A few years ago, My former employer once said to me: “I reached my peak in computer knowledge after around 10 years”. And indeed he was quite an incredible programmer. It got me thinking though, Is that peak a reality or just a perceived roof over our heads.
I’d like to be idealistic about the future and think that I’ll never hit that glass ceiling (laugh at my poor attempt at art), because well, can I know everything? Most likely no. But will I one day know enough to know exactly where to look for the gaps in my knowledge? hmmm.. that’s a separate question with a philosophy of it’s own. Technically speaking, We cannot know every detail, But we are talking about something created by humans, And humans also don’t know everything, So what we seek to know the answers to is also a confined realm.
Computers are complex machines, I don’t expect anyone to disagree, But they are far from incomprehension. If you break anything down you’ll see everything is made of simple components, those components which can be understood at a high enough level so as to be practical to use: “this does that when you touch this there” and so on so forth, ad nauseam. Break a computer down and you get the same thing. CPUs, memory, this goes there and does that when you do this. Programs are more of the same. Simple problems and simple solutions making complex creations all of which serve exponentially numerous purposes. and they all follow patterns.
With out order we find it hard to get around anywhere. Think about the rules that govern our roads, If there weren’t established conventions of driving to one side or following sign rules, then there’d be chaos. but when was the last time you had to think about what a road looks like? or which colour traffic signal means stop or go? It is something that is embedded in our brains and our muscle memory. Red things induce chemical reactions in our brains whilst driving that provokes physical response.
I.e. when red flashes in front we slam the brakes. This does not only happen at the red traffic lights we frequently visit, but any subsequent traffic signal that ‘looks light a red light’ as well. That is why some communities employ this effect to their advantage by having orange street lights which invokes caution in drivers naturally (personally i think this could have the adverse effects of ignoring actual orange signals).
So should this be different for computers. Computers – chief amongst man-made things – follow distinct patterns. Programs built for computers require efficient and well known patterns to operate. Is it possible to have sufficient knowledge of these patterns such that nothing becomes ‘new’ anymore? So that the recognition of such patterns becomes ingrained in our thinking and automate our understanding? Maybe, But if that were the reality, I’d wonder if I myself were fooled by my perceived ceilings. I do not believe for a split second that we’ve peaked our knowledge in any field. There are just too many combinations of simple things in a mere mathematical sense to believe such a knowledge exists. This world is too wonderfully made not to contain a great number of unknown discoveries.
Having reached a plateau in my pilgrimage, I’ve discovered increased ease when learning new frameworks, languages and paradigms. And for some areas, I’ve reached a dead end with Google search-ability. Such, I believe, is the realm of a pioneer. people who have reached the end of the known world and decided not to turn around. Familiarity is comfortable, safe and well traveled. But where we stand was not once a civilized place, It took the efforts of countless men to stand on the shoulders of giants (or as I like to think: ‘the ladder of men’).
What would happen if everyone on the edge of discovery pushed through the adversity and broke into new territory. What if the resolve of our generation was to innovate beyond known laws and boundaries. It is in assuming that there are limits that we limit ourselves. I never want to hint to those below me that there is a place where we can say “I have arrived”, for I don’t think we’ll ever find that in this existence. nor do i think we were meant to. Excuse my ‘archaic’ belief in a created world, but my passion would not be driven if not for a belief that my purpose extends greater than this life and into something only God could have ordained for me.
But regardless of religious belief, the what-have-you-tried philosophy of problem solving can help any man (by man i mean women too :P) and when what you’ve tried subtly extends past what is known, you too may begin to feel the incredible feeling that comes with smashing through glass ceilings…
Happy coding people.