Who does technology think we are?



Many thanks for your good replies. Reading them makes me smarter :slight_smile:

Taleb doesn’t say he is the originator of certain ideas. He certainly pays tribute to Bacon et al. His effort is to bring these disparate sources together and to generate a new theory from them. And despite his tone, which you mentioned before, he asserts he is modest and circumspect. (The anecdote about his mother’s valuation of him, which I hope you got to in the book, is very funny.) If he sounds as if he is speaking through a megaphone, it is because he is impassioned. I believe we ourselves are sometimes guilty of that on this forum :wink: .

Furthermore, he does talk about the application of certain aspects of his theory in other fields, such as military assessment of risks.

Rumsfeld distinguished unknown unknowns from known unknowns. Is that different from knowable unknowns? If so, please explain.

I’m very interested in the development of cities, architecture, city planning, and the like, so many thanks for the links. I live in Honolulu, one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.—and, not coincidentally, one of the cities with the highest homeless populations.


I’m guilty of megaphone talking plenty of the time when I get enthused or passionate about a subject (and I apologise if I come across like that!). I also have a bad habit of slipping into third person which sounds like I am generalising for all. I blame academia :slight_smile:

It’s a couple of years since I read Black Swan, so I can’t recall all of it or say for sure why I find it both interesting and illuminating and irritating (it’s subjective). As I said, it did bring the ideas out to a much bigger field and was a very important book, I’m not knocking that! I’ve not read his first book which I heard was good, have you?

So, the idea of knowable unknowns, is that by some process, it will or could have been possible to imagine an event and theoretically give an assessment of the likelihood / timing. i.e. they become known unknowns .Like the financial crises.

Unknowable unknowns are generally associated with emergent or spontaneous phenomena - things like non-linear events (a bit like being exact about local weather events long in advance and the problems of chaotic systems).Another way of thinking about it is those things which occur at a threshold and cannot be guessed from the constituent parts of the system or what came before, but at a certain time, scale, configuration, a new set of properties emerges. The best we might do is imagine some of what those events might be, but can’t say how or when.

I know very little about Honolulu, so I look forward to hearing more!


Well…let me see…I think is a first step , sure of that, but only a first step.
No doubt that we were needing new regulations
I think this is like the role of law in society, It prevents , it makes corrections, but cant assurance behavior of people. In this case I think is a first step , but a great one. Think its very important no to rest on this, like you ve reached the goal. Cultural awakening is too much more But they said stop , and thats good


I firmly believe in synergy
After reading such smarts posts, you makes me think , and I use to say directly what I think.


Fine Patm !
But is not only to be optimist, i think we can be an optimist person, but a blindy one .
In the other hand we can be depressive, but also a blindy one.
I belive we can be optimist persons checked by reality , so our optimism will impove in a reazonablre right direction
If we are here is because we dream changes , as every success in human history was first a dream.
Many of those dreams became great progress in science, technology or in arts, and other dreams simply die.
I rembered a famous person that said presumptuosly " I know this is great , now I need the rest of the word dicovered it too " Too much !!! Too much ???emphasized text


Maybe it is confirmation bias, but in many online articles and discussions these days I find people agreeing more openly with this idea of the root cause of most our problems.

Recently I encountered an IMHO very good argumentation that we are again heading for the next financial crisis, and the article makes the point that this is inherent to the system that we have in place:

It starts by giving an easy example, comparing 2 economic systems: a working one and a dysfunctional one (which happens to be the one we have). Then it gets increasingly technical, but provides strong arguments. On Hacker News, once again, a nice discussion was held about it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17309429


Oh, and I should add this article as well:


I love the question. Maybe technology thinks we are technology. It seems to treat us like we are technology, so maybe it thinks we are the same as it and it treats humans the way it would treat itself. Also, we often react to technology the way we are conditioned by technology to react, so it follows that technology thinks it understands us and indeed we are technology too. After all, we are both easily programed to perform tasks!
Which leads me to another question: How do we teach technology that we are not technology? How do we teach technology what it is to be human? Also: If technology understood what it is to be human, in what ways will that technology itself be transformed?
Lastly, I don’t think technology actually thinks or has consciousness or anything like that. Of course. But technologies do have biases and those biases are reinforced by our interactions with it. So thinking that tech is thinking is a useful thought experiment to get us thinking about the biases we bake into our tech and the basis with which with consume and react to it. Garbage in, garbage out.
Of course, the real question is “What do we think we are?” Often enough, we don’t think much about it at all. We can be shallow and shortsighted when it comes to how we relate to our humanity, so no wonder our devices are turning so many of us into tools.