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Modern societies have become so complex that only those who understand the technological umbilical cord that supports us are really qualified to make the big decisions of government and other group behavior.

Giving the power to the scientists or the engineers is an old fantasy. However, even if technology is a very important element, society is not a technical system and engineers have seldom a good understanding of the complexity of human and social issues. Unless they have supplemented their education with social sciences like psychology or sociology, they tend to have a reductionist approach of social issues.

The group with the best mechanisms for learning and teaching these facts is the engineers.
What allows you to make this assertion? My own experience (as an engineer, as a teacher and as a management consultant) confirms what I said above: I have been appalled by the poor management skills of many engineers, even at the highest level...

There is also a theoretical issue: as I said in this comment:

What I referred to in our discussion was one of the fundamental laws of Systems Theory, namely the law of requisite variety, which says: "The variety of a control subsystem must be equal or superior to the variety of the controlled system". Variety is a measure of the number of distinct states a system can be in.

Applied to a complex system like a human society, which is fractal (i.e. the level of complexity remains the same at any level of the system), the law of requisite variety means that a small number of persons (for example a government), even highly skilled and informed, cannot master the variety/complexity of the system it has to govern, hence will not be able to tackle a number of situations.

BTW, France has given a lot of power to the engineers (from the "Grandes Ecoles"), with mixed results: ask Jérôme... ;-)

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 05:03:14 AM EST
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Personally I blame France's problems on (partly) substituting the political dominance of engineers by that of énarques...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 08:09:17 AM EST
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It's all De Gaulle's fault.

On with the 6th republic!

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 08:13:23 AM EST
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