Everyday entropy: google speed


In 2007, Google announced a project to produce renewable energy that was cheaper than coal.  It failed.  The announcement was public.  The failure was silent. Public information is dominated by fantasy; and software engineers have no sense of entropy.  A quote from one of the engineers involved in the project clarifies the delusions of the tech community:

Wouldn’t it be great if governments and energy companies adopted a similar approach in their technology R&D investments? The result could be energy innovation at Google speed.

In other words, Google failed, but if everybody acted like Google, they would succeed, even though google found it to be impossible, even though Google has more resources than anybody else and a greater incentive to succeed than anybody else.  The conclusion is that the Google information method is so perfect that it can’t possibly not work in the physical world, even though it clearly doesn’t work in the physical world.  Entropy makes people say weird things.

This asymmetry between the fantasy of information and the entropy of reality dominates the relationship between the mind and body.  It probably exists for all organisms with a central nervous system, but the mastery of fire makes turns the seam into a chasm.

What is interesting is that Google completed its self-driving car project soon after cancelling its renewable energy project.  This is fairly typical of the human response to entropy: bury it in information.  Self-driving car technology had already been developed for DARPA, so the only challenge for Google was to make it really, really reliable.  Entropy is real, innovation is an illusion.

But why does science have no direction?  It may be good that there are no scientific cults of personality, but there is a sense of science following Laplace’s determinist philosophy from the 19th century on autopilot, even though determinism is dead.  This zombie philosophy may explain why science is full of brilliant minds working at cross purposes on things that don’t particularly matter.  The death of Chompsky’s “universal grammar” is just one more reminder that the things that can be determined are determined.  What comes next is not just uncertain, it is certain that science cannot determine what it will be.  There will be resonance; there will be harmonics; there will be entropy; the rest is open to suggestion.

The Nazi genocide was conducted scientifically.  Modern science and technology are entirely responsible for climate change.  It is no coincidence that Google completed a self-driving car (which had already been created for DARPA) but failed to create the “energy” to power it.  Science is on autopilot, too busy working on the next prediction to take responsibility for the last.  But this isn’t the fault of scientists.  For reasons akin to Goedel’s theorem, scientists can’t tell us what to do with their discoveries, and they only make money if they help people who already have money to accumulate a bit more or live a little longer.


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