On the Plumage of birds

Before discovery of Australia, people in the Old World were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seems completely confirmed by empirical evidence.

The sighting of the first black swan might have been an interesting surprise for a few orninthologists, but that is not where the significance of the story lies. It ilustrates a severe limitation to our edge. One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millennia of confirmatory sightings of millions of swans.

All you need is one single black bird.

…What we call a black swan is an event with the following three attributes.

First, is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outliers status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact , making it explainable and predictable.

— The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It’s been quite some time since my last blog, and here I am again. This time I found in a book of economics to one more time show a property of technology. The unpredictability of the future is in part caused by the fast pace of changes, and by the fact that it gets faster every year.

Our mind (the physical part), as well as our mentality (the intellectual side), needs time to adapt to change, and from a certain point, we tend to believe that the old is better., –in other words, we get old — ignoring the evolutionary nature of change.
We’re are always adapting, and it’s been like that for the last centuries. In fact, our capacity to adapt is vital to our survival as species in such a hostile environment.

And from our evolutionary capacity, technology grows and evolves.

But I’d rather say that the point here is predictability. The capacity to foreseen with accuracy near term events. The capacity to use it to promote even further evolution, breaking paradigms at the same time creating conditions for improvement.

Flying cars, cyborg humans, artificial intelligence, ubiquitous connection, instant response are still part of our dream of a future, though much more reachable then ever. What surprises our predictive capacity are limitation of data processing, or the uncertainty factor. At some point, we have to abstract. We have to assume premises to make valid conclusions. And reality is a dynamic environment, moving to every side at every time. An uncontrollable number of variables is in place.

Soon artificial intelligence processing capacity of a single device will overcome the human brain in taking effective, good decisions, considering complex problems. In fact, machines will be better decision makers, risk takers than a regular person, like you and I.

In another time span, the same device will have processing power equivalent to all human brains combined, taking the decision making process to another level, as well as our belief and understanding of our own nature.
Are you ready for that?



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