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The Next Generation's Problem

Hello fellow Agora Road Travelers. A few months ago, I came across two comments by Eden and TheVisionist about teaching Zoomers technology. Generational tech gaps are common—inevitable, even—but it didn't occur to me that ~today's kids~ would be so far behind. I decided to look into it more and ended up writing a whole essay about it. Thought you guys might be interested. :)

Combined-new.png



We often pity older generations who fall for online scams because they're obvious to anyone who knows how the internet works. What will our scam be at their age? I'd like to think we could adapt by then, but maybe it's naive to assume that today's grandparents are uniquely susceptible. They aren't.

I bring this up because every generation adapts to technology in its own way. Generation Z (born 1997-2012) has been slower to take up ubiquitous systems, such as Microsoft Office, desktop interfaces, spreadsheets, and Windows file directories. In Gen Z's lifetime, the tech industry shifted to intuitive productivity apps, touch screens, mobile operating systems, GPS, and automatic file management with cloud storage. With a reduced barrier to entry, the user experience for everyday tech is objectively better.

Gen Z — currently 11 to 26 years old — is entering a professional paradigm demanding dual proficiency in intuitive apps and legacy tech. Will today's kids struggle to perform at their jobs? Or will their perceived naiveté be a unique advantage?

Tech Competency and Generational Reductionism

For years, Western society widely believed Gen Z was innately literate in computers and software. While initially hailed as "digital natives," recent reports suggest they're struggling to keep up with older coworkers and bosses, including Millennials (ages 27-42), Gen Xers (43-58), and Baby Boomers (59-77). Millennials always complain about picking up the slack from Boomers' and Gen Xers' tech challenges. This burden may persist as a similar culture shock hits Gen Zers/"Zoomers." Recent corporate surveys highlight this dynamic:
  • According to Salesforce's 2022 Global Digital Skills Index, only 31% of Gen Z feel "very equipped" for digital-first jobs. Few believe they have advanced skills like coding, data encryption/cybersecurity, and AI.
  • In a Dell Technologies survey, over a third of Gen Z said their middle/high school education lacked tech preparation, with 56% receiving either very basic computing skills or none at all.
  • A ResumeBuilder survey revealed that 74% of managers find Gen Z harder to work with than other generations, citing inferior tech skills, effort, and motivation. One-third preferred working with Millennials due to their productivity and tech skills; 30% like working with Gen X because they're honest and productive.
  • In a global poll by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, 43% of Gen Z reported being victims of cybercrimes, nearly three times as much as Baby Boomers (15%) and more than double that of the Silent generation (born 1928-1945) with 20%.
Still, surveys are only a narrow window into Gen Z, a demographic representing 20% of the U.S. population (69 million) and about a quarter of the world (~2 billion). Perhaps it was our inclination to make sweeping, generation-wide assumptions that led us to misunderstand the digital-native concept in the first place. Was it all a projection? A corporate spin? As Pew Research recently pointed out, generation research has become a crowded domain:
"The field has been flooded with content that's often sold as research but is more like clickbait or marketing mythology. There's also been a growing chorus of criticism about generational research and generational labels in particular."
Without long-term studies tracking Gen Z's learning curve over time, we naturally turn to imprecise anecdotes. A quick keyword search on social media or Google returns copious discussions on both sides of the issue.

Gen Z excels in some tech areas, particularly social media content and video/photo editing. In their affinity for visuals and user-generated multimedia, they populate video-sharing apps and spend nearly half of their waking hours on screens, averaging 7.3 hours daily. Pew reports that around a third of teens use at least one of the five big platforms (YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat or Facebook) almost constantly.

Gen Z critics would say social media experience doesn't always translate to jobs, but why not? It's useful in the fields young jobseekers are most interested in, including marketing and advertising, recruiting/HR, and sales. Glassdoor Economic Research shows Gen Zers are happiest in creative, non-technical roles.

When they lack soft skills, Gen Zers could always retool their basic capabilities to stay competitive. Some employers and universities now offer Gen Z-targeted classes on email writing, presentations, and in-person communication. They're also ahead of other generations on AI augmentation. According to a recent Salesforce survey, about 70% of Zoomers use generative AI platforms like ChatGPT, but only half of the general population has tried it.

Adaptability is required in today's cutthroat professional world, especially given the national context: America's days of low unemployment are numbered. The job market remains too strong to evade the tightening policies of the Federal Reserve, whose inflation strategy relies on slowing wage growth. Meanwhile, half of Zoomers and Millennials already live paycheck to paycheck. Bank of America reports that 37% of Gen Z has experienced a financial setback in the last year, with 27% borrowing money from friends/family.

