Definite optimism requires both a vision and evidence that we are on a trajectory to reach it

In the context of Kurt Vonnegut story shapes, you need to have three ingredients.

  1. You need to clearly enunciate where the end point is - the end of the story.
  2. You need to give people an idea of what the trajectory is going to look like.
  3. You need to make people feel like you’re on the first part of that trajectory.

Indefinite optimism is some combination of 1 and 3 (many times if you do well enough on 3 people will fill in 1 for you.) “We could get to X and we have successfully moved forward in the past.” This works well if experiments are cheap The value of planning is inversely proportional to the cost of experimenting and the trajectory is not going to have any massive dips during which people will cut and run.

IYI/Thinktanking is some combination of 1 and 2. This is the failure mode of definiteness - all plans and no action. Definiteness means that you have a long-term plan. One example of this is that NASA comes up with a 10 year plan every 8 years.

Most predictions suck because they only do 1.

This is why Elon Musk inspires people - he calls his shots.

J.C.R. Licklider is another great example of this. Man-Computer Symbiosis laid out 1 and 2 and then his work at ARPA provided 3.


Web URL for this note

Comment on this note