Tag: computers

Social error correction and how to use it

Computer systems talk to each other over networks that are prone to failure and data loss, so computers have built-in error correction algorithms that sense when the data that the computer is receiving might be incomplete. Humans are wise to do the same. We have multiple peer verification systems like peer review. This operates also on the individual level. We reserve judgment until we can get a “second opinion” or a third.

It is important to remember that communication is inherently incomplete. As computers get more and more able to fool the viewer, we should increase our emphasis on skepticism and error correction. The whole “Russia-gate” thing was really an exercise in error detection and error correction. There are massive networks of bots out there spamming on social media. But there are also massive networks of real people, screaming for justice.

When we transitioned from the migratory band of hominids to the multi-million person city, we lost the ability to trust in many ways. When one is surrounded by only one’s known friends, one does not have to negotiate every transaction. You know that your friends will protect you when you are weak. You don’t have to file paperwork to defend it.

But now we enter into the age of mass-everything. You don’t know your DMV worker. They don’t know you. So you rely on codified and universal rules to communicate with them. I don’t think we have yet really found a new equilibrium for this new type of relationship.

This new relationship of the one and the abstract other is new. We are still trying to figure out how to move from the village to the cosmopolitan existence. The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes was the first to use the term cosmopolitan. He meant it in the literal sense: a citizen of the cosmos. So this idea is not new.

Hopefully, as we transition further into the Aquarian idea of the individual in a sea of other individuals, we can reach a broad consensus on what universalities we need to be a stable society. I don’t know what those are, but I think they are coming.