Definition: ability to determine the deeper meaning
or significance of what is being address.
As smart machines take over rote, routine manufacturing
and services jobs, there will be an increasing demand for the
kinds of skills machines are not good at. These are higher level
thinking skills that cannot be codified. We call these
sense-making skills, skills that help us create unique insights
critical to decision making.
When IBM’s supercomputer, Deep Blue, defeated chess
grand master Gary Kasparov, many took this of a sign of its
superior thinking skills. But Deep Blue had won with brute
number-crunching force (its ability to evaluate millions of possible
moves per second), not by applying the kind of human
intelligence that helps us to live our lives. A computer may be
able to beat a human in a game of chess or Jeopardy by sheer
force of its computational abilities, but if you ask it whether
it wants to play pool, it won’t be able to tell whether you are
talking about swimming, financial portfolios, or billiards.
As computing pioneer Jaron Lanier points out, despite
important advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) research it is
still the case that, “if we ask what thinking is, so that we can
then ask how to foster it, we encounter an astonishing and
terrifying answer: we don’t know.”1 As we renegotiate the
human/machine division of labor in the next decade, critical
thinking or sense-making will emerge as a skill workers
increasingly need to capitalize on.