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The Pathos of Distance

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    Optimization and Efficiency

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    Magnus Anderson

    Posts : 62
    Join date : 2018-02-25

    Optimization and Efficiency

    Post by Magnus Anderson on Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:20 pm

    First, some definitions:

    optimize
    to make as perfect, effective, or functional as possible

    efficient
    (of a system or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense

    So, to optimize means to make something as good as possible in certain regard. In simpler words, it means to improve something as much as possible in some way. On the other hand, to be efficient means to do something in a way that maximizes the benefits (the good, the positive) while minimizing the costs (the bad, the negative.)

    Now, what I want to ask is:

    1. Can optimization and effiency be disadvantageous? Are there times when it's better not to optimize and not to be efficient?
    2. Are they not by definition advantageous?

    Why should someone spend 10 years in order to make some product X when they can spend 1 year and get the same result?

    These questions have been prompted by my reading of Taleb. Here's what I believe to be an excerpt from his latest book Skin in the Game.

    Spoiler:


    The villainous takes the short road, virtue the longer one. In other words, cutting corners is dishonest.

    Why is that so?

    Z13

    Posts : 394
    Join date : 2018-04-16

    Re: Optimization and Efficiency

    Post by Z13 on Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:36 pm

    i agree with you, andy. this taleb guy is nuts if he thinks i'm gonna purposely spend ten minutes doing something i can do in one minute. i understand the whole thing about the pride of the artisan... the joy he derives from the patience and commitment demanded by his art. sure, that's one of the reasons why our art is appreciated so much more; look at how fucking long it took us to finish it. understandable. although for the sake of your question, there is a difference between commodity/service production and artistic production. the former should be optimized by virtue of its purposes; it is a means to acquire a profit. so one produces just enough to get that profit, and nothing more. and the faster he can do so, the better.

    but with art, part of the final product also involves the process by/through which it was conceived and realized. the actual 'creating' provides some of the pleasure... not so (much) for a commodity/service product. i mean one does take pride in their ability as a producer, but they don't purposely extend the time and effort required to produce, any more than what's absolutely necessary.

    unless he's one of the incompetent, capitalist assholes i work for. so much for smith's theory. these idiots are supposed to go out of business if they fail to follow the principles of the capitalist modes of production. not so. instead, the losses come out of the pockets of the employees so the margins of profit can be maintained... even after this dipshit takes three days to build something that would take me five hours. that's the bitch about the free market. it is overrun with flakes.

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    Magnus Anderson

    Posts : 62
    Join date : 2018-02-25

    Re: Optimization and Efficiency

    Post by Magnus Anderson on Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:49 pm

    It has to do with what kind of goal you have set for yourself and whether you can take the shorter path or not.

    Maybe your goal is to earn money -- some money or a lot of money. If that's the case, then you have to be aware of the kind of environment you live in. You must adapt to it. You can't just assume everyone's like you. If you are surrounded by idiots, you can't possibly earn money by selling them the kind of product that requires intelligence. You have to pay attention to their needs and create a product that will, at least in some way, satisfy these needs. Consider an entirely different game, the artistic one, where the goal is to create what you consider to be a high quality product irrespective of the social environment you live in. You create something that you like and you hope, or maybe not even hope, that other people, having similar tastes to yours, will like it. If they do, you may earn some money, even a lot of money, even though you never wanted to. But in the end, I think, it's EXTREMELY important that you're surrounded by like-minded people because otherwise you'll never be able to survive as an artist. Unless you happen to have FU money (the way Taleb does.)

    The concept of optimization is goal-independent. It is an abstract concept. I can't think of any situation in which optimization, in its general sense, can be disadvantageous. If the artisan chooses to take what appears to be a longer path instead of taking what appears to be a shorter path, this may be because he deems such a path to be more optimal, and thus in reality a shorter path, in relation to his goals; or it might be because he is so used to taking longer paths that he finds it very difficult to switch to shorter paths.


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