Human Struggles

From a letter to an old friend:”Most important human struggles nowadays … interesting thought challenge. I have been getting back into “programming” (lite, very lite) on the back of these courses that I need to develop – and I am a little surprised how slow the field has been moving. Regarding databases, the concepts are from the 1960s – keyword SQL – with changes in the area of object-orientation (which is a child of the 1980s and used to be my obsession 20 years ago). Hence, now the databases are object-relational, otherwise everybody still does tables. The programs are unwieldy, software still cannot repair itself (why the heck not?) – in fact, we humans are way better at that than the products of our science. Human struggles: I enjoyed reading Freeman Dyson‘s “The Sun, the Genome and the Internet” (he is Esther Dyson‘s dad) – recommended reading, not dated despite the 1999 publication date. Dyson is a visionary in any field that he sets out to explore. He argues that software creation is one of the new areas of “craft” (vs. industrial activity) that young people can enter. That we need craft (and always have) to renew ourselves as a species etc. Another one of my heroes as far as the conceptual understanding of our struggles is concerned: Gregory Bateson. He wrote a fantastic article in 1967 (contained in the collection “Steps to an ecology of mind”): Form, Substance and Difference. His starting point is the difference in scientific viewpoint in the past (focus on “substance” and “what”) vs. today and tomorrow (focus on “patterns” and “how”). You can see this at work in modern physics, biology (cp. Maturana and Varela) and in software engineering – the identification of patterns (famous publication by the Gang of Four in 1995) is one of the greater developments in this field.”

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