Say, That’s A Wise Computer – DIKW

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Please, report any sightings!

DIKW, the data to wisdom gradient, is buzzing about a lot these days amongst information scientists, who seem to me almost all computer specialists, ok, techies. (See recent review by Min Chen et al .) Why aren’t there biologists? Or even philosophers – as we know for sure they would be interested in wisdom and where it comes from.   I therefore wanted to find out exactly   how this whole thing came about.

So dutifully I did a Google search: Data – Information – Knowledge – Wisdom. I searched all the way back to 1900. It was all really  boring reading, same vague or philosophical stuff, mostly about knowledge and wisdom. The words data and information first appeared together about 1940; and the rough order of data – information – knowledge started about 1960. By 1970 and 1980 there appeared ‘information technology,’  ‘information science’ respectively. The complete DIKW hierarchy started in 1990 with a minor jump in number of references. (Probably because of R.L. Ackoff’s  “From Data to Wisdom,”  published 1988 – 1989;  See also T.S. Eliot’s The Rock , probably the first ever reference to this hierarchy , in 1934.)

In general, there’s agreement among computer scientists that this hierarchy from data to wisdom represents increasing levels of abstraction of data, or understanding. However the following quotes from two more review articles on this subject further suggested to me that computers are not capable of wisdom:

“In addition, there is limited reference to wisdom in these texts”.

“Besides being causal and hierarchical, the scheme is pyramidal, in that data are plentiful while wisdom is almost nonexistent”.

I believe only humans are capable of wisdom, even knowledge. What do you think?

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