In the analog-to-digital transition, we saw how early-childhood tech exposure shapes how a generation juggles everyday social, financial, and psychological pressures. With a shifting socioeconomic picture underway, it's worth observing Gen Z's relationship with both legacy and modern technologies.

Age will always influence how we adopt new forms of communication. Everyone has their clueless moments with technology. There's a little Gen Z in all of us.

Gen Z's Vision and Future Tech Development

The digital-native mythos assumed that all future technology would be naturally intuitive, a narrative that distracted adults from teaching Gen Z the core competencies of legacy systems. This might have been achieved if those same adults had been faster to phase out legacy tech in favor of new and improved iterations. Instead, in an increasingly online world of free sites and apps, Gen Z became drawn to social media, video content, and text/image-based communication. According to 2022 data from Pew Research, the share of teens who say they're online "almost constantly" has nearly doubled since 2014-15, jumping from 24% to 46%.

Companies recognize the trends. In a corporate strategy memo, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote that Gen Z and digital-native companies prefer using
"simple, lightweight, and collaboration-first applications who scale through freemium business models and bottom-up adoption within companies."
Gen Z's mobile-first vision and virtual communication preferences will influence tech development for the next several decades, setting a tone for how "Generation Alpha" (early 2010s to present) will adapt to new systems and technologies.

Young people like touch screens, seamless organization, and voice-controlled interfaces, which could mean the next generation's economy and lifestyle centers around online content. One can imagine an alternative future in which today's rate of automation multiplies over a shorter timescale. The resulting job-market vacuum is sure to be filled by tech giants reeling unemployed minds into their virtual worlds of social commerce. Hard skills and trade expertise may be irrelevant in this reality, where in-person offices and worksites are traded out for holographic interfaces, in-app purchases, and text/speech communication. People with no tech training can still find jobs and make money.

The seeds for such a transition are present today but have yet to reach the masses, as evidenced by the ongoing popping of Mark Zuckerberg's Metaverse bubble. VR-based social media experiences haven't lived up to the hype, partly because only 11% of Gen Zers and Millennials own VR headsets today — a share unchanged since 2018. Executives are still banking on some magic uptake, investing heavily in immersive hardware, software, and content. Meta's VR/AR division racked up $11.4 billion in operating losses in the first nine months of 2023. (2022 losses totaled $13.7 billion.)

For now, consumers of all ages seem settled in our social mediums of choice: apps on handheld devices. That's why 69% of digital ad spending will be generated through mobile in 2027, per Statista Market Insights. This paradigm relies on consumers favoring free, ad-supported social media apps over paid subscriptions.

At what point do we start to get sick of it all? A recent Harris Poll shows 67% of Americans across all age groups are nostalgic for a time before everyone was "plugged in." Still, we're open-minded about emerging tech like robotics, AI, and virtual reality work. There's an appetite for both whims.

Screenshot 2024-01-04 at 5.49.02 PM.png

^ Feature phones on the market (composite by me).

Interestingly, a small but growing niche of Gen Z wants to unplug from smartphones. Counterpoint Research reports that Zoomers and Millennials are driving sales in the feature phone market, following a new demand for "dumb phones" — cheap but retro-stylish flip phones with limited connectivity features outside of calling/texting. Albeit just a 2% share of total U.S. handset sales, there's at least some collective consciousness of young people looking to detox. About 2.8 million feature phones will be sold in 2023.

Gen Z is watching our shortcomings. Non-Gen Z adults have adapted to tech, sure, but that doesn't mean it's a healthy relationship. We have our own weaknesses with technology, from eye strain to psychological issues to chronic FOMO. Zoomers already recognize tech's impact on their mental health. In a recent Common Sense Media survey of 11- to 17-year-olds, most respondents reported that they "sometimes" or "often" use technology in ways that interfered with in-person socializing, sleep, or disengaging from media when needed. Here are some interesting quotes from 10th and 11th graders.

Too Many Projections, Not Enough Foresight

Conflict between age groups will always exist. As humans get older, our learning capacity deteriorates. Our instinctive fear of replacement, rejection, and irrelevance only exacerbates this reality, causing us to lash out at our young counterparts and dismiss the novel things they create and consume. Preoccupied by our manic projections, we grow distracted from solving the real problems. We reassign our crises to the next generation and the unsuspecting souls after them.

