On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY

Kahneman opens his treatise on Thinking, Fast and Slow with a dramatic center page picture:

TF&S, Page 19

I was immediately engaged as he went on to discuss my immediate responses and predictions, and, later thoughtful reactions. Attention is immediately on her eyes and the furrowed brow. We know she is angry. Moving to her mouth, she is about to speak. We begin to consider how we might respond to an aggressive statement. This picture is worth much more than a thousand words. It is the whole book!

He got my attention. In Knowledge Sharing, it is about getting people’s attention and then imparting the concepts and information. Wisdom is a fortunate residual benefit. Attention. Attention. Attention. As Foghorn Leghorn says to Henery Chicken Hawk, “Pay attention. I say, I say, Pay attention, Son!” What do you have when you have a green ball in your right hand and a green ball in your left hand? You have the undivided attention of the Jolly Green Giant. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Two Systems We think, process, and react in two fundamentally different ways. One is fast and effortless; the other is slow and deliberate. They compete for control of our attention. Otherwise, they have their own particular capabilities for cognitive processing. System 1 (Fast) and System 2 (Slow), he dubs them, and credits the original concept as proposed by Keith Stanovich and Richard West. But Kahneman (and deceased collaborator Amos Tversky) developed this model of thinking into Kahneman’s post-Nobel Prize Masterpiece Thinking Fast and Slow (TF&S).

© Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net

11/17/11-1

On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY
In TF&S, Kahneman presents a psychodrama with two characters: “Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, the automatic System 1 is the hero of the book.” He portrays these Systems as agents with individual abilities, limitations and functions. In mechanizing Knowledge Sharing, this implies the existence of a space of two types of digital assistants. I call these digital assistants “KnowBots”. KnowBots are idiot savant apps that operate as services dedicated to specific Domain Knowledge by narrow Topic Categories. Kahneman provides an 11-point scale for the complexity of System 1’s automatic activities, ranging from the Simple (1—detecting relative distances of objects) to Medium (6—answering what is 2+2?) to Complex (10—understanding simple sentence structure) and capped with the most Complex (11— recognizing stereotypes). For System 2, he provides examples without an ordering of their complexity. A few are enumerated here: Brace for the starter gun in a race. Monitor the appropriateness of your behavior in a social situation. Tell someone your phone number. Fill out a tax form. Check the validity of a logical argument. In Knowledge Sharing, stereotyping is a key in analyzing patterns of Use Cases that are developed into templates to guide creation of differing classes of digital assistants, KnowBots. System 2 is the Logic Machine, the business rendered in a Knowledge Sharing system while System 1 is the Sensing Apparatus, the infrastructure that delivers the grist for the Logic Machine mill. System 1 needs to be understood in how it controls our perceptions of Knowledge and its basic fabric of data and information woven into that fabric through processing. It becomes useful Knowledge when it is actionable. System 1 comes out of the box “ready to perceive the world: recognize objects, orient attention, avoid losses, and fear spiders (sic).” System 1 is the hardware of the Brain and firmware of the Mind. There I go describing something, turning the brain and mind into machines (opposite of the pathetic fallacy) instead of treating them as agents engaged in activities. But for those in Information Technology it is a very apt and rich description. In Knowledge Sharing systems, it directs us to think of System 1 as autonomic infrastructure while System 2 is the higher level functions and services supporting Knowledge analysis and interpretation. For Kahneman, in System 1: “The Knowledge is stored in memory and accessed without intention and accessed without effort.” Essentially, this is direction to make Knowledge Sharing System 1 functions that operate transparently to explicit applications (KnowBots). These System 1 KnowBotic functions are part of the KnowBot Environment available to System 2 KnowBots without any programming. Creating a contextual KnowBot Environment is at most a configuration task. Writing KnowBots is a developing art form. The Systems share attention. Control may be shared, but ultimately it rests with System 2. System 1 is the default state of attention—especially when we sleep. System 2 will prevent you from reacting

© Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net

11/17/11-2

On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY
aggressively to the women in the picture, even though from her angry outburst, your System 1 makes you feel insulted. System 2 is distinguished by its requirement for attention to operate. System 2 is disrupted when attention is lost. A loud noise disrupted me as I was reading this chapter of TF&S. I had to spend a moment or two to recover my place after I apprehended and fully comprehended it (i.e., understood the world I live in has occasional earthquakes and looked it up on the Internet) as a 3.0 earthquake. The only consequence was my computer mouse that flew of the edge of the mouse pad. This is part of the Joy of Living in Seismically Active Regions. The mark of effortful activities is that they interfere with each other unlike System 1 activities. However, System 1 requires some attention. They way I put it is, we can multithread thinking but only single thread doing. Some of us can spin more threads and/or do things faster than others. I read very slowly, but can handle up to eight contexts concurrently (probably why I am a slow reader due to a fixed amount of attention and interference in effortful tasks). My father could play eight games of chess simultaneously. A gift capability, yes, but one can improve oneself with introspection and training according to Kahneman. To close his discussion of the two Systems, Kahneman asserts, and demonstrates later in the book, that “We are blind to the obvious and we are blind to our blindness.” This is quite a jolting statement challenging the reader to stay engaged. I was and still am.

