Is technical knowledge fractal?

My analysis of technical knowledge in manufacturing, aviation, and elsewhere suggests that it is fractal, i.e. that any portion of a knowledge graph can be further decomposed into a detailed knowledge graph in its own right. Limits on human knowledge mean that the frontiers of current graphs are always “fuzzy,” i.e. at low stages of knowledge. Further technology development will clarify clarify the current periphery of a graph, but reveals new fuzzy portions.

To the extent this hypothesis is true, i.e. that knowledge is fractal, it has a lot of implications. For example, high-tech industries must operate in frontier regions where much is known, but some important issues are not well understood. People are better than machines at dealing with ambiguity, so the faster the rate of technological progress, the more an industry needs people and cannot automate its activities.

 

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