Although the AI paradigm is useful for building knowledge-based systems for the applied natural sciences, there are dangers when it is extended into the domains of business, law and other social systems. It is misleading to treat knowledge as a commodity that can be separated from the context in which it is regularly used. Especially when it relates to social behaviour, knowledge should be treated as socially constructed, interpreted and maintained through its practical use in context. The meanings of terms in a knowledge-base are assumed to be references to an objective reality whereas they are instruments for expressing values and exercising power. Expert systems that are not perspicuous to the expert community will lose their meanings and cease to contain genuine knowledge, as they will be divorced from the social processes essential for the maintenance of both meaning and knowledge. Perspicuity is usually sacrificed when knowledge is represented in a formalism, with the result that the original problem is compounded with a second problem of penetrating the representation language. Formalisms that make business and legal problems easier to understand are one essential research goal, not only in the quest for intelligent machines to replace intelligent human beings, but also in the wiser quest for computers to support collaborative work and other forms of social problem solving.