Vimeo.


David Krakauer - Q9 from Nautilus on Vimeo.


David Krakauer - Q14 from Nautilus on Vimeo.