TED Conversations

Ian Gwonsang Shin

undergrad Aeronautical Sceince, Korea Aerospace Univ.

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Could algorithmic approaches control all of the variables in reality?

I've always been interested in mathmatical approaches for solving business problems (Operation Researches, Management Science). Meanwhile, I saw a TED talk named 'How algorithms shape our world'. I partially agree with Kelvin Slavin. Algorithms are useful and effective. But, I want to ask something about it. Are they perfect?

Algorithms are also 'man-made' methods for solving problems or implementing methodology, even predicting the future (proficiency, feasibility of business investment, etc). There are tons of variables in reality and algorithmic apporaches couldn't calculate all the variables I guess. And there are also variables that couln't even be digitized. And algorithmic approaches have flaws in themselves. They could crash each other.

I'm not speciallized in computer engineering, so I'd appreciate any info you might have. Thank you! :)


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  • Oct 15 2012: We are still struggling with creating a good model to predict the weather. :)

    Good luck with more complex problems.
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      Oct 17 2012: Are there any algorithms with forecasting the weather?? i thought that forecasting the weather is related to mechanical things like buoy, weather radar...
      • Oct 17 2012: After you have collected the data with the mechanical devices, you use a computer, which is programed with algorithmic software to compute a weather prediction.The probabilities for predicting the weather are pretty good over a large land or water mass but falls off as the area becomes smaller.

        The simple answer to your question "Could algorithms control all the variables in reality is, I think, no, unless reality is just a computer program itself.

        Maybe you should try to define what an algorithm is, as you see it? It's really hard to determine what it is you are asking. Sorry if I'm no help. :)

        I will add something. When I used to go sailing, there were two moments I noticed that were very intriguing to me. The first was when I would stand at the edge of the dock and wait for the sun to come up. Always, just before the sun broke over the horizon, there was this small rush of wind I could feel. It was always there. I think it was the wind that runs just in front of the sun as it is chased by the heat of the sun. The other moment is when I step off the dock. For some reason, all my problems, all the complexities of the world stay on the dock and fail to follow me on board the boat. I feel detached from the idea of complexity, that algorithmic world, spoken of in the TED videos.

        The world of the algorithms, is just an illusion that has no real basis in reality. It's just information and information has no weight nor does it occupy space. It's just an illusion that has no meaning outside of what our minds give to it. Reality is the wind filling my sails and taking me to new adventures.
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          Oct 20 2012: Well thanks a lot. I am interested in your sailing, cause I am Korean NAVY officer candidate.

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