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Association for Computing Machinery at the University of South Carolina

Curiosity: an under-appreciated soft skill

Swearingen Engineering Center, room 2A17

Kenny Johnson

Kenny describes the talk:

The world of software is a meritocracy (ok probably not but let's just pretend for a second...). That is to say, individuals, technologies, startups, and enterprises are distinguished upon ability. But what is ability? Though it may seem obvious, all too often I see people make the mistake of equating ability with intelligence.

In this talk, I would like to make the argument that brilliance ≠ genius, and that success in a meritocracy is as much a function of curiosity (to be defined) as it is intelligence. Furthermore, I would contend that this conception of ability as a function of curiosity scales much better than intelligence when applied to entities other than just the individual.

Through a series of cases, ranging from innovation in rocket science in the last decade, to your success (or lack thereof) in Linear Algebra, I'll argue that curiosity, not intelligence, is both a vital - and under-appreciated - parameter of success. I consider this to be good news: its much easier to work on your sense of curiosity than your lack of intelligence.