Thursday, August 19, 2021

Why Things Bite Back, Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

This is a good book for people who believe "technology will solve everything". 

For people with a shred of common sense, it is a bunch of examples of what everyone knows. There are always side effects, trade offs, collateral damage, etc.  

Antibiotics create resistant strains. So do flu vaccines. The "experts" tell us that they will be weaker, but they used to tell us we can get Covid behind us. Perhaps the CDC should read this book and have a little humility -- when you take MASSIVE action with no longitudinal studies, we often find out that the "cure" is worse than the disease. 

Of course we have gotten to the point where considering potential unforeseen problems is a "conspiracy theory". 

On page 71, "A certain sense of well being was required before people could advance to a new level of worrying". 

We live in the age of anxiety. We stack "safety" on top of "safety" until life gets so "safe" and boring, that the suicide rate goes up. 

Page 28, "When the percentage of GNP devoted to medical care began it's sharp ascent in the late '50s, 92% of the decline in mortality in this century had already been achieved". 

The old Pareto principle (80/20) has become the 90/10 principle. Now 10% of the improvement takes 90% of the effort. And the idea of more people shuffling around with painful physical ailments or Alzheimer's really an "improvement"? Do you want to end up vacantly staring like Joe Biden?

"Experts" have severely wounded "common sense". It is so obvious it is amazing they may need a book like this, but it is highly unlikely they will even consider it. 

The human choice some ration of sknowin "Nothing about everything, or everything about nothing". We have a finite brain to deal with an effectively infinite universe. We have much to be humble about, but typically are not. 

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