Stretch Tasks. Big Problems. Compounding Returns of Intelligence

In People Development

Fabulous thinking below from Stephen Cohen of Palantir, who reframes Krashen’s input plus one or stretch task theory of learning.

The “input” hypothesis, developed by Krashen (1985), proposes that humans “acquire language when they receive input that is slightly beyond their current level.” Krashen refers to his input hypothesis as i+1 (input plus one).

Here’s Cohen’s take, updated with a social and workplace dimension.

We tend to massively underestimate the compounding returns of intelligence. As humans, we need to solve big problems. If you graduate Stanford at 22 and Google recruits you, you’ll work a 9-to-5. It’s probably more like an 11-to-3 in terms of hard work. They’ll pay well. It’s relaxing. But what they are actually doing is paying you to accept a much lower intellectual growth rate. When you recognize that intelligence is compounding, the cost of that missing long-term compounding is enormous. They’re not giving you the best opportunity of your life. Then a scary thing can happen: You might realize one day that you’ve lost your competitive edge. You won’t be the best anymore. You won’t be able to fall in love with new stuff. Things are cushy where you are. You get complacent and stall.