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Only human.

Reading through an article on the possible causes of the Space Shuttle disaster, I am reminded that we are human and that even though all of our processes might appear to be reasonably flawless, to the point where they are almost certain to succeed in their mission, there will always be those errors, flaws and/or limitations in these systems that have not been accounted for.

No matter how well we design and test our systems, our innate human nature will always get in the way.  Fred Brooks discusses this in his book 'The Mythical Man Month'. 

Our communication is limited.  Each person has his own thoughts.  To bring everyone's thought processes together as one is near impossible.  How can we as humans overcome this limitation.  Was'nt it imposed on us by God himself (The Tower of Babel)?  To save us from ourselves? 

When God saw that all of the people of the world were building a tower, he thought that if they can do this then they can do anything they set their mind to.  So he enforced barriers of communication.  He made us speak different languages.  We all learn at different rates and in different ways.  Each of us understand concepts in his/her own way and has different viewpoints.  Would'nt it make sense that the further we become dependant on our own "systems" the further we stray from God?

In order for the Space Shuttle to succeed, there has to be an immense amount of communication.  I cannot even begin to comprehend the amount of information that has to be communicated to build, launch and fly the shuttle.

Do we need to explore space?  Are we meant to explore space?  Or for that matter, fly airplanes, drive cars, ride motorcycles?  I guess the alternative is to go back to primitive ways of living.  The only form of transportation we are good at using is our legs and some people don't even have that luxury.  What makes us think we have the right to do something so fragile as exploring an environment outside of our own?  Do even have the right to create the means necessary to do this?

Maybe computers have made it too easy to communicate information, but this is the way of the future.  The future will hold more complexity as we continually build our systems.  There must be a break even point.  The point where the systems that we devise no longer ease our workload or it may be the other way around.  The more complex these systems become the more "work" that will be involved in maintaining them.  Either way, we are still only human, and in the end all of our efforts are only futile.

JSD
Thursday, February 13, 2003

This post is like the Calvin & Hobbes cartton strip I read yesterday, in which Calvin says that he will not do homework, since it will lower his self esteem....

http://www.ucomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1992/02/11/

Prakash S
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Well reading that this morning soured my coffee.

One of the problems about God is that it gives everyone else a poor sense of self esteem.  Personally, I'd rather accept that I screw up sometimes but sometimes I do rather wonderfully well and with others sometimes achieve things which seemed beyond our grasp.

Communication, in the Shannon sense, is everything but those involved in that communication don't have to control the whole conversation in order for that conversation to make sense.

Simon Lucy
Friday, February 14, 2003

JSD, I sympathize.  However, I must disagree.  You wrote:

"What makes us think we have the right to do something so fragile as exploring an environment outside of our own?"

Why do you think we *don't* have that right?  Yes, it's dangerous.  Yes, we may die.  But that willingness to do things dangerous, even if we may die, is one of the things that separates man from animal and makes humans noble.

Regarding reasons for space exploration, Robert A. Heinlein wrote: "The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in."

We just have to remember that things like exploring space -- or even hopping on a plane to visit Hawaii -- aren't nearly as important as the connections we make with other human beings, with the simple things in life.  But as long as we keep that in mind, noble pursuits remain noble.

Brent P. Newhall
Friday, February 14, 2003

I'm saying that it is not God's intended purpose for us to be in 'outer space'.  We were created to thrive in earth's environment.  If we were meant to be in 'outer space', or to fly or travel faster than a walking pace, God would have given us those abilities.  Who do we think we are attempting to do these things that we were not meant to do?  What gives us this 'right'?  Our own ability to choose what we do.  This very ability that was endowed by God.

Hence, If/When we pursue these 'noble feats' then we must accept the inherent risk.  Is pursuit of this human intellect looked down on by God?  I would say yes, but not in a damning sort of way.  God does not want us to hurt or harm ourselves, after all we are his creation.  He also does not want us to turn our attention from Him by placing these things that we create ahead of Him as a priority in life.  It is fine to have noble pursuits, as long as you place God in the fore-front and don't believe that you have or even can achieve these things without his giving you the ability to do so or that you have done so 'by yourself'.

