The Incomplete Philosophy of the Internet
as it Relates to Valid Knowledge Acquisition
By Roy D. Follendore III
Copyright (c) 2001
The Internet is a wonderful black box full of noise, and embedded within that noise is data and information that forms knowledge. The Internet is a technological artifact created to allow anyone to contact anyone and everyone else after a nuclear war and that philosophy has prevailed within its fundamental design. What it does not do adequately is to support users who wish to acquire, formulate new, correct and appropriate knowledge. The original philosophy of communicating knowledge was left up to the message created by the message sender.
With respect to the concept of Noise to Knowledge, without a richer and better defined philosophy of what we want from the Internet, we are doomed to continue to generate more problems than true lasting solutions for our planet.
As a user of the Internet, in order to acquire new knowledge that is useful to our particular situation at the moment, we might go on a board to ask questions of the group. You might ask questions, to a subset of the world who happen to read your question answers. But assuming that you do get a reply; How do you judge that response, particularly when only one or a few, or dozens of contradictory answers may or may not come back. There is obviously no way to authenticate the most appropriate response because there is no authentication of the responder. But when the internet was invented, was was not invented was a way in which to authenticate the philosophical standard of a search response. This was because there was, just as there is no philosophical structure for authentication. At the other end of the messages could just as well be authenticated by a million monkeys who have been taught how to use laptops or perhaps pigeons walking on keyboards emulating responses as long as it seems reasonable. But how are we to actually know truth if we are simply choosing un-authenticatable answers? Even if a particular response to questions sound acceptable, the lack of a philosophical process for authentication induces noise into the response that we receive because it induces unpredictability within our corresponding response as we accept what most seems to be true. Of course, unauthenticated blind answers that arise from the multitude seems useful, but is it true and wise? Can the unauthenticated be used to authenticate our response to others? Consider the fundamental problem with Wikipedia. Which is worse, not having the answer, or becoming dependent on a system that is built without the benefit of a philosophy of authenticated integrity? The answer is that it all depends on where you are at the moment and where you expect to be going.
We could say that we might as well be screaming our questions into the night sky like wolves except for the fact that wolves do have ways of authenticating their packs.
We also often store knowledge and put it in places like web pages where others can find it. In other words, like wolves, we are scavengers of knowledge, piecing together what we need at the moment. The good news is that there is an avalanche of data, information available to scavenge and of course surfing can be addictively fun. The bad news is that that the Internet is that the avalanche is full of noise. The quality of knowledge that can be produced in a specific period of time can be completely improper and incorrect with respect to the occasion.
Ultimately as the receiver, what we do today when we search for knowledge over the Internet is to use our personal objectivity to eliminate the inappropriate communications. We essentially use our own philosophy to filter knowledge and that process ultimately reinforces what we already believe is true.
There are of course online references such as encyclopedias but as is often the case, the kinds of knowledge we are more often after involves comprehensive real time answers. Go ask a search engine the distance between New York and LA or who shot Lincoln and you might be able to eventually get to an acceptable answer. Go to a search engine ask the same search engine the motivation of people who voted for Gore or George, or why the dot com investment craze suddenly went south and you will either get that avalanche of conflicting information and data or none, depending on how you look at it. A shear volume of information, along with misinformation, errors in reporting represents noise. We then choose to assume that it is the fault of our question when the problem is actually the fact that we have no way to choose the best answer in the midst of the noise.
The Internet has wired this world across competing classes and cultures of people. The spectrum of the Internet stores knowledge that can make a difference in the future of mankind. The data and information that makes up this knowledge is encoded as within wide range of philosophical perspectives and it exists without authentication. This is much as though an alien culture could tune in on our radio and satellite television channels to find out what we are as a species. They do not understand anything about our culture but they understand the words in our language. They would have no guiding philosophical standards to make judgments. How would they know a sitcom from the news broadcast? Their perspective of what we are would be jaded by noise.
Noise prevents us from acquiring and utilizing knowledge. Fortunately we are not aliens. We can control the processes through which data, and information become knowledge. We can engineer philosophical standards into our technology and we can minimize the noise. New technologies can help us mine and remanufacture legitimate contextually correct knowledge from the Internet.
The activity of knowledge processing and dissemination will change the fundamental nature of the Internet. It will also change the primary way that human beings will acquire knowledge. Noise to Knowledge processing will become the first Universal industry and it will affect everything that mankind does and is capable of doing in the future.
Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved