Efficient / Redundant

Efficient               -          Redundant
Engineer              -          Artist
Specialist             -          Generalist
Work                   -           Play
Truth                   -           Myth
Narrow base        -          Wide base
Closed                 -          Open
Unconscious        -          Self-aware
Order                   -          Chaos

Complex situations/interactions cannot be standardised. Standardisation implies known territory. In complex circumstances, an abstracted/wide view is more advantageous than a concrete/narrow view.

Modern football bought efficiency at the price of character. When pundits say that the modern game is "better" what they really mean is that it is more efficient. 

A strong mechanical metaphor characterizes [process engineering] approaches. The focus is on efficiency, stripping away all superfluous functions in order to ensure repeatability and consistency.

The engineering process takes place in a specific context and once achieved, shifts in that context require the engineering design process to be repeated to some degree before efficiency can be achieved again. Radical shifts in context may make the entire approach redundant or lead to catastrophic failure.

Manufacturing plant, payment systems in a bank and the like are all closed systems that can be structured and standardized without any major issue. We can in effect define best practice. However when we apply the same techniques to systems with higher levels of ambiguity, for example customer interactions, sales processes and the like we encounter more difficulties.

[Some of these] arise from the impossibility of anticipating all possible situations and shifting context. In these cases we need a different focus, one of effectiveness in which we leave in place a degree of inefficiency to ensure that the system has adaptive capacity and can therefore rapidly evolve to meet the new circumstances. 

Examples would include apprentice schemes of knowledge transfer, maintaining mavericks or misfits, allowing people to take training in subjects with no apparent relevance to their current jobs and providing more delegated authority.

There is nothing wrong with an engineering approach; there are many things that need high degrees of order and control. However taken to excess, and it has nearly always been so taken, it sacrifices human effectiveness, innovation and curiosity on the altar of mechanical efficiency .

[Dave Snowden]
'Multi-ontology sense making: a new simplicity in decision making'

The exact opposite of redundancy is naive optimisation.

I tell everyone to avoid attending (orthodox) economics classes and say that economics will fail us and blow us up […] The reason is the following: It is largely based on notions of naive optimisation, mathematised (poorly) […] and this mathematics contributed massively to the construction of an error-prone society.

An economist would find it inefficient to maintain two lungs and two kidneys: consider the costs involved in transporting these heavy items across the savannah. Such optimisation would, eventually, kill you, after the first accident, the first “outlier.”

Also consider that if we gave Mother Nature to economists, it would dispense with individual kidneys: since we do not need them all the time, it would be more “efficient” if we sold ours and used a central kidney on a time-share basis.

Almost every major idea in conventional economics […] fails under the modification of some assumption, or what is called ‘perturbation,” when you change one parameter, or take a parameter heretofore assumed by the theory to be fixed and stable, and make it random.

For instance, if a model used for risk assumes that the type of randomness under consideration is from Mediocristan, it will ignore large deviations and encourage the building of a lot of risk that ignores large deviations; accordingly, risk management will be faulty.

For another example of egregious model error, take the notion of comparative advantage […] behind the wheels of globalisation. The idea is that countries should focus, as a consultant would say, on “what they do best” (more exactly, on where they are missing the smallest number of opportunities); so one country should specialise in wine and the other in clothes, although one of them might be better at both. But do some perturbations and alternative scenarios: consider what would happen to the country specialising in wine if the price of wine fluctuated

Mother Nature does not like overspecialisation, as it limits evolution and weakens the animals.

Globalisation might give the appearance e of efficiency, but the operating leverage and the degrees of interaction between parts will cause small cracks in one spot to percolate through the entire system. The result would be like a brain experiencing an epileptic seizure from too many cells firing at the same time. Consider that our brain, a well-functioning complex system, is not “globalised,” or, at least, not naively “globalised.”

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 312-3

A typical strategy of companies and corporations is to eliminate redundancies and degeneracies in the name of minimizing costs.

This is the major reason why almost all companies have great difficulty adapting to change, and eventually disappear. Just as biological systems pay a cost for robustness and evolvability foregoing efficiency for long-term persistence, so too should we demand this of our institutions.

