11-Questioning (1:09) (48 views)
“Creativiteit houdt vooral in een erg goede vraag te bedenken.”
Het wonder van Wikipedia
Much of what I believed about human nature, and the nature of knowledge, was upended by Wikipedia. Wikipedia is now famous, but when it began I and many others considered it impossible. It’s an online reference organized like an encyclopedia that unexpectedly allows anyone in the world to add to it, or change it, at any time, no permission needed.
() I knew from my own 20-year experience online that you could not rely on what you read by a random (een willekeurige) stranger, and I believed that an aggregation (opeenhoping) of random (willekeurige) contributions would be a total mess (troep, rommeltje). Even unedited web pages created by experts failed to impress me, so an entire encyclopedia written by unedited amateurs, not to mention ignoramuses (onwetenden), seemed destined to be junk (rommel). (p. 269)
How wrong I was. The success of Wikipedia keeps surpassing (overtreffen) my expectations. At last count in 2015 it sported more than 35 million articles in 288 languages. It is quoted by the U.S. Supreme Court, relied on by schoolkids worldwide, and used by every journalist and lifelong learner for a quick education on something new. Despite the flaws (gebreken) of human nature, it keeps getting better. Both the weakness and virtues of individuals are transformed into common wealth, with a minimum of rules. (p. 270)
It has always been clear that collectives amplify power – that is what cities and civilizations are – but what’s been the big surprise for me is how minimal the tools and oversight that are needed. The bureaucracy of Wikipedia is relatively so small as to be invisible, although it has grown over its first decade. Yet the greatest surprise brought by Wikipedia is that we still don’t know how far this power can go. We haven’t seen the limits of wiki-ized intelligence. Can it make textbooks, music, and movies? What about law and political governance? (p. 270-271)
“Onmogelijk!” versus “Laten we eens zien”
Before we say, “Impossible!” I say: Let’s see. I know all the reasons why law can never be written by know-nothing amateurs. But having already changed my mind once on this, I am slow to jump to conclusions again. A Wikipedia is impossible, but here it is. It is one of those things that is impossible in theory but possible in practice. (p. 271)
De kracht van het collectief
Wikipedia has changed my mind in other ways. I was a fairly steady individualist, an American with libertarian leanings (neigingen, voorkeuren), and the success of Wikipedia led me toward a new appreciation of social power. I am now much more interested in both the power of the collective and the new obligations (verplichtingen) stemming (voortkomen) from individuals toward the collective. In addition to expanding civil rights (burgerlijke rechten), I want to expand civil duties (burgerlijke taken). I am convinced that the full impact of Wikipedia is still subterranean (ondergronds) and that its mind-changing force is working subconsiously (onbewust) on the global millennial generation, providing them with an existent proof of a benificial hive mind (heilzaam bijenbrein), and an appreciation (waardering) for believing in the impossible. (p. 271-272)
More important, Wikipedia has taught me to believe in the impossible more often. In the past several decades I’ve had to accept other ideas that I formerly thought were impossibilities but that later turned out to be good practical ideas. (p. 272)
These supposed impossibilities keep happening with increased frequency. Everyone “knew” that people don’t work for free, and if they did, they could not make something useful without a boss. But today entire sections of our economy run on software instruments created by volunteers working without pay or bosses. Everyone knew humans were innately (aangeboren) private beings, yet the impossibilty of total open round-the-clock sharing stil occured. Everyone knew that humans are basically lazy, and they would rather watch than create, and they would never get off their sofas to create their own TV. It would be impossible that millions of amateurs would produce billions of hours of video, or that anyone would watch any of it. (p. 272-273)
Alomtegenwoordige instant verbinding
As far as I can tell, the impossible things happening now are in every case due to the emergence of a new level of organization that did not exist before. Three incredible eruptions (ongelooflijke uitbarstingen) are the result of large-scale collaboration, and massive real-time social interacting, which in turn are enabled (mogelijk gemaakt) by omnipresent instant connection between billions of people at a planetary scale. (p. 273)
Humans have long invented new social organizations, from law, courts, irrigation systems, schools, governements, libraries up to the largest scale itself, civilization itself. These social instruments are what makes us human – and what makes our behavior “impossible” from the vantage (voordeel, overwicht) point of animals. (p. 273)
The technium – the modern system of culture and technology – is accelerating the creation of new impossibilities by continuing to invent new social organizations. (p. 273-274) Boek van Kevin Kelly. De wil van technologie (2010/2012)
We have just begun to fiddle (fiedelen, knoeien, spelen) with social communications. Hyperlinks, wifi, and GPS location services are really types of relationships enabled by technology, and this class of innovations is just beginning. The majority of the most amazing communication inventions that are possible have not been invented yet. We are just in the infancy (kinderjaren) of being able to invent institutions at a truly global scale. When we weave ourselves together into a global real-time society, former impossibilities will really start to erupt into reality. It is not necessary that we invent some kind of autonomous global consciousness. It is only necessary that we connect everyone to everyone else – and to everything else – all the time and create new things together. Hundreds of miracles that seem impossible today will be possible with this shared human connectivity (p. 274)
Zijn er geen zwarte kanten?
