Thursday, July 26, 2018

Tech industry approaches in other fields

This is Joseph

I found this twitter thread by Dr. Sarah Taber to be pretty thought provoking.  The real interesting part is at the top:

What this makes me wonder is whether the approach of tech translates well to other industries.  The windows PC was a major productivity improvement and the occasional blue screen of death was annoying rather than fatal.  On average, it made productivity a lot higher and the clients were willing to put up with these problems in exchange for the increased productivity.  Just think of how much better a word processor is than a typewriter at conducting a writing project.  In terms of revising work, it has simply been a game changer.

This starts to be less ok when the costs of failure are high enough.

Or consider this example, also from Sarah Taber:

The fast improvement approach of Tech has some really awesome features, but it isn't really geared to dealing with these long term issues.

Now, I want to be clear.  Computer and software technology has been miraculous.  It makes sense to wonder what other areas this technology can be applied to.  And all processes have error rates and problems -- tech just have a different set of failure points to traditional industries.

That said, there are problems that require a different approach.  It may be faster to hammer a nail than to use a screw, but the screw solves different problems and has different performance characteristics than the nail.  So we should be open to switching to nails, but keep a clear head about how these approaches may show faults when applied to areas other than the ones in which they were developed.

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