[David Krakauer & Geoffrey West]
'The Damage We’re Not Attending To'

This is hint to a central problem of the world today, that of the misunderstanding of nonlinear response by those involved in creating “efficiencies” and “optimisation” of systems.

For instance, European airports and railroads are stretched, seeming overly efficient. They operate at close to maximal capacity, with minimal redundancies and idle capacity, hence acceptable costs; but a small increase in congestion, say 5 percent more planes in the sky owing to a tiny backlog, can give rise to chaos […]

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 274

[Economics] appeals to a very rigid mind. If you build everything around homoeconomicus, which is this model that clearly doesn’t represent how human beings actually are in the world, you tend to select for very rigid thinkers who have a particular penchant for finding […] lies that people tell themselves and each other. 

So famously a professor of economics suggested that no-one should give gifts because its much more efficient to give cash. 

And that’s what economists have historically liked to do […] relentlessly and unflinchingly they apply tools of utility-maximisation […] and try to turn humans into robots and make the robots maximally efficient. 

[Eric Weinstein]
‘Eric Weinstein: WTF Happened in 1971: An INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE Birthday Extravaganza 🎉 !’

The most typical example is that of Protestantism, in which simplification takes the form both of an almost complete suppression of rites, together with an attribution of predominance to morality over doctrine; and the doctrine itself becomes more and more simplified and diminished so that it is reduced to almost nothing, or at most to a few rudimentary formulas that anyone can interpret in any way that suits him. 

Moreover, Protestantism in its many forms is the only religious production of the modern spirit, and it arose at a time when that spirit had not yet come to the point of rejecting all religion, but was on the way toward doing so by virtue of the anti-traditional tendencies which are inherent in it and which really make it what it is. 

At the endpoint of this 'evolution' (as it would be called today), religion is replaced by 'religiosity', that is to say by a vague sentimentality having no real significance; it is this that is acclaimed as 'progress', and it shows clearly how all normal relations are reversed in the modern mentality, for people try to see in it a 'spiritualization' of religion, as if the ‘spirit' were a mere empty frame or an 'ideal' as nebulous as it is insignificant. 

This is what some of our contemporaries call a ‘purified religion', but it is so only insofar as it is emptied of all positive content and has no longer any connection with any reality whatsoever.

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 77-8

“I knew a man who used to lecture frequently, on subjects requiring much thought […] He told me that he would become aware of himself perhaps once or twice during the lecture, and at the end of it, as he sat down, he would find himself surprised that it was he who had given the lecture. Yet he fully remembered everything.”

This is a very good description of a man acting like a programmed machine, implementing a programme devised some time ago.

He, the programmer, is no longer needed; he can mentally absent himself. If the machine is implementing a good programme it gives a good lecture; if the programme is bad, the lecture is bad. We are all very familiar with the possibility of implementing ‘programmes', e.g. when driving a car and engaging in an interesting conversation at the same time.

[E. F. Schumacher]
A Guide for the Perplexed, p.81

Unlike Bellamy, for whom military discipline implied an intricate division of labor and the efficiency provided by complete regimentation, Sorel believed that war nourished a "passionate individualism."

In the wars of the French revolution - his favorite example, next to Homeric Greece, of military life at its best - "each soldier considered himself as an individual having something of importance to do in the battle, instead of looking upon himself as simply one part of the military mechanism committed to the supreme direction of the leader."

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.310

Today, thanks to the spectroscope and other tools of the analytical laboratory, they can analyze these medicinal herbs and isolate their active medical ingredient. In so doing, scientists believe that they have accounted, in a scientific way, for folk remedies - they are biologically active chemicals adulterated by a variety of other substances.

How much better, therefore, to administer a 100 percent pure drug that has been synthesized in the laboratory than an unpleasant concoction of herbs and roots. Scientific knowledge has advanced beyond the superstition of folk medicine.

Again, what is really happening is not the perfection of knowledge or the replacement of myths by objective knowledge, but really an encounter of two worldviews.

To approach medicine herbs only in terms of biologically active molecules is to see them in only one dimension. Within the dimensions of chemical analysis this may be correct, but it leaves out the other dimensions of spirit, energy, and relationship.

