The human brain thumb post – musings on insurance software rule engines

The human brain is a marvellous thing.

I’ve been typing a lot today, so much so that my thumb has started to hurt. So I’ll keep this short.

What amazes me is that I was able to think ‘OK, so I’ll just stop using my right thumb’ and I then continued typing for the next hour without using it, without creating loads of mistakes or even slowing down too much. How exactly?

Working on the rules engine for our insurance software today makes me appreciate just how extraordinary it is that the brain can accept rules into the subconscious and then start processing them without so much as a hickup, any formal, lengthy definition, or any forethought or planning. The rules we give our brain on a whim can cover just about anything and almost always work perfectly. In fact, we can make them work better by thinking harder: if I want to make sure I type 100% correctly without using my thumb I can do it, or I can type really fast and the rule is only loosely applied. It’s like there’s an Importance level we set for these ad-hoc rules.

They even work at times like this where they affect a completely subconscious activity like typing. Does that mean I could learn to breath differently? Probably. There are plenty of people that learn to walk in silly ways.

I’m certain that with our rules engine we need to emulate the brain; that’s our real competition, not other software systems.

Leave a Reply