Thursday, November 6, 2008
We have 'good', how about 'human'?
We have 'good'. There are a lot of 'good' things in the world, cheaper cars, better toasters, smarter phones, bigger airplanes, etc. These 'good' things come from technology. Engineers tinkering away and getting paid the big bucks to come up with more 'good'. We have that, and we have a process to get more. However, I believe that the process to get more 'good' is reaching a critical problem. Really a couple of problems. First, there is no ending condition for 'good'. 'Good' can always be 'better'. There is always just one more thing to do, one more attribute to increase, one more factor to optomize. This is because the world is messy and imperfect and kind of crazy, but the engineers and business-folks who want 'good' will never admit it. The second problem is that 'good' also includes 'good' cost. In other words, the cost of designing, producing, shipping, and consuming 'good' things is dropping. In fact, cheaper is part of being 'good'. So these two problems get us one thing: never ending increases in quality combined with never ending drops in cost. And then the world gets its say, and kind of ruins it... or at least tarnishes.
So, we have a lot of 'good'. But do we have enough 'human'? To me, the human-ness of something admits the messy nature of the world. The uncertain nature of our reality. The conflicting nature of our decisions. The ordinary, everyday, profound ambivilence that consumes us all. On one hand, it's disabling because there is never any certainty. On the other, it's great because it means we can always act right from the here and now. Humans are finite. There is an upper bound. Despite the messy, uncertain world, people make decisions all the time. We go on regardless. And I'm talking something that '80% is good enough' kind of reasoning can capture. I'm talking about the world that blows a probability space away. Poeple act right from the seat of their pants, right from here and now, and don't even realize the power that's there or what kind of odds it overcomes. And yet here we are, and yet here we are.
What kind of technology is 'human'? And where can we get more?