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May 11th, 2020
The Lindy effect is a supposition that the future life expectancy of things like technology or ideas - things that are non-perishable, is proportional to their age. In short, things that have existed for a long time will probably continue to exist for a long time.
There is a class of situations, perspectives, or rather phenomena that inhabit a unique intersection of what appears to be lindy but is inherently perishable. They are,
Many problems are longstanding, they have existed for years, centuries and even millennia. And given this life span, it can seem as though such incidences of reality are permanent. The catch to this may in fact be the reason why the Lindy effect is observed with technologies and ideas. Such developments may be solutions to problems that existed beforehand. The Lindy effect is perhaps bolstered by the lifespan of the problem that existed before the solution in addition to the lifespan of the solution itself.
This is perhaps a transformation of the Lindy effect as opposed to a negation, but the psychological implications are far more important.
A long standing problem can feel like an immutable fact of reality, but this is an illusion. It’s a false effect of the seeming Lindyness of problems. The longevity of any given problem becomes less likely over time as problems are solved and resources and time to solve problems expand to tackle other problems. David Deutsch would likely call this The Beginning of Infinity. All problems are inherently antilindy by default because of the way we identify and interact with these phenomena. The concept of a problem is similar to a bull’s-eye. It is something we have subtly or overtly marked out for future attention, with the aim of transforming the pieces of reality involved so that the situation is better fit to our liking and well-being.
This steamrolling power of progress is extremely important to hold in mind on an individual level. It must be used as a defense and remedy for learned helplessness, an unfortunate phenomena that many people develop. Learned helplessness is when a person comes to believe they cannot do anything about a particular problem or situation, that they are in fact helpless. This tendency is likewise antilindy, a problem in it’s own right that bars an individual from dealing with other problems. But as with any problem, with enough time, attention and effort, it will yield as do other problems. Every solution and development should serve as a reminder both for the individual and the group that problems exist only as long as a solution doesn’t exist, and that there’s no downside to betting on the possible existence of a solution. The very effort itself, at the very least solves that insidious individual problem since merely trying extinguishes any helplessness we have learned.