Interesting Observations: Do These Apply to Technology Is a Problem Solver Thinking?

February 16, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I read an interesting essay by Nat Eliason, an entity unknown previously to me. “A Map Is Not a Blueprint: Why Fixing Nature Fails.” is a short collection of the way human thought processes create some quite spectacular problems. His examples include weight loss compounds like Ozempic, transfats, and the once-trendy solution to mental issues, the lobotomy.

Humans can generate a map of a “territory” or a problem space. Then humans dig in and try to make sense of their representation. The problem is that humans may approach a problem and get the solution wrong. No surprise there. One of the engines of innovation is coming up with a solution to a problem created by something incorrectly interpreted. A recent example is the befuddlement of Mark Zuckerberg when a member of the Senate committee questioning him about his company suggested that the quite wealthy entrepreneur had blood on his hands. No wonder he apologized for creating a service that has the remarkable power of bringing people closer together, well, sometimes.


Immature home economics students can apologize for a cooking disaster. Techno feudalists may have a more difficult time making amends. But there are lawyers and lobbyists ready and willing to lend a hand. Thanks, MSFT Copilot Bing thing. Good enough.

What I found interesting in Mr. Eliason’s essay was the model or mental road map humans create (consciously or unconsciously) to solve a problem. I am thinking in terms of social media, AI generated results for a peer-reviewed paper, and Web search systems which filter information to generate a pre-designed frame for certain topics.

Here’s the list of the five steps in the process creating interesting challenges for those engaged in and affected by technology today:

  1. Smart people see a problem, study it, and identify options for responding.
  2. The operations are analyzed and then boiled down to potential remediations.
  3. “Using our map of the process we create a solution to the problem.”
  4. The solution works. The downstream issues are not identified or anticipated in a thorough manner.
  5. New problems emerge as a consequence of having a lousy mental map of the original problem.

Interesting. Creating a solution to a technology-sparked problem without consequences may be one key to success. “I had no idea” or “I’m a sorry” makes everything better.

Stephen E Arnold, February 16, 2024


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