The Parable of Metatechnology

Our own Aditya Dev Sood in The Sunday Guardian:

PM Last night I had a dream so vivid it can only be called a vision. Its specificity and purpose seem also to demand a name, and so I shall call it The Parable of Metatechnology.

I dreamt of a Hungarian technocrat and polymath from the late 1800s, whose name is too complicated to remember. He had helped design many of the bridges that crisscross the Danube, interconnecting Buda and Pest, and so creating the twin-city of Budapest. He had consulted on the design of the city's underground railway, only the second in the world after London, and the only one on the Continent. In addition to his Engineering practice, He had a scholarly career in the field of Descriptive Geometry, so he was a kind of mathematician. He was an amateur linguist, and toyed with representing sentences in a simplified code — he was a kind of programmer, long before there was something called software.

Right around the end of the ninteenth century, his milieu, the city as a whole, was trying to figure out how to advance the pace of its technological development, how to ensure that Budapest would become the center of the twentieth century. He had a vague notion, a hunch, that there might be something beyond technology, which if it could be discovered, unlocked, unleashed, could predict the now uncertain pattern of the unfolding of technology. Just as two dimensional spaces can be projected into three, and as three can be projected into four and more, perhaps a modeling of metatechnology would allow him to resolve the technology layer through which his city was passing.

He asked for funds, of course. He set up his laboratory on one of the empty hilltops across the Danube, on the Buda side. From his window, he could see the last of his bridges being completed over the glistening Danube. His bright young assistants projected each of the known sciences and applied disciplines onto the other, struggling mightily to generate a unifying theory, trying to map this new field of metatechnology.

More here.