I don’t focus on these expected downsides (keerzijdes) in this book for several reasons. First, there is no invention that cannot be subverted (ondermijnen, ondergraven) in some way to cause harm. Even the most angelic technology can be weaponized, and will be. Criminals are some of the most creative innovators in the world. And crap (onzin, troep) constitutes 80 percent of everything. But importantly, these negative forms follow exactly the same general trends I’ve been outlining for the positive. The negative, too, will become increasingly cognified, remixed, and filtered. Crime, scams (oplichting), warring, deceit (bedrog), torture (marteling), corruption, spam, pollution (vervuiling), greed (hebzucht), and other hurt will all become more decentralized and data centered. Both virtue and vice (deugd en ondeugd) are subject to the same great becoming and flowing forces. All the ways that startups and corporations need to adjust to ubiquitous (alomtegenwoordig) sharing and constant screening apply to crime syndicates and hacker squads as well. Eevn the bad can’t escape these trends. (p. 275)
Mens zijn zal veranderen
What’s new now and in the coming decades is the velocity (snelheid) of this higher territory of connectivity (speed of light), and its immensely vaster scale (the entire planet). We are headed for a trillion times increase (toename). As noted earlier, a shift by a trillion is not merely a change in quantity, but a change in essence. Most of what “everybody knows” about human beings has so far been based on the human individual. But there may be a million different ways to connect several billion people, and each way will reveal something new about us. Or each way may create in us something new. Either way, our humanity (menselijkheid) will shift(veranderen, verschuiven). (p. 276)
Waarheid met een grote W staat onder druk
Ironically, in an age of instant global connection, my certainty about anything has decreased (afgenomen). Rather than receiving truth from an authority, I am reduced to assembling my own certainty from the liquid stream of facts flowing through the web. Truth, with a capital T, becomes truths, plural (meervoud). I have to sort the truths not just about things I care about, but about anything I touch, including areas about which I can’t possibly have any direct knowledge. That means that in general I have to constantly question what I think I know. We might consider this perfect state for the advancement of science, but it also means that I am more likely to have my mind changed for incorrect answers. (p. 279)
Ons een weg zien te banen door een zee aan …
While hooked into the network of networks I feel like I am a network myself, trying to achieve reliability (betrouwbaarheid) from unreliable (onbetrouwbare) parts. And in my quest to assemble truths from half-truths, nontruths, and some noble truths scattered in the flux, I find my mind attracted to fluid ways of thinking (scenarios, provisional (voorlopig) belief, subjective hunches (gevoel, ingevingen) and toward fluid media like mashups (samenraapsels), twitterese, and search. But as I flow through the slippery web of ideas, it often feels like a waking dream. (p. 279-280)
Wat is werk, wat is vrije tijd?
This waking dream we call the internet also blurs (vervaagt) the difference between my serious thoughts and my playful thoughts, or to put it more simply: I no longer can tell when I am working and when I am playing online. () … i believe the conflation (‘verwarring’) of play and work, of thinking hard and thinking playfully, is one of the greatest things this new invention has done. Isn’t the whole idea that in a highly evolved advanced society work is over? (p. 280-281)
Noodzaak: als surfers door het leven gaan
This new mode of being – surfing the waves, diving down, rushing up, flitting (fladderen) from bit to bit, tweeting and twittering, ceaselessly (onophoudelijk) dipping into newness with ease, daydreaming, questioning each and every fact – is not a bug (een gril). It is a feature (een hoofdkenmerk). It is a proper response to the ocean of data, news, and facts flooding us. We need to be fluid and agile (behendig), flowing from idea to idea, because that fluidity reflects the turbulent informational environment surrounding us. This mode is neither a lazy failure nor an indulgent (toegeeflijk) luxury. It is a necessity in order to thrive (gedijen). To steer a kayak on white-water rapids (stroomversnellingen) you need to be paddling (peddelen) at least as fast as the water runs, and to hope to navigate the exabytes of information, change, disruption coming at us, you need to be flowing as fast as the frontier is flowing. (p. 281-282)
Antwoorden zijn er genoeg, het draait om vragen
Yet the paradox of science is that every answer breeds at least two new questions. More tools, more answers, ever more questions. Telescopes, radioscopes, cyclotrons, atom smashers expanded (uitbreiden) not only what we knew, but birthed (laten geboren worden) new riddles (raadsels) and expanded what we didn’t know. Previous discoveries helped us to recently realize that 96 percent of all matter and energy in our universe is outside of our vision. The universe is not made of the atoms and heat we discovered last century; instead it is primarily composed of two unknown entities we label “dark”: dark energy and dark matter. “Dark” is a euphemism (eufemisme) for ignorance (onwetendheid). We really have no idea what the bulk of the universe is made of. We find a similar proportion of ignorance if we probe (doordringen in) deeply into the cell, or the brain. We don’t know nothin’ relative to what could be known. Our inventions allow us to spy into our ignorance. If knowledge is growing exponentially because of scientific tools, then we should be quickly running out of puzzles. But instead we keep discovering greater unknowns.
