[[CCK11]] – Machines and knowledge

This is a dailog that happened on our FaceBook CCK11 group:

Katy: Maybe I am looking at PLNs a different way, as a newcomer to the idea – I think that a PLN is mostly people. People who make up the network, whose expertise or viewpoint or experience “rubs off on you” as you interact and connect and communicate with them. Yes, some nodes are one-way (as with a website that shows a presentation from an expert) but most nodes are two-way, like colleague who points you toward the site with the presentation and who you get into discussion with about the presentation and whose other friend disagrees with the expert and gets into the discussion.
Me: ‎@Kate: you are right, but not in the CCK11 context. In connectivism, knowledge resides with people as well as machines… so, we cannot limit it to people only! Unorthodox, I know!

Katy: ‎@Anas: So the site where the expert’s presentation is housed is part of the PLN as well as the expert and the friend who tells you about the site? That makes sense. But it’s not just the sites – a collection of site bookmarks on someone’s computer doesn’t tell you about the connections between them and -more importantly- how the human people in that person’s PLN have made sense of the sites and connections between the sites and the people and the problems needing to be solved.

Me: @Katy: like you, I am still trying to make peace with this concept. This is what Connectivism advocates, not me, at least not yet 🙂 Machines as machines contribute to the knowledge. The closest example is Google: the information generated by google is collected, collated and compiled by some creepy entities (called bots or spiders) that sniff the whole world wide web and present them to us in a format we understand. Some of this information is created by other bots! Similarly Wikipedia, bots contribute to the creation of its articles. So, the machine started to contribute to our knowledge, not people only… creepy. Right?

Katy: @Anas – maybe by the end of the course I will see more eye-to-eye with Connectivism on this idea! Machines contributing to the knowledge is easier for me to deal with than the idea of machines ‘creating’ the knowledge = information is not the same as knowledge, is it>?

Jaap: @Katy What do you think of this example? a machine can make a diagram of your contacts in Linkedin, this machine creates information/knowledge that was not there before.

Me: @Katy: mhmm… Good point. To me, information is different from knowledge. Information is public, while knowledge is personal. The moment I communicate my knowledge to you, it becomes information to you. How you interpret it becomes your knowledge. We might end up having different knowledge although we “consumed” the same information. At this end, I should agree with you: machine creates “information” and we create our “knowledge”. This makes me think: does the machine has its own “knowledge”? Can we call it knowledge? I like this mooc thing. Thank you for drifting my attention to a real issue.

Katy: @Jaap- yes, the machine creates patterns from information. Those patterns, that new information can open our eyes to new possibilities. But I don’t think that we can equate information with knowledge @Anas- good point about ‘consuming’ the same information, yet generation different knowledge. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, prior information that cause us each to process the connections between information bits differently= each of us make unique knowledge of the world. And the different, unique knowledge is what our PLNs are exploring, right? If we just wanted to hear the same opinions and information over and over again, we’d go to a faculty meeting or a family reunion (joke) instead of investing time in cultivating a PLN to broaden and deepen our knowledge.

The Question is: if Knowledge is personalized information, can we use the term “machine knowledge”? Consequently, can we say the distributed knowledge may reside in machines as well?

[Check the group for complete transcript and context.]