To the average man, life presents itself, not as material malleable to his hand, but as a series of PROBLEMS of extreme difficulty, which he has to SOLVE with the means at his disposal. And he is distressed to find that the more means he can dispose of – such as machine power, rapid transport, and general civilized amenities, the more his problems grow in hardness and complexity. This is particularly disconcerting to him, because he has been frequently told that the increase of scientific knowledge would give him mastery over nature – which ought, surely, to imply mastery over life.
-Dorothy Sayers, Problem Picture
There’s a joke in computer programming circles that says if you have a problem and you try to solve it with Regular Expression (aka Regex), then you now have two problems. Now regex is a very powerful tool. A chainsaw or a syringe of heroin is a powerful tool as well and can give you command over nature but just as quickly make your problems even harder. (Have you ever tried to start a chainsaw that hasn’t been perfectly maintained? Good luck with that.)
Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Why? It’s not just because you’ve got people trying to grab your cash. It’s because you really do have more power. But with that power comes not just a greater ability to solve problems, but also an increase in the complexity of what you need to solve. It may very well be that their difficulty increases at a greater rate than your new found means.
Are women who stay home today to raise the kids any less stressed out than they were a century ago because now they have automatic washing machines? I think the answer is a resounding “no”. Those of us in the workforce – is our productivity so much higher than that of our grandfather’s? I think if considered carefully, the answer is maybe not so clear. We are frustrated because we feel it should be obviously better.
This dynamic is why I am extremely skeptical of any system that seem to assume that an increase in progress or evolution will one day free us from our chains. The futurists who prattle on about the AI “Singularity” seem completely oblivious to the phenomenon described above. Marxist politicians also possess this seed of insane optimism about humanity. I think that if anything is going to save us, it’s going to have to come from OUTSIDE us. This is what the hope in the second advent of Christ is. The one who holds the scepter over death breaks into time. Our solving is rife with with ill side-effects. He doesn’t come to solve a problem but rather to remake all of creation.