Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ada Lovelace, we need you.

Ada Lovelace, we need you.

I am not going to go into a prolonged explanation of who Ada Lovelace was, except to say that we need her now. It’s funny how things tend to go in disconnected but coincidental trends – poor Ada has been paraded around much this past week without many people realizing why her example resonates so much. Her life gets hijacked through a mis-assignment of importance. She wrote the very first computer program for Babbage’s Analytical Engine and is considered the first computer programmer. Because she was a woman, what she did get lost in her gender – even today. The celebration of Ada is less about the science and more about the gender. Yes, women and their accomplishments have long been swept out of history. Yes, women and girls today need examples of women in history who have been inventors, creators, scientists, artist etc. and so forth – but what is more important about Ada is that she did something.

That is kind of a genderless thing.

We don’t have a lot of people who do anything these days. We have tons of people who talk about things, but when it is time for action they follow what is already in place. The prime example, of course, is the Affordable Care Act – whether or not you support it isn’t really important, you don’t have any say in creating it, changing it or abiding by it so your thoughts and opinions on its efficacy are wasted effort. Where your energy would be better spent is in creating the alternative engine and the process that would allow it to be effective. That is what Babbage and Lovelace did, that is why she is important. She made the process that let the engine do something outside of just function in an isolated and self-congratulatory way.

In other words, her invention was to create a system that guides the power.

Power is inherently stupid. By that I mean “without purpose and reason”. You have to have purpose and reason to guide the power in order for it to be effective or it just randomly washes around like flood waters, indiscriminately helping and destroying. Not all brands of purpose and reason are good. There are some that can be destructive, and most commonly, there are many things that masquerade as purpose and reason that are really just power and energy randomly milling about in nice clothes.

In meditation and understanding how the body relates to what is around it, we often use the term “chi” (qi) or energy. Energy is a kind of power. Energy is stupid. It needs the guidance of purpose and reason in order to be effective. This is why people train in meditation, to learn awareness and breathing in order to be able to direct their intention (purpose and reason) to provide a controlled channel through which their energy is directed.

Now, here is the problem with both worlds – how do you recognize when intention is based in a delusion? Delusion is a strong word. What I mean by it here is “that which is without a life-promoting ability for things that effect and can be noticed by others.”

That is the first clue –
  • If you are the only one determining the effect of your intention and efforts – it is a delusion.

Second clue
  • If your “evidence” of effect is open to interpretation and can go either way as proof – then it is a delusion.

Here is a for instance:

In the golden era of the computer, when Babbage and others were developing what would become the computer systems we know today – there were many brilliant minds working on theories for how to implement the machines and their capabilities. Most of those theories were delusions, and remain so, because they never came to a life that stood outside of their creator’s desire. Just because you want to believe that something is, doesn’t make it so. Ada’s delusion crossed a line into reality wherein it left her control and interpretation and by golly, did the same thing for other people that she imagined it was doing all by herself.
So…of course…where does this leave faith?

Can faith ever be more than a delusion?

Yes and no. In that combined answer is the reason why the delusions of physicists and the religious are a necessity to the future of humanity, along with one very big caution.

All faith is a delusion. It has to be because the moment you prove faith it stops being faith and becomes fact. You can’t believe in a fact, a fact is and doesn’t need your help to believe it exists thankyouverymuch. Other people notice facts and the facts affect them. People may not notice faith and it is a crapshoot if what you have faith in will have an effect on them.

But the delusion of faith is what brings us to facts. It is also what keeps us living and curious about the entire existence of life. Without that curiosity, we don’t stand the slightest chance of making even the smallest of discoveries. We cannot explain the Universe or even the human mind – we have minute discoveries about them that have proved to be true. As time goes on, we sometimes see that our proof was a delusion itself. That is the nature of investigative science. Faith is required or you think everything is known. If everything is known, what is there to be curious about? If there is nothing to be curious about, then what are you doing living except passing time until death?

  • Curiosity creates purpose, meaning and intention.
  • Curiosity is what can guide power and energy.
  • Curiosity leaves room for you to discover what is true, and to accept when you find out what you thought was true was wrong
  • Curiosity allows other for people and ideas to exist and enable you to treat them with consideration and respect.

It is faith that places a moral and ethical framework on the curiosity in an attempt to ensure that it follows the path of least harm.

  • You can be irresponsibly curious.
  • It is easy to be stupid.
  • It requires practice to be accountably and responsibly curious.

One of the ways you learn that is by practicing doubt of the very things you have faith in. The doubt challenges the delusion, it isn’t always resolved by proof, but it does serve to put some guidelines in place to control the potential power of faith. Power and faith can be quite the dangerous combination. Faith without practiced doubt can be its own energy and power, and bring with it the destructive stupidity that implies.

Ada Lovelace, we need you.

And those inspired to be like you – to believe, to doubt, to act, to try to seek to make something new work for reasons outside of just proving it can.

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