09 July 2005

Wisdom

To be wise is not a state of mind but a state of action. Wisdom is acting in the best manner given all the information at hand. Some of the information may be unconscious, out of reach of verbal consciousness. Wisdom takes account of all information available.

Wisdom is contextual. In the current context, it may be wise for someone to accept the reality of death at age 75, or earlier. Even if all disease were conquered, death from trauma would occur. Accidents, warfare, terrorism, homicide. Many of these trauma deaths occur through lack of wisdom on the part of at least one of the persons involved.

Wisdom is not the same as knowing facts. A person may be the repository of a surfeit of factual information, but be a fool. Many of the most intelligent persons living between levels are complete fools. Masters of acquiring and manipulating information, they achieve high levels of monetary and social success. Still their children despise them, their spouses cheat on them, their lives are too often hollow and pointless.

The waste of natural resources is often decried, while the waste of information is generally ignored. To political partisans, information is meant to be wasted and suppressed if it does not automatically provide partisan advantage. This is clear from our news media, which after all are run by between level humans with many faults, including partisan dishonesty.

New tools of information manipulation and correlation have been developed to help with the problem of information overload in modern between level civilisation. Many of these tools are expensive, some are prototypes, with outputs only available to persons of high rank in government or commerce.

These complex software programs are not intelligent, nor are they wise. But they do fill an evolutionary gap in the human capacity to comprehend large amounts of information. They may yet facilitate wisdom in those who are so disposed.

Bill Joy warned against nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. For that, some futurists have tagged him "Kill Joy." Aspiring next levels will merely smile and get on with the difficult work of optimising information acquisition and use. We will need everything that nanotechnology, information technology, and genetic and bio-engineering can give us, if we are to learn wisdom in the larger context of the next level.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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