vendredi 26 novembre 2010

Knowledge ruins its object

There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of mankind and of our planet. Human beings are quite smart, and so far have been able to find a way out of severe crises, be it ecological, social or economical. Coal mines saved the forests from over-exploitation, mineral fertilizers saved us from hunger, antibiotics saved us from many infectious diseases. But there is something that may put this optimism into question. This is something I would call “stupidity factor”. If we are able to find a positive solution to a problem, we can sometimes express it with a positive number. Be it rise of standard of living, survival rates of cancer patients, productivity of crops, e.t.c. But this positive number must always be multiplied by another number that is necessarily smaller than 1. This positive number s: 0 < s < 1 is the stupidity factor. We must take it into account in all our predictions connected with human activity, human decision-making. Predicting that the GNP of a nation rises for about 10% in next decade, we must multiply it with s. The result is less than 10%. More information does not always mean more knowledge, the s comes in here too.

The s is not something that can be avoided, it is an intrinsic part of the human condition, and certainly of the most fundamental laws of the universe we inhabit. It is a corollary of the law of increase of entropy that is valid in the universe as well as in our brain, a micro-model of this universe, a microcosm simulating the processes of the macrocosm. The principle of increase of entropy means that the value of s must be less than 1, it has a negative influence on our productivity, on the results we want to achieve. It introduces mistakes into our texts, faults into our ethnology, into our theories, economies... In principle, these mistakes can be corrected, faults faulted. Our brain is not a closed system, we can put into it some information, some negative entropy harvested from outside. But this comes at a price, the price means that something in a bigger system must be changed, degraded, some of its positive measures (as e.g. its complexity) must be multiplied by s. We can learn, diminish our stupidity by reading books, surfing in the internet, listening to wiser people, thinking, trying to find solutions to our problems. But we cannot be sure that what we learn is free of mistakes, whether we want it or not, we take over some of other people's faults. And unavoidably we introduce some more “mistakes” into our environment. Having more books means destroying more trees, surfing in the internet means wasting more energy, increasing the entropy on our planet. And as ourselves, our civilization, our culture and any ecosystem can survive and thrive only in limited conditions, in a limited interval of temperature, moisture, pressure, the degradation of our environment means that we are diminishing the chances of our own survival in future. Our knowledge is always infected with stupidity, the s is present in everything we think and do. Constructing something, we deconstruct it or something else. Our actions have always some negative results. Our knowledge ruins its object.

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