Re: Random vs. Systematic Growth

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 18 Jul 1997 12:50:24 +0200 (MET DST)

On Fri, 18 Jul 1997, Steve Witham wrote:

> 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.

"Random" might have been a non-optimal word to describe what I meant.
You are of course right in that our experiences are not random
(otherwise we would not be able to learn anything; and if they were
completely ordered we would quickly learn the rules and never have to
learn after childhood); but most of the experiences we learn from
have not been planned as learning experiences, and might not even be
good learning experiences (making a simple mistake when driving can
be fatal). Hence the interest in better ways of growth. A better
word may be "unplanned" experiences.

> 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.

Schools may be good or bad in different respects (and not all of them
are Prussian either, although new forms of learning are needed) but
they certainly help us learn a lot of things that would be very
costly to learn on our own (like reading or writing or basic
physics). A good education can teach us things we would have needed
decades to learn on our own. The problem is that (by definition) they
are best at transmitting academic knowledge and not other important
aspects of human growth.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y