How to Navigate Information Overload – it’s Going to get Worse
I was listening to a talk by Elon Musk concerning how the human mind works in regard to gathering and sifting through data and information. His conclusion was the mind takes in enormous amounts of data and works on remembering the least amount of information gathered.
What he meant is the mind filters through huge amounts of information gathered and attempts to narrow it down to the most relevant to the topic or topics at hand.
The challenge we all face now is how to we access the rapidly increasing knowledge base and narrow it down to usable, practical pieces.
There are two answers to the challenge that will help. The first is, we need to separate the foundational knowledge concerning a specific topic from general knowledge that is built upon that foundation. The former is very limited, while the latter is virtually unlimited.
With that in mind, we can narrow down the information deemed relevant to a small amount when sifting it through a foundational prism.
What has triggered my interest in this topic is when I was thinking about history. As time goes on and more and more information and data are added to the historical record, it’s going to become literally impossible for human beings to know, let alone understand, the many players in history and the part they played in advancing or detracting from it.
One way of dealing with that is to find those people that had significant impact on history in specific niches, and build out a narrative from there. Again, the pace of the growth of information in our age is making that increasingly difficult, and close to impossible from a human standpoint.
I think to answer that there will be a need for technology-aided assistance in the form of AI, where super-fast computers will be able to rapidly search through huge amounts of gathered data and find what a person is looking for.
The key to success there will be the accurate input of data to form a trusted database for AI to draw from. This is obviously not the only function of AI, but it is an important one to take into account when thinking about how to manage information that will help us to learn and make decisions based upon a growing knowledge base.
As information continues to grow at a torrential pace, it’s going to be important to develop the mindset and technology that will help us to filter out what is irrelevant to our research or interests, and focus on that which is foundational.
That said, in very niche areas of interest, such as how to do or fix something, we have advanced to the place where most of that is readily accessible, although there is still a lot to be desired in putting together linear results that are applicable to the present. I’m thinking specifically in terms of Google search here, where a bunch of results are presented, but when doing general searches, they are all cobbled together.
It shouldn’t be on the searchers to figure out how to word things to get helpful search results that are current and up-to-date; the search engine or AI should anticipate that.
Information will increasingly need to be filtered, and we as Christians and human beings need to take that into account when doing research. Technology, when used correctly, will be of great help to us going forward, yet we still must learn to put together a framework that allows technology to be leveraged in such as way as to benefit us in our specific areas of interest.