Found in 4 comments on Hacker News
avindroth · 2019-12-07 · Original thread
I am surprised this book is not mentioned. Talks about how optimization doesn't lead to optimal goals in complex environments (e.g. life).

paulbaumgart · 2019-04-10 · Original thread
This is a good book on the subject: "Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective"
pixelmonkey · 2017-12-31 · Original thread
There's an interesting book on the topic discussed in these emails, entitled "Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned":

There's a YouTube talk by the author on the subject here:

The rough idea is this:

- creativity often arises by stumbling around in a problem space, or in operating "randomly" under an artificially-imposed constraint

- modern life is obsessed with metrics and goal-setting, and this has extended into creative pursuits including science, research, and business

- sometimes, short-term focus on the goal defeats the goal-given aims (see e.g. shareholder value focus)

- the authors point out that when they were researching artificial intelligence, they discovered that systems that focused too much on an explicitly-coded "objective" would end up producing lackluster results, but systems that did more "playful" exploration within a problem space produced more creative results

- using this backdrop, the authors suggest perhaps innovation is not driven by narrowly focused heroic effort and is instead driven by serendipitous discovery and playful creativity

I found the ideas compelling, as I do find Kay's description of the "art" behind research.

sah2ed · 2016-02-12 · Original thread
The kindle version on Amazon [0] is slightly cheaper at $16.19.


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