Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I'm Sure Blending Learning is Going to Work

Maciej Cegłowski:


This is the prevailing vision in Silicon Valley.

The world is just one big hot mess, an accident of history. Nothing is done as efficiently or cleverly as it could be if it were designed from scratch by California programmers. The world is a crufty legacy system crying out to be optimized.

If you have spent any time using software, you might recognize this as an appalling idea. Fixing the world with software is like giving yourself a haircut with a lawn mower. It works in theory, but there's no room for error in the implementation.

This vision holds that the Web is only a necessary first step to a brighter future. In order to fix the world with software, we have to put software hooks into people's lives. Everything must be instrumented, quantified, and networked. All devices, buildings, objects, and even our bodies must become "smart" and net-accessible.

Then we can get working on optimizing the hell out of life.

Marc Andreessen has this arresting quote, that ‘software is eating the world.’ He is happy about it. The idea is that industry after industry is going to fall at the hands of programmers who automate and rationalize it.

We started with music and publishing. Then retailing. Now we're apparently doing taxis. We're going to move a succession of industries into the cloud, and figure out how to do them better. Whether we have the right to do this, or whether it's a good idea, are academic questions that will be rendered moot by the unstoppable forces of Progress. It's a kind of software Manifest Destiny.

To achieve this vision, we must have software intermediaries in every human interaction, and in our physical environment.

But what if after software eats the world, it turns the world to shit?

1 comment:

garrett said...

I went to the DARPA Robotics Challenge last month. Carnegie Mellon seemed to have the biggest presence of all the schools. My buddy was able to chit-chat software, about all I managed was asking if they knew of Entropy, the convenience store on campus.

I got a button too.