Welcome To The Entanglement
July 15, 2016
It’s not just that the more we know, the more we realize how much more there is to know. It’s that the more we know, the less we seem to understand.
An earlier generation, before Galileo and Newton and Descartes, might have taken it for granted that there are realities — life, morality, freedom, God — that are simply beyond our comprehension.
What greater proof that we can understand and master reality than our ability, for example, to build a rocket, shoot it into space and hit the moon?
We have entered the Entanglement — the phrase is due to computer scientist Danny Hillis — an era in which our technologies themselves are so complex as to exceed what any of us can really grasp. It used to be thought that a “Renaissance Man” could know everything that was known. If Arbesman is right, no person alive today can even really understand everything that we human beings make.
The book is full of examples from the recent history of technology: from “correctly functioning” medical equipment administering lethal doses of radiation, to software instabilities wreaking havoc with global financial markets, to self-accelerating Toyotas.
We are like map-makers (a la Borges) whose maps are so complicated that we get lost in them