Machine Learning Widens the Gap Between Knowledge and Understanding – David Weinberger (via David Gurteen)


Via David Gurteen (whose newsletter and other communications are highly recommdned) at, where he writes:

Title The true complexity of the world outstrips our ability to fully explain it
Weblog Gurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge Letter Appears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 226
Posted Date Sunday 28 April 2019 18:51 GDT
Posted By David Gurteen
Categories Complexity
People David Weinberger
I have long been an admirer and follower of the work and thinking of David Weinberger ever since he was one of the authors of The ClueTrain Manifesto in 1999.

He still never fails to have an impact on me in his writing. Recently he wrote a Medium article entitled Machine Learning Widens the Gap Between Knowledge and Understanding.

It’s a ten minute read but here is the jist.

We humans have long been under the impression that if we can just understand the immutable laws of how things happen, we’ll be able to perfectly predict, plan for, and manage the future.

We have, therefore, made it our business to know how things happen by discovering the laws and models that govern our world.

Given how imperfect our knowledge has always been, this assumption has rested upon a deeper one.

Our unstated contract with the universe has been that if we work hard enough and think clearly enough, the universe will yield its secrets, for the universe is knowable, and thus, at least, somewhat pliable to our will.

But now that our new tools, especially machine learning and the internet, are bringing home to us the immensity of the data and information around us, we’re beginning to accept that the true complexity of the world far outstrips the laws and models we devise to explain it.

Our newly capacious machines can get closer to understanding it than we can, and they, as machines, don’t really understand anything at all.

David goes on to give some good examples, the bottom line, however, us that AI can discover relationships between things in the world that we humans will never be able to, given the size and complexity of the data, even though the AI software has no understanding of the world. In David’s words:

“We need to give up our insistence on always understanding our world and how things happen in it.”

A new world is dawning,

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership




Source: Machine Learning Widens the Gap Between Knowledge and Understanding



Machine Learning Widens the Gap Between Knowledge and Understanding

And gives us the tools for our next evolutionary step

Credit: peepo/Getty Images

The program“Deep Patient” doesn’t know that being knocked on the head can make us humans dizzy or that diabetics shouldn’t eat 5-pound Toblerone bars in one sitting. It doesn’t even know that the arm bone is connected to the wrist bone. All it knows is what researchers fed it in 2015: the medical records of 700,000 patients as discombobulated data, with no skeleton of understanding to hang it all on.

Yet, after analyzing the relationships among these blind bits, Deep Patient was not only able to diagnose the likelihood of individual patients developing particular diseases, it was in some instances more accurate than human physicians, including about some diseases that until now have utterly defied predictability.

Continues in source: Machine Learning Widens the Gap Between Knowledge and Understanding