In the technical world there is a ‘thing’ called polyglot programming.  The ideal is that no one programming language is the best tool to solve every problem in all situations.  The logic follows that programmers ideally should become fluent in a variety of programming languages to be able to chose the most suitable language to solve the problem at hand.

For example, one would tend to learn object-oriented Java to develop on many existing systems, procedural Python for Data Analysis, async JavaScript for Web and functional Scala for distributed big data processing.  In addition to knowing the syntax of various languages programmers, polyglot programmers acquire valuable knowledge, perspectives and synthesis of a variety of mental models, idioms and best practices.  The polyglot programmer is analogous to the Hollywood ‘triple threat’.

 

Hollywood Triple Triple Threats that can Sing, Dance and Act

 

Indeed, much of the recent progress made across various technologies has been a direct result of polyglot programmers and the intellectual cross-pollination they enable.  Jose Valim grafted a variety of important functionalities from other languages onto the rather special purpose Erlang/OTP platform.  This brought the power for more traditional web/application platforms to his Elixir platform which inherited the reliability and throughput of telco switches.  Chris McCord ported some of the best ideas from the Ruby/Rails world to build the impressive Phoenix web framework atop Elixir/Erlang.  Nearly every major programming language is borrowing heavily from functional programming languages like Haskell to address demands for distributed, high-throughput and more reliable software arising from big data and complex processing;l.


 

Zooming out from the narrow world of technology to society at large the same argument can be made as that for polyglot programming.  While we undoubtedly live in a world of specialists, the world is an increasingly interconnected place and the most interesting and consequential problems require more interdisciplinary teams.  For example, a generation ago healthcare innovation was rarely driven by anyone without an M.D.  Today, economists, statisticians, computer scientists, behavioral economists, ethicists and countless others have joined medical specialists in improving all aspects of medical care including prevention, management, outcomes, satisfaction and costs.

The term “polycog” stands multiple modes of cognition or way of thinking.

 


 

 

 

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