Saturday, December 5, 2009

The problem with binary way of thinking..

One of my most favorite movies of all times is the "The Matrix" trilogy. I just love the idea of a super advanced world where entire reality that we know of is a fabrication. It changed my thinking about the possibilities in the future. One of the things that struck me out was the basis of this artificial world i.e Choice. It is essentially the manifestation of the binary.

Well as we all know at the core of every computer is a bit. its either 0 or 1. That's how the digital world has simplified the real world. By building upon this we have moved forward at an amazing pace. What has been achieved in last couple of decades is simply mind boggling. I am grateful for that

For any scientific exercise it is imperative to create a model to do away with some unwanted complexities while dealing with the problems. But we like it or not the reverse is becoming true. A common adage goes that art imitates life but now life has started imitating art. An increasing number of people I know think in a binary fashion. Its either good or bad, its either simple or complex. We either win or lose, it either can be done or can't be done. I can go on and on. What i hear and see is choice. Everybody around us is either making a choice or is expecting others to make a choice.

Inadvertently our lives represent a binary tree where people are creating choices and constraining themselves. Imagine a world which is not constrained by choices created by few but everybody free from this shackle of thinking in terms of choices. To quote Merovingian from Matrix "Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without power". I couldn't agree more.

Another problem with the binary way of thinking is how a lot of context around your end results gets lost because the focus is just on the end result. To simplify this further consider a sporting match in which a team wins and another loses. In the end we all remember is who won. The information on how spectacular the contest was or how hard fought it was lives in the minds of people who have seen it for a while. As we are thrusting more and more of our lives information into the hands of digital servants I wish there was a way to move away from binary to continuum way of thinking. We are so enslaved to the computers that someday a generation might start thinking beyond choices in trying to imitate the computers

( Note: Is there a word that alludes to a person or phenomenon that gets imitated/copied by majority of people. For e.g MJ's moon walk that's been copied by millions. In terms of subject and predicate if the people who are copying are called imitators what would MJ be called as?)


The Old Geezer said...

You have a interesting blog
God bless you

QuestionEverything said...

Good points, I guess the Matrix is the modern version of Tron, leads to thinking about a lot of different things like this.

If I take your definition of binary thinking correctly, my opinion is that simple minds see the world simply. It's easy to form a strong opinion and stick to it, disregarding all else. People who do this view someone else as either with them or against them. I don't see this as a new thing, but as old as human kind.

I see the world as very complex (therefore maybe I think too much of myself :-), and understand it is virtually impossible to know something with 100% certainty.

I took physics in high school and college, today a lot of the more advanced ideas are considered obsolete. Einstein's equations replaced Newton's, although Newton's work under most circumstances, and today Einstein's are considered approximately correct. Is it really possible to dig deep enough to determine the full truth?

Science is one thing, but everyday decisions or opinions are probably what your entry is addressing. Politics, culture, education, and everyday experiences shape how a person thinks. I think people should be taught to question, debate, and compromise when needed, to recognize their own limitations.

Rixon said...

Thanks for your comments. I feel the situation is a Catch 22. The environment we live in shapes our thoughts our way of thinking and somehow I feel that the latter gets created by the way we think. I am sure there are still many curios people out there who try to think why they think the way they think and while they think that they are going upstream they are maybe just part of another herd.