Systems engineering and the rightward drift
Posted by aogSunday, 19 January 2003 at 20:25 TrackBack Ping URL
One of the reasons that I lean conservative from my libertarianism is that I am a software developer. I am extremely skilled at my job. Yet even that skill is insufficient to build complex software right the first time. Yet designing a society is equivalent to building a system orders of magnitude more complex than any software and getting it basically right the first time.

I wonder if part of the rightward drift is that more and more people are exposed to actual system design. If you, as many young kids do, design a level or mission for a first person action game (such as Unreal Tournament or Red Faction) there's no fudging it. The level fits together or it doesn't. And when you show it to your friends, they can be brutal about the deficiencies. There's a very hard edge of evaulation that can't be finessed, or argued away. On the other hand there is a lot of cooperation, designers sharing techniques and resources. What's different than in the past is that much more objective judgement both by the computer and by peers. And such judgement frequently hinges on small details, such as the distance from one ledge to another or placement of entry points. The lesson is that grand plans for the ultimate "cool" level can be destroyed by poor execution or small mistakes or unintended consequences. And is this not the mode of failure for grand liberal schemes to design society? They seem nice until one gets to the details and starts to ask hard questions about specific mechanisms. It can't be good for the left to have lots of the hoi polloi asking questions like that.