Synergy, when 2 + 2 =5

2 + 2 =5

March 2012

I wanted to open this work with a statement so patently wrong and absurd as to suggest to the reader that, to make real change, everything he or she believes needs to be ‘on the table.’

If I can prove to you that, indeed, 2 + 2 = 5 then you may let me suggest that there is a contrary perspective to everything you think you know.

Back in the days when people shuddered at the mention of a “C Prompt”, I used to teach Computer Empowerment Seminars. These were fundamentally motivational seminars dedicated to changing the way people felt about computers. I have discovered that if people would change their attitude about computers, they could successfully learn to use them. The class was aimed at adults, mostly older, who felt that technology was moving so fast that it had passed them by. They didn’t understand why their children and grandchildren could make these seemingly inscrutable devices stand up and dance when they themselves were filled with trepidation.

“When we were young it was the ‘cold war’ days. We knew that our world leaders had their ‘fingers on the button’ and that, if they pressed it, the world would explode in a blaze of nuclear fire. So no wonder we look at rows of buttons convinced that, if we pressed the wrong one, the computer would meltdown into a slug of worthless slag. Our children, on the other hand, were brought up with toys like the Fisher Price Busy-Box with buttons and dials that would beep, buzz, or ding delightfully.

When we’re faced with an unknown button, we want to know what it is going to do before we press it. Our kids push it to see what’s going to happen.”

In my classes, and in my unpublished masterpiece “Dancing with computers – do you still scream when you see a mouse?” I tried to give readers an insight into the very nature of computers by comparing them to light switches.

Here’s a simple circuit. If switch A is on then the light is on.

Here’s a more complicated circuit. If switch A and either B or C is on, then the light is on.

Here’s a very complicated circuit. If A and (B or (C and D and E) or (F and (G or (H and I))) then the light is on.

These switches are now making decisions. If they are in a vending machine and different switches are set ON based on what coins you put in, then the machine decides whether to give you your coke based on very complicated combinations of coins. When you have billions on billions of switches all turning each other off and on your get a machine that appears to think. A computer.

As networks started becoming popular in business I would go into companies and connect dozens of computers together to form company-wide systems. Each one was different. Some were more geared toward security, some optimized for speed, others for printing documents or displaying engineering drawings. Each network seemed to have a personality of its own.

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