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Dear DeniWeb Community,

I, in sane mind, decided to post this most boring topic (possibly having no answer) to this forum. I have my own motivations to write those lines (which is mostly ultimate boredom and total apathy); yet the question itself is a paradoxical one (swap the cause and consequence). To make a long story short, I want to hear your opinions about wether all this technology (not limited to IT and computers) and civilization is worth the complexity it pre-requisites.

P.S. This is not any kind of homework or similar (I am BS. in Comp. Eng.); I just wanted to complicate universe a little more and waste our time, in a lovely Nihilist way.

Sincerely yours,
Loren Soth

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  • Increasing technological compexity and our ability to deal with it (perhaps more now than ever) could be the difference between us joining the extra terrestrial club of civilisation winners or becoming a historic anomoly, a miniscule blip in the vastness of the cosmos. Now is NOT the time to faulter … Read More

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Hi,

I believe anything and everything has a cost; and technology/complexity is not exempt. The tech/complexity is hardly optional (or reducable) unless one chooses a Robinson kind of life, even in that case the quality of life is greatly reduced. Perheps this question can be reduced to quality of life trade-off between technological benefit and complexity cost.
Lets assume a virtual ratio of benefit per complexity cost, which is measurable. (ex: airplane high complexity / high benefit - bicycle low complexity / low benefit)
Can someone give examples of tech/application/device which isn't worth the complexity in accordance to its benefit. I start first, some drugs have such a high complexity (drug interactions, side effects, excessive liver load, addiction potential) that it is hard to medically justify its use most of the time.

Loren Soth

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In general, complexity is worth it, until the point where the technology of which the complexity is benefitting does not break the point of ease.

(sorry if that doesnt make sense ;))

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Hi,

It makes a lot of sense but also brings questions ? Do you think today's technology (in general or average) is near the point of ease, or has it broken that point ? Sure it depends on high complexity the technology eg. MRI,Multi-core processors, 3G cellular infrastructure, PNP device drivers, ICBM, AI Singularity, ad infinitum ... Can you give some tech. examples from the near point, way above it and way below it ?
The purpose I am asking this is that I'm fairly familiar with the complexity of many technologies but the perception of complexity has such a subjective nature that might have we missed the point and forgot which are the purposes and which are the means ?

Loren Soth

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Increasing technological compexity and our ability to deal with it (perhaps more now than ever) could be the difference between us joining the extra terrestrial club of civilisation winners or becoming a historic anomoly, a miniscule blip in the vastness of the cosmos. Now is NOT the time to faulter my friends.

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Hi,

Do you think there can be a non-subjective, measurable/calculatable measure of complexity for some thing. Sure the laser knives surgeons use is more complex than good old bread cutter but it is pure intuition. $ spent ? number of components ? date of invention ?
As we are on the geek's lounge and have a relax conversation over the nature of things geek's deal with. What do you think of the relationship between the complexity and order (as opposite of chaos) ?

Loren Soth

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Complexity is a moving target I'd say, relative to the observer. Something can appear complex until it is explained after which it becomes less complex. Ultimate familiarity finally renders the complex subject simple.

I would also say it's layered. for example you say the laser knife is intuitive, but that's just familiarity with lasers. If you delve deeper into how lasers actually work that's complex, unless you're a physicist in which case familiarity renders it simple.

Complexity is created from compounding many simple things. So you could say complex is just plural for simple.

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/COMPLEXI.html

Let us go back to the original Latin word complexus, which signifies "entwined", "twisted together". This may be interpreted in the following way: in order to have a complex you need two or more components, which are joined in such a way that it is difficult to separate them. Similarly, the Oxford Dictionary defines something as "complex" if it is "made of (usually several) closely connected parts"

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So I'm coming round to the notion you can measure complexity by simply counting how many things make it up.

But where do you start counting ? quarks ?

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Something can appear complex until it is explained after which it becomes less complex. Ultimate familiarity finally renders the complex subject simple.

Reminds me of Clarke's 3rd law

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Which reminds me of Terry Pratchett:

"Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology."

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I think in this issue of complexity you have to see a little broader view, in creatyinga technoligy at any time in history all that has been done is generate a greater complexity. it is alot like chaos, every technology is only means to the larger complexity so you have to decided wever that greater complexity it generates is positive or negitve. where i define complexity as problems created. if it is positive like the first personal computer created jobs for people to program and design, ect. it connected people,but it increased identity theft and copyright infringments. But because it is generally a usefull thing it is worth the complexity. where arguably the boat was a not worth the complexity because of all the sailors it injured and killed in its employment, the people it drowned, and the diseases it allowed to be spread by the increased transportation.

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Simple Straussian Theory, contradiction vs. negation, or on a broader since, that every proposition will hold its own opposition (we all know binary opposition). As to whether the complexity of the technology is worth it, that could be said in retrospect for every singular decision made throughout history. My simple answer is, if it weren't we wouldnt be having this conversation right now.

