much can we handle?"
fundamental scientific theories (such as quantum theory and relativity)
that test out superbly, even if we don't quite know how they all fit
into a whole, but we're hung up trying to understand complicated phenomena,
like living things. How much complexity can we handle?
We ought to be able to use computers to model complicated things, but
we can't as yet write software that's complicated enough to take advantage
of the ever-bigger computers we are learning to build.
Complexity, side effects, legacy. How much can we handle? That's the
question of the new century.
There's a social variant of the same problem:
In the twentieth century we become powerful enough to destroy ourselves,
but we seemed to be able to handle that. Now technology and information
flow have improved to the point that a small number of us might be able
to destroy us all. Can we handle that?
Lanier, computer scientist and musician, is currently
the lead scientist for the National Tele-Immersion Initiative.