A Debate

M: It’s essential that some human mind understand a solution, otherwise it’s pretty much useless.

Me: I don’t see why. Your car fuel injection is operated by a tiny computer, you needn’t know the inner workings thereof, only that it works well.

M: Yes, but somebody produced this computer and at least he should understand it.

Me: I don’t see why. It could be artificially invented as well.

M: But it isn’t.

Me: Perhaps not, but let me give you another example. Unilever makes powder detergents out of liquid raw materials. Just by pumping it through a specially shaped nozzle, of which no one  understands the specifics that make it function. In fact, they employed a brilliant physicist back in the days, when those powders were still quite wet.

J: I remember that!

Me: A few scientist tried to construct a more optimal nozzle and they all failed. Then they decided to go with random non-perfect copying of the existing nozzle and selecting the alpha one among the offspring. The alpha gets the right to be copied and then another alpha succeeds it. After several generations they had an amazingly good nozzle that nobody understands.
M: One day we will!

Me: I doubt it. We don’t even understand why Navier–Stokes equations work so well, but do we really care? The Clay Institute is offering a million dollars to anyone who can explain them. And someday someone will probably do it. But who will ever care about the technical description of the Unilever nozzle?  We will never understand it fully, but we will continue to use it for billions of laundry washings.

M: There were people involved in this nozzle breeding!

Me: Sure, thank all of them, including the cleaning lady who cleaned the mess after the nozzle breeders. But still, it is a real innovation that no human mind can even grasp, yet we use it every day.

M & J: A mere mechanical process can’t invent a thing!

Me: What about a perfect stone to skin an animal? It was just lying there until one of our ancestors picked it up and used it for years?

J: That was Nature!

Me: Yet another tool which was not invented? Nature gave us strawberries too!

J: But in the case of cereals, we needed to improve the grains.

Me: No, we just gathered some existing ones. We have been doing and still do this to this day, when we can finally genetically modify corn, among other things, which you don’t want to eat it anyway. See the irony?

J: We have to have a more constructive debate, don’t you think?

Me: It was you two who wrongly claimed that “a couscous human has to understand”! I was only pointing out your error.

J: Still, we have to see what can be done here and now!

Me: Humans are full of bullshit. And those bullshit axioms in their heads have bad consequences on the validity of their thoughts and claims. Whenever you detect an error in your thinking, correct it!

M: This is a minor error, if an error at all.

Me: I don’t think so. It was (still is?) an axiom inside your axiom system, which spoils your thinking process.

M: Which axiom?

Me: An axiom, prevalent in human minds such as yours, all over the world. Namely that a human mind needs to understand every detail. I say, that that isn’t the case. You don’t know how to prove Pythagoras’s theorem. Most people don’t. So what?

M: At least someone has to be able to!

Me: I don’t see why. As I said, nobody understand the Navier-Stokes equations, yet we use them all the time.

M: Navier-Stokes understood them.

Me: Those two died without comprehending them, long ago as well.

M: But if we understood them, we could use them more effectively!

Me: Very likely, yes. But a computer program could modify those equations to be even better. We still wouldn’t understand them, but they might be even more useful. Perhaps we would even actually understand them, thanks to this computer modification! I am not against understanding, I love to understand, but sometimes we can do without.

J: Somebody ought to make such a program.

Me: Perhaps somebody who doesn’t even know what they mean. Quite possible. Human understanding was never that essential. It was good whenever it occurred, but in this complex world it is becoming less and less important or necessary.


J: There are no axioms in my head!

Me: Sure there are! One of them being: “I do not operate as an axiom system calculator!” One of my axioms is, that everyone does just that. Having your axioms, you exercise them in repeating them loudly, making theorems out of them, with the very logic that you internalized. It’s just a part of your axiomatic system. You can’t think or say anything that isn’t in concordance with the axioms you hold. If your system is inconsistent, you can say just about anything. Then it’s worthless.

J: It is too narrow a view! We are not like robots, we are much more complex.

Me: Never in the history of the world, has anyone said a word, which wouldn’t be a theorem within his axiomatic system. That system is not static however. You should keep it as clean, concise and updated as possible!

