1% Everyday – is knowledge enough? … a case for experience

Mary’s room thought experiment

The thought experiment was originally proposed by Frank Jackson as follows:

“Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like “red”, “blue”, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal cords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence “The sky is blue”. … What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not?” – wikipedia

TED talk explainer video:

Consider the following:

  • Mary knows more than anyone but has never experienced color – do you want Mary to design something with color?
  • Is it sufficient for one person to do the research and learn all about the users/customers and then pass that information to another person to “know” the customer?
  • If the person designing does not have the experience but only the knowledge, what are they missing? Does it matter? When does it matter?
  • How do we communicate the difference between knowing what the customer wants and experiencing what the customer lives to our clients?
  • How do we use this thought experiment to optimize what we “know” and “do”?

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