The Age of Knowledge Retention: I'm not Smart but my Phone is
6/15/2012 by: Roy Taylor
Henry Ford once sued the Chicago Tribune who accused him of being a bit thick. He responded by suing them and famously won the case but was awarded just 6 cents in damages. The reason for bringing it up here is that Ford responded to a series of questions, about not knowing what was considered common knowledge, with the answer he may not know this stuff but he employed people who did.
If it were me I might have said "it's no use owning a dog and barking yourself."
Now all this is interesting because there is a debate starting to brew among some intellectuals I know about the case for information and memory retention versus retrieval. The nub of the argument is this; why do we need to learn off by heart data and information which we can instead easily and quickly grab from elsewhere?
Memory Retrieval vs. Retention
If you want to think about this in terms which are nearer to home consider this. Children are sneaking smartphones into the classroom to cheat at exams. But the information they are retrieving from those phones will always be there whenever they need it anyway. So why are we even bothering to make them learn the data in their heads? This does not mean that we do not need to educate or stop from making people and children from taking exams. These MAT (a standard school test in the USA) test questions are a good example of how we learn how to think as much as just retain data.
Education is, of course, about much more than just learning facts and figures. It was with almost staggering disbelief when I finally learnt about the British Empire as an adult. They skipped it when I was at school. Somehow we went caveman-Romans-Medieval Times-English Civil War-Vietnam. As we learnt from Robin Williams and Michael Caine education is a journey where the value is in the travel more than the destination.
But now consider this, machines are getting smarter but the rate at which they are getting smarter is accelerating. At some point not so far off we will have smartphones that can access thru the cloud (the internet) ALL information about EVERYTHING and predict what we will want to know about and deliver it to us.
To quote the Time Magazine; "If computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial intelligence. All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness - not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties."
No matter what you desire to know it will be instantly available to you. In a world like that we may want to start thinking again about exactly what kind of education and training we want for our people. I am pretty certain we do not need any more Excel and PowerPoint experts.
AI, ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE, BRITISH EMPIRE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, EDUCATION, ENGLISH CIVIL WAR, GRADUATE MANAGEMENT ADMISSION TEST, HENRY FORD, LEARNING, MEMORY, MEMORY RETENTION, MEMORY RETRIEVAL, MICHAEL CAINE, ROBIN WILLIAMS, ROY TAYLOR, SCHOOLS, TECHHOLLYWOOD, UNITED STATES
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