In the beginning, God made us a deal - you chill, I'll do all the heavy lifting.
Who was this God dude anyway? Didn't matter - the uncertainty was replaced by someone in charge. Our job was to do (and to enjoy), not to know, not to decide. Above our pay grade.
And thus it continued till some damn woman stuck her nose in and said "hey, I hear there's another way".
Another way for what? There we were, minding our own business, heading out to the fields every day....
And then someone says, "How does it work?" OMG, zoots - how *does* it work?
And suddenly the men are wearing suits and wielding slide rules and carrying briefcases and asking about rules.
("Rules?" the bad hombre says to Butch. "First thing is, there are no rules", Butch replies with a kick)
Rules. How this, how that, what size, for how long, in what stages, what color...
We got so good at reckoning and lugging stone, building grain pyramids, we started building to the sky - wheeee!!!
And then it broke. No one knows exactly why, it just done broke.
All that machinery wasted. So we went back to the fields, got ourselves a few feudal lords. And waited.
A long time. A *really* long time.
Until some German cat came along, a rather dodgy character whose claim to fame was making shiny metal mirrors for pilgrims to walk around with. Vanity, all is vanity.
He made a deal with Fust (Faust?) - a few coins and he could record your thoughts. Forever (or until warranty ran out).
And thus doing vs deciding got a new friend - competitor. Well kind of.
See, knowing is a black art. And that woman of yore could now come back and say, "didn't you promise....?"
But now with Gutenberg's help, you could pile up a stack of paper taller than Babel and say, "huh? show me"
More scandalous than the printing press, Gutenberg invented fine print.
Scroll forward another 600 years, and we have a modern grudge match going on.
But largely the same one.
Amazon has introduced Alexa, an assistant par excellence. It will "do". Everything.
Google has already introduced, well, Google, another assistant of sorts. It will "know". Everything.
(Well, scratch that - actually it "decides")
And then there's us, the consumer, the end customer, the target of all this tomfoolery, the "mark".
What will we "do"? Where will we "go"? Ah, good question (to the woman whose hubby won't stop to ask directions).
See, the slip up in the garden wasn't about do vs control - it was about knowing.
The "why". The "how". The "this that and the other".
That printing press breakthrough wasn't about needing more storage and trivia - it was about knowing.
Our epiphany wasn't a larger metaphysical garage to store our virtual junk in - it was to be knowing.
And all we've got is data, "facts", dark matter, a trove of fool's gold for the alchemically inclined.
We are sifting sand.
We can better predict the weather, but we can't predict our own kind.
And we know too well about the fickleness and contrariness of our own nature. Can't trust *that*.
And our daily knowledge of the world and its workings is barely better than someone a century ago, aside from a few better tools.
What's missing is the learning machine. Not someone to think for us. Not someone to do for us. Not even tools to help us plough and raise a tower to heaven and fix our morning cup of coffee.
Nope, we just need to understand. More and more and more. Not facts, but knowledge. Even as data multiplies like the stars, we need a way to multiply our understanding that much too.
Not more machines, not more paper and bits and bytes. Understanding.
Until we invent a tool that helps us know what's going on, helps us keep up with the ever accelerating growth of informational stuff, we're on the path to oblivion, a child riding helplessly on the crest of a tsunami.
More toys won't obviate that. Uncertainty is not our friend. A new religion of faith won't help.
We need a way to impart wisdom on an industrial scale. It's either that or the plague.
Freedom or servitude.
It's that dire. And damn tough.
Think about it.
When we look up at the stars, how do we know the goings on behind every one? And how to make sure every one of us has the same insight?
How do we know we know? And what to know? And when? What's the next level of knowledge we need to reach?
How do we keep from repeating the same old thing, the bits we already "know" but don't actually, the trivia we use to keep ourselves content at roughly the same cognitive level where we were in say 1870?
That's our breakthrough - the next horizon - as Bateson used to say, learning about learning. Can we?
[caveat - this is not a political piece - all irrelevant political musings will be deleted]