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From Data to Wisdom

Never have so many been interested in data mining, machine learning, BIG data and artificial intelligence. The phrases have become the linchpins of many a successful career. Yet, the deeper understanding of how data becomes wisdom often eludes us. I will attempt to add a bit of clarity.

6. That is a piece of data. Meaningless, right? Six what? What does it mean? Data becomes information with context. If we add context, as in "There are six chairs in this conference room," it gains meaning, it becomes information. Perhaps not very useful info, but info nonetheless.

Information becomes knowledge when experience is added to it. If we add to the above information the experience expressed as the average number of people attending meetings in this room over the past two years is eight, the highest number was 11 and the lowest was two with a standard deviation of 1.8, then we have some knowledge that may lead to a decision to order two or three more chairs.

Now for the tough part: how does knowledge become wisdom, especially actionable wisdom? There are many knowledgable people in the world but very few wise ones. It might be educational to ponder the reasons for this, but that is not my goal. Knowledge becomes wisdom when it is used to achieve some noble and worthwhile goal. Knowledge for its own sake is like traveling without a destination. It might be enjoyable and fun but devoid a higher purpose.

Enough said. I'll see you in a year unless I have something to say sooner.

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