Our messes leave Gen Z with a precarious financial outlook. Their cash has 86% less buying power than that of Baby Boomers in their 20s. After adjusting for inflation, the average four-year college tuition has risen 747.8% since 1963, leaving Zoomers with more student debt than Millennials. Both generations are taking on higher loads of credit card debt this year, though Gen X and Baby Boomers hold the highest balances.

Young people have their own innate vulnerabilities. Easily swayed, they've always been a valuable target of politicians, corporations, religions, and pandering advertisers. All try to hook "the youths" early and reel them in with out-of-touch messaging and entertainment. Some take the bait. Now, all of that stimulation is packed into a social feed and stored in their pockets.

Gen Z is apparently entering the workforce with inferior tech skills, weakening their competitive edge. Some jobs may see a short-lived culture clash while early-career adults figure out ubiquitous hardware and software. Generational reductionists might assume they'd shut down from the pressure. But would they?

Depriving the next generation of a multiplatform tech education will only increase their exposure to the same conundrum. Parents and teachers often advocate for tech moderation, which may be healthy for Gen Alpha in theory. But adults forget they were rebellious kids once, rejecting rules and conformity. Likewise, spoon-feeding and patronizing will only make technology unattractive and overly complicated. Kids will reach for the easier thing and live to regret it as they're pummeled with constant "I told you so's" in the following decades. And so, the generation-blaming cycle continues...

History's problems repeat because we let them.

Agora readers: What's your experience with all of this? Any Zoomers want to weigh in?

(This essay originally appeared on my Substack and Medium. It was inspired by comments in these Agora threads. )
 
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Chuffed

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Good read - enjoyed the thoughts. On the brief point of scams, scammers go where the traffic is (as Millennials and Gen X found out with cryptocurrency grifts https://web3isgoinggreat.com/ ). They'll (zoomers) be hit with sob stories on the 'Insta' looking for donations for 1-legged cancer puppies and will happily send gift cards and venmos to save them. It's absolutely a human problem as you allude to.
 
good article(s)
my thoughts (i am angry XD)
Likewise, spoon-feeding and patronizing will only make technology unattractive and overly complicated. Kids will reach for the easier thing and live to regret it as they're pummeled with constant "I told you so's" in the following decades. And so, the generation-blaming cycle continues...
fking this
valuable target
joke of you, i dont believe anything and anyone (mostly)
(but still waiting for Purge ... masks to fall off, "SoCiEtY")
 
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eve

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Agora readers: What's your experience with all of this?
although i wish i could b optimistic abt any of this it still kinda saddens me 2 see those numbers
the fact that so many ppl r starting 2 realize that the phones and apps they use are actively hurting them but still decide 2do absolutely nothing about it is crazy to me
mayb im just being naive or something but i feel like the most logical choice when u find urself in a situation like that is to change it 4the better ...
the fact that 2% of phone market share goes to feature phones is pretty incredible still tho
idk it would b nice if something actually got better for a change in terms of technology cuz the way its going rn is not very good at all
albeit computers r still a part of the issue, but less so than any smartphone lol
 
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LSTR-S27916

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Interestingly, a small but growing niche of Gen Z wants to unplug from smartphones.
I'm part of that niche, mainly because I grew up using Microsoft Office, desktop interfaces, and later learning about Windows and Linux file directories as a teen. I can say for some like me it's not just phones, but all technology in general now. I've been actively sticking with older (legacy) technology simply because I have more control over what I'm using. This is one of the largest differences I have with others in my age group. I don't care if something is "easier to use" or "used by the rest of my peers", if it doesn't let me use it how I want to I'm not using it if I can. To me the current state of technological progress is hellish because most of the developments have been privacy invading and confusing to use. Even worse is that these developments have slowly been becoming the only way to use something over the last 9ish years. It's infuriating to use a service that offers signing up with Apple, Google, etc, but doesn't give an option for you to sign up with an Email address... And that's not bring up the privacy concerns with many tech products, platforms, etc from the last decade. The fact that in many cases I have to consent to corpos watching me and selling the data if I want to use a platform is enough on its own for me to not use something.
In short:
0f8.png

Source: https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/486/992/0f8.png
 
