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"Open Source Software: There are days when I can't figure out whether I'm living in a Socialist utopia or a Libertarian one." -- Alex Future Bokov

I suspect the answer is "neither."

Libertarianism and Socialism are about (electoral) politics and government. Open Source Software is about voluntary co-operation.


George Weinberg,

Am I correct in assuming that you have neither followed nor studied the efforts of W. Edwards Deming and other practitioners of statistical quality control to introduce those methods into American manufacturing companies from the 1930s through the mid 1980s? That you do not know how few companies have adopted them even after the Baldrige award was established in 1987?

That you do not know how few managers (of manufacturing or anything else) even know that there is such a thing as design of experiments?

You may have experienced only the best of management and have participated in successful introductions into your organization of practices believed to account for the success of others.

If this is so, let me assure you that you have had extraordinarily rare experiences and have been either exceptionally lucky or exceptionally wise in your choice of place or places to work.



The mechanisms of cosmological, biological, and organizational evolution are as dissimilar as the mechanisms of artistic (paint on canvass), photographic, and mental image making.

An artist uses a brush to paint a picture. Even though both make images, we don't expect to find a brush painting the paper or the chip inside a camera.

Corporations change. That the word evolution can be used to refer to such changes does not mean the changes are similar to the changes in stars or amoebae.

Is that what you are saying?



The theory of change in stars over time that I am familiar with says that early stars were nearly pure hydrogen. Heavier elements were formed in them as they burned and when they became nova. Subsequent stars created and were composed of increasing concentrations of increasingly heavy elements. Did this not change the life span of stars? Did I misunderstand your point?

Also, is there an equation that is claimed to describe the change in the entropy of the universe?

Can it be used to figure out if the increase in entropy caused by a star going nova would cause an increase in entropy in the universe as a whole? If one nova is insufficient, how many would have to go nova simultaneously to cause an increase? How long would the increase last?



Could you -- perhaps in another thread -- discuss how "The Evolution of Cooperation" (as Robert Axelrod put it) fits or does not fit with Huxley's comment. Can Axelrod and Huxley both be right?



Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime.

The grave's a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. --Andrew Marvell


"--" should have been "Shakespeare's Fool" John

Tom McCabe, Thank you for the comment. You have started me thinking about the differences between Occam's Razor and Einstein's "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." John

I am not sure if my understanding of Occam’s Razor matches Eliezer Yudkowsky’s.

I understand it more as (to use a mechanical analogy) “don’t add any more parts to a machine than are needed to make it work properly.”

This seems to fit Occam’s Razor if I take it to be a guide, not a prediction or a law. It does not say that the theory with the fewest parts is more likely to be correct. It just reminds us to take out anything that is unnecessary.

If scientists have often found that theories with more parts are less often correct, that may further encourage us to look for and test the simpler theories first. But it does not tell us that they are more likely to be correct only because they are simpler.

As soon as I try an aesthetic analogy “strip the iPod down to its essential features” (and make them easy to use), I run into trouble. There is no agreement on what the essential features are or on what is easiest to use. (1)

Perhaps Occam works best with a certain type of simplicity. F=MA being much simpler than the Mac OS. Even if it did require a different genius to discover it.


(1) I realize that in order to make the mechanical analogy work we need to know what the machine is before we apply Occam’s Razor. Once we start improving the product (replacing the stick shift with automatic transmission, adding air conditioning) we are into feature wars. It is not possible to know in advance what customers will find essential.

But even then we would not want unnecessary parts in the transmission or the air conditioner.

Still, taking out all unnecessary parts won’t guarantee that the machinery will work properly any more than removing unnecessary parts of a theory will guarantee the correctness of the theory.

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