Riffs on the Society of Mind - Prologue

How do FAIR data resources work? How can you build a FAIR resource from many little parts, each non-FAIR by itself?

Minsky’s The Society of Mind tries to explain how minds can work, how intelligence can emerge from non-intelligence, how you can build a mind from many little mindless parts.

In the “society of mind” scheme, a mind is made of many smaller agents. Each agent plays a simple role that needs no mind at all. When we join enough of them, we get “mind”.

In a FAIR “mind” (e.g. a research knowledge management system), each connected resource - plans/protocols, recorded observations, information products (tables/figures/plots), assigned metadata/tags, validation/review artifacts, integration/analysis code, publication/distribution assets, data schemas / controlled vocabularies, archives – may also play a simple role that needs no “FAIRification” at all. When we join enough of them in principled ways, we get “FAIR”.

It’s much the same for shattered pots as for the cogs of great machines. Until you’ve seen some of the rest, you can’t make sense of any part.

Each part may have lots of cross-connections. It’s not clear that the parts may be arranged so that we can climb “straight to the top” together, by mental stair-steps, one by one. The parts are tangled in a Web. Let’s begin.

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