Thursday, 27 August 2020

Data, information, knowledge and wisdom

Photo by Martin Schitto, July 2020

Would I rather be knowledgable or wise? Can you be one without being the other?

I see a kind of progression, according to synthesis level, from data to information to knowledge to wisdom.

In a preamble to one of their articles The School of Life picked up the distinction between knowledge and wisdom, suggesting that knowledge is the accumulation of facts, figures and theories, while wisdom is the further synthesis of this knowledge with experience.

Knowledge can be forgotten, while wisdom can't.

Knowledge is specific to subject and context, while wisdom is universal and timeless. 

Regarding the latter point, many moons ago, I did my A-levels following my Cambridge Entrance Exams (this was a bit topsy-turvy, but that's always been my way). I had to swot much more for the A-Levels than the Cambridge Entrance Exam as these were more about regurgitating my knowledge - the structure of DNA and how it all worked, for example. For the Cambridge Entrance Exam in Biology, you'd get asked something like "What is the importance of water to life."

I've written a post or two about A.I, and I fancy that a machine these days may have fared better in my Biology A-Level than I did. I don't discount the idea that a machine could be described as "knowledgeable" - why not, if we already describe machines as "intelligent"?

But I doubt that we'll ever have a machine that is wise in the way that a human being is.

I'd welcome a change from thinking about "data-driven insights" to "the wisdom of insight".

The rather pensive photo of me in my cellar pub had me philosophising, about the Road to Excess and all that stuff.

I know I'm doing something wrong as I don't seem to have cracked the "wealthy" bit of the healthy, wealthy and wise thing, although I'm not sure wisdom brings wealth these days.

Maybe it's a case of "Late to bed and late to rise makes a (wo)man happy, healthy-ish and wise"?

No comments: