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Razib Khan
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StartideRising(1stEd) The above faux O’Reilly edition really struck a nerve with me. Obviously software engineering on big projects continues apace. But for many quick & dirty tasks instead of laboriously (or frankly, not so laboriously) assembling together a script often a precise query into Stack Overflow suffices. It reminds me of the universe of David Brin’s Uplift saga.

In that universe there is a Galactic Library, which basically allows sentient species to not need to reinvent the wheel. Humans are unique because of their need to understand the technology that they use. At the time I found the premise interesting…but after reading Joe Henrich’s The Secret Of Our Success, I have come to think that the galactic civilization which Brin depicts is simply an extrapolation of our own technological world. Much of our life is a magic “turn-key” black-box. It is probably self-evident that average humans don’t know how computers or even automobiles work. But Henrich points out that even customs such as manner in which indigenous American peoples detoxify cassava is “encapsulated” from conscious understanding. The “galactic library” is just a metaphor for the crutch that is social cognition.

Cultural encapsulation is not a bug, it’s a feature….

• Category: Science • Tags: Social intelligence, Technology 
Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"