Scarce Resources and Short Sighted Fixes
We have a real knack for coming up with great ideas only to find that that we've totally screwed things up in ways that we didn't anticipate. This pattern behavior can easily be studied by giving a programming task to a junior developer. They'll build something and give it to you only to watch as you break it; they fix the bug and come back to find out that there are now three things that are broken, and so-forth. The point is that the more complex something is, then the more chance that there is of breaking something. Having said that, complexity is a fairly relative thing.
I was thinking about this today at lunch as Mitch and I were playing our usual game of abstract mental table tennis. We were discussing (well debating actually) what is the likely impact of certain decisions that are made by the human-race. Big things, you know... robots, genetics, etc. Anyways, I won't "go there" right now but I was again alerted to this theme when I came home and did my evening blog reading. Apparently in our rush to become "green" we are now ruining the Amazon forests.
Now is it only me or is it apparent to others as well... in a world where a burgeoning population ensures that food and water are fast becoming scarce resources, choosing to replace fossil-fuels with either of them as a fuel source would be a pretty short-sighted idea?
11/24/2005 2:55:00 AM
I'll agree, the idea of destroying forests to reduce greenhouse gasses is a pretty short sighted (and ludicrous) idea.
Someone see's a problem, makes a law, makes advantages for people to do things, then all of a sudden everyone's doing it and it has an adverse effect. Introducing subsidies makes it good for businesses, so they all rush in. So then, you have to take the laws and subsidies away, or introduce more laws and subsidies to keep things in moderation. This links back to your opening paragraph, about the developer who fixes a bug and then writes fixes to fix the bugs his first fix introduced.
Things like this are always easier to see in hindsight. As developers, we don't have time to study the complete consequences of every bug we fix (*cough* unit testing *cough*), and that's in a binary world. Things get far more complex when you need to take into account societies, politics, laws, regulations and nature.
I think this is simply human nature. We make mistakes, but so long as we learn from it, the experience isn't wasted. The only 'wrong' thing is refusing to admit when we've made mistakes, or to cover them up (not so easy to do in our binary developer world, but probably easier in the world of politics, societies, laws and regulations).