Gathering perspectives: knowledge
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12-04-2014, 10:52 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
(12-04-2014 08:03 AM)living thing Wrote:  ...
Any thoughts...

The DIKW (Data, Info etc.) thing is more like a continuum so yup, relativity is relevant.

I'd still go with the 'name-age' thing as being information as opposed to 'name,age' being data.

For it to be knowledge, I'd need to know on which planet they reside ... i.e. greater context. Without that data, it is possible that Bob is younger than Billy.

Regarding other carbon-based life-forms having wisdom... I guess it depends on whether wisdom is definable as 'instinctive decision-making ability' or 'conscious decision-making ability' in the sense that separates humans from other sentient creatures.
Personally, I don't see too much distinction other than that the human processing speed is faster because of our evolutionary need to throw poo.
Well, that, and our ability to model future scenarios.

If it is defined as any form of decision making ability... then, yes.

It would be wise for a small, fluffy creature to run if it detects signs of fire.
It would be wise for a rose to shut its petals at night (Consider I'll wander off and ponder that one for a smidge).

I would not include man-made machines as being in the decision-making category (yet).

Cheers
Having fun but taking little care. You?

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13-04-2014, 08:31 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
Hello again, Hafnof. How are you?

I like your scenario of a human being and an electromechanical machine performing the same actions in a factory production line; by placing both in a controlled context, we can learn a lot by comparing their structures and their modes of operation.

A human being contains millions of sensory cells scattered throughout his or her body. Different cells may react to different stimuli, but they all translate some kind of interaction with external agents into a wave of electrochemical potential that can be propagated along specific paths of motion (through a network of afferent nerves) towards a processing organ. Data coming from different sensors are combined using logic operations (inversions, logical conjunctions and disjunctions, exclusive disjunctions, etc.) producing an output that is sent to muscles and glands, resulting in a specific behaviour.

An electromechanical machine also contains multiple sensitive components (up to millions if the machine uses, for example, several CCD chips). Different components may react to different stimuli, but they all translate some kind of interaction with external agents into an electric current that can be constrained to specific paths of motion (through a network of wires) towards a processing unit. Data coming from different sensors are combined using logic operations (inversions, logical conjunctions and disjunctions, exclusive disjunctions, etc.) producing an output that is sent to motors and other effector devices, resulting in a specific behaviour.

Human beings and electromechanical machines are structurally very different, but some aspects of their behaviour are quite similar. Both types of objects extract information from the motion of things around them and inside them, and use it to modulate their behaviour. There is a big difference, though. We use information for our own benefit, but they use information for our own benefit. So even though I would agree that electromechanical machines can be said to know, I don’t think they can be said to be truly intelligent. If they were truly intelligent, they would use information in their own benefit.

Of course, other things that are not living beings or machines built by living beings may exhibit behaviours too; for example, the moon orbits the earth. But those behaviours don’t have any function; the moon does not seem to use information for anything. So I would never say that moon is able to know anything. Is that, more or less, what you mean when you link knowledge and function?

Thanks again for your perspective, have a good day.
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13-04-2014, 08:39 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
Hello Dom, welcome back.

I think my perspective is similar to yours, although I often choose different words to describe it. Not better words, just different.

In my view, all living beings can be seen as composed of hardware and software; even our artificial and abstract computer viruses, which literally are pieces of software that require a piece of hardware in which to be executed.

However, I don’t think the distinction between both concepts lies as much on the learning component, as on the fact that hardware is an arrangement of matter in space, whereas software is an arrangement of transformations over time. In our computers, and in our nervous systems, hardware provides a material structure with movable parts whose movement can be constrained to specific paths of motion, conveying different abstract notions along with that motion. Software, on the other hand, provides a set of abstract instructions that enable our computers and our brains to process those abstract notions conveyed by the motion of those movable parts, in order to produce an output that is (hopefully) useful for us. I’d say the fundamental difference between hardware and software is the context in which they appear; hardware appears in space, whereas software appears over time.

But our hardware is a complex piece of information too; the molecules of DNA in our cells’ nuclei, for example, contain several MB of information (surprisingly few) encoded in the complexity of their physical structures. If by “learning” we mean the process by which information is acquired, then the temporal evolution of our genes and their accessories throughout the history of life can be seen as a long process of learning by trial and error. Every mutation that resulted in a behaviour that increased the stability of the carrier can be seen as a useful and lucky discovery about reality; life has been discovering notions about reality for a lot longer than there have been human scientists.

