Re: Modern Technology: Out of Control?

David A Musick (
Tue, 20 Jan 1998 13:14:19 -0500

Is modern technology out of control? If, by "control", you mean that
someone or some group of people can dictate exactly how it develops,
then, yes, it is out of control. But in a more subtle sense, it *is* in

>From the perspective of your neurons or even groups of neruons (if they
even have a perspective), you are out of control. None of your neurons
control you or *can* control you; they are too small in the overall
process of you to exert much control. Yet, your overall behavior comes
out reasonably intelligent, with no one really in charge of the system.

The whole system of technology seems reasonably intelligent (which is not
surprising, since the participants in the system all make reasonably
intelligent decisions), but the *whole* system isn't under any direct
control by anyone or any group; everyone has their own little part of the
system to manage, and because everyone is managing their own part
intelligently, the whole system of modern technology is fairly
intelligent. No *one* is in charge because *everyone* is in charge, to a
small degree.

Modern technology is under -distributed control-, not centralized
control. Which is a very good thing, since a powerful, centralized
authority is capable of making much more devastating errors than any one
of the millions of distributed entities, who have far less power. Spread
the power and control around to as many as possible, and it is difficult
for anyone to make too big of a mistake. If everyone's keeping an eye on
their own part of things, then everything's being watched over.
Distributed control is the safest form of control that modern technology
could have. We are in our own hands; not in the hands of any leader.
That makes some uncomfortable because they like prominant leaders, but it
makes me feel very safe, because I trust my fellow humans to make good
choices, in general, and to keep an eye out for dangerous people.

David Musick (

- Continual improvement is the highest good.