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Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 12:06:55 -0800

03 00050 61 00012001

From:   Rod Welch
The Welch Company


Subject:   Colloquium at Stanford
Doug Engelbart's Unfinished Revolution
DKR to Augment Human Intelligence

Dear Contributors,

I concur with John Werneken's sense that so far the Colloquium at Stanford is focusing on macro "UN" type issues, at the expense of making progress on augmenting capabilities. On the other hand, experience shows that when we get down to cases and suggest improving personal capabilities, which can be pooled to raise collective IQ, there is a lot of cultural resistance, as related in analysis on reducing medical mistakes, which has been in the news lately.

Doug may be trying to raise the stakes by citing high visibility issues in order to overcome psychological resistance to personal improvement, per Covey, et al.

One aspect of augmenting human capabilities is intelligence. Doug's paper published in 1992 is more than a technology prescription. He expressly calls for "intelligence collection."

Accomplishing this goal gets into a lot of debates with computer and cognitive science people about the "knowledge management dilemma." One idea which Doug may be angling toward, from discussion on December 22, 1999, and review of his 1992 paper, is that experience is a driving force of human knowledge. The Dynamic Knowledge Repository (DKR) idea, in part, is to capture and manage daily experience. This requires gathering and analyzing information (who, what, when, why..) chronologically, and organizing it according to objectives and requirements, so that the sequence of cause and effect can be retrieved according to context. In effect this emulates an important part of human "intelligence" that is helpful to enterprise, i.e., an automated experience capability is the engine of Enterprise Management.

This concept can be summarized as simply "integrating time and information" to produce knowledge.

Again, my sense is that Doug has developed capability to accomplish this as part of his DKR. So, a direct, personal solution that has so far been missing, may become clear in the period ahead.

Efforts at universities, research institutes and by industry have focused on artificial intelligence (AI), using a range of sophisticated mathematical modeling methods and computational linguistics. My feeling is that these methods will not accomplish a solution, at least not to the extent of producing a "thinking" machine, because human thinking is organic, driven by human needs that occur along a continuum, from the very, very small in the microcosm of human life, to those larger than life itself, e.g., the heavans. These dynamics are too complex to replicate, i.e., human needs ebb and flow according to context that ignite emotion. Not only are machines not emotional, we don't really want them to be, and so AI is inherently conflicting.

Another approach is more mundane, but yields immediate results. Look at the foundational knowledge management method humans devised 5K years ago, and ask....

Can anything be done to enhance alphabet technology for integrating time and information?

In other words, conventional wordprocessing, like articles, memos and email, generates information. Connections between what is written and personal and organizational experience is all accomplished in the human mind. Might then we rearrange things a bit to apply the alphabet with specialized structure and some new technology for quickly identifying and connecting related context, and managing the resulting chronologies of cause and effect for decision support? Would this experiential record accumulated over days, weeks, months and years augment human memory and facilitate reasoning? Could the Internet help distribute "intelligence" to build and maintain shared meaning that reduces meaning drift?

Would managing human experience this way get us going toward "intelligence collection" that Doug discusses?

If we enhance alphabet technology to leverage human intelligence, would this aid individuals and organizations in addressing the macro "UN" problems that cry out for attention?

The aim is to strive for a better balance between literacy and oral communication, which is only possible by using technology to capture a greater share of the connections that make up human knowledge day to day. Reliance on stream-of-conscious communication in meetings, calls and email causes information overload that overwhelms limited span of attention, due to the growing complexity of the environment Doug cited in the first session. Since the human mind suppresses complexity to enable action, then, in the absence of proactive intelligence support of some kind, knowledge work devolves into guess and gossip, constant bumbling, instead of continual learning. At least that is the theory.

So, a bottom up effort to augment human capability and strengthen organizations s possible by beginning with knowledge management tools and processes that mprove meetings, calls and correspondence.

Getting people to give it a try, however, is not easy because, in the beginning, producing useful "intelligence" requires a specialist, like a "scribe" was needed to help people get going with alphabet technology in an earlier era. People feel good about specialists for accounting, marketing, engineering and mowing the lawn, but not for communication, which is the prime source of information for generating daily intelligence. Grove at Intel points out that successful executives have difficulty admitting, even to themselves, the magnitude of the problems they face. They feel they are intelligent, expert communicators, and fear that seeking support raises questions of personal competence. They can easily avoid the issue by demanding proof of cost savings in advance of pilot testing to discover that adding intelligence" to management saves time and money.

This presents an innovation loop.

Grove breaks out of the loop by recommending that managers be constantly experimenting with new methods. However, it takes courage to implement such recommendations by requesting funding, and this requires explaining why you need help with the alphabet? So Doug is building a case in the beginning to show a broad, deep and growing need to augment personal and organizational capabilities.

I think he is going to cover this stuff, so just taking a peak ahead.



Rod Welch