Software and Mind: The Mechanistic Myth and Its Consequences

3.29 avg rating
( 7 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780986938900: Software and Mind: The Mechanistic Myth and Its Consequences

Addressing general readers as well as software practitioners, Software and Mind discusses the fallacies of the mechanistic ideology and the degradation of minds caused by these fallacies. Mechanism holds that every aspect of the world can be represented as a simple hierarchical structure of entities. But, while useful in fields like mathematics and manufacturing, this idea is generally worthless, because most aspects of the world are too complex to be reduced to simple structures. Our software-related affairs, in particular, cannot be represented in this fashion. And yet, all programming theories and development systems, and all software applications, attempt to reduce real-world problems to neat hierarchical structures of data, operations, and features.

Using Karl Popper's famous principles of demarcation between science and pseudoscience, the book shows that the mechanistic ideology has turned most of our software-related activities into pseudoscientific pursuits. Using mechanism as warrant, the software elites are promoting invalid, even fraudulent, software notions. They force us to depend on generic, inferior systems, instead of allowing us to develop software skills and to create our own systems. Software mechanism emulates the methods of manufacturing, and thereby restricts us to high levels of abstraction and simple, isolated structures. The benefits of software, however, can be attained only if we start with low-level elements and learn to create complex, interacting structures.

Software, the book argues, is a non-mechanistic phenomenon. So it is akin to language, not to manufactured objects. Like language, it permits us to mirror the world in our minds and to communicate with it. Moreover, we increasingly depend on software in everything we do, in the same way that we depend on language. Thus, being restricted to mechanistic software is like thinking and communicating while being restricted to some ready-made sentences supplied by an elite. Ultimately, by impoverishing software, our elites are achieving what the totalitarian elite described by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four achieves by impoverishing language: they are degrading our minds.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From the Back Cover:

Some of the Consequences of the Mechanistic Software Myth

  • The software elites have turned software into a weapon, a means to dominate and control society.
  • We depend more and more on the type of software that demands only trivial skills, so we are prevented from using our minds and expanding our knowledge.
  • The software elites are inducing dependence on inferior, standard systems, and are preventing independent, responsible programming.
  • New software products are installed every year in millions of places without being used, presumably because they are not the "solutions" they were said to be.
  • Software products and innovations are advertised by describing a few successes, which is logically equivalent to lying.
  • Universities are teaching and promoting invalid, pseudoscientific software notions.
  • Less than 1 percent of the programming activities in society represent useful work -- work benefiting society in the way the work of doctors does.
  • Individuals with practically no programming experience act as industry experts -- they write books on programming, teach courses, and provide consulting services.
  • Many software companies exploit the ignorance of programmers and users by suggesting that their products possess supernatural powers.
  • Programmers rely on worthless theories, development environments, and ready-made pieces of software, instead of programming and improving their skills.
  • Major government projects are abandoned after spending vast amounts of public money, while the incompetents responsible for these failures continue to be seen as software experts.
  • Corporations cannot keep their software applications up to date and must acquire or develop new ones over and over.
  • Society must support a growing software bureaucracy -- more and more workers are changing from individuals who perform useful tasks to individuals who merely practise the mechanistic software myth.
  • The concept of expertise is being degraded to mean, not the utmost that human minds can attain, but simply acquaintance with the latest software systems.
  • Our software culture is so corrupt that it has become, in effect, a form of totalitarianism.

From the Inside Flap:

The mechanistic myth is the belief that everything can be described as a neat hierarchical structure of things within things. And few of us realize that our entire culture is now based on this fallacy. While the world consists of complex, interacting structures, we prefer to treat every phenomenon as a simple, isolated structure.

Through our software pursuits, the mechanistic myth has spread beyond its academic origins and is affecting every aspect of human existence. In just one generation, it has expanded from worthless theories of mind and society (behaviourism, structuralism, universal grammar, etc.) to worthless concepts in the field of programming (structured programming, object-oriented programming, the relational database model, etc.) to worthless software-related activities that we all have to perform.

What is worse, our mechanistic beliefs have permitted powerful software elites to arise. While appearing to help us enjoy the benefits of software, the elites are in fact preventing us from creating and using software effectively. By invoking mechanistic software principles, they are fostering ignorance in software-related matters and inducing dependence on their systems. Increasingly, in one occupation after another, all we need to know is how to operate some software systems that are based on mechanistic principles. But our minds are capable of non-mechanistic knowledge. So, when the elites force us to depend on their software, they exploit us in two ways: by preventing us from creating better, non-mechanistic software; and by preventing us from using the superior, non-mechanistic capabilities of our minds.

The ultimate consequence of our mechanistic culture, then, is the degradation of minds. If we restrict ourselves to mechanistic performance, our non-mechanistic capabilities remain undeveloped. The world is becoming more and more complex, yet we see only its simple, mechanistic aspects. So we cope perhaps with the mechanistic problems, but the complex, non-mechanistic ones remain unsolved, and may eventually destroy us.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Andrei Sorin
Published by Andsor Books (2013)
ISBN 10: 0986938904 ISBN 13: 9780986938900
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Andsor Books, 2013. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0986938904

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 29.19
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Andrei Sorin
Published by Andsor Books (2013)
ISBN 10: 0986938904 ISBN 13: 9780986938900
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Andsor Books, 2013. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. 1st edition. 944 pages. 9.30x6.20x2.60 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 0986938904

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 75.90
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 8.00
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds