Quora – Is the Polanyi’s paradox a paradox anymore?

Is the Polanyi’s paradox a paradox anymore?


It is a paradox no longer, and the process of understanding is far from complete, and many layers of the chemical and biological systems are giving way before the barrage of science, big data and AI systems.
So the proportion of knowledge that is implicit and not available to automation is reducing to a small proportion – but still far from zero.

It is not paradox, we are in a process of exploration of the depths of complexity implicit within life and reality.
I strongly suspect that reality itself contains deep layers of uncertainty and unpredictability, and that a certain degree of mystery will be our eternal companion.

[followed by 30/1/20 Eugene – so it is still paradox]

I don’t see any paradox.

What I see is that evolution has embedded systems within us that respond appropriately to context (one definition of knowledge) on at least two different levels – genetic and cultural, that get expressed in the relationships of atoms at some level within brain.

I see no paradox in that.

What I see is knowledge about the real nature of both ontology and epistemology – both of which are at base the survival of variants in contexts.
That realisation, in and of itself, removes the appearance of paradox that resulted from the classical assumptions about the nature of knowledge.

Once one is able to see that all knowledge about reality is some combination of heuristic and/or model; then all paradox is gone. And with it goes the possibility of classical “Truth” about reality.

What we are left with is approximations, models, with contextual probability of utility proven in the past, and some probability that the present context is still something like some context from the past at some level (so eternal uncertainty present at several different levels).

One of the deep lessons to come out of AI research is that identifying context is really hard. One of the deepest uncertainties we all have is deciding what sort of context we are actually in; and much of the machinery of brain that does that is deeply subconscious (and subject to degrees of conscious influence).

Once you have been up and down that stack of at least 15 levels of complex adaptive systems a few times, looking reasonably deeply at the systemic analogs that recurs through the levels of structure and function, one can start to get a reasonable feel for the systemic relationships at the same time as one can clearly admit that the detail will be forever beyond conscious awareness, as conscious awareness is an epiphenomenon of the functioning of the system as a whole – so by definition, can only deal with a tiny subset of itself in detail.

No logical out from that one – ever.

No paradox either.

Just the reality of evolution – that amazingly beautiful extendable recursive reflexive set of systems – deeply bound to uncertainty and variation at all levels.

[followed by ]

Hi Eugene,

In the sense that all “knowledge is model”, then all knowledge is necessarily an approximation at some level (that is what a model is, not the thing itself but something with some degree of resemblance that is relevant to the consideration at hand).

The fundamental error of classical thought is the presumption that perfect knowledge of anything in reality is possible. That presumption seems, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, to have been disproven by experimental results across vast fields.

Of course such a presumption leads to paradox, because it is strongly at variance with what experience shows (if you examine experience very closely).

Experience shows that we can have contextually specific confidence, and that confidence cannot ever be 100%, and it can very closely approximate it in some contexts.

This perfectly aligns with both the theory(s) {deeply nested} and the experimental results of, and understanding of, the evolution of consciousness.

Hence my claim – the evidence strongly supports the assertion that the paradox is no paradox at all, but simply a failure of the assumption sets to align with reality.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in Nature, understanding and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s