Mathemorphosis: Common knowledge
Interactive lecture and public talk, 100-120 min
Venue: Gólya Community House and Cooperative Bar
1083 Budapest, Bókay János utca 34.
Why do we have to say, “I’m sorry, it was my fault”, even if everyone is well aware of it? How are extremist views able to dominate an entire nation? How do dictatorships function? Why is freedom of the press important? What exactly makes people take part in a demonstration? What makes money valuable? What turns a smart student into a “nerd”? What makes a thriller really good? And why do we invite someone over “to watch a movie” after a few dates?
The lecture Common Knowledge focuses on the question of what extra charge is provided by a piece of information that everyone is familiar with, when those involved are also aware of the fact that everyone else is informed of it as well. Perhaps they are even aware of the fact that all of them know that the rest of them also know that they know it… Does it make any sense at all? Not only does it make sense, but this phenomenon is at least as important as the information itself! The existence – or absence – of common knowledge has a cardinal role to play at every level of our social functioning, in both the usual games within small communities and the monumental processes of history. Therefore, common knowledge is a hidden catalyst of the information flow serving as a basis for the functioning of societies. Understanding this phenomenon can cast new light on the way alternative social initiatives, novel forms of business and communities function.
Interestingly, the difference between common knowledge and collective knowledge may be clarified by a rather cunning logical puzzle, which is actually regarded as the most difficult one by many experts. The brainteaser is about a closed community of super-intelligent beings with their strange and rigid customs. It is an intriguing starting point in itself, but is extremely far from human communities and societies. Paradoxically, however, the concept of common knowledge and the ongoing information phenomena of our society can be understood by joining our efforts to solve this brainteaser during the lecture.