The nature of Native medicine lies both in the plant and the ceremony, in the way that plant was picked, the exchanges and relationships that were entered into that would lead to its use, and in the relationship between that plant and other people in the circle and the relationship to the sick person.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.120, 132-3

The sacred seriousness of play has entirely given way to the profane seriousness of work and production […]

Without Eros, the steps of thinking degenerate into the steps of a calculation, that is, the steps of work to be performed. Calculation is naked, pornographic. Thinking dresses itself in figures. It is often squiggly. Calculations, by contrast, follow a linear path.

Thinking has the character of play. Under the compulsion of work and production, it becomes alienated from its essence […] Along the way from myth to dataism, thinking loses the element of play altogether. It comes close to calculation.

But the steps in thinking are not the steps of a calculation which simply repeat the same operation over and over again. Rather, they are moves in a game, or dancing steps, which create something totally different, introduce an altogether different order among things […]

Life subordinated to the dictates of health, optimization and performance comes to resemble mere survival. It lacks splendour, sovereignty, intensity.

The Roman satirist Juvenal expressed this well when he spoke of 'losing the reasons to live for the sake of staying alive' (propter vitam vivendi perdere causas).

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.55, 83

The sophists are seen as mere travelling showmen who are occupied solely with the playful. But play has now to give way to the work of uncovering the truth.

Huizinga is probably to be credited with having taught us about the playful character of human action in archaic cultures. But he turns play into something absolute, and he therefore misses the decisive paradigm shift within knowledge transfer in the history of the Occident, namely the transition from myth to truth, which coincides with the transition from play to work.

Along the path towards work, thinking gradually distances itself from its origin in play.

Limits must be set to the imagination's urge to play so that play can serve the purposes of the understanding, namely the production of knowledge. Play is subordinated to work and production.

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.79-80

Networks are the way in which things are connected, like sequences - the way an airline is connected, or the way the internet is connected, or the way neurons are connected; functional connectivity. There's three basic kinds of networks.

There's a regular network, where all the connections are just one step away, node to node. And then there's a random network, where you can have long distance connections - very long distance connections. I don't have to fly from Savannah to Atlanta to Toronto - I can just fly directly from Savannah to Toronto.

The regular network is highly inefficient. The way you measure efficiency is called mean path distance. You take all the distance from all possible combinations - how many steps do I have to go from this point to that point? - and you average them together and get the mean path distance - the average path distance between any two points.

In a regular network, it's very, very high because you have to go through a lot of steps. They're all local connections. When you look at it, it looks beautiful. It’s highly ordered because all the lines are the same length, but it's highly inefficient. The random network is highly efficient because you have a lot of these long distance connections that collapse your path.

But the brain doesn't go for either one of those, because there's a trade-off relationship. As I make the network more random to make it more efficient - which sounds like a contradiction in terms - I lose robustness in the system.

When you have a lot of little connections there's lots of redundancy, and so I can lose a lot of stuff - I get graceful degradation - but I only get a small reduction in functionality. In a random network, I can take out one link and entire nodes can become isolated from each other.

That's the danger of efficiency versus redundancy. The brain does what's called a small world network, which is mostly regular and then one or two long distance connections.

If you give somebody a Propofol and take them into unconsciousness, the brain will go from being a global, small world network and it'll break up into small, local regular networks. And then as you bring them back into consciousness, it will go from local regular networks back into a comprehensive small-world networks.

[John Vervaeke]
‘A Conversation So Intense It Might Transcend Time and Space | John Vervaeke | EP 321, Jordan B. Peterson, YouTube

We only see one side of it. We see that we’re being smart and saving effort, but we don’t see that […] there’s a corresponding loss of capability.

Because I don’t programme an assembly any more, I no longer am able to programme an assembly. If I use languages that are too high level […] I don’t know how my variables live in memory or how big they are and I certainly don’t know what the CPU is doing in response to the code I’ve written.

The rhetoric that we have is, “I’m being smart, I shouldn’t have to do the low-level stuff”, but part of the reality is the loss of capability that corresponds to those choices.

[Jonathan Blow]
‘Jonathan Blow - Preventing the Collapse of Civilization (English only)’, YouTube

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