FREE shipping on orders of $49 or more! The discount will apply automatically at checkout.

Dispersion Of Knowledge

Dispersion Of Knowledge

Hello and good day!

Five sets of fathers and young sons walk down a sidewalk. They are spaced ten minutes apart in distance. In the middle of the sidewalk there is a brown leather wallet filled with cash.

The first pair comes upon the wallet. "Look dad, a wallet!" says the son. "Yes son. But don't touch it. It isn't ours and it is none of our business. Leave it there," says the father. They continue on.

Ten minutes later, the second pair comes upon the wallet. "Look father. There is a wallet in the road," says the second son. "Indeed," says the father. "Pick it up and let's have a look." They open the wallet and see the money.

"There is a lot of money here and no identification. If we take the wallet to the police station, they'll never find the person. If I lost my wallet, I'd retrace my steps, especially with this much money. We must leave it here son. But let's not leave it in the middle of the walkway. We'll put it up on this window ledge where it won't be so obvious," says the father.

Ten minutes later, the third father and son pair come walking along. They almost walk by the wallet at first, because it is out of the way, resting on the window ledge. The son does a double take and then pulls his father's arm when he realizes what he has seen. "Father, there is a wallet on the window," says the son.

The two look around and see that they are alone on the sidewalk. "Let's open it up," says the father. When the father opens the wallet, his eyes widen. He feels as if his prayers have been answered.

"Son, we are very poor. Some nights there isn't enough food for us all to eat and one of us must go to bed hungry. Whoever left this wallet behind obviously doesn't value their money. Nobody as poor as us would ever be so careless. We are meant to have this money," says the father.

"But isn't this wrong? Aren't we stealing?" asks the son.

"Of course not! We are not thieves. We didn't go looking for this wallet in somebody's home, did we? It was left for us as a gift! I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll only take enough to eat well for the next couple of days, and we'll leave the rest behind. We could take it all and nobody would ever know. But instead, we'll only take a little," said the father.

The father took several bills from the wallet, folded them in half, and put them in his pocket. He put the wallet back on the window ledge, mussed his son's hair, and walked down the sidewalk whistling, full of cheer.

Ten minutes later, the fourth pair came along. "Pop, there is a wallet on this window ledge!" yelled the son. "A wallet? Open it up!" said the father.

The son grabbed the wallet and pulled out the entire stack of bills. "Look at all this!" said the son. "Finders keepers son. Never forget that. That is the way of the world. Put it all in your pocket and throw the wallet on the ground. We're in a rush," said the father.

Ten minutes later, the final pair came along. They saw the empty wallet splayed on the ground. The father picked it up and searched its contents thoroughly.

"Somebody has lost this, son. But there is nothing in it. No matter, we have an obligation to do all we can. We'll take it to the police station. I'm sure nothing will come of it, but at least we'll have made our best effort to do the right thing," said the father.

"Ok dad. May I carry the wallet and look at it while we walk?" asked the son 
"Better not son. It isn't ours. I only looked through it hoping to find identification. We have no rights to this wallet now," said the father.

This is the exact way knowledge is dispersed throughout a society, one interaction at a time. Each new person is born essentially knowledgeless. As we grow, we interact with our environment, and we are taught by the people around us. At every turn, there is an opportunity for us to be influenced in one way or another.

This is a very spotty and inefficient system when you think about it. There may be information and teaching that will benefit you, but depending on who is curating your knowledge, you may or may not receive it.

The idea of a school board is that it will make sure students get the right knowledge for the time and place in which they live.

But what if a school board gets it wrong?

You could read a treatise on engineering or watch Tik Tok videos.

Each individual is built from the ground up by essentially a randomly selected peer group (parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, etc.). You don't choose most of the people who will filter knowledge on your behalf. They're waiting for you when you are born, and you are stuck with them for a long time.

This is one of the key disadvantages of human learning versus something like artificial intelligence. With computer learning, knowledge is dispersed immediately across an entire network and a new machine is immediately the equal of every previous machine. And of course, they know everything there is to know because they suck up data at inhuman speed.

However, the advantage of human style random knowledge dispersal is the great variety of innovative experience. Unpredictability is a feature of our system, and the output of this diversity are lessons and wisdom. Having new experiences and sharing the lessons is where human intelligence is superior.

This reminds me of the movie Good Will Hunting. In that movie, Matt Damon is a super genius who speed reads books all night every night and knows pretty much everything there is to know. He is a math prodigy as well. But he keeps getting into fights and thrown in jail over and over.

He has behavioral problems from being abused as a child. And he is extremely arrogant about his intelligence.

Robin Williams plays a psychiatrist who takes on Damon as a client. In one of their pivotal meetings, Williams tells Damon that while he may have read a book about love, he doesn't know what it feels like to watch his beloved wife die of cancer. He may have read about war, but he's never been out in the trenches with a friend dying in his arms.

In other words, Damon is a super smart, snot nosed punk, who has never lived what he's read about and who needs a huge dose of humility if he wants to overcome his trauma.

I mention all this to encourage people who have lived through significant life experiences and learned important lessons to share what they know.

The world stays good and gets better when effective knowledge is shared. Every new human being is built up from scratch.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!