In our lives, we're constantly challenged by far more than we can fully understand. I work on complex systems for a living; my interests lie in reducing the harm those complex systems can do because we can't fully understand them. My work is with computers, but it's fascinating to look into other fields and learn from them.
This past fall I found myself feeling trapped indoors. I was living in South Korea, and for the first time in my life was forced to confront what millions -- maybe billions -- of people face every day: nearly constant, dangerous levels of air pollution.
I found myself falling into a common mental trap; I could see it in others as well. The politician's syllogism describes it well:
- We must do something
- This is something
- Therefore, we must do this.
I felt trapped and powerless; of course, I wanted to protect myself from this air pollution and keep myself healthy. So I started doing research and taking actions. I started observing what other people were doing.