Eric's ear for detail on our discussion yesterday about Paul's ideas on
fostering a climate of values to guide project objectives, is unmatched, per
below. Will work it into the record shortly.
In the meantime, here is a scant flavor of the proceedings for those near and
far, who could not attend the reception honoring Doug's award for the National
Medal of Technology....
Eric Armstrong wrote:
> I'm glad to see a discussion centered around values,
> because I suspect that a statement of values has
> important implications for selecting a direction.
> At yesterday's well-attended reception for Doug's
> National Medal of Technology, this thread came up
> over and over again. In discussing it with Rod
> Welch and one other fellow, we identified several
> salient points:
> a) Given a wide range of options from which
> to choose, a statement of values may well
> narrow the selection.
> b) It would be good to know for sure that the
> direction we are choosing is within the
> set of "desirable" directions, according
> to those values.
> c) On the other hand, even a tool as simple
> as an ax can be used for good or for bad.
> So its not totally clear that a statement
> of values is much help when it comes to
> making tools.
> d) On the other other hand, there may well be
> tools which are hard to use for bad ends,
> and others which are hard to use for good
> I was recently reminded of the dictum of unintended
> consequences. Basically, a drought-likely environment
> will only support so many people, and every time a
> drought occurs, some percentage dies off. This keeps
> the herd small that attempts to live there.
> When well-meaning attempts to avoid that consequence
> prevent the natural thinning, the herd grows large.
> At the next drought, the number of potential deaths
> is many times greater than it was, raising the sense
> of urgency and the importance of "doing the right
> thing" to prevent the consequences, because now,
> thousands are affected, rather than hundreds.
> As a result, the herd grows dramatically. The land
> now holds many times more people than it can
> comfortably support. Come the next drought, millions
> will die. Now the situation is truly desparate, and
> something simply has to be done.
> But during the NEXT drought...
> You see where this is heading. We're caught between
> our natural impulse to help individuals, and the
> counter-intutitive affects of our intervention.
> We reach a point where only by keeping up a
> constant stream of aid can the population continue
> to be supported. And sooner or later, we reach a
> point where we can't continue that level of
> assistance. What happens then?
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Dec 21 2000 - 20:28:47 PST