human, ai,

Build Your Own Knowledge Structure in the Age of Intelligence

Bian Wenbo Bian Wenbo Follow Jun 12, 2019 · 5 minutes read
Build Your Own Knowledge Structure in the Age of Intelligence

In the age of informationization, the main problem faced by individuals is the contradiction between the increasing knowledge of human beings and the limited self-attention. In the nineteenth century, as long as one worked hard, he could master most of the world’s knowledge at that time. However, in the 21st century, it is impossible for a person to understand (and less likely to master) most of the current knowledge. Even in a specific field, his exhaustive efforts may only make him an expert in a certain subject.

How to solve such contradictions? Different levels of cognition and treatment can lead to very different outcomes. For example, how do you allocate your free time? Choose to rest, play games, read books, or go out to socialize and travel? Should we continue our studies after graduation from college or work as soon as possible? How to solve difficult problems, through analogy or reasoning, self-drilling or asking for help? … Too many choices make us feel at a loss. The usual solution is to ask experts for advice. However, depending on their position, different experts sometimes give different guidance. To make matters worse, we lack effective judgment in unfamiliar areas.

Is there a way to get rid of the influence of personal subjective prejudice and give us guidance from the perspective of objective facts? There is an old saying in China:

The history mirrors both thriving and calamity.1 - Emperor Taizong of Tang, 643 AD

Instead of using your own life as a bet, human history as a natural big data can give us some guidance. Do you remember hand-woven workers and coachmen? They were unemployed in the automation process of the industrial revolution. What about the telephone operator positions that have been very popular? They disappeared in the process of electronicization. Do you still have an impression of supermarket cashiers in previous years? They lost their jobs in the process of networking. Some of the jobs of our parents’ generation have now disappeared, in contrast to the fact that many of the current hot jobs are just emerging a few years ago.

Too many cases in history teach us to devote ourselves to the general trend of the times. What is the trend of the modern era? I think it is intelligent. In this article, I try to explore the areas in which we should focus our limited and valuable attention in this era.

1. Human’s area of concern

Know thyself.2 Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?3

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. - Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason

Human beings have evolved from a single cell for hundreds of millions of years. At the same time, our understanding of ourselves and others is constantly changing. Especially in the last hundred years, human beings’ research on self has changed with each passing day. At the beginning of the 21st century, brain neuroscience and cognitive science developed rapidly, while thought, morality, emotion, and rationality were all based on the brain.

Biological cognitive module
Virtual character: Biological cognitive module Details

In the age of intelligence, we need to understand ourselves better, so I created a virtual character that represents our humanity: Human, whose scientific areas of concern are as follows:

  • The relationship between people: psychology, economics;
  • Human self: Cognition, Brain Neurology, Biology;
  • Basic subjects: environment, history.

2. AI’s area of concern

Manufacturing and using tools are the main difference between humans and animals.

By making products that do not exist in nature, humans stand out among animals. Lack of cheetah and antelope speed? It doesn’t matter, we have cars, airplanes, and even space rockets. Are you afraid that the claws and fangs of tigers and wolves can easily hurt us? Don’t be afraid, we have houses, guns, and even atomic bombs. Worried that billions of people are beyond the carrying capacity of the environment and thus famine? Nowadays, this is no longer a problem. We use artificial hybridization and genetic engineering to accelerate natural selection, so that we only need a few people to engage in agricultural activities to meet (or even exceed) human needs.

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the rapid development of human technology has created more tools than ever before, which have replaced and further expanded our limited capabilities. The automotive industry is a typical case, from manual workers to assembly line workers, and then to the mechanization and automation of the assembly line. Currently, only a small number of engineers are required to monitor production in a typical automobile manufacturing center. The invention of computers has greatly reduced the tedious repetitive work of people, and they are especially good at numerical calculation problems that are difficult for humans to handle. At present, all aspects of personal life (such as mobile phones, etc.) to large-scale projects (such as aerospace, etc.) are inseparable from computer assistance.

Technology engineering module
Virtual character: Technology engineering module Details

In the age of intelligence, people no longer just use tools to make up for our shortcomings, but instead try to replace some of the brain’s functions with tools. We need a better understanding of the tools, so I created a virtual character that represents our technology: AI, with the following areas of science and engineering:

  • Software: algorithms, data structures, computer networks;
  • Hardware:
  • Basic subjects: Mathematics (including calculus, linear algebra, probability theory); Physics, Chemistry; Energy.

3. My topic of interest

The fate of a person, of course, depends on self-strengthening, but also on the history trends. - Jiang Zemin, 2009

The match between personal life and the environment must depend on two conditions: one is that the individual must have the conditions required by the environment, and the other is that the individual must have the willingness to cooperate with the life of the environment. Whether there is good fortune in an individual’s life depends on whether the individual has planned to learn and store many of the conditions required by the environment at the time, and whether the individual is willing to use his own conditions to cooperate with the environment. If you lack useful conditions and are unwilling to cooperate with the environment, you will never encounter good fortune… (Ke Yonghe, 1993, p. 405)

Bian Wenbo
Real life: Bian Wenbo Details

The world is complex and the people themselves are more complex, and it is difficult for us to explain them using simple patterns. Compared with the basic areas of interest of the above two virtual characters, I pay more attention to the application of interdisciplinary and the meaning of life. Therefore, the following (technical, artistic) themes are of interest to me:

  • Applications: Data Science, Artificial Intelligence; Information Models;
  • Trends: international situation, domestic policy; digital nomads;
  • Skills: writing, speaking, management, foreign language, marketing, education; music, painting, photography.

The above is my thinking about the areas that individuals should pay attention to in the trend of intelligence, that is, the knowledge structure of the intelligent age.

  1. Old Book of Tang, volume 71. 

  2. The saying “know thyself” was inscribed on temple entrances in Kemet (Ancient Egypt) such as in the temples of Luxor. 

  3. A painting by French artist Paul Gauguin. 

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