Principle of Least Effort 2.0: Principle of Least Discomfort

Today I was reminded of George Kingsley Zipf’s Principle of Least Effort — and it occurred to me that this concept might need some updating.

First of all: There is a popular belief that since computational power is virtually free today, the principle of least effort remains satisfied if a computer does all of the work. I have very strong doubts about this. Even if global warming could be predicted by counting all of the blades of grass world-wide, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do so.

But perhaps more timely is this one: If someone asks you to “bend over and spread ‘em!“, that would seem to indicate that you may soon experience some discomfort. I think humans generally avoid discomfort. Some people may not care, and I would even go so far as to observe that perhaps discomfort is also in the eye of the beholder,… — but in my opinion: There are some things I would be unwilling to tolerate for a free email address or some neat-o app.

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