There’s probably the need for a warning here. What follows will likely contain some ‘big’ words. There’s probably also the need for a disclaimer. What follows began with the intention of including no mathematics, whether that continues to hold by the end of the writing may be somewhat different. So, given the presence of ‘big’ words and mathematics are reportedly inversely related to the number of readers, things are bound to go wrong.
Anyone still there? Anyone…
If you are, it may be a long read. To explain the concept of uthinki will not be something instant. It’s about exploration. Amongst other things, attempting to understand whether the crowd provides wisdom, or madness.
Why the Jokers are Wild
Is it serious, or not?
That’s a resounding yes. An emphatic no. And also a maybe, just for good measure.
As alluded to in the title, should the choice be left in the hands of those ‘good’ people in society, or placed right in the hands of those judged as ‘bad’?
Or, we’re all moral relativists now? Perhaps, when it’s convenient. It may well depend on circumstances and the society at the time.
Narratives and Predictions
To understand things, people will create stories and narratives. Arguably making things of an episodic, rather than declarative, nature makes them more memorable. Drawing from these, there will then often to be the attempt to extrapolate forward. If it happened this way in the past, then it should happen this way in the future.
Prediction is an often problematic pastime. So much can ride on it, yet it can also be so inaccurate that afterwards all you can do is laugh. The best medicine for mice and men where things never go quite as planned.
With uthinki, in part it’s about engaging in scientific thought, not thinking by analogy. Yet also having some fun along the way. There are problems that are self-referential and reflexive by nature.
Information and Shaping the Distribution
Consider things from a simple two dimensional case. There will be extreme views in the left tail, and other, often equally outlandish and opposite views in the right tail of the distribution. Most people will fall somewhere between these and in the middle with their views. Whereas the views in the tails may be those of the ‘crackpots’ and the ‘conspiracy theorists’. Most of time, they’ll probably be wrong. Most of the time, what they suggest will be extremely improbable. Yet, on rare occasion, they may also be correct.
So in presenting multiple viewpoints across a diverse range of topics, it’s all about understanding what is in the distribution. Because so much is related to the information set that one is working with.
One person’s Black Swan, given different information, may be another’s park-variety pigeon.
If you clip the leftwing, or the rightwing, then things will go around in circles. Clip them both, and the bird is not going to fly. In which case, you’d better hope it can run or swim. Outliers are there for a reason, and they may not be isolated and independent events.
We’re All Connected Now
It’s about seeing the connections.
Of not only connecting the dots, but also attempting to understand how these strings may be pulled.
There is the need to be somewhat careful here. To not build a house of cards on the sand to accommodate the conspiracy of one. That’s also why, it is important not to be so serious.
The why itself, is perhaps a puzzle that can’t be readily solved.
There are issues, not limited to, Bayesian updating, salience, utility, discussions of what is rationality, and whether for good weighting to throw in a puce-coloured kitchen sink. This could go on, but it’s going to probably get complicated, and quite frankly more than a little boring. Making things about as much fun as having a packet of sugar poured down the back of your shirt on a hot summer day.
Alone in the Crowd?
To change the distribution, towards the end of one tail, it can be ever so serious. Whilst at the other end, it can be so unserious. That’s why it is left open to polling and for the crowd to decide. Parts of the distribution may have been pre-predicted (you were forewarned about the self-referential nature of these things), yet how these may fill up is left open.
That is why the opinions of people matter. This is who we are, and divided we will stand.
It is as much about the human condition, as it is about human expression. People can do things Big Data alone cannot.
This is what uthinki is. It may result in some moments for arguably deep thought, or simply a few moments of fun and distraction. You’re allowed to have an opinion. With what is said, you may agree, disagree, or be indifferent. Or something more extreme. You may think something else entirely. You can choose for yourself. You can also attempt to predict the views of others, and subsequently learn what they think. It can be great to outsmart the crowd.
It may also be worthwhile understanding the crowd a little better.
Feature Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons