Random vs. Systematic Growth

Steve Witham (sw@tiac.net)
Fri, 18 Jul 1997 00:53:40 -0400

Anders Sandberg writes-
>It would be interesting to see if the process of becoming oneself
>could be aided by artificial means; so far it has been largely a
>random accumulation of experience and a gradual abstraction from
>them. Schooling is one method intended to make this process a bit
>more efficient, maybe some initiation rites could be considered
>growth tools too. Are there others reliable methods?

By "random" you seem to mean "diverse," sort of. Surely the ideas
and experiences we are exposed to are more systematic than pure noise.

Anyway, I'm not sure any systematic approaches are more reliable than,
"Expose kids to a choice of lots of random experiences." I'm not sure
the Prussian-developed schools we have, or initiation rites either,
are improvements over randomness.

Erik Forste says:

>suspect that the educational institutions in most countries of the
>world need to be shaken up rather severely... I'd like to see a
>lot more experimentation and a lot less regimentation going on in
>the education industry than currently seems to be the case.

"Free enterprise is random, let's have socialism."
"Evolution is too random-seeming, let's believe in God."
"Gas molecules are random--I'm afraid I'll run out of air!"
"God doesn't play dice, physics must be deterministic."
"Self-directed education is too random, let's guide people."
"Building things by moving masses of molecules is too random,
let's have nanotech."

I think I agree with somewhere between 1.0 and 2.0 of the above!
And I'm not sure I see the pattern.

Then there are hash codes and Ethernet delay algorithms...
"This process is too prone to bad coincidence, let's make it more random."


sw@tiac.net           Steve Witham          web page under reconsideration
"Philosophers have often attempted to analyze perception into the Given and
 what is then done with the Given by the mind.  The Given is, of course,
 Taken..." --Daniel Dennett