The Society of Method
For a method, a protocol, thought about and done by you, what’s a “you”? What kinds of smaller entities may cooperate to carry out a procedure? Try this: pick up a cup of tea. Imagine that
- your GRASPING agents want to keep hold of the cup,
- your BALANCING agents want to keep the tea from spilling out,
- your THIRST agents want you to drink the tea, and
- your MOVING agents want to get the cup to your lips.
If each does it’s own job, the really big job will get done by all of them together: drinking tea.
We’re always doing several things at once, like planning and walking and talking. These processes involve more machinery than anyone can understand at once.
In the next few notes, we’ll focus on one ordinary activity - making things with children’s building blocks. In doing this, we’ll try to imitate how Galileo and Newton learned so much by studying the simplest kinds of pendulums and weights, mirrors and prisms.
By focusing a microscope on simple objects, we hope to open up a great and unexpected universe, the same reason why so many biologists nowadays devote more attention to tiny germs and viruses than to magnificent lions and tigers. The work of artificial-intelligence researchers with children’s blocks can be the prism and the pendulum for studying scientific procedure.
In science, one can learn the most by studying what seems the least.