The Difference Between Information and Knowledge

March 31, 2022
3 min read
Microsoft Italia and iGenius bring the Generative AI into the world of numbers

What is the difference between information and knowledge, and which would you choose over the other?

Our CEO, Uljan Sharka, engaged the audience at TEDxPadova with an interactive presentation on the power of knowledge.

Information Is Power, But Not Knowledge

Though we all may start from looking at the same data — the pixels on a picture, for example — the way our individual minds put that data into context and extract value from it varies greatly.

As philosopher John Locke said, “the mind is furnished with ideas by experience alone” — human knowledge is the result of experience.

Raw data is not information, and information alone is not knowledge, but data is the basis on which knowledge is built, Uljan explained.

In ancient history, the Romans’ cursus publicus, a precursor of the postal system, is one of the first examples of how access to and control of information can be key to achieving political and military success.

In modern history, the control of information — or lack thereof — was a determining factor in the outcome of World War II.

Uljan Sharka at the Tedx in Padova

Information Can Go Wrong

In the era of big data, everything we do is tracked and masses of data are collected and stored every day.

The Google Flu debacle in 2013 illustrated how raw data without the right interpretation and context can lead to potentially dangerous conclusions.

The 2014 Pinterest faux-pas is a perhaps more lighthearted example of information gone wrong: the social network sent emails to a number of its users offering them a discount on wedding invites and congratulating them, except they were not getting married at all, they simply happened to have “pinned” friends and relatives’ wedding pictures.

Decision Time

Half way through, Uljan asked his audience to make a decision to determine the presentation’s ending — Black Mirror style. He asked them to choose between information and knowledge. 99% went for the latter.

“We are at a crossroads”, he said.

We have a choice before us and we don’t have to die to be reborn. We simply need smarter humans.

“People fear computers will become too smart and take over the world. The thing is, they are very stupid and they have already taken over the world.”

“For information to have value, we need human knowledge to put it into context”. In this sense, according to Uljan, “technology can help as a tool that will enable society to reach its higher goals”. Knowledge however has to be the baseline.

Knowledge is the human superpower. Let’s put it to good use.

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