Plot Synopsis Kahneman presents a one-page overview of these two Systems interacting in a storied fashion. It is a dance, System 1 proposing and System 2 disposing. System 1 suggests impressions, intuitions, intentions and feelings for System 2 to consider. If System 2 deems them worthy, impressions and intuitions are transformed into beliefs while intentions and feelings are the impulses for voluntary actions. Kahneman observes, “Our normal (default) state is to believe impressions and act on desires.” System 2 is most comfortable when operating in a low-effort mode. Stress ensues when System 2 is engaged at near capacity for extended periods—like being next to the World Trade Center on 9/11 from 8:45AM-9:15AM EDT. Children generally have an underdeveloped System 2 filtering process. We learn it during adolescence when we take many risks and live with the consequences (if we are not killed first by the outcomes or our parents). This is an important lesson for Knowledge Sharing systems—acceptance of responsibility and assignment of accountability. This is something we could use a little more in the world today! If System 1 can’t handle a perceived problem, it activates System 2. For example, a break in the current model of the world will activate System 2. In the narrative style advocated by Kahneman, specifically, I am sitting in my chair quietly reading TF&S. Suddenly the room shakes and my computer mouse drops to the floor. System 1 says, “Hey! I didn’t expect that. System 2, figure it out.” Because my reading is © Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net 11/17/11-3

On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY
effortful, it is interrupted while I figure it out as a minor earthquake. Completing the processing, I pick up my mouse from the floor and surf the Internet to determine that it was as I thought. System 2 says “Relax, it is just a 3.0. As you were.” The current world model updated, I return to my reading chair and continue this chapter. All is well with the world once again and System 1 returns to invisibility and System 2 returns attention to my reading. Once activated by System 1, System 2 resolves between an immediate action, an eventual action or no action at all. In terms of updating your Model of the World, System 2 decides whether to modify (there is a secular change in the World) or not (just a momentary displacement or part of a random walk). System 2 is less vigilant than System 1 which you can’t turn it off. System 2 always on is no way to live. But, except for those suffering with Tourette ’s syndrome, where System 1 cannot be controlled, System 2 always has the last word. Did you hear about the Tourette’s charity T-Shirt: “Understand Tourette’s, Find a Cure, Go to Hell! “

In my children’s youth theatre days, they sang a song, “Live and learn. Everybody’s got to live and learn.” This was sung at moments of resolution and denouement in the plays they enacted. Kahneman understands and uses the power of story to tell his Psychodrama of the Mind. It is a great template process for Knowledge Sharing for an enterprise. In evolution of an Intelligent Enterprise, life and what we do provide the Data. Information is your mother’s response it. Knowledge is then what your father advises. And, Wisdom is in the story your grandparent tells you. Kahneman is our grandfather here for the Knowledge Sharing lesson. Stories are model behavior to capture the Knowledge and eventually the Wisdom of others. The above link is the iconic cultural reference story for the description. It is the 50’s and Father Knows Best.” The 50’s, when the US was entering Golden Age and the millionaire marginal tax rate was 90%.

© Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net

11/17/11-4

On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY
Conflict

TF&S, Page 25

To demonstrate uninterruptable interference between System1 and System 2, he presents and discusses the exercise above, that even when you know what will happen, you cannot avoid behaving as he suggests you will. This is a fabulous exemplar of the System 1-System 2 Interference phenomenon. The lesson here for Knowledge Sharing and Expertise demonstration is that there are cognitive processes that are inexorable, yet mitigatable. We need to be aware of them not to remove, but to avoid. Specifically, in communicating, don’t mix self references (intended or not) into the system being used—like in the example, left on the right and upper in lower case. The conflict between an automatic reaction and the intention to control the response is common in our lives. And it is System 2 which is in charge of self-control. In the extreme, it generates stress. I had a desk plaque which read: “Stress is listening to someone who is being monumentally stupid and not choking them to death.” As Foghorn Leghorn would say, “Control yourself. I say, I say, control yourself, Boy.”

Illusions What you see is NOT what you get! WYSIWYG NOT! The proverbial Cognitive Psychology 101 course uses the Mueller-Lyer diagram below to illustrate visual illusions.

© Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net

11/17/11-5

On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY

TF&S, Page 27

It is perceived by the eye (System 1) as the lower line being longer than the upper one regardless of the fact by measurement (System 2) they are of equal length. Again, this is a fabulous exemplar. As Kahneman says, “Once seen, you will not be fooled. But you will still see one line longer than the other.” These types of cognitive illusions are perceived in System 1. Acting on them as they seem to be can lead to errors or bad outcomes. You will perceive the error, but can train yourself to act or not to act. A similar situation around feelings is about the person standing outside a bar asking you for bus fare to the next town. You feel sympathy for the story you are told, but you do not believe the story to be true and therefore do not contribute any money to the erstwhile plight. As we discovered in Kahneman’s Introduction in the previous essay, this response could also be the Fallacy of Resemblance where we draw an immediate conclusion because of stereotypes—in this case: scamming no-good beggar. System 2 needs to be engaged further to resolve the situation. Problem is, as you are in a hurry to get to an appointment, you are long gone by the time you determine to give him the money. Such are the complexities and time dependencies for Knowledge Sharing as well. Probably for Knowledge sharing, the lesson is from Ronald Reagan in calling for inspections in the USUSSR’s nuclear anti-proliferation treaty, “Trust, but verify.” Trust what you see, but check it any way with an independent method and/or agent.

