Blue Highways Journey – Episode 36 – Wisdom

Dottie Douglas had delayed her blue highways journey until the harvest season for a reason. Growing up, one of her fondest memories was canning fruit and vegetables with her mother. She just loved the casual conversations while canning, but even more she loved to see the jars on shelves.

Dottie also hoped to have some alone time to think about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in their product line. She knew that AI was the new thing in information processing, but she had her doubts. She wasn’t impressed by book selections recommended to her or suggested leads on social media. If AI got something as simple as book recommendations wrong, how could they use AI in their much more complex technology?

It didn’t take long for Dottie to find a canning partner, Grace. And she loved the conversations they had while canning. What surprised Dottie was how those conversations turned to Dottie’s job. As Dottie reflected on that first canning venture, she realized that she learned more about herself and her role as the information technology leader than she ever expected. Grace just seemed to know the questions to ask to help Dottie explore possibilities. Grace was an agnostic when it came to computers, but that didn’t affect her ability to ask probing questions.

As Dottie continued her journey, she had more canning conversations. What surprised her was how insightful the conversations were. Her canning partners had this ability to ask the right questions. And the environment was just right for Dottie to really think about her responses. She rarely had an easy answer to the questions, but they were mind adjusting probes which got her to think.

As Dottie started her trip home, she returned her thoughts to the AI strategy she needed to propose. Essentially AI was a means to capture wisdom. But as she reflected on her conversations, Dottie realized that her own wisdom was developed by exploring the questions asked of her. Then she wondered about the wisdom of her canning partners who were able to ask her the right questions. In effect, her wisdom was being developed by questions revealing her own intelligence.

Dottie began to conceptualize how their technology could develop the self-intelligence of those who used their devices. Could a self-intelligence system by developed to reveal the wisdom of employees? And how might such a system be more humanizing than the robotic jobs that were resulting from AI systems?

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“Wisdom is not based upon the answers we have, but the questions we ask.”
– Anonymous

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