Charles R. Twardy

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Intelligible Failure

Adam Russell created the DARPA SCORE replication project. Here he reflects on the importance of Intelligible Failure.

[Advanced Research Projects Agencies] need intelligible failure to learn from the bets they take. And that means evaluating risks taken (or not) and understanding—not merely observing—failures achieved, which requires both brains and guts. That brings me back to the hardest problem in making failure intelligible: ourselves. Perhaps the neologism we really need going forward is for intelligible failure itself—to distinguish it, as a virtue, from the kind of failure that we never want to celebrate: the unintelligible failure, immeasurable, born of sloppiness, carelessness, expediency, low standards, or incompetence, with no way to know how or even if it contributed to real progress.