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Berlin Wisdom Model as an intelligence analysis mindset and tool

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My exposure to the criteria of the wise man, of wisdom, that has become known as the Berlin wisdom model, rose from readings of psychological studies of the elderly designed to capture the qualities of the wise person. From these articles, I extrapolated their characteristics as the goal for an intelligent knowledge agent/bot.

While the original articles remain fee-based, there is an excellent summary on line at Wisdom: A Metaheuristic (Pragmatic) to Orchestrate Mind and Virtue Toward Excellence (2000).

"Wisdom-related knowledge in life review task" (1992) reviewed research on age and wisdom, proposed a developmental model for wisdom related knowledge, a means to test it, and then compared results across occupational groups. While the results were said to be "largely relevant to psychologists," the jewel was a proposed definition of wisdom.

Distilling a "short form" of the qualities of the wise person as:

  • A fund of general knowledge
  • Procedural knowledge
  • An understanding of the relativity of values
  • An understanding that meaning is contextual
  • Acceptance of change

The original form was:

  • Factual Knowledge: General and specific knowledge about the conditions of life and its variations.
  • Procedural Knowledge: General and specific knowledge about strategies of judgment and advice concerning matters of life.
  • Life Span Contextualism: Knowledge about the contexts of life and their temporal (developmental) relations.
  • Relativism: Knowledge about differences in values, goals, and priorities.
  • Uncertainty: Knowledge about the relative indeterminacy and unpredictability of life and ways to manage.

Baltes defined "wisdom" as "good judgment about important but uncertain matters of life" and argued that there are several key characteristics that promote the development of wisdom, and old age is necessary but not sufficient. Key characteristics were seen as:

  • Older age
  • Open personality
  • Extensive training
  • Well-structured experience
  • Good mentorship in matters of life

What more can one ask of a good intelligence analyst or his or her agents and bots?

"Wisdom-related knowledge in life review task: Age differences and the role of professional specialization"
Staudinger, U., Smith, J & Baltes, P. (1992).
Psychology and Aging, Vol 7, No 2, 271-281.

"People nominated as wise: A comparative study of wisdom-related knowledge"
Baltes, P.B., Staudinger, U.M., Maercker, A., & Smith, J. (1995).
Psychology and Aging, 10,155-166.

Gordon Housworth



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