Public Books: Eugenics Powers IQ and AI

A recent piece in Public Books will interest AHP readers. In “Eugenics Powers IQ and AI” Natasha Stovall writes,

It is eugenics that secretly sits at the heart of not only IQ but AI. Unless there are radical changes, the next century will bring the championing of the superiority of artificial white intelligence, and the reification of its power.

The father of Silicon Valley founder Frederick Terman was one of the most celebrated psychologists in American history, Lewis Terman. From his half-century perch at Stanford University, the elder Terman vigorously injected the idea of a measurable, scientifically validated, racialized “intelligence” into the American consciousness. Terman’s lifetime of writings and advocacy makes clear the racist underpinnings of his ideas. He was deeply invested in a fantasy of hierarchical intelligence in which “gifted,” mostly white children are groomed for leadership and influence, and everyone else is slotted into supporting roles in the industrial machine. Intelligence, as Terman conceived it in 1916, is narrow, fixed, hereditary, and variable across ethnic groups, and always higher among white and more affluent children. This notion of intelligence lives on robustly in the IQ tests and other standardized measures that psychologists, educators, and employers use today.

Read the full piece here.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.