Natural Opacity

Too much fun. Off yesterday to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for another inspection by the eye cutter. Better than previous but at least one more to go through.

FD SCP made me sit through episodes of BONES last evening and for once I was engaged by something other than resonance with the Hogins character (well, that too.) The Bones character made the statement that there was no closure in life and we sometimes had to just proceed on emotional inertia (faith was the term used.) That provoked some thought about and may give rise in future to some blot.

Anyway, for now, I will continue to abide what passes for living.

On which azimuth, I ran across an article [Link] entitled “The World Depends on Technology No One Understands.” The article pretty well – meanderingly as bog journalists seem unable not to do – follow the title. This is not new. I see an article on this subject every few years going back to when I was a teenager and some guy propounded the idea in a SF pulp periodical. I forget who it was, maybe Campbell but more famously, Sir Arthur Clarke stated that

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

The implication is that magic may be learnt but not understood, at least by humans. I haven’t read anything on that by Rowling but then I don’t read much Rowling and only watch the movies on the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver and then when that’s the least bad.

Anyway, that captures part of the recurring theme of these articles. First, that ordinary people don’t understand technology, and second, that even the nerds who do understand one or more of the technologies don’t anticipate the interactions of those technologies completely. The latter is sometimes excused as unintended consequences.

The first lack of understanding isn’t new. It dates back to about the time that humans adopted an organization more complicated than the Hunter-Gatherer band. That’s band with a lower case “b”. And yes, that “B” or “b” makes a BIG difference organizationally. A big “B” Band is sufficiently large that some of its members (almost all?) don’t understand some of the technologies that members of the Band use. 

Almost immediately, we got to the point where specialization being efficient and survivable, there were technologies that no one in the organization understood except the users (or makers) thereof. And as human social organizations (society) became larger and more complicated, the number/fraction of people that understood any particular technology  became less and less.

The use of the word “complicated” is not only deliberate but essential. It involves technologies that most people, especially Bogs, who may also be characterized as people who don’t have to actually understand any technology, don’t know or understand, namely Maths and Complexity Theory.

I will NOT remedy that lack, mostly because my understanding of both is too small to teach and I am too old to put up with the frustration. 

Anyway, the idea is that as we develop more and more technologies, and fewer and fewer understand any but their own technologies (if they aren’t Bogs.) So we get surprised by unanticipated consequences, which are actually quite natural since they are the result of what is known as Emergence. And we probably can’t anticipate them because the humans who understand Emergence probably don’t understand all the technologies involved in the Emergence. 

So not only is not understanding Natural but doing anything about it is unNatural.

Maybe. Unless we develop (and control) AI?

So maybe we will make our own robot overlords?