Wil McCarthy: Science and technology are powerful tools for understanding and interacting with the universe around us, but they contribute to a kind of hubris. “We know all this stuff, ergo we must know everything.” But you can’t know everything.

Even the “unified field theories” and “theories of everything” kicking around in physics these days are just high-level descriptions of the underlying process. You still can’t predict the weather, see? Because it’s chaotic. It’s too complex and too sensitive for us to model, no matter how powerful our computers become.

So there will always be this slap-in-the-face aspect to the universe: the rogue wave, the sudden earthquake, the economic collapse. You can’t engineer these out of the system, and the real danger comes when you stop believing that.

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