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RisingThumb

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Excellent essay!
  • According to Salesforce's 2022 Global Digital Skills Index, only 31% of Gen Z feel "very equipped" for digital-first jobs. Few believe they have advanced skills like coding, data encryption/cybersecurity, and AI.
  • In a Dell Technologies survey, over a third of Gen Z said their middle/high school education lacked tech preparation, with 56% receiving either very basic computing skills or none at all.
  • A ResumeBuilder survey revealed that 74% of managers find Gen Z harder to work with than other generations, citing inferior tech skills, effort, and motivation. One-third preferred working with Millennials due to their productivity and tech skills; 30% like working with Gen X because they're honest and productive.
  • In a global poll by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, 43% of Gen Z reported being victims of cybercrimes, nearly three times as much as Baby Boomers (15%) and more than double that of the Silent generation (born 1928-1945) with 20%.
feel "very equipped"
1704413313404.png

Jokes aside, I consider this to be one of the pressing problems against humans across the board currently. As the image above presents it... but it's not just digital infrastructure but also industrial infrastructure, supply chain infrastructure etc. As the complexity increases, you increase the mental burden of knowing all these elements, and make it hard to know them intimately and well- so as a result a lot of these people end up managing complexity, and often in their management, making it worse. People joke about this, but let me remind that so much has been lost to history because passing down useful information is lost due to complexity and civilisational disruption.

People present a lot of history as "accident", but really it's not. Let me present 3 examples:
1704413527309.png

This is the Lycurgus cup. This is glass with a vanishingly small amount of silver or gold added in- making it in effect one of the world's first nanomaterials that substantially change depending on how light interacts with it. Now perhaps the initial creation of a glass of this nature is an accident or coincidence, but anyone who's worked in any kind of creative or artistic profession knows you do not get results like that cup by pure accident alone. There is an understanding of the material's properties and how to work the material for the best effect at different areas of it. So in effect, the Roman world had a precursor to what we'd nowadays call Materials Science.
1704413710957.png

This is the Aeliopile, an early demonstration of the use of Steam to rotate an object, and from that rotation, you get kinetic energy. This is effectively a steam engine boiled down to the purest form and the purest essence of it as the idea in demonstration- useful implementation of it doesn't exist, but if the Greeks continued to fund scientific investigation of Steam Engines in this early form you'd have tech which is used across the board from the early 1800s, and this could have meant a *much* earlier agricultural and industrial revolution almost 2 millennia ago.

You also have infrastructural technology... paved roads(Roman roads don't need repairing as much as modern roads, curious...), Roman concrete which only gets stronger with time... etc. These are the basic examples of high complexity technologies 2 millennia ago that until recently were still a mystery to us. This is the most basic example of how civilisational disruption causes a huge loss of information- and that practically destroys anything of high complexity.

Now returning to the quoted post, it's damn right most people don't understand digital technology. It's unbelievably high complexity- from the sillicon, to hardware, to compilers, to GPU parallelisation, to networking and so on- that to expect anyone to understand it is a Herculean undertaking. This is worsened by the fact there's kernels of good ideas and good implementations, but they are lost in a lot of the meaningless complexity. It is not a good thing if people do not understand what they are working with, so can't communicate the ideas down generations. The other part is that a lot of these ideas are not expressed well in words, and require a demonstration, but to demonstrate it in the purest form you need a master of it, but there are so few people who master their craft anymore.

It certainly doesn't help that mastery of any craft is a low priority nowadays. It also certainly doesn't help that we standardised education with the prussian education system(shamelessly linking my video on it here), and a lot of other standardisations act as a high-pass filter to remove the greatest of the great. But the thing about that, is a 1% improvement of the output of those great people, is so staggeringly exponentially great, that it's to make me just dismayed that we care about making a lot of really mediocre people 1% better.

It does not help either that we have a lot of surrogate problems that are not real problems. Climate change for example... as it focuses on Carbon Dioxide emissions, I'll talk about Carbon Capture and how that's possible, just costly in regards to energy... but the thing there is that we're poor if we analyse by wealth in energy. A lot of this is down to our lack of nuclear power stations. The other side of that, is the fissile materials we need for nuclear fission, are not fundamentally the same as weapons grade uranium or plutonium, so all the fears there are mostly unfounded... and that the energy can be used to solve so many problems. Lack of clean drinking water? Salination is energy-expensive? Well of course! We've made ourselves energy-poor through policies! The other part of this being that it's infrastructure, is that it's an excuse to add additional climate taxes where the money doesn't go anywhere. Consider Tesla cars as the counterexample. People raised questions of the infrastructure, so Tesla set up charging ports across a lot of countries and so on- the infrastructure is there, developed and done before it becomes an issue. But this as a single... shallow demonstration of how so many issues are just surrogate issues to distract from fundamental and real issues- probably for profit and probably for policy introductions.
According to a recent Salesforce survey, about 70% of Zoomers use generative AI platforms like ChatGPT, but only half of the general population has tried it.
To me, this is incredibly sad. I've had time to think about AI and it's just a predictive language model... just a more complex Markov Chain, so there's very little *real* innovation in any problem spaces, as being predictive it needs material to predict upon, which means the space is already explored. For a lot of stuff like writing emails, writing Cover Letters etc, effectively solved and repeated problems they're effective in, and the same for programming with snippets that are functionally not interesting and problems that have been seen a thousand times over, but in any situation that requires a unique spin, an unique solution and an exploration of a problem space that hasn't been searched before it crumbles.

