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AI's Wisdom Deficit


AI's Wisdom Deficit
AI's Wisdom Deficit

In German, there are two words for knowledge: "wissen" and "kennen." The former refers to knowing about something, while the latter signifies intimate knowledge gained through experience. Although we can roughly equate these to "explicit" and "tacit" knowledge, the English language fails to capture their nuanced meanings like other languages do.

It is in the second form of knowledge where profound insights emerge. According to the DIKW model, wisdom arises from knowledge, particularly knowledge derived from experience and understanding, rather than pure logic. We most often refer to the former as wisdom and the latter intelligence.

Intelligence without wisdom has its problems; it is akin to a child in a candy shop. Having knowledge about everything without the ability to discern what is good or bad, what is beneficial or harmful, is of temporary and limited value.


Even King Solomon, considered the wisest person in the world, spent his days exploring and experimenting in his pursuit of learning. He devoted himself to knowledge, constructing the greatest temple ever built, accumulating immense wealth, and indulging in his every desire.


While he gained vast knowledge the wisdom to discern between good and evil is what held the most value for him. King Solomon new that this was something beyond himself and so he asked his God for this kind of wisdom, and he urges us to do the same.


The philosopher David Hume, known for the "is-ought" gap makes a similar observation. He claims that you can't deduce an ought (what should be) from what is. In other words, you can't know what is good from knowledge of what is. That kind of wisdom comes from outside the realm of facts.


In recent years, progress in artificial intelligence has been staggering. However, AI lacks the knowledge (and most likely always will) that comes from experience along with the wisdom to discern between what is good and what is not. It is this wisdom that should be our ultimate pursuit, better than all the knowledge in the world.

As T.S. Eliot aptly said and bears repeating:

"It is impossible to design a system so perfect that no one needs to be good."

And being good is what humans must continually strive to become in all our endeavours.

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