|Intelligence and Learning|
Information and Knowledge
In the 20th century human populations expanded, cities grew larger, information increased in density and complexity and human problems followed ancient traditions but with increased fury and destructive potential. The Second World War promoted unprecedented, rapid development of industrial complexity and technological sophistication. The post-war world has been transformed by science, computers, databases and other technology. The challenge to human intelligence has often become overwhelming. A few smart innovators have attempted to deal with increasing complexity, uncertainty and randomness in world events.
Information can be considered a subset of knowledge that requires both data and procedures to make sense of data. Information consists mostly of images, descriptions in language and numbers. You can store statements about procedures but procedures themselves are not information.
Every epistemologist knows that knowledge is greater than and different from information. Knowledge includes the ability to derive meaning from information and to apply the meaning to new and novel situations. Humans have limited capacity to store and utilize information, so that procedures that help humans derive meaning from databases are more valuable than storing the information itself. The ability to derive meaning from large amounts of information is limited and depends on practice and experience. As information expands in specialized disciplines, experts emerge who understand their own field, but only a few of these experts have the inclination and ability to summarize their knowledge and communicate it to others who work outside the specialized field. In addition only a few experts can understand how their specialized knowledge fits with knowledge from a variety of other disciplines.
As the amount of information increases, its value decreases. As the amount of information increases, the value of procedures that help humans derive meaning from it increases
Information is stored in explicit, declarative memory in the brain. Information consists mostly of names, statements and numbers. You can store statements about procedures but procedures themselves are not information. Humans now have a public network of information storage and retrieval in printed and electronic form. Information technology (IT) is a growth industry and good IT personnel are in short supply. IT, in large part, is the technology of storage and retrieval of images, names, statements and numbers. A more sophisticated form of IT deals with the procedures that organize and display statements and numbers in more meaningful ways. A statistical analysis of a large set of numbers is more meaningful than a printout of the numbers. A bar graph is easier to understand than columns of numbers side by side. IT companies have adopted the term "knowledge" without making any distinction between knowledge and information. If your company writes data base software, you can call yourself "a knowledge-based industry". Every epistemologist knows that knowledge is greater than and different from information. Knowledge includes the ability to derive meaning from information and to apply the meaning to new and novel situations.
I can write thousands of statements into this book, but none of them have any meaning or value until you, dear reader, read and decode the statements and turn them into actions in the world that makes planet earth a better place for all sentient beings.