As a society, we have become capable of building things we don't fully understand. The difference between what a thing does and what you expect it to do can lead to uncertainty, confusion, fear, and vulnerability. But it's not just the technology that falls short of our ideals. It should come as no surprise that humans have diverse emotions and motives. Values differ. Feelings get hurt, people get frustrated. Words are misinterpreted. Incentives promote individual choices that conflict with each other. What's good for the individual is sometimes bad for the collective, and vice-versa. And so, we're left to muddle through. To confront each day as an opportunity to learn, another chance to improve, and make tomorrow start a little better than yesterday ended. We scan the horizon to reduce surprise. We test for flaws, we probe for weaknesses, and we identify recurring patterns and themes that lead to undesired outcomes. We fix what we can, mitigate what we can't fix, and remain vigilant over what we can't mitigate. We coordinate vulnerability disclosure because we realize we're all in this together.
Thanks for reading.
- S. Arbesman, Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension, Current, 2016.