October 21, 2009
Paul Buchheit on Applied Philosophy (aka “Hacking”)
Source: Paul Buchheit’s Blog
A familiar storyline? Computer programming genius Paul Buchheit has his own blog (who doesn’t these days?), and while most of his posts have been geared to the techno-geeks, a post from last week has a certain, eerily familiar ring to it:
Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the truth, and discover the actual rules of a system. Once the actual rules are known, it may be possible to perform “miracles” — things which violate the perceived rules.
Shortcuts and Loopholes. Paul describes how he feels that hacking fits this description of violating perceived rules, and gives his work with AdSense as an example. Hacking these days goes beyond the computer:
Hacking isn’t limited to computers though. Wherever there are systems, there is the potential for hacking, and there are systems everywhere. Our entire reality is systems of systems, all the way down.
This hacking of systems results from a certain mindset… the “hacker mindset”… that breaks from the “straight and narrow” path in favor of “shortcuts and loopholes”; That there are always undiscovered areas of opportunity, and those who can exploit them become incredibly successful at the expense of others (an old obsolete system or innocent victims). Of course, these hacks can result in a vast improvement of something (Google’s rise as the predominant search engine) or an apocalyptic failure (bailouts).
Hack the future. Most don’t bother about finding the truth or even care if someone else does. Some people are content with just finding the truth about reality, but hackers try to bend that truth to see if it breaks or if it holds up. Those are the people, Paul says, who will make the future for us:
To discover great hacks, we must always be searching for the true nature of our reality, while acknowledging that we do not currently possess the truth, and never will. Hacking is much bigger and more important than clever bits of code in a computer — it’s how we create the future.