Sunday, July 19, 2015

Many truths

One motivation for this post was seeing this headline for an article (WSJ): 'Smart Cities' Will Know Everything About You. The other motivation has to do with talents that get ignored in the modern age which we must discuss and keep in focus.

First, I must mention my reaction to the article. After seeing the headline, I thought, oh no, we have not even, properly, handled issues that relate to "undecidability" (note, please, usage beyond that associated with Turing). Then, the next thought was that this type of thinking is what is behind the growing, insidiously so, cloud that is falling as a mesh on our future and freedoms (and that of our progeny).

Finally, while reading the article, I saw that the ugly crowd called "marketers" kept coming up; yes, those who buy data in order to manipulate people (in finance, this means the gaming of the ca-pital-sino). The article does touch upon the issues, such as privacy, lack of control, and such.

In the end, the writer says that things would not be Orwellian "if businesses act responsibly" (pigs fly?).


We have grown dependent upon the engineering/technology viewpoint as it has been known to get things done; progress requires this type of applied science. But, how many modern advances have had deleterious results far beyond any benefit that might have ensued (ah, consider why we need to worry about the enmeshing)? As well, we do have people who sell. In fact, some feel that the economy is mostly made up by consumer activity. Too, some of the Beats (below) pushed financial schemes. Too, we have the artists who support marketing and public relations (respectable, of course - if they behave - who defines the rules?). Then, we have the big pockets (I have left out several classes - say, labor, and many more) who pull things together (some like to coin themselves as capitalists, though they are really oligarchs).


Now, let’s get to the other motivation. My cognitive framework is so wrapped around truth engineering's particulars for several reasons. As such, a balanced view is important (we will establish this part of the requirement); balance looks at all sides, even the counterculture (below). And, while reading things like the-above article, the "Beats" come to mind due to the specific time frame of that phenomenon (though, the early American experience had nonconformists, too; actually, the main intent of the emigres was to remove themselves from something to which they could not conform). So, we can use the Beats as the point of origin; post the Beats, we had the Free Speech activities, Civil Rights workings, Hippies lolling about, ..., and, of late, the conglomeration named Occupy Wall Street. In other words, that which has a strong element of iconoclastic-ness and nonconformity has been a continual presence in a not-small part of the population for 60+ years.

Activism, as well, comes to mind; in that case, there are as many variations as there are truths that we need to engineer. Unfortunately, “activism” includes things like hedge funds trying to force businesses to make decisions that maximize the return for their (the hedge fund’s) investors (so much to say there).


One thing that needs immediate attention: truth and what it is. People get puzzled about truth, especially about the need for "truth" engineering. I asked a scientist to define truth, without mentioning whether I meant the big or little one (as in "T" or "t"). He, to my surprise, went to the big side without blinking an eye.

You see, science is not (supposed to be) of that ilk (except, is it that Truth and Science are equivalent? - pun). Science deals with a whole lot of little "t's" (though the cosmologists like to browbeat everyone into accepting their "itty bitty" views about the largeness of Creation (intentional big "C" which is at this point unqualified; people have grappled with these things for eons - the new factor deals with computers, networks, and insidious stuff like the cloud - so, we're starting from scratch here - or, taking a constructive approach, if you would) as that worldview of science is supposed to be provisional (very hard for humans to do). Yet, engineers have to firm things up in order to work, so right there is a quandary (engineering as applied science – which tends toward Scientism in too many cases).


Recently, I got reminded of an old friend, namely Charles Sander Peirce. You see, his work (as well as that of many others) gives us part of our prowess in abductive approaches. We'll get back to that, for sure.


But, to continue on about truth: how many truths are there? Some claim that there are as many as there are people. But, one can bring in situational truths, to boot. Let's just say this, even the big "T" side of things is multiple. Why? For one thing, we have issues of interpretation (which, for the most part, come from free will – yes, how about the neuropeptidergic bag?).


And, as we know, a lot of truth has to do with power (all sorts, even that of politicos). That is, overbearing-ness is a common human trait (oh Lord, deliver us). But, of that power ilk, those who score highly on tests  (yes, the so-called best-and-brightest) are of the worst variety (see below).

That is, so what that they can solve problems with a laser-like focus and do so quickly? Consider: is the sum total of all of the possible laser foci reality (yes, that is not a misstatement - look at topology, please)? Well, some seem to think so. Too, are the sum total of all people's views reality?

Aside1: Humans, please, get over yourselves (and your selfies) - that which is called "Pluto" was there long before we became aware of such. The world was here long before your entrance glorified the realm of existence.

Aside2: Yet, were we not made in the Image (purposefully left dangling)?


Since people are so involved in truth, and what it is, we can look at categories. For starters, we can take two. On the one side are those who excel at STEM. Now, mind you, some of these are the best-and-brightest. But, no, not all of the b-and-b are good at mathematics. STEMers, for a large part, might do well since they can focus and filter without expending much energy. Others might be more like the turtle (however, in some cases, slow and thorough beats quick and dirty). For instance, some types of dyslexia make it hard to handle things like numbers. There are other examples. Engineers, by design of the discipline, do STEM.

Now, what is the other side? Before we look at that, please be aware that some who are of this ilk can do STEM, too (The blogger – he will quote Von Neumann who said that we do not understand mathematics, we get used to it.  True, operationally. But, mathematics is more discovered than created). So, what is it about this non-STEM side that is of essence? Intuition, for the most part (that which is behind creativity and other great talents).

There is much to discuss, here. But, poets, painters, and others demonstrate the facility. In this case, we will use the Beats as the example of a type of truth processing. The reasons for this choice will be apparent when the discussion continues with a later post.

Remarks:   Modified: 07/27/2015

07/19/2015 -- This post was done using a professional editor implying that a new process will be put into place.

07/27/2015 -- Another poster boy popped up the other day.

No comments: