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KISS June 4, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in death, fantasy, gummint, space, Uncategorized.

Keep It Simple, well, you know. What prompts this line of thinking right now comes from having my car worked on for the past couple days. Big $$ but talking with the mechanic after cringing and paying is what bugged me. He was giving me a “you think you’ve got it bad” talk about how he had fixed one car that had electronic motor mounts. They failed. This took out the gizmo that controlled the emissions valve and that burned out the computer. The computer alone was $850–he said the total repair was over $2500. Because some idiot designer had put electronic motor mounts in (and didn’t bother putting a fuse in the line). Some things are better done with “primitive” technology. Mechanical technology rather than computerized.

The more complex a system gets, the more likely it is to fail. I am still amazed that only two shuttles have bit the bit one. And as far as stats go, the Macondo well is to be expected. There are 35,000 deep sea wells and this is the first to blow up so spectacularly. Drilling in shallower water or on land where crews could work without a mile of water intervening makes it KISS. Shutting down a quarter of all our domestically produced oil is hardly the solution (nor is not building nuclear power plants–there have been some dandies to use as bad examples. The 1961 SL-1 Idaho meltdown has not been repeated in the US. Windscale hasn’t been repeated in the UK. Who knows what the Russian reactors are like after Chernobyl (probably no different–ie, without containment vessels) The idea is to learn from your problems…and if you can, make the solution simpler.

I don’t think it’s any kind of stretch to say everyone in the US is a tax cheat–because the tax code is so complex and has such contradictory regulations it is impossible to follow it. Simplify.

KISS but when you have to have complex systems, make them as understandable as possible. Of course, this takes away the jobs of those entrusted with…making things complicated.

I remember with some fondness Frank Herbert’s Bureau of Sabotage. The protagonist was supposed to keep things from working too efficiently. And Arthur Clarke’s City and the Stars had a similar idea. The domed city was so tightly run, without outside irritant/mistakes/jokes being introduced the system would eventually fail from lack of evolution. I suppose those aren’t sf stories as much as they are fantasy.

Ilya Prigogine won a Nobel Prize explaining how it seems that humans (and life itself) violate entropy by becoming ordered systems instead of increasingly disordered. It might be time for someone to win a Nobel prize for finding a way to simplify until nobody knows what’s going on.

Or have we reached the ultimate complexity?



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