When one understands something, it's not so scary any more. Flight becomes a matter of lift and weight, thrust and drag, angle of attack, pitch, roll, yaw --- not a mysterious fight against the Laws of Nature. Disease becomes a matter of biochemistry, reaction rates, metabolism, cells, mutations, interacting systems and feedback loops --- not a mysterious attack by implacable evil forces. A computer glitch becomes a straightforward result of hardware or software problems, each of which has its symptoms and remedies --- not a mysterious struggle with incomprehensible machine intelligence.

Knowledge removes fear and reveals what can and can't be done. There's no need for magic incantations or divine intervention. Planes keep flying thanks to the equations of hydrodynamics; medicines work through straightforward molecular interactions; processors do as they're told because of their circuitry and the data structures and algorithms of the code that they're executing. When things begin to fail, no amount of wishing (or panic) will change the situation; reason, however, based on situational understanding may help.

Friday, November 19, 1999 at 21:08:37 (EST) = 1999-11-19


(correlates: OnSolitude, MultiplierFallacies, SpeakersToMachines, ...)