„Everyday Chaos“ by David Weinberger – a HBR Book Review

To say that the Internet is an integral part of our lives is certainly an understatement. And David Weinberger, the famous American technologist who wrote the first Internet marketing, seems well placed to write about it. In a world where everything happens at once, where technologies combine with AI to deliver more-than-human results, „Everyday Chaos“ comes a bit late. Yet, here it is – a verbal pictorial of how our humble lives are swirled everyday, over-analyzed then categorized by a myriad of machines – equally hardware and software.
Thus the question is – are we humans still self-propelled decision makers anymore? „Everyday Chaos“ says otherwise – we are:
1. Overtaken in decision making accuracy and speed by machines;
2. Dependent on them…
3. … and even more worrying, enjoying this dependency.

In a sci-fi turn, David Weinberger almost asks himself toward the end of the book if we are the masters or the followers in this brave new world. To make a tech joke – „Everyday Chaos“ stops shortly of asking the question, since the machines have already read his book and put a marker on author‘s lesser habits. On a more serious note, what makes us humans starts to become a slightly more marginal competitive advantage. Harvard Business Review Press‘ title is full of factual evidence towards that. AI machines overtake us in chess, medicine diagnostics and constancy of service.

We humans are still programming them. Which gives us the „upper-hand“ illusion – coupled of course with the physical ability to generate electricity from regenerating resources. Fair enough…

On a more practical note, „Everyday Chaos“ advances the theory that various societal organizations (business, governments, NGOs, political parties etc) must accept and embrace the more and more entropic nature of technology. Beneath the apparent surface of a self-defined order, there lie chaotic processes that self-accelerate and regenerate into building their own evolutionary niche. Weinberger‘s thesis from this HBR press book states therefore that one must embrace and ride these chaos waves. Otherwise, ignoring or (worse) retro-justifying them might actually push the respective individuals behind to their niches – which cannot be good in any case.

All in all, a highly unusual business book title. „Everyday Chaos“ is a modern tech philosophy book – and a lesson for the modern (wo)man to relax and embrace the tech reality we are living in. And why not, Weinberger invites us to take advantage of this brave new world where everything happens at once, not sequentially.

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