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Where technology makes the wielder more efficient at his task, it can be as complex as need be but it is beneficial.
When technology hampers the wielder rather than benefits him, it can be as primitive and simple as you want but it's better abandoned.

Thus technology, however complex, has its place as long as it's not employed for the sake of employing it.

For example without computers a stock trader would not be able to handle even a percent of the volume he handles with them, there computers are vital to the working of the market with a workable amount of people.
OTOH the computer on the counter in a small retail store is most likely overkill. A simple mechanical teller, or even an old fashioned orderbook and cash register would do the job just as well and probably faster.
If that computer doubles as a catalogue and for placing backorders there might be something to be said for it, but even then it would almost certainly be cheaper to use other means without loosing efficiency.

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Simple Straussian Theory, contradiction vs. negation, or on a broader since, that every proposition will hold its own opposition (we all know binary opposition). As to whether the complexity of the technology is worth it, that could be said in retrospect for every singular decision made throughout history. My simple answer is, if it weren't we wouldnt be having this conversation right now.

Simple dialectics assert that the presence of opposites relay on each other; but can we deduct from your answer that, if it is worth (due to our current conversation), we can also generalise it to "any singular decision made throughout history is worth the associated complexity, if we can converse about it now". This should cover a lot of war and economic crisis later proven to be unnecessary or avoidable by history.

Loren Soth

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Where technology makes the wielder more efficient at his task, it can be as complex as need be but it is beneficial.
When technology hampers the wielder rather than benefits him, it can be as primitive and simple as you want but it's better abandoned.

Thus technology, however complex, has its place as long as it's not employed for the sake of employing it.

For example without computers a stock trader would not be able to handle even a percent of the volume he handles with them, there computers are vital to the working of the market with a workable amount of people.
OTOH the computer on the counter in a small retail store is most likely overkill. A simple mechanical teller, or even an old fashioned orderbook and cash register would do the job just as well and probably faster.
If that computer doubles as a catalogue and for placing backorders there might be something to be said for it, but even then it would almost certainly be cheaper to use other means without loosing efficiency.

To clarify my position a little, I acknowledge that every technological innovation has a different "technological benefit" to "complexity cost" ratio; some are grately worth it, some are not worthy at all, and a gradient between those. Maybe I might better rephrase my question as "Has our civilisation crossed the break even point, on the cumulative "technological benefit" to "complexity cost" ratio ?"

Loren Soth

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I don't think it has (overall).
While there is a tendency in some (sub)cultures to use technology to a questionable degree, and in other (sub)cultures to shun technology to a questionable degree, I feel that overall there's a decent balance.

It does however warrant constant vigil. I've for example heard that schools are planning to abandon writing lessons for kids "because they never need to write anyway now that everyone has computers".
That's an extremely dangerous trend if true.
Or (as I've experienced in the past) people using instant messenging software in favour of speaking to people sitting next to them (but that was a technology company, a place where people are bound to be slightly nutty like that).

So the signs are there, but it's not (yet) come to the breaking point where the only options open to people are to completely abandon themselves to technology (a.k.a. the Matrix) or drop out of the system completely and withdraw to a life completely without it.

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To clarify my position a little, I acknowledge that every technological innovation has a different "technological benefit" to "complexity cost" ratio; some are grately worth it, some are not worthy at all, and a gradient between those. Maybe I might better rephrase my question as "Has our civilisation crossed the break even point, on the cumulative "technological benefit" to "complexity cost" ratio ?"

So the signs are there, but it's not (yet) come to the breaking point where the only options open to people are to completely abandon themselves to technology (a.k.a. the Matrix) or drop out of the system completely and withdraw to a life completely without it.

I would slightly argue against this last phrase. Let's take agriculture for example. If food stores and supermarkets were taken away (for whatever reason) do you think it would be possible for the current population to survive by farming/hunting/gathering? I would argue that these skills have been in time. Farming, for example, was generally lost during/directly after the Industrial Revolution.

I think that many people would starve to death because they would not be able to find or make food for themselves.

Also, I would argue that the human race is slowly losing its skill to survive when alone. For example, if the average human today was taken, and inserted in Africa, I feel he would not survive without the help of others.

Therefore, I think it could be said that yes, technology can reach a breaking point where further technology hurts the human race as a whole.

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I would slightly argue against this last phrase. Let's take agriculture for example. If food stores and supermarkets were taken away (for whatever reason) do you think it would be possible for the current population to survive by farming/hunting/gathering? I would argue that these skills have been in time. Farming, for example, was generally lost during/directly after the Industrial Revolution.

I think that many people would starve to death because they would not be able to find or make food for themselves.

Also, I would argue that the human race is slowly losing its skill to survive when alone. For example, if the average human today was taken, and inserted in Africa, I feel he would not survive without the help of others.

