Saint Louis Junto Meeting 11/23/2019

by JohnBuridan1 min read24th Nov 2019No comments


Personal Blog

In attendance: 6 people

Collective Food: Cashew Chicken and Rice, Devilled Eggs, Pumpkin Bread, Apple Pie, Apple Cider Cinnamon Ice Cream, Cheese and Crackers, Tea, Pepsi, Red and White Wine

1. Member Presented Argument: Are Podcasts locking away information?

a. Podcasts take content away from the written word, which is a more efficient way to consume information - all else being equal.
b. Without transcripts podcasts are not term searchable.
c. The momentary convenience of podcasts while walking and driving diminishes the collective pool of good written content, and good written content has more staying power than a good podcast episode.

2. Conversation: Practical knowledge in science

a. Blacksmiths and Engineers

i. Iron Working, Guild and Trades, etc. functioned through an unbroken apprentice system. It takes a blacksmith to make a blacksmith. The non-academic approach makes learning what was done at any particular time difficult. High iteration processes generally have this feature. What fields today are very difficult to learn about without doing?
ii. NASA’s Apollo Program was so “do engineering” focused that it took a long time after the fact to figure out exactly how all the parts fit together.
iii. Nuclear scientists today are monitored so that their know-how is put to use in approved countries, same for WMD specialists.
iv. International Students in the US have limited access to highly advanced fields and the most cutting edge. Sometimes for National Security reasons, but mostly for the reason of patent protection and intellectual property rights for professors and grant making agencies.
v. How can we make sure that knowledge passed on this way does not get lost? Post-mortems? Proper Latin: Post Mortes?

3. Presented Lecture: The Grand Plan of Rome by Giambattista Nolli, Art and Science of

a. Commissioned by Pope Benedict XIV to district the city into political wards. The 1757 map employs New techniques of cartography and surveying. This is the first map comparable to the accuracy of Google Maps.

i. New Idea: Measurement of everything.
ii. Figure-Ground distinction for depiction of buildings
iii. Floor Plans of Public Spaces with exact colonnades.
iv. Data collection of all agricultural fields; the fields are depicted on map with the crop type visually indicated.
v. New Techniques of Triangulation – accurate up to a few feet.
vi. Features attractive Pastiche of Symbols of Roman Past and “Catholic Present”

4. Demarcation in science

a. Scott’s article on building intuitions about science.

b. Local Professor of systems engineering can’t explain what systems engineering is.

c. How scientific subdepartments get absorbed into other fields

i. Chaos theory, dynamic systems, cybernetics once existed as fields unto themselves, but generally now, one will take a course in one of these since their tools and insights have been incorporated into other disciplines.
ii. What does this say about how our society structures scientific discovery?

5. Different types of futurism.

a. Transhumanist optimists, or ideologically motivated technophiles frequently ignore ill-effects and trade-offs, and the steps to that distant horizon.
b. Anti-scientism pessimists don’t think technology can solve any really human problem.
c. The future is here but is just unevenly distributed. -William Gibson
d. “Speculative futurism” as a mode of thought experiments about technologies of today extended 5 – 10 years out and outlining all the various ways they could affect society. This could be a good project for people to present upon. Choose a technology and write up the effects of its propagation.


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