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Go for repairability

I recently got an email from someone who wrote something that really resonated with me. I won’t say who they are to protect the innocent, but they are free to leave a comment below in case they want to reveal who they are. Since I write about a lot of ‘controversial’ things on my blog I don’t want to unnecessarily get others involved or associated with what I write because there might be consequences for them in the future.

Anyway, the quote that I really loved is the following:

One last note: don’t go for immunity, go for repairability.

This quote should not only be seen in the medical or biological context in which it was written, because the deeper and fundamental philosophy behind it can apply to many other areas of life. For example, it could also apply to engineering. We often want to build things that are as strong as possible and could withstand different kinds of attacks and damage, but it’s often better and smarter to try to build it in such a way where it can easily be repaired and even do that all by itself.

Specifically, as a software developer I always try to write my programs in such a way where in many cases the program is able to recover from problems by itself in order to make it more robust. Even better is when it’s able to detect in advance, and avoid, potential problems all by itself. It’s often very difficult to predict all the potential issues and the environments that the program might encounter during execution, so writing it in such a way that it can manage failures gracefully is very important. A good example of this is the use of error-correcting codes (ECC). Of course, there’s always a limit to how far you can go and some failures may be catastrophic in the sense that there is simply no recovery possible except for restarting the program.

As another example, one might try to build a wall in such a way that it could take a hit without even getting scratched. But is it possible to foresee every kind of impact that wall will receive? Wouldn’t it be smarter to build a wall that could repair itself even when it gets damaged? Think of some kind of self-repairing material that could return to its original shape and even fill back in the cracks and holes after getting damaged. That is basically how our skin works; when it gets scratched or cut open, it heals itself (or at the very least it tries hard to do so). There’s research on self-healing materials, that could one day be used on spaceships, airplanes and cars.

In fact, the entire universe has this kind of resilience as a fundamental property. Nothing is indestructible but everything is able to repair/heal itself. We just have to look at our environment for evidence of this and it makes complete sense in a universe that exists to promote life. I think this fundamental property of repairability is a lot more powerful than we’re able to witness in our immediate environment here on Earth. There’s a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that these abilities were intentionally limited in the past by an extraterrestrial force. For example, why are trees able to grow back a branch when it’s cut off, but we can’t grow back a limb, an eye or other body part? Why can salamanders grow back a lost limb while humans can’t? I think that these abilities were intentionally toned down and/or disabled by the so called ‘gods’ of our past when they engineered humans to be their slaves. Humans had to be strong enough to do the work for them and be able to withstand enough damage to not easily die, but still weak enough in order not to be a threat to them. This is mentioned in ancient texts such as the Sumerian tablets, but we can also find examples in the bible, such as when the human life span was intentionally shortened by the ‘gods’. Even our mental capabilities were intentionally crippled by these ‘gods’; for example, shortening our long term memory and limiting its capacity (so we are prevented from remembering too much and thus from becoming too smart) and our ability to think, analyze and do math. The few ‘gifted’ people who walk around with special abilities in terms of memory and math skills (‘savants’) give us a glimpse of what every one of us would be capable of had it not been for limitations engineered into us by the ‘gods’. A great example is artist Stephen Wiltshire who is able to draw large panoramic pictures of cities from memory after a brief ride with a helicopter. Author Paul Wallis discusses these abilities in his book “Escaping from Eden” (which I haven’t read yet as of this writing, but plan on doing so). We’re now trying to make up for all of these lost capabilities with our technology; for example our research into growing organs, genetic engineering and using artificial intelligence (AI) and computers to enhance our mental abilities. But these technological solutions are primitive in comparison to what would biologically and ‘naturally’ be possible.

One last example of an area where the above quote applies is when raising children. It’s impossible to protect children from every kind of (potentially) dangerous situation that they may encounter in life. You simply can’t foresee every possibility and indeed you may not even be around anymore in later parts of their life. So you can’t make them ‘immune’ to every problem that they might encounter. However, you can teach them some fundamental skills that will help them to avoid those situations or navigate them in the best way possible. For example, if they are taught critical thinking skills, they might not become ‘immune’ to every kind of deception, but they might be able to detect it much earlier in order to limit any damage and get out of difficult situations in a smarter or better way and manage to recover all by themselves. And if they are taught self-reliance, living frugally and the value of independence, they will be better positioned to repair or heal themselves when getting into trouble.

I hope these few examples have given you an idea of how deep the above quote goes, even though it’s just one short line of text. I leave it up to you now to think about it and find more applications in life.


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