Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Natural Life

"Science progresses one funeral at a time" Max Planck. Two of the reason I believe human intelligence is growing is that we don't know what others do, and we die. 

With most systems, there is the Legacy Tradeoff. They get progressively more complicated, and have an attached switching cost. The system works, with problems, and starting again is an absolute mission. There are known issues, but you live with them because nothing you can replace it with is any better.

Most historical figures look awful by our measures. Stalin and Churchill defeated Hitler! Yay! Stalin and Churchill were responsible for millions of deaths! Boo! Rhodes Scholarships! Yay! Cecil Rhodes the Racist Imperialist! Boo! Norway Sovereign Wealth Fund! Yay! Built off Oil! Boo! Nothing is as clear as we would like it to be. Evil people love their kittens and kids too.

Like when well-meaning older generations say cringe-worthy things, that used to be "completely acceptable". It is very hard to unlearn scripts and behaviours. We are also supposed to look up to the elders, but the world is changing so fast that there are no longer people who have experienced many of the challenges we are facing. Unlearning is a far more powerful tool than learning. We learn like sponges. Unlearning takes effort.

The advantage of the "we don't know what others do" means we can try lots of different approaches. A single person's life is pretty small. In the context of others, in the context of time, and the context of impact. Life cycles and generations help us get a balance between passing on the good bits in an ordered fashion, and letting the #Awkward moments fade.

Countries, Businesses, Religions, and various other institutions could likely also benefit from a degree of this "Natural Life". A balance between Conservation and Creative Destruction. Those of us with the bold new ideas, should also have the humility to realise our grandchildren are likely to cringe too.

Time moves on

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