Thus, even though our knowledge is expanding exponentially, our questions are expanding exponentially faster. () That gap between questions and answers is our ignorance, and it is growing exponentially. In other words, science is a method that chiefly expands our ignorance rather than our knowledge. (p. 283-284)
Onze grootste vragen zijn nog niet gesteld
We have no reason to expext this to reverse (omdraaien) in the future. The more disruptive a technology or tool is, the more disruptive the questions it will breed. We can expect future technologies such as artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation, and quantum computing (to name a few on the near horizon) to unleash (loslaten) a barrage of new huge (zeer grote) questions – questions we could have never thought to ask before. In fact, it’s a safe bet that we have not asked our biggest questions yet. (p. 284)
Very soon we’ll live in a world where we can ask the cloud, in conversational tones, any question at all. And if that question has a known answer, the machine will explain it to us. (p. 287)
Kenmerken van een goede vraag
So at the end of the day, a world of supersmart ubiquitous (alomtegenwoordige) answers encourages a quest for the perfect question. What makes a perfect question? Ironically, the best questions are not questions that lead to answers, because answers are on their way to becoming cheap and plentiful. A good question is worth a million good answers.
A good question is like the one Albert Einstein asked himself as a small boy – “What would you see if you were travelling on a beam of light?” That question launched the theory of relativity, E=MC2, and the atomic age.
A good answer is not concerned with a correct answer.
A good question cannot be answered immediately.
A good question challenges (uitdagen) existing answers.
A good question is one you badly want answered once you heard it, but had no inkling (geen flauw idee) you cared before it was asked.
A good question creates new territory of thinking.
A good question reframes its own answers.
A good question is the seed of innovation in science, technology, art, politics, and business.
A good question is a probe (onderzoek), a what-if scenario.
A good question skirts (scheert) on the edge of what is known and not known, neither silly (stom) nor obvious (voor de hand liggend).
A good question cannot be predicted (voorspeld).
A good question will be the sign of an educated mind.
A good question is one that generates many other good questions.
A good question may be the last job a machine will learn to do.
A good question is what humans are for. (p. 288-289)
In wat voor wereld leven we
What is it that we are making with our question-and-answer machine?
Our society is moving away from the rigid order of hierarchy toward the fluidity of decentralization. It is moving from nouns (zelfstandige naamwoorden) to verbs (werkwoorden), from tangible (tastbare) products to intangible becomings. From fixed media to messy remixed media. From stores (opslag) to flows. And the value engine is moving from the certainties of answers to the uncertainties of questions. Facts, order, and answers will always be needed and useful. They are not going away, and in fact, like microbial life and concrete materials, facts will continue to underpin (dragen) the bulk of our civilization. But the most precious aspects, the most dynamic, most valuable, and most productive facets of our lives and new technology will lie in the frontiers, in the edges where uncertainty, chaos, fluidity, and questions dwell. The technologies of generating answers will continue to be essential, so much that answers will become omnipresent, instant, reliable, and just about free. But the technologies that help generate questions will be valued more. Question makers will be seen, properly, as the engines that generate the new fields, new industries, new brands, new possibilities, new continents that our restless species can explore. Questioning is simply more powerful than answering. (p. 289)
Twaalf technologische krachten die onze toekomst zullen vormen
01. Becoming (worden) – 02. Cognifying (slimmeren) – 03. Flowing (stromen) – 04. Screening (kijken) – 05. Accessing (toegangen) – 06. Sharing (delen) – 07. Filtering (filteren) – 08. Remixing (remixen) – 09. Interacting (interacteren) – 10. Tracking (tracken) – 11. Questioning (vragen) – 12. Beginning (beginnen)
(dinsdag 16 augustus 2016)
Hans van Duijnhoven