Engineers use the expression "signal-to-noise ratio" to describe the strength of desired traits (the signal) as measured against undesirable traits (the noise) in any context. More recently, VC (Venture Capitalists) and UI (User Interface) Designers have applied the term to all manner of things from space engineering to presentation design.
The signal-to-noise ratio is such a handy expression that I often use it in parenting to highlight how to let go of bullying/cliques in the classroom in favor of the good stuff the playground or a book may have to offer.
Underlying the signal-to-noise culture is a deep belief in optimization and the manufacture of peak experience. Is there any area of our lives untouched by this idea? No. We can become better by getting rid of what we don't want . . . Several ad campaigns quickly come to mind.
So here's what I am wondering as it relates to living: Where is the point at which augmentation of the signal actually breaks the signal itself? Are we in danger of losing essential human signals (eye contact, connectedness, intimacy, trust, love, touch, compassion, awareness) on our way to engineering the unwanted noise (slow pace, geographic separateness, the unknown, the risk, the humility, the threats) right out of our lives?
Will the signals break? They are already distorted ... or is this just evolution?