Beyond the Information Age discusses a new way of thinking about computers, knowledge and understanding. See the editorial for more information....

Circle of Life

As you read the next few lines there is one important line that you need to memorize for the rest of your life. It is probably the most important line written in this book. The knowledge gained by understanding this one line will help you understand life in the world around you. The line you should memorize is:


Art by Yvonne Richer
This one line is like the secret to life itself. To understand life you should understand the process of living is a continuous cycle of this: Knowledge directs understanding affects knowledge directs understanding affects knowledge directs understanding affects knowledge.... and so on until the end of life. All living things are doing this cycle all the time.

Let's look at what is happening in this cycle of life. Knowledge, as in procedural knowledge directs the way an understanding understands. When the understanding finishes running new knowledge is created and stored in memory. This new knowledge is then available to direct the next understanding that runs. As an example if you were brushing your teeth, you run this procedure until it is complete. Once you finish brushing your teeth, the new knowledge 'my teeth have been brushed' is created. This new knowledge then directs you toward your next task that may be combing your hair. It is the existence of the new knowledge that directs the next understanding. It is a cause and effect thing. Ours is a world of cause and effect. Knowledge is the cause. Understanding is the effect. Knowledge directs understanding affects knowledge.

To make life a little easier to understand we need to clarify our language just a bit. Look carefully at the difference between the verb 'understanding' and the noun 'an-understanding' they are easily confused. An Understanding is simply pure knowledge stored in memory and not doing anything. Understanding is the process of this knowledge actually being used by some understanding engine that is actually doing something. As we said before words like Eating, Sleeping, Breathing, Thinking, Seeing, Hearing, Walking, and Working are all in our library of understandings. What we can to do is call these understandings in our library 'affectors' to eliminate the confusion between running and stopped programs. So an affector (a new word) is 'an understanding' and is the name of a not running set of procedural knowledge. So you could run one of your affectors like your eating affector to change your food knowledge from empty to full.

Last Update: 2006-Dec-23