As far as the earth being fragile, I agree that it is, but it is also man that has polluted it and abused it's resources. We are the cause of our problems.  The solution man continues to pursue is to add more complexity.  As the saying goes 'Progress brings problems.'  It's a constant paradox.

JSD
Friday, February 14, 2003

JSD,

Climb back into bed and pull the sheets tight over your head.  You'll be safe there.

Joe Paradise
Sunday, February 16, 2003

"If we were meant to be in 'outer space', or to fly or travel faster than a walking pace, God would have given us those abilities."

Wow, I admire a man whe eats raw unrefrigerated meat and lives in a cave without fire.

Cathy C. Belhoeffer
Monday, February 17, 2003

"Climb back into bed and pull the sheets tight over your head.  You'll be safe there."

"Wow, I admire a man whe eats raw unrefrigerated meat and lives in a cave without fire."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

First of all, who says I'm a guy?

I think you guys totally missed the point.  I drive a car and ride a motorcylce.  I have flown in planes and ridden on boats.  I have driven lawnmowers and bicycles.  I have used almost every mechanical device possible.  The point is these devices are frail because of the immense amount of communication that must take place to use and implement them.  There isn't a person alive that would'nt use these devices to make life easier.  For that matter they must use them to live in modern society.

Your statements are foolish and insulting.  They are made without thought or knowledge of the topic at hand.

Janice Sidney Devale
Monday, February 17, 2003

<snip>
I think you guys totally missed the point.
</snip>

Perhaps in your rambling about the space shuttle and religion you failed to make a coherent statement?

<snip>
Either way, we are still only human, and in the end all of our efforts are only futile.
</snip>

Sounds like you're a existentialist idiot.  Just don't blame God for your own fear of failure.

Joe Paradise
Monday, February 17, 2003

"Perhaps in your rambling about the space shuttle and religion you failed to make a coherent statement?"

You are responding to a post that does not say anything of meaning or interest to you?  How strange indeed.

"Sounds like you're a existentialist idiot."

It would seem to me that you can't stand criticism and might need a good dose of humility.

I believe we exist because God created us.  He created us as fragile beings. An existentialist on the other hand regards human existence as unexplainable.

I am not an idiot sir.  That is a very childish thing to say.

"Just don't blame God for your own fear of failure."

What is this talk of failure?  This post is not about failure, it is about frailness.  It is because of God that I do not fear failure.  If I did would I even venture out of my house in the morning to go to work?  Do I damn God when something I do does not work out? Absolutely not.  I pray for strength to correct it and carry on.

If you choose to respond to this post, try to keep the conversation at an adult level.  Resorting to name calling reflects on your level maturity and also makes you look like a fool without anything of worth to say.

JSD
Monday, February 17, 2003

For the record, Janice, you started the name calling when you said my statements were "foolish".  It's my own fault for sinking to your level.  Or getting involved in any discussion involving religion.

My admittedly emotional response comes from my past work experience with NASA.  I'll save the anecdotes and just say you will not find better people on this planet.

In your original post, you compared the Space Shuttle and the Tower of Babel, and stated that God was offended by our efforts to expand our human knowledge.  The implication was that God intervened in the last shuttle mission to prevent its success, as he did by imposing communication barriers with the Tower of Babel.

If you choose to believe God caused the Columbia to disintegrate during re-entry, so be it.  I won't debate religion with you.

What I will debate is your views on technology.  You say that God imposed limits on us mere mortals to "save us from ourselves".  That "the further we become dependant on our own "systems" the further we stray from God". And yet, by your own admission, you use these "systems".  According to you, "I have used almost every mechanical device possible."

Do you not see your own blatant hypocrisy?  You strongly imply that the shuttle astronauts deserved to die because they defied God's will, but you're more than willing use the fruits of their sacrifices.  By doing so, you're disobeying your God, correct?  Or are you just being unappreciative to the people who died trying to improve the human condition.

Do you use a satellite TV service like DirecTV?  I worked on a NASA project managing a communications satellite that was the first to use "spot-beam" technology, which allowed for smaller receiver dishes we have today.  The satellite was launched by Discovery STS-51. 

Since you're a religious woman who follows God's will, and according to you God doesn't like NASA, aren't you disobeying God by using DirecTV?  Or Gortex?  Or anything else invented by NASA?

