Friday, April 29, 2011

Science and Specialization

The toasting problem isn’t difficult: don’t burn the toast; don’t electrocute the user; don’t start a fire.  The bread itself is hardly an active protagonist.  It doesn’t deliberately try to outwit you, as a team of investment bankers might; it doesn’t try to murder you, terrorise your country, and discredit everything you stand for…The toasting problem is laughably simple compared to the problem of transforming a poor country such as Bangladesh into the kind of economy where toasters are manufactured with ease and every household can afford one, along with the bread to put into it.

My comment: 

One implication is that greater specialization makes innovation much harder — hardly anyone has a good grasp of the whole 

Could this be something that was/is made worse by signaling squeezing out education in schools? The principles of the science are simple, though not always intuitive, and an intelligent person could absorb there principles across all sciences pretty quickly but in order for sciences to be difficult enough to signal high intelligence we go in great depth in a single area describing the principles in depth with difficult math that almost no one needs to know. This leaves little time for a broad approach. If one takes a broad but shallow approach in school, say by taking all low level classes, he will not have signaled enough intelligence to move on in the sciences.

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