Monday, March 14, 2005

Info Acquisition vs. Knowledge Construction / Human vs. Machine Learning

I had a bit of trouble dealing with Mayer's distinction between "information acquisition" and "knowledge construction". Now, before you say anything, I get the distinction, I accept it as a quality of human learning and a cognitive theory of multimedia presentation that there's a difference between rote (good retention/bad transfer) and meaningful (good retention & transfer) learning. My trouble is that I try to also think about these things in terms of machine learning. When "training" artificial intelligence software to "learn" something, "knowledge construction" seems to either not exist or solely exist in the design and programming of the system. Multimedia or no, machine learning is a different beast altogether, and often deals with completely non-human ways of processing information. It's the human input that seems to contain all the "knowledge" an AI system has - something the designers and programmers already knew, and are trying to use the computer's speed and memory to use the concepts well. We're just not there yet with "self-learning" systems. Of course, there are randomness-based techniques to "learn" things (like genetic algorithms and genetic programming) that seem to fly in the face of all of this, but they're really just certain types of heuristics.

... so this was a bit of a side track, but I think it's interesting to think about when we try to teach technology instead of the other way around.


Blogger victoria said...

Do machines acquire knowledge of any sort? They are programmed and that is not knowledge. They do not know what it means to do what they are doing. Human beings in general with independence of their education usually know the meaning of their actions. That is not the same as explaining the why correctly. E.g. most people who drive a car do not know how the brakes work exactly but they know that if they push the pedal brake the car will eventually stop and it does not matter if they wished to stop the car because of danger or because they saw a friend around the corner and they want to chat with that friend. The computerized mechanism will only work under the programmed conditions.
E.g. autistic children with fantastic visual memory that are able to reproduce in detail buildings; would we call them knowlegeable.
I know this is an oversimplification but discussing what it means to be human is too time consumming!

March 15, 2005 1:08 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Well, I'm not completely convinced that human beings know "meaning", given computational complexity theory and Minsky's "meat machine" model (which I don't exactly agree with), but we think we do... anyway, I completely agree (in my human way) that we "know", have "knowledge" of, what we're doing (a good part of the time, at least), whereas machines don't (i.e. no "big picture"). You summed it up concisely - "discussing what it means to be human is too time consuming" - and that's what everyone ends up doing when talking on this subject. I had more to say, but it just ended up sounding like so much mumbo-jumbo.

March 16, 2005 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The personal development industry has never been bigger! It consists of a myriad of authors basically telling us how to improve our lives. We are constantly being told self help and self improvement has never been easier. New techniques, gadgets and potions adorn the shelves of new age shops and the 1 billion dollar industry, that is personal development, offers many different approaches to help better our lives. They offer ways to increase our bounty and ultimately alter our own reality. A great example of this is how to develop a Prosperity Consciousness. But does this state really exist and if it does will it bring the effortless unlimited wealth promised?
A lot has been written about prosperity and how to attain it. We have been told by many religious traditions and every personal development guru that the Universersal Source (God, Spirit, Cosmic Mind or whatever label you chose to give it) is boundless wealth. We are also told that abundance, wealth and prosperity are our birthright! Why then are so many people ill, broke, frustrated and unfulfilled? Can a person really develop a prosperity consciousness and effortlessly attract wealth? Well as with everything in life there is only one way to find out. Test it for yourself!
Before we can attain and then test the effectiveness of having a prosperity consciousness we need to understand some basic truths. Let's start by explaining three fundamentals of personal development namely; 1. The Universal Source is all wealth, abundance and prosperity; 2. Prosperity is our birthright; 3. You get more of what you focus on.
1. Why are we told that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth? - Because the Universal Source is the consciousness of the Universe - a universe that is still expanding. It is the driving force behind physical reality. It created everything you see, hear, touch and smell as well as all that we are unaware of (microwaves, radiation, air etc.). It has been stated in religious and metaphysical traditions that this intelligence is not only the Source of everything but that it is also the substance of it! It creates the Universe from itself! It is omnipresent (everywhere present). That means that the entire seen and unseen aspects of the universe are a part of this Universal Source. Science reaffirms this theory as it states that nothing is solid and everything is just one mass of pure energy that vibrates at different frequencies and gives the illusion of separateness.
So we can now claim that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth, abundance and prosperity with some belief. For if this Source is the very substance of everything then it is all the wealth, abundance and prosperity that exists at this very moment!
Ok so far? Now lets look at the second point - prosperity is our birthright.
2. If this Universal Intelligence is the source and substance of all things then there can be only one intelligence in the Universe. Jesus said to his disciples "know ye not that you are the temple of the living God?" Buddha attained enlightenment and "oneness". The list of these religious teachings are too numerous to mention but their message remains the same - God (Universal Substance) resides within and around us. It's very substance makes up our physical body and the world around us - "For in him we live, move and have our being" Acts17:28. Therefore, if this Universal Source is at the very core of our being and is the substance from which we take physical form then it stands to reason that we are connected to everyone else and in fact everything else around us - we are a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the universe. Just as your hand or foot is a part of your body, so every grain of sand, blade of grass, wisp of wind, bar of gold and brick that is laid in a mansion is part of you. The unlimited wealth of the universe is yours for the claiming. It is already yours, always has been and always will be. It is a part of you.
Ok let's go the third point - you get more of what you focus on.
3. "It never rains but it pours", is a saying I have used myself in the past. Have you ever wondered why such a statement appears to be true? Well metaphysics and religion tell us that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" or as Job cried out to God "For that which I greatly feared has come upon me". What we focus our conscious attention on increases! Don't believe me? Test it for yourself! If you can muster up the strength to do it then think in negative terms for a week. Judge everything that happens to you in negative terms and think only of a negative outcome and watch what happens in your world!!! This is a relatively easy experiment as we are conditioned to think negatively by the world. A word of warning though - once you prove that your focus determines your reality stop thinking negative thoughts as best you can.
I will not go into the 'hows' of why our focus has such a profound influence on our lives (that would be the subject of a book or perhaps a future article) just prove to yourself that it does. A clue can be found in the teachings of Jesus when he said "The Kingdom of heaven is within".
So now we have the three principles of the prosperity consciousness explained let's put it to work. The attainment of a prosperity consciousness is relatively simple - just think on the first two principles until you fully understand them and integrate them into your consciousness. As you focus on them you will discover that your feelings of lack disappear and you begin to feel a connection with everything around you. It is really just an attitude shift - nothing metaphysical or mystical about it at all. You begin to consciously realize that everything is a part of you. Your focus changes from poverty to wealth.
If it helps make a list of affirmations that correspond to the two principles outlined e.g. "God is the Source and substance of everything", "I am at one with everyone and everything around me", "I am a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the Universe" etc. Don't just rhyme them off in a parrot like manner, think on them and realize the scientific or spiritual truths behind them.
Will it work? Well I can say now that if you follow the above instructions a real change will happen in you. You will start to see the beauty of the world and the unlimited resources that are available within and around you. Will you attain wealth, abundance and prosperity? Test it for yourself! personal development

June 05, 2006 2:47 AM  

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