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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 industrial revolution. 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.