Mark Johnson wrote:

So I want to ask a deeper question: Effective science and effective
decision-making go hand-in-hand. What does an effective society
operating in a highly ambiguous and technologically abundant
environment look like? How does it use its technology for effective
decision-making? My betting is it doesn't look anything like what
we've currently got!

These are good questions, Mark.

Understanding 'science' as 'knowledge' it is plainly true that "Effective science and effective decision-making go hand-in-hand".

As a gloss on that comment, I would add that there is an imbalance. Decision-making aspires to universal applicability. If the state changes the tax regime then it expects all citizens to conform, and increasingly technology can be used to achieve that. But knowledge of the consequences to society and individuals of those changes to the tax regime is partial.

The state uses a regulatory framework, which is quite easily knowable, to regulate the chaotic interactions of society, which are complex to the degree that they are unknowable. In other words, governments use policy instruments to attenuate the variety of the society that they set out to regulate, and implicit in this is a recognition the impossibility of a complete knowledge of society. An open question is whether the tools of data surveillance can change or adjust that equation, and, if they can, whether that is desirable.

In the past you have drawn my attention to Bataille's discussion of transgression, which I think is relevant here. The question arises: is it possible for political science, with technological support, to manage the attraction of transgression? That seems to be the project that is underway in China at the moment. We can watch the results with interest (and perhaps trepidation).

> What does an effective society operating in a highly ambiguous and technologically abundant environment look like?

My working suggestion for a guiding principle would be "An effective society should be humble about its ability to understand its own workings, and those of the people who constitute it"



Professor David (Dai) Griffiths
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