Albert Einstein was once asked, “how many feet are in a mile?”
He replied, “I don't know. Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?”
Today, in a few seconds with our connected devices we can find that fact.
Intelligence is adeptness in gaining knowledge, and information. Intelligence is knowing. It is "technical."
Wisdom is the ability to use the gained knowledge and information in making good decisions and guiding oneself through life. It also involves knowledge of one's capacities and ethical sensitivity. Wisdom is knowing what to do. It is "practical."
Wisdom is the right application of intelligence. Innovation requires intelligence—technological stewardship involves wisdom.
The beauty of wisdom is that it is available to all. Wisdom doesn’t care what school you attended, and it doesn’t care about race, creed, or color.”—Stanley Bergman
Your talent stack consists of skills, knowledge, wisdom, behavioral traits, and accomplishments. Some of these elements come naturally to us, others we develop and refine over time. Think of it as your career capital.
Technology can replace much of the technical—intelligence. However, it struggles with the practical—wisdom.
Our unique behavioral traits and accomplishments along with our skills and knowledge shape our wisdom. It is real and authentic.
Difference between artificial intelligence (AI) and wisdom
Artificial intelligence of all kinds is becoming ubiquitous. Its explosive growth comes with significant challenges.
Let’s explore the difference between artificial intelligence (AI) and wisdom. No one ever speaks of “artificial wisdom." Wisdom is real and authentic.
Today, we experience AI through the applications we use. It delivers value by augmenting human skills and extends our capabilities. Some believe that AI is going to solve every problem, help cure every disease, and improve every aspect of our lives. Do not be too quick to embrace the notion that AI is the answer to all our prayers.
AI adoption requires responsibility—technological stewardship—wisdom. AI comes with tradeoffs that often boil down to trust. In the business world, ultimately the winning formula is humans-plus-AI processes.
Technological stewardship is behavior that ensures technology is used to make the world a better place for all—more equitable, inclusive, just, and sustainable.
To accomplish this, technological stewardship calls on those who create and influence technology to step into a greater responsible leadership role.
Embracing this role involves expansion—of how engineers and others see their contribution, or who participates in evolving technology, and of the perspectives considered in this evolution.”—Engineering Change Lab
AI revolution is already here
We have only scratched the surface on what is to come. Promise or peril, AI will increasingly transform our lives. We need to pay close attention.
AI technology offers the promise of a kind unimaginable not so long ago. AI is being used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, thereby saving lives. We are now witnessing the advent of self-driving cars, digital assistants, robots, and a host of other AI-enabled devices that enhance productivity and make life easier for those with access to the technology. Hands-free help from our smart speakers like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri get us answers, play songs, schedule items, provide reminders, make calls, get news and weather, and control our smart home with just our voice.
We are using them MindBridge AI Auditor, the world’s first, to identify anomalies in financial transactions in audits and internal audits. Auditors previously sampled 3% of transactions, we now can examine 100% of the transactions in a fraction of the time. This frees the accounting professionals to investigate the anomalies.
Fundamentally, AI is a tool
Like every new tool, AI can and will be used for good and evil. For example, cars allow us to cover vast distances, which is good. However, they are involved in the deaths of more than 40,000 people annually on U.S. roads, which is not at all good.
More than 90 percent of car crashes in the U.S. are thought to involve some form of driver error. Self-driving cars do not get tired, angry, frustrated or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Automated vehicles do not possess the foresight to avoid potential peril. They mostly operate from moment to moment, rather than thinking ahead to possible events literally down the road.
AI is excellent at the technical. Will self-driving vehicles react to uncertain and ambiguous situations with the same skill or anticipation of an attentive human driver?
Following two fatal accidents involving (partially) autonomous vehicles in March, Americans are increasingly concerned about the safety of self-driving cars. According to two independent polls conducted by Morning Consult in January and in late March/early April, the percentage of Americans thinking that autonomous vehicles are less safe than cars driven by people increased from 36 percent to 50 percent.
We need to take our time to work through the evolution of the self-driving car technology. At the end of the day, self-driving cars have the ability to learn quickly from these mistakes and teach all future cars. The same cannot be said for human drivers.”—Madhur Behl, University of Virginia
Historically we have stayed ahead in the wisdom race by learning from mistakes. We invented fire, and then we developed the fire extinguisher. We invented cars, and then we developed seatbelts and airbags. However, with AI, we need a different strategy. Do AI safety research, get things right the first time.
Perhaps AI and the driver still need to work together until we get it right.
Will we have the wisdom to manage artificial intelligence effectively?
Max Tegmark, a professor of physics at MIT and author of, Life 3.0—Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, says to make sure humans stay in charge, we need first to envision what kind of future we want and steer artificial intelligence in that direction.
The most interesting thing [about AI] is not the quibble about whether we should worry or not, or speculate about exactly what’s going to happen, but rather to ask, 'What concrete things can we do today to make the outcome as good as possible?'”—Max Tegmark
Many of the things we love about civilization are the product of human intelligence. If we have the wisdom to amplify our intelligence with AI, we have the potential to solve all the wicked problems we are stumped by today. We can create a future where humanity can flourish like never before.
Like other technological advances, AI is unstoppable. It will deliver enormous benefits. We will wonder, how we ever lived without it. However, like any tool, we need to be extremely careful in how we manage the forces it will unleash.
AI turbocharges human efficiency and productivity. People used to say that intelligence sets humans apart. However, when intelligence itself is artificial, what makes us irreplaceable is not just brain power, but the human heart. In the age of AI, it is human wisdom nourished through the arts and humanities that can make us whole and our world sing.”—Roland Chin, Hong Kong Baptist University
The arrival of AI raises a more profound question that needs to be addressed. We live in a world of increasing division. Have we put too much faith in intelligence, which can be artificial, instead of wisdom? Wisdom is never artificial.
We must acknowledge that technological stewardship is critical to a healthy society. Our great decisions must be made with the combined wisdom of all of us, not the presumed intelligence of a few of us.
Intelligence is knowing—wisdom is knowing what to do
Every way in which today is better than the Stone Age is because of technology. As Professor Indre Viskontas sets out in Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience, the human brain is mystifyingly complex. The good news is that our brain continues to evolve.
Let’s create a great future with it by winning this race between the growing power of the technology and the ever-increasing wisdom with which we manage it.
As we develop more systems based on artificial intelligence, we need the wisdom to know what good we should do with this awesome new power. I am confident that the 86 billion neurons and hundreds of trillions of intricate connections in our brains are up for these challenges!
About the Image—"Under a wave off Kanagawa," also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave. It is a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. It was published in 1830. The image depicts an enormous wave threatening boats off the coast of the town of Kanagawa (the present-day city of Yokohama). Engineering Change Lab Fellow, Evan Hu, used the image to depict the wave of technological change that is hitting us.
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