Intelligence :
Experts and Expert Systems

What are Experts, and how do they differ from novices?

In his book, ‘The Science of the Artificial’, Herbert Simon provides some analytical justification for the belief that it takes a typical human about ten years to acquire enough working knowledge to be classed as an expert in a particular field.

He points out that it took Bobby Fisher and Judit Polgar ten years to acquire grand master status at chess. Simon also points out that there is no record of a composer producing first-rate music before completing a decade of study (with few notable exceptions eg. Mozart).

Sometimes it is easy to separate an expert from a novice. For instance, the electrician who comes to replace your house wiring may be an expert but his/her apprentice is probably not. The novice often works from explicit rules or instructions but an expert often just knows what to do. Sometimes an expert has difficulty in explaining how to do something but can easily do it. On many occasions you hear, "Let me do it, it will be easier and quicker"

Driving a car is a good example of the way knowledge may be stored differently when one acquires expertise. The learner driver may be awkward and slow and wonder how it is possible to do so many things at once. The expert driver may sometimes wonder how she got here because she seems to have been on autopilot for the last ten miles.

Knowledge Aquisition

Not too long ago, learning and acquiring knowledge were almost the same thing. Now, acquiring knowledge when done by an individual for internal storage in the brain is still called learning, but there are many other ways of acquiring knowledge and many other reasons for doing so. Acquisition is not always for the individual’s benefit. An example of this comes from the field of Knowledge Based Systems (derived from Artificial Intelligence) or Expert Systems and the existence of the knowledge engineer. This is a person whose job it is to acquire knowledge from a variety of sources, including domain experts, but not to learn it. The knowledge acquired by the knowledge engineer is then used to construct a computer based Expert System that will deliver that knowledge to others or applies the knowledge directly.The growing importance of the organisational knowledge resource or knowledge archive is also creating a need for knowledge acquisition that is not learning. In this case, acquisition may be taking place to protect or preserve the knowledge.