The reason it's sad, is it's adhering to standard solutions(see above about standardisation problems) to explored problem spaces- which means those using it are not fundamentally doing anything unique or interesting in their space. Sure it gives them faster outputs in highly explored spaces... is it a worthwhile tradeoff? It sounds good, but fundamentally your gains are cheated- once again underscoring my general feeling that Gen Z have cheated themselves out of their future.

Complexity is the main issue, and civilisational disruption easily enough shakes it up and causes a lot of losses. Hell, just take the small disruption of say... a forum going down or a file host going down. That causes a lot of losses themselves, which is the fundamental issue of high-complexity, and a lot of our high-complexity is unnecessary high-complexity. It probably relates to imposter syndrome, where people feel like imposters because they can't manage high complexity, and it also probably relates to bullshit jobs which is just managing high complexity. Most software development is this latter category.
 
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microbyte

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I've been actively sticking with older (legacy) technology simply because I have more control over what I'm using. This is one of the largest differences I have with others in my age group. I don't care if something is "easier to use" or "used by the rest of my peers", if it doesn't let me use it how I want to I'm not using it if I can. To me the current state of technological progress is hellish because most of the developments have been privacy invading and confusing to use.
This is something that drives me up the wall too. Every new technology these days (save for AI and stuff), is basically just layering useless abstraction on abstraction. I mean, it makes sense though. When you've already got most stuff developed, the only way to "innovate" (if it can be called that) is to abstract it more.
Roman roads don't need repairing as much as modern roads, curious...
Cars, concrete verse asphalt (money)
Agora readers: What's your experience with all of this? Any Zoomers want to weigh in?
The way I see it, trying to change this flow is like painting on a roaring river. Instead of trying to get everyone to change and annoyed when they don't, you just need to create your own things that conform to your own beliefs, rather than bowing down to those of others. Creation is the most powerful weapon. Use it.
 

LostintheCycle

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the fact that so many ppl r starting 2 realize that the phones and apps they use are actively hurting them but still decide 2do absolutely nothing about it is crazy to me
mayb im just being naive or something but i feel like the most logical choice when u find urself in a situation like that is to change it 4the better ...
On NYE, I started chatting with one guy who had been on his phone all night, because hell I don't care if he likes me or not, so I'm gonna talk to him about it. It was a conversation about social media being bad and leaving it, and he agreed with everything I said. He knows all the social media is bad for him and the way which we are stuck on there. He seemed encouraged after the conversation to take action, whether he does or not I don't know, but that's not the point either; it's that he had this feeling somewhere in him that what he is doing is not right, but continues to do it, and it takes somebody else coming in suggesting he doesn't have to for him to think about changing that.
This is the Lycurgus cup. This is glass with a vanishingly small amount of silver or gold added in- making it in effect one of the world's first nanomaterials that substantially change depending on how light interacts with it. Now perhaps the initial creation of a glass of this nature is an accident or coincidence, but anyone who's worked in any kind of creative or artistic profession knows you do not get results like that cup by pure accident alone. There is an understanding of the material's properties and how to work the material for the best effect at different areas of it. So in effect, the Roman world had a precursor to what we'd nowadays call Materials Science.
1704460711996.png
 
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good article(s)
my thoughts (i am angry XD)

fking this

joke of you, i dont believe anything and anyone (mostly)
(but still waiting for Purge ... masks to fall off, "SoCiEtY")
We're arguably already in an ongoing purge if you count our rotting minds as people
 
although i wish i could b optimistic abt any of this it still kinda saddens me 2 see those numbers
the fact that so many ppl r starting 2 realize that the phones and apps they use are actively hurting them but still decide 2do absolutely nothing about it is crazy to me
mayb im just being naive or something but i feel like the most logical choice when u find urself in a situation like that is to change it 4the better ...
the fact that 2% of phone market share goes to feature phones is pretty incredible still tho
idk it would b nice if something actually got better for a change in terms of technology cuz the way its going rn is not very good at all
albeit computers r still a part of the issue, but less so than any smartphone lol
True. Outside the U.S., feature phones are popular just because they're cheaper. Maybe the solution is taking away the continuing profit opportunity. Idk, but we need something different.
 
