‘We’re Living in Jurassic Park’ (2015)

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In the original Jurassic Park, the slimy lawyer tries to hide in the john but the T. rex gets him anyway. More than a few people cheered that scene.

But as a metaphor, the movie works even better: more and more dinosaurs are getting lose and raising cain with our own Jurassic Park.

We’re Living in Jurassic Park

Yeah, yeah–Settled Science and Real Smart Politics were going to make it all so wonderful. But now the T. rex is out, eating people and wrecking stuff. We prefer to call it a virus. But really, it’s not the only hungry dinosaur on the loose. Our whole globalist project has melted into chaos.

As it was bound to.

As Bayard Rustin once said, “There sure are a lot of stupid smart people.”

8 comments on “‘We’re Living in Jurassic Park’ (2015)

  1. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen Jurassic Park, but I loved that scene. Crichton’s plot was pure genius, and IMO, quite on the money. Humans are too clever for their own good at times. Men have built complex systems which have such gotchas all over the place.

    Their was the demonstration flight of a new Airbus which decided to land itself in a forest. The plane load of adventurers on board got more excitement than they bargained for and, sadly, there was some loss of life. A switch was set wrong and the plane “thought” that it was landing, and not just doing a flyby.

    There was another airliner in Australia whose flight control computer commanded an abrupt control movement which seriously injured a number of people and forced the captain to end his career prematurely due to PTSD.

    Then there is the ongoing story of the new 737 model which has had two crashes and has been grounded for quite some time, after 346 lives were cut short.

    As best I understand the problem, in all three cases, systems designed to prevent pilot errors took control of the aircraft and either ignored the pilot’s control inputs or worked to counteract them. Certain combinations of circumstances were interpreted in such a way as to trigger responses that were never intended by the designers and programmers. Automated systems intended acted in a way not anticipated. In every case, to the best of my knowledge, the pilot was surprised by what happened and every reaction (on the part of the pilot) which should have been effective, was ineffective. Imagine pressing the brake pedal in your car and having it speed up, and you’ll have an idea of what those pilot’s experienced.

    The digital world is much more complex and unintuitive than the analog world most of us grew up in. In another few hours, I will be part of a Change Control meeting, where proposed changes are reviewed by people on three continents to make certain that no one makes a change which could inadvertently have negative impact on another part of the system. It’s a good program and works well, but it shows just how complex the world has become.

    I am in the process of shutting down some equipment which is end of life and will be very pleased if all of it can be accomplished before the end of the calendar year. If I merely shut it down, without significant peer review, there is a strong possibility that I could negatively impact the work of others, because there might be one person, one department or one specific task which relies upon that piece of equipment, and it’s entirely possible that I would not even conceive of that possibility, on my own.

    Simply replacing a patch cable has to take place during specific “maintenance windows”, when it is agreed that operations can be momentarily interrupted. Changing to a new Internet circuit, a two minute task at best, took months to coordinate, because the interruption for just those two minutes had the potential to disrupt operations.

    The point here is that technology has expanded to the point where it exceeds the capacity of human imagination and things that normally help us can become things which harm us. A dropped socket at a missile silo caused a massive and deadly explosion. An inadvertent, but massive, overdose of a blood thinner almost killed two infants. A complex system displayed a warning that a missile had been launched at the US. Had the retaliation been automated, there was a good chance that a nuclear exchange could have followed, but fortunately there were humans in the loop whom realized that a lone missile would be an unlikely way to start a war and they decided not to retaliate.

    In every case above, the systems were highly managed and the people involved were highly trained. One tiny mistake caused disproportionate results. That is the lessons of Jurassic Park, but a lot of people would seem to prefer being eaten alive by a T-Rex while on the John, over admitting that they might not have matters as well in hand as they would like to think.

    1. Well said!
      Many years ago there was a lecturer from the Bell System who admitted that no one at Bell Labs knew, anymore, how America’s phone system worked: it had grown too complicated to keep track of.
      That was 50 years ago, and I don’t think the system has grown less complicated since.

    2. One of the tasks I am currently involved in is updating a phone system. This is t the first time I’ve done this, but the task is unbelievably complex. The number of options is staggering and factor in the regulatory requirements of 4 different nations and it becomes even more complex. The old Bell System was THE model of reliability in a complex system, but that came at the cost of allowing the Phone Company absolute control over what equipment was plugged in at every home and office. As control was decentralized, the reliability and interoperability decreased.

      Now, in the Internet era, it is possible to route voice calls over the Internet and bypass the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) entirely. While this sounds like a wonderful free ride, it comes with consequences, because the Internet is not designed to give priority to voice traffic and, while this can be controlled with specific types of lines, such as MPLS (Multiple Protocol Label Switching) the cost increases significantly.

      I use the Internet for voice calling daily and even calls to Asia and Australia tend to be pretty good, but there are exceptions and there is little we can do to correct those.

      So the Bell System was a wonderful, complex and somewhat inscrutable system of technologies optimized for transmitting voices reliably, the Internet chooses its data paths via complex automation and is much, much harder to control. If I try to trace the path from my computer to the Internet circuit feeding your home (I would have to ask you for specific information before I could even attempt that) the path might go from me to Phoenix to LA to Kansas City, to Chicago to New York one time, and from Phoenix to LA to San Francisco, to Washington DC, back to LA and then find it’s way back east, the second time. That’s how the Internet operates and is does so by determining the best available path in real time. So as a communications system, it is simultaneously both better and worse than the classic telephone system, and as you mention, that was incomprehensibly complex, even 50 years ago.

      I have a sincere concern that the weaknesses in technology could someday align in such as way as to make it very hard, possibly impossible, to fix the problem, in a timely manner. When working on devices remotely, it’s possible to “saw off the branch you are sitting on” which is to say that you make a programming change which blocks you out of the device you are working on. It’s a common enough problem that some devices have a built-in feature which allows you to test the changes and if you don’t verify that you can still get on, it will reboot automatically, 10 minutes later. If some update were pushed out to millions of computers and that update accidentally broke the ability of these computers to access the Internet. Unfortunately, without Internet access, it may be all but impossible to correct the problem. I have actually seen this happen on a smaller scale.

      It’s a scary time.

    3. You have made my head spin.
      The higher the complexity, the greater the vulnerability to unexpected stresses–even minor ones.
      It’s still Jurassic Park. The dinosaurs just haven’t gotten loose yet.

    4. There is a big fuss being made about the G5 architecture of the new Internet by some people claiming the higher microwave concentration is going to cause more cancer-like diseases. The Big Tech platforms censor anyone saying things like this. G5 has become the new no-no buzzword if it is being criticized.

  2. Jurassic Park is proving to be prophetic. In the last installation, the dinosaurs do get loose and are headed for civilization. We need a new episode of Jurassic Park where the whole global system of man collapses.

    1. Read Unknowable’s comments today. The most likely destroyer of our global system is likely to be a defective computer update.

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