“We Only Need More Power and More Surveillance . . .

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. . . to be able to prevent such terrorist acts.”  This is the song-and-dance that always come from the political establishment. These people imagine that all that is needed to achieve any desirable end is more information about more people. It is an illusion shared by those who have yet to learn the basic lesson from the study of chaos: other than in a very short time-frame (e.g., forecasting tomorrow’s weather) it is impossible to predict outcomes in complex systems. The capacity to predict requires a “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” which translates into having precise knowledge of all factors that can influence outcomes. Contrary to Plato’s vision, there are simply too many (and constantly changing) variables at work within any society of human beings to be able to identify and assess their impacts.  But as vertically-structured systems depend upon illusions to the contrary, the philosopher-kings – along with the philosopher-kings-in-waiting – will continue promoting their repressive and invasive schemes in search of magical ways of circumventing the inherent uncertainties arising from complexities.

6:04 pm on April 24, 2013