Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mountains and mole hills

We can think of knowledge'd states (k'dst) as being of two types. Some use 'intelligence' in trying to describe characteristics related to being able to attain a k'dst. For now, let's assume that we know that there are these types of states and there are those who can attain the states which are, principally, humans, at this point, though as Turing conjectured, an artifact (used advisedly, since it could very well have natural properties or could derive from natural sources) may very well attain what now seems to be strictly applicable only to us.

Just look around, and you'll see that examples abound. The general interest in understanding, and measuring, k'dst events has to do with trying to get a handle on what leads to success, and failure (as the adage says, learn from the failures of others). One major focus for the measurement was the US military services' need to know more about those who came together (i.e. WWI) in very huge influx, namely enlistees (or draftees). Another thrust related to educational filtering (e.g. SAT, MCAT, GRE, ...).

Too, on the one side, the goal may be that the best-and-brightest can be determined in each generation and offered what allows for their success; and, then, secondarily and hopefully, the rest of us would have some benefit from allowing this success (trickle-down). On the other side, the motive would be to reduce the cost of failure (ah, if only the Street would learn, that is, to do more than just suck money out of our pockets).

Even those offered special treatment aren't guaranteed to have success. How can it be otherwise when the underlying, ontological, framework can not get away from hard issues like complexity and undecidability?

Aside: Might those who excel at the difficult tests be counseled that hubris can seem, in many cases, to be the most predictable result from having the cognitive abilities that appear to be related to mastering the tests? And, with the Corporation somehow being given person-hood, do not those at the peak (CEOs), seem to exhibit all the hubris-tic leanings (especially, bankers?)?

But, let's get back to the two types. The first is acquired through effort, as we see with certification-oriented work, such as that offered by institutions. The ultimate in our current culture is the PhD in the academic sense or the MD (or DO) in the health care sense. As well, there are various types, with a large enumeration, of certifications related to essential roles for any advanced society (e.g. Pilot, Firefighter, ...).

One can easily use a metaphor of the mountain for this attainment (of k'dst) which is really an accumulation of a whole lot of things, such as information, skill, et al. Some might argue that the modern bane of high specialization leads to knowing more and more about less and less for the academic roles and to the necessity of continual re-learning for many roles, especially those with ties to technology. Essentially, we have many mountains, implying a slew of peaks.

Ah, that point brings up the second type of k'dst which puts the individual, not the academy, its largess or bestowal of approval, at the center. The autodidact, in a myriad of ways, demonstrates this type of k'dst. The main thing here? Self-directedness in developing k'dst both broadly and deeply. In many cases, the resultant viewpoint is very much unique, almost impossible to express for peer review (the basis for the public orientation of science), yet effective for the individual.

Now, in many cases, that k'dst just described is what we find with a true 'leader' (as opposed to the piratical state of the supposedly good managers). Some have used labels, like guru. One could hypothesize the current mania relating to the personal coach's role results from our recognition of the k'dst's value.

We can point to all sorts of other types of success that are not directly attributable to having certification or having tackled some educational experience offered by others. In a certain sense, the individual is always the key.

And, it can be argued that anyone speaking outside of an area of expertise has to do so as an autodidact. Unless, we have a 'know it all' who has acquired PhD-level in all possible fields (encompassing all possible k'dsts), but, even then, what would be the integrating scheme or theme? The question, of course, suggests that the role of the general expert requires a type of integration which can take a lot effort (the blowhard is not being given serious consideration, at this time, however cannot ignore the element due to issues related to the wisdom of crowds phenomenon).

Aside: Financial advisement, folks, is not this type of integration. No, it is product selling type of k'dst. We'll go more into that later.

By the way, the 'peak' can have several uses in the context of this discussion: as an attribute of the acquisition of someone (that is some type of acme of a k'dst), as a type of denotation of the ability of someone (several ways to describe this further), or, as we would hope, as an indicator of a growing heap, through generations, of our collective knowledge.

As Sagan might say, we have piles and piles and ...

The point in this discussion, that will continue under several guises (including t-issues), is to bring forward the autodidact's role, as being important, to any democratic scheme. How else, one has to ask, is the populace not be led like sheep if effort does not go into acquiring the knowledge to know how to decide and to act independently?

Aside: In the current financial situation, people need to take responsibility for their own nest eggs and, actually, help secure those of others from the leeches who are inevitably extant (especially, when gab-standard'd, as now) in situations dealing with money. As, what we have seen, many times, is the 'privatization of profit' (where the fat cats accumulate large pockets) and the 'socialization of loss' (where we little people provide a bail out - without thanks, by the way).

Incidentally, John Galt (and Ayn Rand) have it backwards, unless the modern age has spawned a new breed of best-and-brightest who mostly have their thumbs in their mouths (infantile, yes). It will be the autodidacts' k'dsts, dealing with complicated schemes (take Langan, for an example), upon which the emerging, technologically-advanced, world's advances will rest.

And, some of those are ready to run the economic engine, in a non-profit manner, in order to "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" much better than can the so-called leaders of industry.


10/17/2011 -- If we're to challenge Harvard on its duty, then we'll need to beef this up. For one, is education only operationally important, measured in bucks? Ah, so much to discuss.

09/28/2010 -- Capitalism is for the good of us, let's bring that forward.

11/30/2009 -- From 'Our basis' can grow a whole bunch.

11/29/2009 -- Rationality and risk. Need a new look. Too, there are many more knowledge'd states than covered here; it'll be a task to start a numeration.

11/11/2009 -- A moment to honor veterans, and their kin, many of whom are of far more capability than the supposed best-and-brightest. ..., ... A theme to expand deals with command and control (even parenting or coaching). How many times is this thought of as a superposition? The strong leading the weaker. Ah, isn't that the case with CEOs and their hubris? Well, to be fair, it's a human trait to be overbearing. We learn to dampen this. The key issue is that you want autonomous, smart entities who do not need more than an overview now and then with limited updates from the HQ views. Of course, there needs to be feedback so that HQ can learn what their units have found in the field. Hey, isn't that how science is supposed to work? The experimental basis needs to be sound, within the limits of quasi-empiricism. The theoretic view needs to tie to something supportable (we'll go on at length about this - it is now topsy-turvy -thanks, Chaitin). Now, how is the learning experience supposed to raise up such a generation? From what we've seen, this happens anyway for some. Unfortunately, the promise of many generations (of course, we need both success and failures - boomers will figure in the discussion, since their time is about up) is not met; our task is to see how we can improve the odds for the most. It can be done despite the difficulties related to undecidability, etc.

Modified: 10/17/2011

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