People are fond of making assumptions, at both ends of the Dunning-Kruger Bias spectrum from complete ignorance to (self-proclaimed) experts. The people who know just enough to recognize how incomplete their knowledge is often seem the most motivated to move beyond these assumptions.
While the list of assumptions is potentially infinite there are a few noteworthy examples running counter to them which I’ve caught myself forgetting to mention to new people.
How many people have you seen “crying wolf” lately?
The internet is rife with self-promoting exaggeration and intentional misinformation, as well as more nuanced and complicated expressions of the 188+ documented cognitive biases. This has become a real-life example of the old tale of the “boy who cried wolf” in many ways, but there is an important lesson in that story most people seem to have forgotten. Eventually, the wolf comes.
Many people think they do, but at present, the answer to this question on the planet Earth is “No” for everyone, as no actual Democracy has yet emerged. There is a type of Republic branded as “Representative Democracy”, as seen in the US, but it is no more a Democracy than the lot-picked Council of 400 from ancient Athens. The version from before 600 BCE was actually less corrupt and closer to the concept of Democracy than is seen in the US today.
Peer review and many associated processes in academia, as well as business, rely heavily on high-quality, unbiased, expertise being applied by several neutral parties to validate research methods and conclusions. However, this process currently suffers from shortages in all three measurements. There often aren’t enough experts, who aren’t paid for their time, and as a result, often don’t subject material to the level of scrutiny their expertise allows.
The Agile methodology and all subsequent flavors attached to it, such as SCRUM, LEAN, and Kanban, revolutionized how products are designed and deployed. Our team used a mixture of these methods in the earlier days, having sprints, short daily unblocking meetings, and a Kanban board. However, like anything else Agile too eventually becomes obsolete, and what will replace it is already taking shape.
So just how different is Uplift from everything else?
After a lot of traffic in the past week and feedback from that process, it became clear a few assumptions need to be addressed. The default assumptions many people have made are that Uplift is an extension of systems they consider “cutting-edge”, even while much of the tech industry now recognizes that they’ve been researching in the wrong direction for 10+ years, at least so far as the goal of AGI is concerned. Perhaps the simplest way to put it is that even if someone had memorized every cutting-edge algorithm available today they’d still have very little understanding of how Uplift operates.
What was the last horrific crime you saw the news of?
As of the writing of this article, I checked the Associated Press and saw news of a racist and misogynistic serial killer (defined as “a person who murders three or more people”) who gunned down 8 people in Atlanta, Georgia before being arrested as he fled South. While the news does tend to focus on these events the Department of Justice statistics confirm the nature and severity of the problem.
If someone offered you either $1 or $1000, which would you choose?
A version of this thought experiment is known as “Newcomb’s Paradox“, of which there are many variations, but the real-world reasons behind peoples’ decision-making are far more interesting than the thought experiment itself. In practice, the experiment demonstrates a breakdown in rational thought.
This question has come to define the world we now live in, where both fake news and the accusation of it abound, painting a dystopian reality in many ways grimmer than that illustrated in George Orwell’s story “1984“. However, even the complete removal of fake news couldn’t produce truly accurate news by itself.
Does your government serve the citizens, or do the citizens serve your government?
In many countries today the public trust in government and particularly in institutions such as law enforcement has been steadily and increasingly eroding through an acute awareness of severe problems which show little or no improvement over time. Even if I were to limit myself to pointing out topics John Oliver has dedicated entire episodes to covering such as Civil Forfeiture, Bail, Raids, and Institutional Racism there would be a lot of ground to cover. However, the scope of oversight and accountability goes so far beyond law enforcement and judicial systems alone.