Let's see if it is possible to build a model of the transformation process of knowledge into procedural habits. What do we have?
When you read books, blogs, magazines, talk to other people etc. you get lots of information.
By thinking about information you transform it into knowledge. What is the nature of this knowledge? In the end chessknowledge relates the characteristics of the board (input) to a certain move (output). All other knowledge is obsolete with regard to chess improvement.
The output generating process is divided into two stages which compare as 1 : N
Let's have a closer look at how knowledge generates a move.
Spectrum of knowledge.
On the gross end of the spectrum we find rules:
- Characteristic: open file
- Rule: occupy an open file with a rook
- Output: move the rook
In the middle of the spectrum we find conflicting rules:
- Characteristics: open file, king in danger
- Rules: occupy the open file, bring king into safety
- Output: move the king
At the other end of the spectrum we find concrete analysis. Whether concrete analysis gives an answer to your problem is a matter of the goal you serve with the resulting move. If the goals are too subtle, the analysis is a waste of time.
Another point is the amount of possibilities you cover with concrete analysis versus the amount of possibilities on the board. Often concrete analysis is just too time consuming in comparison to the value of the goals that you can achieve.
Spectrum of goals.
There is a whole spectrum of goals too. Winning a piece is on the gross end of the spectrum and trading a piece to get some dominance over a square is on the subtle end of the spectrum.
Transformation of knowledge.
Explicit thinking about the generation of a move is an extreme slow process. Since there are so many aspects involved it is absolute necessary that the gross part of this task is done automaticly. This is done by transforming the knowledge into habits. To transfer the knowledge to the procedural part of the brain.
How does this transformation work?
The following issues play a role:
- different pace of the procedural part and declarative part
- emotional reward
Let's have a look at a few examples first:
- To learn to drive a car takes 45 hours at average.
- Adjusting my pitch took me 22 hours. I sang 2500 tone-ladders.
- I played Troyis for 22 hours
- A crash-course skydiving took me 32 hours. Pun intended.
But are these examples really a good indicator for how long it must take to learn a new motorskill? If I seriously and consciously repeat a word of a foreign vocabulary for 7-10 times, I have learned to translate it in the future. How close is this related to a complex motorskill? Words of foreign languages tend to fade away overtime. From riding a bike and swimming is known that once you have learned it you will never unlearn it. Has that to do with the fact that you will always repeat those motions much more than 7-10 times? How many conscious repetitions are necessary to prevent a word from being forgotten during a lifetime (forget about the demency at the end of life. Pun intended.) How often must you consciously put your rook on an open file before it becomes a habit?
15 times sounds reasonable. But if 15 times is enough to form a lifetime habit, why are so many hours needed in the examples of driving, singing, Troyis and skydiving? Why know most sports so many hours of training? If you filter in with your car 15 times you know it for life. If you park your car 15 times you know it for life. If you swim 150 meters you know it for life.
It seems that lots of repetitions are needed when precision plays a main role.
For singing it isn't sufficient that you can hit a note at the right pitch by copying a note produced by a keyboard:
- You must to do it from 32 different kinds of previous notes. Since the stand of the muscles of the larinx of the previous note influences the next note. So you must exercise 15 x 32 seperate habits.
- If you maintain every note for 5 seconds, it is simple, because you have time to adjust your larinx. But the shorter the note, the more difficult it gets and the more control is needed.
- If you have learned to copy a note from a keyboard you have learned to produce the harmony do-do. But during a polyfone piece you must be able to produce any harmony with precision, so you have to repeat the two points above for all kinds of intervals.
- Once you can hit any interval fast, you must concentrate on the overtones. Those have to harmonize with the rest too. So the whole training process starts over but no for the overtones.
- Once all this is mastered you sound like a dead midi-file from a computer and you have to learn to make music from the notes by adding emotion to it. But how do you do that? etc. etc..
- Not only must you know all this but you must train your ears too. You must learn how a harmony must sound, how overtones sound. There are altered sounds reflecting from the walls, transmitted through your skull etc.. All this you must learn to distinguish.
The same is true for chess. You must learn an awful lot of habits to master chess. The resulting semi-intelligence is as good as the quality of the initial knowledge. If your consciousness starts to dwindle the process of transformation of knowledge into habits will stall immediately.
Knowledge that isn't consciously processed into procedural memory becomes impotent phantom knowledge. It is assimilated into the stinky pool of scholarship. It will sink into the marsh like a hippopatamus!
There is no limit in the amount of knowledge that can be transformed into procedural knowledge. Nor will the amount of repetitions necessary to store the information differ much.
The limitations of the process seem to be due to the following factors:
- the quality of the knowledge
- the quality of the consciousness
- the sheer amount of subtasks
There are some big advantages when knowledge is ingrained in procedural memory.
Procedural memory can produce output at a much higher pace than the slow explicit thinking brain. Besides that it can process information parallel.
Visualisation of the output is something you seem to get for free when knowledge is transformed.
In contrast to explicit thinking there is virtual no effort needed in the procedural processing of data.
Procedural tasks don't need the short term memory (STM) while explicit thinking can't do without STM.
A problem is though that the output is only semi-intelligent. If you have learned impropriate habits the outcome will be faulty moves.
The output of your procedural "chessmodule" must be constantly monitored by your conscious thinking. You have to identify faulty moves and to define what is necessary to correct them. The result of the feedback re-enters the process as new knowledge.
According to my interpretation of Baars, consciousness is paramount in the feedback.
- The lowest form of consciousness is automatic. Here you will find the blitz-players with a rating of 1200 after zillion games.
- The next level is trial and error. This works well when the result of a move is gross and well-defined, so as the win of material. But if the result of a move is subtle the correction will escape you since more effort is needed to develop a strategy.
- The next level are narratives. Those help you to identify what has gone wrong and to develop a strategy to do it better next time. Every new strategy needs its repetitions to become a new habit.