Toward a Linear World
- The brain is not a machine.
Human brains are not good at being precise. For example, no human can draw a perfect circle. No human can divide a line into perfectly
equal segments. The human brain is not good at directing any regular motion,
a fact that translates into the inability of the human body to perform uniform
non-stop work. There is nothing in the muscles of the body that would prevent
its limbs from performing uniform non-stop work: it's the brain that cannot
coordinate that kind of regular, stable movement.
- The reason is that the brain,
just like many other organs, is a nonlinear system, designed to "react" rapidly
(if approximately) to continuous and unpredictable change in the surrounding
environment. The way the
brain works is inherently nonlinear. Therefore it is not surprising that the
behavior driven by that system is also irregular, and that dividing a line into
segments of equal length is just physically impossible for a body driven by
such a brain.
- However, one day that brain invented machines. Machines are linear systems.
They have numerous advantages over human bodies: they don't get sick, they
work nonstop with no need for sleep or holidays, they don't complain or go
on strike, and they can be much more powerful than a human worker. Their key
advantage and difference, though, is that they are "precise", the one quality
that humans lack. A machine can indeed draw a perfect circle and can indeed
divide a line into equal segments.
- The advent of these linear systems literally
changed the history of the human race, because it enabled the
A human worker (even the most skilled craftsman) would not be capable of making
thousands of pieces of metal or wood of the exact same length, especially if
they had to be very small.
- A nonlinear system like the brain, designed to perform
nonlinear tasks, invented a linear system like the machine,
whose main job is to dramatically alter the (nonlinear) environment in which
the (nonlinear) brain has to operate. Machines are literally turning the
environment into a linear, stable, predictable system.
- In a nonlinear world our brain looks for simple solutions to complex problems.
- In the long term we may create such a linear world that our nonlinear brains
will not only become useless but even detrimental: they will look for complex
solutions to simple problems.