January 3rd, 2013


QotD: Taleb on Engineers and Thinking about the Future

Новогодний наброс от Нассима Нагибовича. В свежей книжке его эмоциональный арабский английский всё-таки не очень хорошо отредактирован. Зато можно легко представлять себе, как он это говорит ртом.

Technothinkers tend to have an “engineering mind” — to put it less politely, they have autistic tendencies. While they don't usually wear ties, these types tend, of course, to exhibit all the textbook characteristics of nerdiness — mostly lack of charm, interest in objects instead of persons, causing them to neglect their looks. They love precision at the expense of applicability. And they typically share an absence of literary culture.

This absence of literary culture is typically a marker of future blindness, because it is usually accompanied by a denigration of history, a byproduct of unconditional neomania. Outside of the niche and isolated genre of science fiction, literature is about the past... And the past... is a much better teacher about the properties of the future than the present. To understand the future, you do not need the technoautistic jargon, obsession with “killer apps”, this sort of things. You just need the following: some respect for the past, some curiosity about the historical record, a hunger for the wisdom of elders*, and a grasp of the notion of “heuristics”, these often unwritten rules of thumb that are so determining of survival. In other words, you will be forced to give weight to things that have been around, things that have survived.

* — С другой стороны, как замечал в конце 1930х другой способный молодой автор, “do not let me hear // of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly”.