There are far more important things going on in the world than my Python programming.
Fact is, I probably do my little coding things because I can do them, and I cannot change or have much impact on the important things in the world. Programming fills up my mind and keeps out thoughts that give me great concern, at least for a time. But there are so many things that need improvement.
Here are just a few of the things I can’t solve, and that somehow we all need to solve, and that, mostly, I program to forget, because I am so powerless against these things, and at least in programming, maybe I can help a little bit.
My reading, and my life experience, tells me that there is a significant fraction of people who actually prefer “strong” bosses who tell people what to do. People particularly prefer it when the bosses tell other people what to do, or when what they are told to do doesn’t bother them much.
If you make it illegal to sleep in doorways, people with houses aren’t affected much and having people not sleeping in doorways keeps us from having to look away or step over them. So, to some people, it’s obviously a good rule, an easy rule, and that’s the end of it. The fact that people are suffering doesn’t bother some people who are not suffering, especially if they don’t have to see the suffering. Or if the people suffering are sufficiently unlike the people observing. “Those others are not like us.”
But authoritarianism doesn’t just operate at the level of government. Frequent readers know that I support giving developers autonomy in how they do their work. I espouse collaboration between business-side people and development people, not one-way do this by Tuesday forms of communication.
Unfortunately, there are developers who want to be told what to do, and there are managers who want to tell people what to do, and they make up a significant minority of the population.
Right now, in government, those people seem to be having a disproportionate effect, and I attribute it to “othering”, the practice of identifying a group that can be pointed o as different, deviant, and deserving of the bad things that happen to them. And, unfortunately, some groups are pretty easy to identify, by skin color, behavior, location, or even clothing.
I am not the most empathetic of people, but it seems very clear to me that any human being, every human being, deserves a truly equal chance at a good life. Housing, health care, education, that sort of thing.
We cannot all be totally equal. If there were no difference between us, there would be no transactions, no change. It’s the fact that I can program and Rob can do plumbing that keeps Rob and me housed and eating. In essence, I program so that I can have Rob keep the pipes flowing in my house. Differences, differential pressures, make the things that happen in the world happen.
So it’s OK that we’re different, and above some lower limit, possibly OK that some of us have more and some have less. But there should probably be some upper limit as well as a lower limit. I see no reason why one person should have hundreds of millions, billions, while other people don’t have three square meals and a place to lay their heads.
I am not an economist, but it seems very clear to me that the billions at the top of the economic tree could be much better used than they are, making the lives of every human, indeed every living thing on this planet better.
It may or may not be that our current climate change is due to human action. It’s certainly correlated with human action to a degree that convinces me. But one way or another, climate is changing and it is threatening us all.
I am not a climatologist, but it seems to me that here again is a place where those billions could better be spent than on giant yachts, for the benefit of the whole world.
Machines are more and more able to do work that, traditionally, people have done. Automobiles can be built with a fraction of the workers that used to be needed. The front lines of call centers are now robotic, eliminating thousands of those admittedly very irritating jobs. We can be sure that as soon as fast food places can staff themselves with robots, there will be no more jobs for the teens and middle-aged folks who staff them now.
And if a job can be done better and less expensively by a machine, probably it should be done by a machine. But what of the people?
If I had had no need for a job, I would very likely have allied myself with other like-minded people and written interesting programs, for the sheer joy of creating things. And if we wrote anything fun or useful, we’d have distributed it to people who could benefit from it, or enjoy it.
Of course, to get to the point where I could have done that, I had to somehow get 18 or 20 years of education and years upon years of experience, that had to come from somewhere.
I suspect that most of my teachers, if they had no need for a job, would have still been teaching, because they were good at it, and clearly loved the occasions when a student really latched on to learning.
Maybe there are people who, if they had no need for a job, would just watch TV, or sit on a beach. I don’t know, but most of the people I know would be doing something that was at least interesting and often productive for others.
And if some people would just veg out? OK, so be it.
The real issue is how we get from here to there, because automation puts people out of work and we do not, as a society or as a country or as a company, do anything about that. We just sacrifice those people.
I am not enough of a student of systems of government to see how to build up the societal support in advance of the need, as people move away from some role where people are no longer needed, but it seems clear to me that the trend is there and we need to get ahead of it.
And So On And So On
And Scooby Dooby Doo. These are just some of the problems that are before us, around us, hanging over us.
And I do not know how to solve them, or even how to see that they are solved. I can vote, and once in a rare while something I write or something I say might make a tiny ripple in this huge sea of troubles.
But mostly, the things in this article are the reasons why I mostly just write about programming.
It’s just that today, I couldn’t think of anything to program.