I am not trying to put forth any esoteric idea, but I would say that there is plenty of knowledge beyond our mental models of the universe. For example, I don’t know the exact arrangement of nerve cells in my brain and if you asked me to assemble one, I wouldn’t even know where to start. However, I did assemble a brain (my own) while I was in my mother’s uterus, and so did every one else. The knowledge of how to build a human brain is not in our minds, but in our genes. And that knowledge was learned throughout billions of years of cumulative random transformations and environmental selection of stable products.

But I agree with your distinction between our instinctual behaviours and those that are more… “reasoned”? I don’t know if that is the word I am looking for; some of our non-instinctual behaviours do not seem reasoned at all. And the difference between both does seem related to how much hardware and how much software is involved in the processing of information resulting in such behaviours.

In vertebrates, instinctual behaviours are resolved by hardware, either by direct connection between incoming and outgoing neural fibres (for example, the gregarious instinct of many fish and ungulates), or by indirect connection through our amygdalae, a sub-organ in our brains able to learn what behaviours are beneficial or detrimental for us through a feedback loop of pleasure and pain. If our actions result in a pleasant outcome, our amygdalae feed the cells that have established the connection between stimulus and response, making the link sturdier and thus promoting the same reaction to the same stimulus in the future. If our actions result in a painful outcome, our amygdalae stop feeding the cells that have established the connection, eventually causing that physical link to cease existing and thus avoiding the same behaviour in the future. So even though our amygdalae can learn, the resulting behaviours are still resolved by hardware. Our amygdalae are probably heavily involved in the way we learn how to walk; not a strictly instinctual behaviour (babies don’t just walk out of the uterus) but not strictly non-instinctual either.

We have a second decision making organ operating in parallel, in our frontal lobes, however the way it works is not as much by eroding away parts of its own structure, but by changing the meaning implied by the activation and deactivation of a set of its neural circuits. That is why we can put long sequences of different meanings in our minds, our thoughts, which is basic for our ability to execute sequences of operations, our software. This might not be the most accurate way to describe it, but I sometimes view our amygdalae as analog processors whereas our frontal lobes are digital and often self-programmable processors. Our amygdalae enable us to learn how to adequately react to stimuli, but our frontal lobes enable us to learn what those stimuli mean; how are they related and what do they imply.

So I think I agree with you view, only stressing out that our hardware has been learned too, and except for any sentence starting with “evolution has equipped us”. I don’t think evolution is an entity capable of performing actions such as equipping things with features, I view it as a description of how things have been cumulatively lucky to gain their useful features.

Thanks for sharing your view. Have fun!
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13-04-2014, 08:44 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
Hello DLJ.

Yes, thank you, I am having fun and that often implies not taking as much care, but… fuck it, I’ll eventually die anyway, and the time to have fun is before death not after. After our death, it is other people who may get to have fun burying, burning, disecting, preserving our bodies or even playing sports with our heads, but no fun will be had by us.

I’m still not sure I understood the DIKW structure. From your current statement (“for it to be knowledge, I’d need to know greater context”) I gather that it is context what turns information into knowledge, but from the description of the structure you gave earlier, I thought I understood that context turned data into information.

The key concept in your current statement, however, is that you’d need to know. Of course, that round if not circular definition does not really help in reaching a mutual understanding, but what I thought I understood from your earlier description is that knowledge is the set of tacit experiences, ideas, insights, values and judgements of individuals; i.e., it is information contained in the individuals. That is why I made a distinction between the complex notion “Billy is younger than Bob” per se, a purely abstract notion derived from the combination of two simpler abstract notions, and “I have learned that Billy is younger than Bob”, an idea that implies that the abstract notion mentioned before is contained within my brain. Of course, knowledge is context-based because it is based on information, which is context-based. But what you need to turn information into knowledge, if I understood your DIKW structure correctly, is not that greater context but knowing. You have used the verb yourself.

Or maybe I didn’t understand the DIKW structure correctly, in which case I apologise and kindly ask you to please try rephrasing it, see if I can eventually understand it. But may I suggest that you make it in a language apt for retards? I want to make sure I understand it.

Regarding other sub-topics, I find wisdom in all forms of life, not just my species, so I cannot argue against your point. And I would include “man”-made machines (although many machines are actually built by machines) in the decision-making category, because they do make decisions based on the information they contain: their hardware (the arrangement of matter that enables their features), their software (the collection of instructions that enable them to process incoming data and produce complex information), and the run-time information they may gather from their environment through a variety of sensors.

