in Hartjes

Our Machines Now Have Knowledge We’ll Never Understand

Models are always reductive: They confine the investigation to the factors we can observe and follow. For thousands of years we acted as if the simplicity of our models reflected the simplicity — the elegance, the beauty, the pure rationality — of the universe. Now our machines are letting us see that even if the rules are simple, elegant, beautiful and rational, the domain they govern is so granular, so intricate, so interrelated, with everything causing everything else all at once and forever, that our brains and our knowledge cannot begin to comprehend it. It takes a network of humans and computers to know a world so thoroughly governed by contingency — one in which it’s chaos all the way down. And up.

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