What's outside of here?

Writing computer code is a funny business, fundamentally an exercise in taking a random walk across many abstract concepts to achieve some more concretely defined goal. Different people will see this 'abstractness' in different ways. Personally, the only ground truth I find is in the symbolic representation of programs that guide these machines we call computers, but even that is a fiction in some sense. Symbol and switching rates do have physical limitations, so there is an upper bound on the expressions of programs, but everything between that and the act of naming things are ultimately figments of our imagination. Some might even question if we're all that good at it anyway.

I make this preface to highlight a sentiment I occasionally run across, that there are easily discernible levels of abstraction in programming and information technology in general, some more concrete or 'real' than others. This quality of realism might even be mistaken for objective truths of one matter or the other, to the point that our software artifacts end up mutating our collective reality, or at least skewing it to the point of appearing real.

It's my opinion that, it is the act of seeking the ultimate truth of everything in these tools that leads us astray. I don't believe this is an original thought, but seeing the rapid incursion of "AI" and other algorithmic systems into our lives and the objects around us gives me pause. Doctors take the hippocratic oath and generally respect the limits of medicinal practice, but there are some overeager technologists who seem to revel in the manifestation of their truth, regardless of the consequences.

Our imagination's ability to manifest is both awe-inspiring and terrific, and I think we owe it to ourselves to be even more imaginative on the whole. I make no general prescription of what that should look like, it would defeat the point. However, I think on the whole we're digging a pretty complex rut that might be difficult to get out of later.

Date: 2024-05-15 Wed 00:00

Author: john

Created: 2024-06-14 Fri 00:43