We’re generating data at an exponential rate, everything we do produces more and more it. This isn’t a new phenomenon, what is new is our ability to store vast amounts of it. As it becomes impossible to reason about such volumes of data, so we turn to smart tools and intelligent machines for assistance.

This raises many interesting questions about what we can achieve from the intelligent processing of large amounts of data. It has given prominence to the ideas of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Also, it leads us to revisit age-old philosophical questions about the nature of knowledge and what it means to learn. Do you need an organic brain to ever be classified as intelligent? Can intelligence exist without sentience?

My interest in this subject centres around the acquisition of knowledge by humans and whether, in an age where knowledge workers spend their working lives typing at computers keyboards or talking on digital telephones, can machine determine that learning is taking place. My hope is that by observing knowledge acquisition in humans, the machines can understand what is being learned, and how (possibly why) this learning took place.