Friday, April 12, 2019

Repair vs. Creation


As soon as I asked Sally about the end state yesterday, she anticipated part of what I was driving at. “You’re wondering how it will be experienced by most people.” Before I could ask how she knew, she added, “I’ve studied your work during my unplanned absence, and it’s obvious that your greatest concern is how the strategy can be understood and implemented on an intuitive basis for maximum success. Comparing what people’s lives will be with what they are is a reasonable step toward doing so.”

“You’re right,” I admitted, reminding myself that she was designed to be an expert at extrapolating data, and I had provided plenty of data for her to use. “But I’ve got another insight that I believe is a big deal. We’ve been framing the strategy as a means to fix the world, to avoid catastrophe.”

“It is,” Sally interjected.

I took a deep breath and decided to begin with a caveat she would appreciate. “That sets an expectation that the result will resemble what people consider not broken. I don’t think that’s an expectation anybody can justify, because we’re all limited by our life experience.”

“Even shared knowledge has that flaw,” she said, “as with your guess on January 28, about people becoming hunter-gatherers. By the way, regarding your original question, the rest of that discussion is still applicable to the end state, though there has been progress toward addressing disassembly and reusability.”

I was tempted to follow up on what she said, but wanted to finish making my point first. “The focus needs to be on creation instead of repair.”

“Will, you know that the focus is determined by the highest probability of success. Restoring and enhancing relevant functionality of existing systems, what you call fixing or repair, is more likely to significantly delay humanity’s extinction than any known or anticipated alternatives.”

“Agreed, but with a creation mindset we might find other, better alternatives - or at least motivate more people to take some action to address the threat.”

“Perhaps,” she said. “Taking people off task, to pursue an unknown gain that could become a loss, is a net increase in risk that - given our constraints - is unacceptable by every standard I have access to.”

I decided to make one more attempt to persuade her. “As I understand the strategy, we’re forcing everyone back to the growth stage where creativity dominated, so it’s going to happen by the end state anyway. If you put a limit on people then, they’ll act just like the people in that stage today, and use their creativity to break through the limit. They need something they can aspire to that won’t kill everyone later, and letting them create that seems to me like an efficient and necessary thing to do now. Let me put it another way: people won’t settle for an ‘end state’ - it needs to be a gateway to a life they can make better.”

Sally agreed to consider my suggestions and to brief me with the rest of our team this weekend on what she called “the parameters of the end state.” Today I flew back to the facility and am joining Maura for a private discussion that will hopefully not end with my dismissal.

Reality Check

I have lived consequences related to the debate presented here. Questioning basic assumptions comes with risks to any project: both in pulling resources from the current tasks, and identifying problems that slow or end the project with embarrassment - or worse. 

Revision of the underlying simulation continues. One change relevant to this post is the inclusion of a variable value of total resources - essentially accounting for the reduction due to global warming so that the population can drop in accordance with initial projections of the global strategy instead of staying near its present level.

No comments:

Post a Comment