I hope that this response was "adult" enough.  I had to edit it before posting to remove the words I usually reserve for people like you.

Joe Paradise
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Joe, your anger and frustration are readily apparent.

>> "For the record, Janice, you started the name calling when you said my statements were "foolish".  It's my own fault for sinking to your level.  Or getting involved in any discussion involving religion."

I believe your first post was foolish as it does not imply that you fully understand what was said.


>> "My admittedly emotional response comes from my past work experience with NASA.  I'll save the anecdotes and just say you will not find better people on this planet."

I admire the people from NASA and did not in anyway insult these people directly or indirectly.


>> "In your original post, you compared the Space Shuttle and the Tower of Babel, and stated that God was offended by our efforts to expand our human knowledge.  The implication was that God intervened in the last shuttle mission to prevent its success, as he did by imposing communication barriers with the Tower of Babel.

If you choose to believe God caused the Columbia to disintegrate during re-entry, so be it.  I won't debate religion with you."


I never said and I am not implying that God caused the shuttle to crash.

I am saying that it was a result of human error and human circumstances.  I did not say God was offended by these attempts either.  I stated that he does not look on them with favor.  It's like a child that crosses the street without an adult.  If you were that childs parent would you be offended by that childs actions or would you simply not find favor with that childs actions.  Now if the child does the dishes or cleans their room you look on that child with favor.


>> "What I will debate is your views on technology.  You say that God imposed limits on us mere mortals to "save us from ourselves".  That "the further we become dependant on our own "systems" the further we stray from God". And yet, by your own admission, you use these "systems".  According to you, "I have used almost every mechanical device possible."

Do you not see your own blatant hypocrisy?  You strongly imply that the shuttle astronauts deserved to die because they defied God's will, but you're more than willing use the fruits of their sacrifices.  By doing so, you're disobeying your God, correct?  Or are you just being unappreciative to the people who died trying to improve the human condition."

Yes, according to the Bible and the Tower of Babel, God did impose communication limits on us.

Yes, the more we use our technology the more we put ourselves, myself included (I never excluded myself), in harms way.  I don't believe that using technology is a "sin".  Does it (in and of itself) break any of the ten commandments?  The law.  I don't think so.

I am in no way implying that the astronauts were sinning.  How did you come to that conclusion?  If I felt that way then obviously I would'nt use modern conveniences.  I am not a hypocrate.  You are drawing conclusions without a complete understand of what I am saying.

The points of the original post were:

1.  Communcation is fickle.
2.  It requires a lot of communication (channels) to make a complex system.
3.  I believe God disrupted our communication abilities for a reason: So that we would not put ourselves in harms way.  Am I implying that we should not pursue technology. No.
4.  I don't believe that pursuing or using these things is a sin.

"Do you use a satellite TV service like DirecTV?  I worked on a NASA project managing a communications satellite that was the first to use "spot-beam" technology, which allowed for smaller receiver dishes we have today.  The satellite was launched by Discovery STS-51."

Not that it matters, but I don't use satellite TV.  Would I if I had the chance, absolutely.

"Since you're a religious woman who follows God's will, and according to you God doesn't like NASA, aren't you disobeying God by using DirecTV?  Or Gortex?  Or anything else invented by NASA?"

No you're not disobeying God.  I never said or implied that God does'nt like NASA or Gortex or cars or whatever else you can think of.  I said God does'nt like us to put ourselves in harms way.  Just like you don't like your children to put themselves in harms way.  You don't want them to do drugs.  You want them to enjoy life.  Does God damn people who drive cars and planes and space ships.  No.  Does he watch over them.  Yes.  Just as you hold your childs hand crossing the street.  Was God with the astronauts on that day.  I would say absolutely he was. 

It seems to me Joe that you're a pretty sensitive guy.  You seem to read into everything that is said here.  I hope you are'nt just saying these things out of anger.  I'm not angry or upset, but I would like to come to an understanding with you.

"I hope that this response was "adult" enough.  I had to edit it before posting to remove the words I usually reserve for people like you."

It was better Joe.  Although, as I stated earlier you seem angry.  There really isn't anything to be angry about.  There are things to communicate though, so that we can each come to an understanding.

JSD
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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