Showing posts from March, 2010

Systems of Complexity

If we were to replace our bodies, one atom at a time, would we be the same person? One would think this would be the case. Every 10 years, every cell in our body will have been replaced at least once, with bone marrow taking the longest to renew. Most of the body renews every 7 years. Our bodies are an ecosystem not unlike any other. Take the sea – remove and replace it one atom at a time and no fish will notice. Replacing larger pieces will cause problems for its inhabitants, but it will soon renew itself. Replace a large proportion, and this will likely have huge implications for the entire ocean. As it is with humans, replacing one small section at a time would be easily accounted for and would not have any dramatic effect on the system as a whole. This is a dramatic realisation – for what are we if not our bodies? We are not single entities. We are systems, and we are made from smaller systems, which in turn are made from smaller systems. Cells take in matter from our food

Is Google too Big? Size isn't important, it's what you do with it that counts

There's no doubt that Google is the "Ford" of the day, pioneering a new industry which is changing our lives on a fundamental level. With this in mind, it was only a matter of time before this monopolistic driving of our destinies was called to question. I recently attended a debate held by Spiked which asked the question "Has Google got too big?" As a debate, it was relatively tame, given that no one person was strongly on the side of either "yes" or "no". However, this was due mainly to the complexity of the question, so as a discussion, it became rather in depth. Size Doesn't Matter Proponents of Google tried to void the argument, pointing out that the use of the adjective "big" was irrelevant, and that size had no implications, and that we should be asking ourselves whether they are "good" or "evil". While this is true, there's no doubt that Google's size is intimately connected to its &qu

Machines to Run Society?

Sum of all Thrills Robot Arm by tom.arthur Many people have an aversion to automated machines and computers running things. There are likely two reasons for this. The first is due to the lack of trust we place in automation. This is mainly due to their track record. Machines have proved themselves to be unreliable in the past, and need to do a lot to regain our trust. Secondly, machines have been known to make mistakes that are "machine" in nature, exposing human qualities that we took for granted. In other words, they will miss seemingly obvious details, or make mistakes relating to the human experience. So it's not surprising that people don't really trust machines yet. They're not as good as humans in some areas yet they have superseded us in others. This also leads to discontent when humans see their jobs disappear as a result. It's a shame that machines have developed such a bad reputation, because they don't really deserve it. Most of their