Monday, June 11, 2007

No Silver Bullet

Owing to Fred Brook's seminal paper "No Silver Bullet", it has slowly become clear to me that concepts in general cannot be explained to another person without rigor equivalent to that which is put into implementing an idea within a computer program. Once you actually try to implement a computer program, you realize how deficient your description is. You have to mete out the computer program detail by detail, instruction by instruction. Carefully thinking through each line in solitude and with fellow programmers.

When describing a concept from one's brain to another, the problem is compounded when one considers that an instruction does not mean the same thing between any two people, even those from the same socio-ethnic groups. In the computing world, this is known as compatibility. In the computing world there are relatively few platforms, but the platforms are vastly different. In the human world, there are billions of different "platforms", but the differences are generally very small. In the computing world, it's very easy to tell if your language is not being understood by a platform. In the human world, it is nearly impossible most of the time to tell if your language is being truly understood by another person. It is further made difficult when you consider that all computer programs have incorrect logic, otherwise known as "bugs".

All of the compatibility variances and logical errors leads me to conclude that it is nearly impossible for people to communicate without learning a common dialect. Without a common dialect, at best, after a great deal of discourse, time and energy the true flavor of what one seeks to communicate can only start to come through.

A syntax exists for communication, but it is difficult to understand. It is known as the language of mathematics and the scientific method. It is invariant universally and communicates the same regardless of who is commanding it. It is with this language that answers about our place in the universe are starting to come into focus.

It is also with this syntax that those who previously claimed a monopoly on answers are being revealed as the charlatans that they are.

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