I'm part of that niche, mainly because I grew up using Microsoft Office, desktop interfaces, and later learning about Windows and Linux file directories as a teen. I can say for some like me it's not just phones, but all technology in general now. I've been actively sticking with older (legacy) technology simply because I have more control over what I'm using. This is one of the largest differences I have with others in my age group. I don't care if something is "easier to use" or "used by the rest of my peers", if it doesn't let me use it how I want to I'm not using it if I can. To me the current state of technological progress is hellish because most of the developments have been privacy invading and confusing to use. Even worse is that these developments have slowly been becoming the only way to use something over the last 9ish years. It's infuriating to use a service that offers signing up with Apple, Google, etc, but doesn't give an option for you to sign up with an Email address... And that's not bring up the privacy concerns with many tech products, platforms, etc from the last decade. The fact that in many cases I have to consent to corpos watching me and selling the data if I want to use a platform is enough on its own for me to not use something.
In short:
0f8.png

Source: https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/486/992/0f8.png
Yepp. It's so creepy being asked to share an email for the most basic things now. In addition to all the privacy issues you mention, it takes away the serendipity of everyday online life. We're no longer guests on the internet.
 
Excellent essay!


View attachment 85085
Jokes aside, I consider this to be one of the pressing problems against humans across the board currently. As the image above presents it... but it's not just digital infrastructure but also industrial infrastructure, supply chain infrastructure etc. As the complexity increases, you increase the mental burden of knowing all these elements, and make it hard to know them intimately and well- so as a result a lot of these people end up managing complexity, and often in their management, making it worse. People joke about this, but let me remind that so much has been lost to history because passing down useful information is lost due to complexity and civilisational disruption.

People present a lot of history as "accident", but really it's not. Let me present 3 examples:
View attachment 85086
This is the Lycurgus cup. This is glass with a vanishingly small amount of silver or gold added in- making it in effect one of the world's first nanomaterials that substantially change depending on how light interacts with it. Now perhaps the initial creation of a glass of this nature is an accident or coincidence, but anyone who's worked in any kind of creative or artistic profession knows you do not get results like that cup by pure accident alone. There is an understanding of the material's properties and how to work the material for the best effect at different areas of it. So in effect, the Roman world had a precursor to what we'd nowadays call Materials Science.
View attachment 85089
This is the Aeliopile, an early demonstration of the use of Steam to rotate an object, and from that rotation, you get kinetic energy. This is effectively a steam engine boiled down to the purest form and the purest essence of it as the idea in demonstration- useful implementation of it doesn't exist, but if the Greeks continued to fund scientific investigation of Steam Engines in this early form you'd have tech which is used across the board from the early 1800s, and this could have meant a *much* earlier agricultural and industrial revolution almost 2 millennia ago.

You also have infrastructural technology... paved roads(Roman roads don't need repairing as much as modern roads, curious...), Roman concrete which only gets stronger with time... etc. These are the basic examples of high complexity technologies 2 millennia ago that until recently were still a mystery to us. This is the most basic example of how civilisational disruption causes a huge loss of information- and that practically destroys anything of high complexity.

Now returning to the quoted post, it's damn right most people don't understand digital technology. It's unbelievably high complexity- from the sillicon, to hardware, to compilers, to GPU parallelisation, to networking and so on- that to expect anyone to understand it is a Herculean undertaking. This is worsened by the fact there's kernels of good ideas and good implementations, but they are lost in a lot of the meaningless complexity. It is not a good thing if people do not understand what they are working with, so can't communicate the ideas down generations. The other part is that a lot of these ideas are not expressed well in words, and require a demonstration, but to demonstrate it in the purest form you need a master of it, but there are so few people who master their craft anymore.

It certainly doesn't help that mastery of any craft is a low priority nowadays. It also certainly doesn't help that we standardised education with the prussian education system(shamelessly linking my video on it here), and a lot of other standardisations act as a high-pass filter to remove the greatest of the great. But the thing about that, is a 1% improvement of the output of those great people, is so staggeringly exponentially great, that it's to make me just dismayed that we care about making a lot of really mediocre people 1% better.

