- For most of the 20th century, we thought humans, and therefore machines, learned by being told what to do. This meant that learning was the process of acquiring more and more rules; rules that were rational and therefore governed by logic.
- Then we did the Wason Selection Task, demonstrating that either a) humans are irrational, i.e., not good at logic or b) rationality is not governed by logic after all.
- We then talked about Star Trek, of course, showing that neither Logic (Spock) nor its supposed nemesis, Emotion (Bones), were enough by themselves for rational decision making. For that, we need the leadership and wisdom that comes from Experience (Kirk).
- We ended by asking the question:
So, if the acquisition of logical rules isn’t learning, what is?
And the answer is...
"Learning is bringing your experience to bear
on new information."
That would be the end of the story, except for one thing: the big box of experience KEEPS CHANGING all the time, because the little circle of new information KEEPS CHANGING all the time.
This how we learn, for instance, that Pluto is no longer a planet. Fortunately, he is still a Disney character, so that's a relief.
Let’s try the Wason Selection Task again, this time with a slight twist.
Your job is to test this rule: “If someone is drinking alcohol, then that person must be age 18 or older.” From where you are standing, you can observe four people: a person drinking soda (you can’t see how old they are); a person drinking beer (you can’t see how old they are); a 30-year-old person (you can’t see what they’re drinking) and a 16-year-old person (you can’t see what they’re drinking). Which of these four items must be checked in order to make sure the rule is being followed?
People are better at the drinking variation because it gives CONTEXT, with allows you to bring your experience to bear upon .Neat, huh?
How do we do that? Read the next blog and find out!
(This is so exciting!)
FYI, I'm speaking at the now-online LEARN2021 conference, albeit by video.
Check it out. (NOTE: The dates have changed--they haven't sent an updated promo card.)