The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tim Hartford Ted Talk

Tim Hartford gives a Ted talk discussing trial and error and the God Complex. He defines the god-complex as a belief that no matter how complex the situation or problem a person faces, that person believes they are infallibly right. Hartford says the antidote to this problem is trial and error.

The real advantage of trial and error really is that it allows us to solve problems that surpass our ability to understand them. I remember I was reading Ray Kurzweil a long time ago, and he argued at one point, basically, that evolution is a sort of simplistic intelligence. Because it works through trial and error, it can produce living things of intelligence that far surpass itself (like us humans, for example), though, because it is rather simple and crude, it moves slowly, very slowly. Kurzweil was, of course, talking about the singularity and making a point about how with much more sophisticated intelligences like humans and, some day, super-intelligent machines, we can accelerate this evolution. But the relevant insight for us here is that the great advantage of trial and error is that it's the means to successfully accomplish things that we only something much smarter than us could comprehend.

Hartford calls it an antidote to the God-complex, simply because it so elegantly shows us that we don't understand things that we think we understand. But he ends with the point that, though everyone knows that trial and error is great, it's criminally underutilized because the God-complex is so seductive. There are so many people that are so confident that they are right, and since people believe much more in people who are much more confident, such people have influence, all too much influence, I'm afraid.

No comments:

Post a Comment