I’ve said this already, but where I find the difference is in their intelligence. The machines our genes build (ourselves) are intelligent because we are able to use information for the benefit of our own structures. Our machines are so far typically much more stupid, because they don’t use information in their benefit but our own. Give us time, though.

I sometimes wonder… is it wise to build a machine that may out-throne you as the cleverest thing on this planet?

Thanks again for your view. Enjoy!
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15-04-2014, 02:59 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
(13-04-2014 08:44 AM)living thing Wrote:  Hello DLJ.

Yes, thank you, I am having fun and that often implies not taking as much care, but… fuck it, I’ll eventually die anyway, and the time to have fun is before death not after. After our death, it is other people who may get to have fun burying, burning, disecting, preserving our bodies or even playing sports with our heads, but no fun will be had by us.

I’m still not sure I understood the DIKW structure. From your current statement (“for it to be knowledge, I’d need to know greater context”) I gather that it is context what turns information into knowledge, but from the description of the structure you gave earlier, I thought I understood that context turned data into information.

The key concept in your current statement, however, is that you’d need to know. Of course, that round if not circular definition does not really help in reaching a mutual understanding, but what I thought I understood from your earlier description is that knowledge is the set of tacit experiences, ideas, insights, values and judgements of individuals; i.e., it is information contained in the individuals. That is why I made a distinction between the complex notion “Billy is younger than Bob” per se, a purely abstract notion derived from the combination of two simpler abstract notions, and “I have learned that Billy is younger than Bob”, an idea that implies that the abstract notion mentioned before is contained within my brain. Of course, knowledge is context-based because it is based on information, which is context-based. But what you need to turn information into knowledge, if I understood your DIKW structure correctly, is not that greater context but knowing. You have used the verb yourself.

Or maybe I didn’t understand the DIKW structure correctly, in which case I apologise and kindly ask you to please try rephrasing it, see if I can eventually understand it. But may I suggest that you make it in a language apt for retards? I want to make sure I understand it.

Regarding other sub-topics, I find wisdom in all forms of life, not just my species, so I cannot argue against your point. And I would include “man”-made machines (although many machines are actually built by machines) in the decision-making category, because they do make decisions based on the information they contain: their hardware (the arrangement of matter that enables their features), their software (the collection of instructions that enable them to process incoming data and produce complex information), and the run-time information they may gather from their environment through a variety of sensors.

I’ve said this already, but where I find the difference is in their intelligence. The machines our genes build (ourselves) are intelligent because we are able to use information for the benefit of our own structures. Our machines are so far typically much more stupid, because they don’t use information in their benefit but our own. Give us time, though.

I sometimes wonder… is it wise to build a machine that may out-throne you as the cleverest thing on this planet?

Thanks again for your view. Enjoy!

Sorry, I missed that you had replied.
The DIKW structure is a continuum although it does not appear that way in the diagrams:
[Image: dikw.jpg]
[Image: data_information_knowledge.jpg]
[Image: dikw.png]

There are many variations on the theme.

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15-04-2014, 12:04 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
(15-04-2014 02:59 AM)DLJ Wrote:  The DIKW structure is a continuum although it does not appear that way in the diagrams:
...
There are many variations on the theme.
Hello DLJ, thanks for your diagrams. Would you mind if I raise a few questions? They’re not challenges to the message you are trying to convey, but attempts to understand it. I thank you for your seemingly infinite patience.

There are several aspects in the first diagram I am not sure I understand. For one, the words on the horizontal axis. Isn’t researching doing something? Don’t you need to interact with things in the course of your research? Why are the three notions (researching, doing and interacting) separate? And what is the relationship between their horizontal location and the horizontal location of the gray circles? Do the words describe some sort of transition between the notion in one circle and the next? Do you go from nothing to data through research, from data to information through absorption, from information to knowledge through doing (doing what?) and from knowledge to wisdom through interacting (interacting with what?)? If so, what state do you go from knowledge to through reflecting?

Then there is the vertical axis. The fact that the noun “whole” is used with an indeterminate article (“a whole”) or in plural form (“wholes”) suggests that each “whole” is not actually the complete set of everything, but part of a larger set of entities; these “wholes” are parts. But if that is the case, “joining of wholes” and “connection of parts” seem to refer to the same idea: taking a few components and arranging them so that they form something bigger. This might be the relativity in complexity that we have already mentioned; a “whole” may be used as a part in a subsequent cycle of action. Is that the case?