Useful Fiction Kahneman uses a narrative story style to impart his knowledge to us. He asserts it is considered very unprofessional. System 1 and System 2 are not little people in our heads. Stories are compelling though. There is something about a story as a container and conveyor of knowledge. Kahneman defends his approach as more efficient in describing the phenomena he is describing. “Description, not explanation” is his explanation. © Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net 11/17/11-6

On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY
He is clear to distinguish the fictional characters, System 1 and System 2, from classic systems theory which defines a system as assemblies of interacting aspects or parts. That is a bottomless rabbit hole of discussion. In TF&S, he rarely tries to elaborate the mechanisms beyond the OBSERVABLE behavior being discussed. That is the nature of behavior—observable, but not necessarily explainable.

System 1’s automatic recognition of fables, fairy tales, parables and other narrative forms seems to be wired into it for apprehension. While, I diverge from his avoidance of explanation here, it is would appear our System 1 has evolved to ingest statements in the form of <agent> <action>. Now going out on the limb farther (not too far), I posit it is intimately connected to our innate language acquisition and processing abilities. Warning: Deeper Geekier observations to follow. For Knowledge Sharing, consider the two cognitive capabilities associated with <agent><action> recognition, assimilation and retention: { [ Apprehend | Comprehend ] (<agent><action>) }

Couple these with stories depicting the 127 (2^7-1 for math geeks) possible combinations of seven deadly sins (System 1). Their 2520 (7! for math geeks) differing orders of occurrence insert interesting plot twists. Then, the appropriate muse adds conflict through the antidote, seven heavenly virtues (System 2) and all its numerical possibilities (math geeks, the situation is symmetric around sin/virtue— there are the same number as for the seven deadly sins!). Story writing is easy once you fix the parameters of sin and virtue. For Kahneman, his intelligent/informed/enlightened gossip is defined by these forms. This makes said gossip both appealing (we are all voyeurs) and quite useful (let he who is without sin cast the first stone). For Knowledge Sharing systems, narratives and templates serve well (1) to build effective Knowledge Sharing infrastructure and support applications, as well as, (2) to populate it with easily comprehensible (storing concept and knowledge) and apprehensible (acquiring concept and knowledge) content. I favor linguist Noam Chomsky’s structural, super-rational view of Language and Mind. As an early hero of mine (and subject of PhD computer science studies in computational linguistics), Chomsky was a role model. It is partly the reason I ignored the original “soft” behavioral approach of Tversky and Kahneman in their 1974 Science article. (I was in the throes of the final draft of my dissertation when I read it.) It would indeed be an interesting collaboration between Kahneman and Chomsky. They are polar opposites in terms of their approach to the mind. I’d pay a dollar to see that interaction!

© Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net

11/17/11-7

On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY
In the 70’s, I remember reading in The New York Review of Books a review on the Cromwell Revolution that cost Charles I his head. (Though much less erudite, I am channeling this type of in-depth book review here.) The reviewer remarked that Charles lost his head because he thought a political fiction, The Divine Right of Kings, to be real and acted on it. Such fictions were useful in organizing entire civilizations, but not in the day to day running them—political exigencies always prevail. Current US politics come to mind. In this case, the political fiction is “Of the people, by the people and for the people.” Kingness and Divinity are cultural universals. We have hopefully evolved, albeit slowly, to where we may believe this (System1) but we don’t act on it (System 2). Nonetheless, we still cast political leaders, sports figures, movie stars, musicians and other celebrities into this royal role. They achieve demigod and mythical status. Such is the power of fictions and these deep seated patterns of belief. Kahneman’s useful fiction is more modest. System 1 and System 2 are agents, characters in a story. That story tells tales of how we think, where we err and how we cope and learn. It is a universal apprehension/comprehension pattern. Agents and their sins and virtues are better and more quickly understood than a dry description of stimulus-response in the medulla, cortical, cerebellum and cerebral pathways. A story is mind over matter. Well, controlling matter a bit, at least. Kahneman ends Chapter 1 with a very incisive statement: “The fictitious systems make it easier for me to think about judgment and choice, and will make it easier for you to understand what I say.” To this I say, “Amen, Brother. Write on!”

© Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net

11/17/11-8

On Daniel Kahneman, Systems of Thinking and Knowledge Sharing—Part 1: THE CHARACTERS OF THE STORY
Kahneman’s Examples: Speaking of System 1 and System 2 (p. 30, TF&S)

“He had an impression, but some of his impressions are illusions” “This was a pure System 1 response. She reacted to a threat before she recognized it.” “This is your System 1 talking. Slow down and let System 2 take control.”

© Copyright 2011 David M. Sherr david@NewGlobalEnterprises.Net

11/17/11-9

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