M: Mechanics are primitive and stupid. You can’t have real innovation using mechanics.

Me: Whatever is calculable, is calculable with the Turing machine. This is called the Church-Turing thesis. I happen to have it among my axioms, you two obviously don’t. It’s okay if you don’t, I will not force you to adopt it. It’s a gap between minds. There are a lot of gaps, some even inside one mind. But since you claimed that you have no internal axioms, I confessed that I do. It’s a free country. Even if it wasn’t, those are my views. Your views are more common, if I may say so. But do express them, confront them and thereby become wiser!

J: Have you ever felt the beauty of a sunset?

Me: Sure. And of the rainbow. And of the double rainbow, which almost made me cry.

J: Really?

Me: No, it’s just a reference to a video posted on Youtube, Google it!

J: I am not very happy with the direction of our discussions. We have a lot of productive stuff to explore, but still we always end in this singularitarian gibberish of yours. When will the Earth become uninhabitable?

Me: If we leave it as is, in less than a billion years.

J: A lot of time then.

Me: Maybe, but it’s not our time.

J: It is other people’s time, still people’s time!

Me: That’s about three times as much as it has passed since our fish-like ancestors came to dry land. Do you think evolution has stopped? In a million years we will evolve into God knows what. Perhaps simple monkey again? Or extinct monkeys?

J: Let’s lead a sustainable lifestyle, with a minimum impact on Nature, it’s the best strategy. This way we can prosper another 30000 years.

Me: We can’t do that. A baby is born every 0.3 seconds, bringing about 5 heritable mutations with him or her which amounts to one million mutations of the human genome, every 24 hours. Mostly, these mutations aren’t significant, but some are. We are undergoing evolution in overdrive. A thousand times faster than it was 10000 years ago. We don’t have a sustainable option at all. We are not standing on a fixed platform, we are standing on an accelerating conveyor belt. Sustainability isn’t an option not just because of our inner body evolution, but also because of ever faster evolving technology, which moves and accelerates even faster!

J: We can live only here and now, so we must act accordingly. The illusion of conquering space that they had in the 50’s and the 60’s of the last century is over. Today, we thankfully abandoned the space adventure and returned to Earth.

Me: You are asking me, why I’m always telling you this stuff? One reason is, that you keep asking. Another reason is this: This way you will be unable to say one day – Why oh why, haven’t you mentioned it, if you knew before?

J: Still, what can we do here and now about earthly problems?

Me: I have been doing it virtually all my life.

J: It might serve your productivity to be such a fanatic. But this has no real merit.

Me: Excuse me, I have developed some very nifty tools, some of which are running at this very moment!

J: Yes, I don’t want to deny it, but I still think we should concentrate more every day needs.

Me: That’s the prerogative of those who are doing something. And those who choose to buy it, also have a say. I don’t see any other way.

J: We have to make this world a better one.

Me: Well, this should be an emergent property of our activities.

J: Why?

Me: I don’t know which gadget is good and which is bad, but users will eventually decide.  Picking a better one for a smaller price changes the world automatically.  Consumerism is the second essential blessing since it provides guidance. Creating a country, everybody will want to migrate to is better than a country from which everybody will want to escape. No matter that the founding fathers of both countries were such and such pricks/heroes. The founders of neither country knew the real outcome thereof. But we have a product now.

Me: The same goes for every other article. People either want it or they don’t thereby deciding the direction of the world’s progress.

Me: The third crucial component is our ability to produce various and new articles which grows exponentially.

Me: So we have three things now: the ability to create something, the deciding mass of humans deciding what they like and how much they want it and the exponential growth of our expertise in creating new goods.

Me: Where will these three factors lead us? To a holiday resort that nobody will want to leave ever again. And which everyone will want to visit at least once.  A perfect black hole party spot.

This is one possible outcome, far more rational than all the moralistic crap we have to listen to all the time. It only takes an entrepreneur some time in the next decade.  A SuperGates, or a SuperJobs.

J: Please, don’t expose the innocents to this kind of ideas!

Me: They already know it somehow, they aren’t that innocent.


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