And isn’t “connection of parts” the method by which a whole is formed? I take a few parts, I connect them in some way, and I get a whole. What does “formation of a whole” mean and how is it different from “connection of parts”? I’m sorry, this must be terribly frustrating for you, because you probably know what you mean but I cannot seem to see it. In my defense I can only say that this language does not seem apt for retarded people! :-)

The second diagram seems easier to comprehend because it uses sentences rather than isolated words in order to convey some of the meanings in it but, unfortunately, it does not help me understand the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Nevertheless, it seems to concentrate exclusively on information from a human perspective, and there appears to be plenty of information outside the scope of humanity. For example, the DNA in the cells of any dinosaur contained several megabytes of information per cell, but there was nothing human around. How does that fit into the diagram?

Regarding the third diagram, it once again uses terms that are not unambiguously defined, most of them in isolation, and links words to drawings in somewhat confusing ways. An “atom” is data, a bag of flour is information, a method for cooking it is knowledge, and a croissant is the product of wisdom, I suppose. But in order to prepare a bag of flour, you need some sort of method, which makes me wonder why it is arbitrarily placed next to “information” and not to “wisdom”. And what would a grain of wheat be? It is certainly much more complex than an “atom”, but far less elaborate than a bag of flour, and it too requires a method for its construction; a subset of the instructions encoded in the plant’s genes. Is it data, information or wisdom? I wonder if all this relativity in complexity is what you mean by “continuum”, although I don’t see how a grain of wheat would be knowledge, so I do find a discontinuity. I’m not sure I understand it.

Then there is the pyramid on the right. Does it mean that you gather data through experimentation, you collect information through measurement, you arrive to knowledge through statistical analysis and it becomes wisdom when it is published on paper? But the only drawing that contains papers is next to the box labelled “knowledge”, why aren’t recipes on paper wisdom?. And in order to gather data through experimentation, you need to perform measurements on the objects with which you are experimenting, so how are data different from information?

I’m sorry if I seem obtuse, DLJ. I suppose I still need to learn plenty of English in order to understand all the nuances and subtleties of its words. I really appreciate your efforts, though, and I am sure other people may find your diagrams helpful, so I thank you for posting them; they are a valuable addition to this thread.

Have kilos of fun!
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15-04-2014, 08:49 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
I think I owe you an apology.

By randomly selecting a few diagrams from Google Images (I just typed in "DIKW") I have given the impression that there is an exact science to this.

I was attempting to offer some ideas as to how the DIKW structure is used in, for example, system modelling and thereby show the difference between knowledge and information...

specifically, that there is greater context and understanding and more combining of components moving from data --> wisdom.

As an example (from the other thread):
Atomics (smallest particles) might be data
Wood and nails might be information
Chair might be considered to be knowledge
And wisdom probably requires the ability to perform a risk assessment to determine whether the design of or the age of the chair would be appropriate for future attempts at sitting on it.

The reason why this is useful for e.g. system modelling is because you need to facilitate decision making (wisdom) by building a presentation layer (i.e. a portal) that sits on top of a knowledge processing layer, which sits above and information processing layer which sits on top of the data processing layer.
Meaning that incorrect identification of the data sources or inaccurate or incomplete data therein is going to lead to incorrect decisions being made which, in the case of Financial Reporting, could lead to a prison sentence!

Your original question was:
"If you ever find yourself saying "I know", what do you mean?"

So making some assumptions there about intonation, what I was getting at was ... Consider an example:

When I moved to Oz from the UK it was the first and only time that I received on-boarding/orientation/induction training on the very first day of a new job.

I was receiving Information (largely in one ear and out the other) and I was saying... "right", "ok", "I see" (except I didn't really 'see').

Had I had the training a short while after I had joined, after perhaps having a go at raising a purchase order or filling in my weekly time-sheet, then the same information would become knowledge because I would already have a little greater context and I would have said "Ah! I know!"

So it is for the above question:
"why aren’t recipes on paper wisdom?"

At the first time of reading, and possessing limited cooking skills and experience, the recipe would be information.
With some prior experience and understanding of the art of cooking or perhaps having tried the recipe before, the same recipe would be knowledge.
Deciding that I was actually quite good at creating that particular dish or that I should never do it again because of the damages I had to pay out to my guests last time would be wisdom (decision making).

The expression "I know", however, is somewhat ambiguous... I think you'll agree. And perhaps for that reason, Knowledge Management (the process) is far from being an exact science although there are already many practical uses e.g. Knowledge Engineering (e.g. pattern recognition for google ads).