Therefore, I think it could be said that yes, technology can reach a breaking point where further technology hurts the human race as a whole.

I would point you to a phrase I often encountered back in my high school civ classes: division (or specialization) of labor. Human civilization has come so far precisely because we don't need to have everyone working to procure food, clothing, and lodging for themselves (I seem to recall some estimate of hunting/gathering requiring about 20 hrs per week to maintain liveable rations). By having a group of people dedicated to those tasks, the others are free to build up new constructs (i.e. technology) to serve both in our procurement needs and in other desires.

I do think that we are starting to reach a level where people will become so dependent on technology that a power outage will be like a mini-Alderaan... millions of voices crying out in pain and suddenly silenced... :mad:

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Hi,

So can we say that technology may become our problem and not our solution at some point in future ? We have witnessed a variety of grate disasters caused by accident (Chernobil, vehicle accidents of all sorts, genetic mutation, mad cow disease, ozone layer, loss of species due to global ecological detoriation, global warming, globalized stock markets causing butterfly effect on global economy where one morning you wake-up and although nothing is different than yesterday in terms of production or resources, somehow all stocks get a historical low, interest rates a historical high, every bill of money lost many percent of its value and unemployment, ...)

or by purpose (all sorts of weapons of mass destruction, malicous computer code, engineered bio viruses, illegal drugs, ever increasing complexity of having a simple business operation or financial transaction w/o being disturbed by IT, infinitely many passwords we have to remember, provably unsolvable mathematical questions leading to unbreakable encryption accesible by 9 year olds as open source, detailed schematics of dirty bombs on the net, ...) but in both case related to technology.

The benefits of technology is pretty steady and increasing slowly but the related complications occur unexpectedly and in forms of large magnitudes (crises). This fluctuation on the complications of technology may make mankind extinct sooner or later.

If you observe it with another perspective, technology almost seems to follow evolutionary steps in terms of survival of the fitest against humanity (not in a robots take over world sense or AI sense). At some point the fitest will be neither man alone, nor technology alone (not sure on that) but a perfect symbiosis (no, not in a robocop sense) where naked (uneducated and equipped) man isn't fit to survive (how long can you keep working without checking your e-mails and not getting fired for that).

Let me quote and reverse 'Stein's example, if you take an uneducated African tribes man (who doesn't talk "the common tongue" english) and give him a $3k business suite, a wifi capable laptop and a suit case full of $$$, I wonder if he could survive longer than he could on his habitat ?

So we are making survivable subset of humans smaller and smaller for each context. Too much dooms day preaching from me; I hope I could caused more ripples on the pond.

Loren Soth

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Surely the complexity has always been there. It's just awareness and understanding of it that has changed, resulting in being able to use it in different - and far more useful - ways?

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Plz Help me

Set rs9 = db.OpenRecordset("select * from patient_profile", dbOpenDynaset, dbExecDirect, dbOptimisticValue) ->>>> this query written on vb6 and its execute succesfully but Set rs9 = db.OpenRecordset("select distnict name from patient_profile", dbOpenDynaset, dbExecDirect, dbOptimisticValue)->>> not only this when i use aggriate function like max, min etc its didn't execute. can any body help me. plz. what is the solution?

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Yeah i agree with you OP, lets get "back to primitive"...

Yea, right. Pull the plug on your home electricity and see how long you'll last without a computer:) I hate it when the power goes out during a storm. And if you want the return to the "good-old-days" you have to also take the bad with the good, more disease, earlier death, plague, unsanitary conditions, child labor, and the list is a really really long one.

Nope -- I'll live in today's world despite all its flaws.

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Which is worse having fire, stone and bile raining from the sky or having to debug obscure code for an obscure exception ? From which you can hide in a cave till it's over ? We simply are doomed.

Loren Soth

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Offhand, I'd say the fire, stone, and bile would be worse. The obscure code and exception are, theoretically, solvable. The other isn't.

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> Yea, right. Pull the plug on your home electricity and see how long you'll last without a computer.

Would you mind if we didn't have an option? I guess no, so as such its not a problem.

And if you want the return to the "good-old-days" you have to also take the bad with the good, more disease, earlier death, plague, unsanitary conditions...

Come on Mel, look at the world around you and you would find excellent substitutes of the above mentioned things.

> child labor

"Slavery is not dead, its just that we don't recognize it."

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Yea, right. Pull the plug on your home electricity and see how long you'll last without a computer:) I hate it when the power goes out during a storm. And if you want the return to the "good-old-days" you have to also take the bad with the good, more disease, earlier death, plague, unsanitary conditions, child labor, and the list is a really really long one.

I don't know. The best week I had over the last 20 years were spent in a log cabin in the middle of Yellowstone.
No TV, no radio, no telephone, no computers, bison and elk walking around the cabin evenings.

Just me and a good book after it got too dark to photograph the wildlife.

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