It does not help either that we have a lot of surrogate problems that are not real problems. Climate change for example... as it focuses on Carbon Dioxide emissions, I'll talk about Carbon Capture and how that's possible, just costly in regards to energy... but the thing there is that we're poor if we analyse by wealth in energy. A lot of this is down to our lack of nuclear power stations. The other side of that, is the fissile materials we need for nuclear fission, are not fundamentally the same as weapons grade uranium or plutonium, so all the fears there are mostly unfounded... and that the energy can be used to solve so many problems. Lack of clean drinking water? Salination is energy-expensive? Well of course! We've made ourselves energy-poor through policies! The other part of this being that it's infrastructure, is that it's an excuse to add additional climate taxes where the money doesn't go anywhere. Consider Tesla cars as the counterexample. People raised questions of the infrastructure, so Tesla set up charging ports across a lot of countries and so on- the infrastructure is there, developed and done before it becomes an issue. But this as a single... shallow demonstration of how so many issues are just surrogate issues to distract from fundamental and real issues- probably for profit and probably for policy introductions.

To me, this is incredibly sad. I've had time to think about AI and it's just a predictive language model... just a more complex Markov Chain, so there's very little *real* innovation in any problem spaces, as being predictive it needs material to predict upon, which means the space is already explored. For a lot of stuff like writing emails, writing Cover Letters etc, effectively solved and repeated problems they're effective in, and the same for programming with snippets that are functionally not interesting and problems that have been seen a thousand times over, but in any situation that requires a unique spin, an unique solution and an exploration of a problem space that hasn't been searched before it crumbles.

The reason it's sad, is it's adhering to standard solutions(see above about standardisation problems) to explored problem spaces- which means those using it are not fundamentally doing anything unique or interesting in their space. Sure it gives them faster outputs in highly explored spaces... is it a worthwhile tradeoff? It sounds good, but fundamentally your gains are cheated- once again underscoring my general feeling that Gen Z have cheated themselves out of their future.

Complexity is the main issue, and civilisational disruption easily enough shakes it up and causes a lot of losses. Hell, just take the small disruption of say... a forum going down or a file host going down. That causes a lot of losses themselves, which is the fundamental issue of high-complexity, and a lot of our high-complexity is unnecessary high-complexity. It probably relates to imposter syndrome, where people feel like imposters because they can't manage high complexity, and it also probably relates to bullshit jobs which is just managing high complexity. Most software development is this latter category.
Well said. Great insights here. I feel like there are few people in the tech world who are genuinely original—in its purest form. Maybe it's the nature of the field to be more of an analyzer/observer than a visionary. In design and function, even the most "disruptive" inventions are really just an iteration of an iteration. Real innovation is dead, yet we're still trying to convince ourselves it's all around us.

Then there's the other side of it: excessive innovation is unnecessary with some technology, as you mention with nuclear energy. Returning to the basics takes humility, and that's not easy for the average tech/business person blinded by money and infinite growth.
 
This is something that drives me up the wall too. Every new technology these days (save for AI and stuff), is basically just layering useless abstraction on abstraction. I mean, it makes sense though. When you've already got most stuff developed, the only way to "innovate" (if it can be called that) is to abstract it more.

Cars, concrete verse asphalt (money)

The way I see it, trying to change this flow is like painting on a roaring river. Instead of trying to get everyone to change and annoyed when they don't, you just need to create your own things that conform to your own beliefs, rather than bowing down to those of others. Creation is the most powerful weapon. Use it.
True. And the attention economy really only feeds the abstraction cycle. Useless bells and whistles
 
On NYE, I started chatting with one guy who had been on his phone all night, because hell I don't care if he likes me or not, so I'm gonna talk to him about it. It was a conversation about social media being bad and leaving it, and he agreed with everything I said. He knows all the social media is bad for him and the way which we are stuck on there. He seemed encouraged after the conversation to take action, whether he does or not I don't know, but that's not the point either; it's that he had this feeling somewhere in him that what he is doing is not right, but continues to do it, and it takes somebody else coming in suggesting he doesn't have to for him to think about changing that.

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interesting. I've been evangelizing about this stuff lately too. People are surprisingly open minded.
 