Again, apologies for taking you into dark, tangential places that you probably didn't shoulda been led.

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16-04-2014, 05:03 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
Hi again DLJ.

Oh, please, you owe me nothing! If anything, I owe you my gratitude for your willingness to spend part of your time answering my questions, out of your own kindness. Thanks!

But I do owe you and all other participants in this thread an apology. In my native language, we do not use the verb equivalent to “know” intransitively, so when I wrote the expression “I know” in my opening post, I was thinking of its transitive use (“I know something”) rather than a colloquial expression thrown into a conversation in order to keep it flowing. I’m sorry if I’ve achieved misunderstanding. The good thing is that I have learned some more English with my mistake.

Regarding the DIKW structure, I thought we already agreed that the difference between data and information was a relative one; a specific arrangement of matter or pattern of change might be seen as data or information depending on the context in which it is considered.

But I find a clearer difference between information and knowledge, and I thought I understood it that way in the first description you provided: knowledge occurs when information is contained within a structure.

For example, when you moved to Oz (is that Australia? Then it turns out we are very close, we happen to live on the same planet! Most of the things in the universe are located much much further away) you were given some collection of recommendations which, being explained without a proper context, caused your reactions to be more along the lines of “I see [that you are talking]” rather than “I see [the meaning of what you are saying]”.

The problem was that, even though the notions required to provide the context to those recommendations was probably contained in your instructor’s brain (as a pattern of electrochemical variations along specific neural pathways) those notions were not yet in your brain; you didn’t know what those recommendations actually meant. Only when you began experiencing different situations in your new job, once your brain received that missing information through a variety of your sensory organs, you started understanding what those recommendations were about.

You can contain information as a set of specific arrangements of matter in space (your genes and the structures they are able to build) and as a set of specific patterns of change over time (the cascades of genetic expression, the variations of electrochemical potential across your cells, etc.) but in the end, knowledge seems (to me) different from information in that knowledge is information contained in a structure.

Regarding recipes and wisdom, I’d say that simply deciding to cook some ingredients may already be a display of wisdom, because it often kills potentially harmful micro-organisms that may live on those ingredients. I’d say that wisdom reflects our ability to use our knowledge for the benefit of our structural integrity. Our computers may know stuff if they are equipped with the appropriate sensors, but they’re generally not wise; they don’t use those notions to prevent their decay over time.

In my view, the universe is a huge set of information, comprising objects and concepts of varying relative complexities. A tiny subset of that information is contained in my structure (including the structure of my cells) and in my behaviour (including the behaviour of my cells); that is the set of my “knowledge”, and I put that between quotes because much of it might be nothing other than elegant noise.

But I think I more or less understand your view, even if some of the notions in it seem a little blurry. Thanks once more for sharing it!

Have a nice one.
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28-04-2014, 02:32 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
(09-04-2014 12:24 PM)living thing Wrote:  If you ever find yourself saying "I know", what do you mean?

Thanks!
It depends on your Epistemology.

I like the idea of objectivity and verifiability and falsifiability.
If something meets these criteria and stands up against worthy challenges then I take that as knowledge. I am of course open to my knowledge being challenged and falsified at any time as new information comes to light.
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28-04-2014, 03:48 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: knowledge
(28-04-2014 02:32 AM)Stevil Wrote:  
(09-04-2014 12:24 PM)living thing Wrote:  If you ever find yourself saying "I know", what do you mean?
It depends on your Epistemology.
Well, I'd say it depends on your epistemology, doesn't it? On my epistemology depends what I mean when I say I know something.

(28-04-2014 02:32 AM)Stevil Wrote:  I like the idea of objectivity and verifiability and falsifiability.
If something meets these criteria and stands up against worthy challenges then I take that as knowledge. I am of course open to my knowledge being challenged and falsified at any time as new information comes to light.
But knowledge can be subjective too. When I look at a cylinder from some locations, I know it looks like a circle. But if I move 90º in relation to the cylinder and look again, I know it looks more or less like a rectangle. The truth in the notion "cylinders look like circles" depends on the point of view from which it is considered.

Of course, we can combine subjective perspectives and arrive to an objective notion: "the shape of cylinders when their images are projected onto our retinas depends on the point of view from which we observe them". So I like objectivity in knowledge too, although I don't think knowledge is strictly limited to objective notions.

Thank you Stevil, I'm looking forward to learning your perspective about many other topics.

Have a good Monday!
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