wisdom of nature (was: Re: The International Forum on Globalization)

From: Damien Broderick (d.broderick@english.unimelb.edu.au)
Date: Tue Feb 06 2001 - 22:17:01 MST

At 01:04 PM 6/02/01 -0700, Terry Donaghe wrote:

>They also speak about the "wisdom" of nature. What the heck is that?

Run time + computational space.

Maybe we can cut to the quick of enormous complex systems defined by
criticality just by using a few equations and a few hours, days or even
years of supercomputer model processing. All the evidence is against it.

Eventually our models might be profound and deep enough, and our
computational shortcuts adequate. Until then, it is entirely plausible that
the only way to have much confidence about how a biosphere runs is to run a
biosphere for a few million (or, more generally, billion) years.

That's not hard to understand, surely. In fact, it's very hard to confute.

Of course, no cautious Stewards, to borrow Jaron Lanier's term (which he
contrasts to confident, technophilic Extropians), really wish to give up
intervening in the world in *some* ways. So the utility of invoking the
`wisdom of nature' as a guide to human conduct is limited. But it's not
vacuous or fatuous, let alone wickedly stupid.

Damien Broderick

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