We're arguably already in an ongoing purge if you count our rotting minds as people
well, i see - all to change there is, is only for to wait, til we fall on the cracks, to the bottom ground where you cant go down any further...
always was like this
 
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RisingThumb

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Then there's the other side of it: excessive innovation is unnecessary with some technology, as you mention with nuclear energy. Returning to the basics takes humility, and that's not easy for the average tech/business person blinded by money and infinite growth.
Infinite growth sort of exists in some areas and sort of doesn't. It's contextual. With CPUs as an example, there's a cap on the growth, and we've already reached it for the most part in CPU clock speeds- but with regards to other resources like food, like energy, like clean drinking water- there's a lot of space for growth. Even in housing. Consider the homeless problem, and how badly all the spending goes for solving that problem. There's a lot of land that's perfectly habitable- but of course there's no government investing in this, from all the government taxes as it directs money and people away from places that's easiest to get taxes and enforce policies. The other side is that it's just as easy to growth apathetic and say that growth is linear, and that we're tackling an expoential problem... but as I mentioned in the antinatalism thread, that relies on Malthusian theory which so far... doesn't hold up. Innovations open up better resource allocation and better resource acquisition.

Both sides, the infinite growth and the linear growth models of viewing the world end up discounting innovation and discounting limitation. BUT, it's not hard to understand why so many people end up falling for either belief. We live in a time where getting accurate and correct information is harder and harder and the actionable elements aren't emphasised as much. As a result you end up with a lot of really faulty ways of viewing the world due to a lot of faulty information- and while anybody could spin this and lambast Social Media- or criticise it as misinformation actors, I think the reality is just that misinformation sells better. After all, compare a concrete, real story with accurate descriptions with an embellished exaggerated story with inaccurate descriptions- the latter will generally do better. It's also the case that after injecting a little bit of this misnformation, you create hyperstitions that just perpetuate it ad infinitum- hyperstitions being beliefs in idea A that is justified only by other people believing in idea B that's justified only by the existence of people believing in idea A(a circular dependency of 2 superstitions depending on each other)- and when this exists, it gets harder to figure out whether ideas are based or baseless- especially since so much information shows people believing the ideas, but very little about the basis of the idea.

I don't think I'm expressing this very well, but I'm just lamenting how misinformation sells better, and that the basis of ideas isn't given any expression, only the idea(which can be baseless and justified by another baseless idea). Challenging an idea requires critical thinking, researching and exploring an idea also requires that critical thinking, and as previously mentioned about education, that's gone to the vultures- and so the ideas on growth(infinite, exponential, linear etc) and the resources which grow and the factors affecting it are poorly explored- and most people don't have the humility to accept it.

Well that turned out a lot longer to just say, challenge the idea of both infinite growth and limited growth.

Also you're exactly right about returning to the basics taking humility. If I'm being honest, the technology stack nowadays for software development is so awful, that I take a lot of care to only adopt what I think will be genuinely good. Even the old classic "LAMP" stack that used to be used, wasn't really looked at closely, as everyone just stuck a relational database on the project and an ORM on it- when in reality the majority(all?) they were doing was using it as a key:value store. There's a time and place for relational databases, and that's when the relations in your data is the important part of what you are storing- then again I don't think it's just humility, but like what I said about beliefs that aren't looked at carefully... they're just badly informed and follow standard practices(see what I said about standard practices above). It's frustrating as someone who doesn't want to waste lots of money on server resources- so I actively avoid software using docker containers because it takes significantly more resources that if I want to keep cheap on resources, is better to run by itself. Honestly, I think new software developers are so fucked. Even a decade ago when I started hobby programming it was fucked- but not quite this fucked.
 
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HammerKoopa

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Complexity is the main issue, and civilisational disruption easily enough shakes it up and causes a lot of losses. Hell, just take the small disruption of say... a forum going down or a file host going down. That causes a lot of losses themselves, which is the fundamental issue of high-complexity, and a lot of our high-complexity is unnecessary high-complexity. It probably relates to imposter syndrome, where people feel like imposters because they can't manage high complexity, and it also probably relates to bullshit jobs which is just managing high complexity. Most software development is this latter category.

Something i'd like to add from me experience as a software developer during me junior days is that when you are surrounded by complexity without a proper understanding as to why it is complex you feel pressured to make your solutions complex for the sake of it feeling "right" and anything that is simple either sounds too good to be true or feeds the imposter syndrome. Point being when thats the paradigm you find yourself in it becomes inherently "wrong" to divert from it specially when you dont fully understand the why. Gotta thank me mentor for shaking that off of me.

This can be extended to Gen Z and technology. Being the "digital natives" means they are already surrounded by these layers of complexity and lack of deeper understanding and will feel the pressure to stack onto such complexity most likely needlessly because thats the world they have been nurtured into. It of course wont look like that trough mobile app esque interfaces even in our holy desktops and hyper friendly UI, but beneath the surface its going to a shitshow worthy of the definition of ya modern soydev. The advancement of their times i feel will look grand and frequent, but its all just going to be the same cake with ever more layers of frosting
 
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