Feb 20, 2015

relax!

Computers aren't as evil anymore as they were in my days. You had to be a system-programmer and carry a hot soldering iron in your pocket if you wanted to change the font in a text-document. In the last millennium I was struggling to print out a report on some experiments that had not turned out well at all. I was a bit nervous as it never is a real treat to report on undeniable failure. No data. No explanations. No fame.
But it got worse.
The printer didn't like me.
With the clock ticking away it just covered page after page with astounding garble. Special characters, squares and numbers... You have seen that. That's when the fingers get sweaty and you need a new pair of socks every fifteen minutes. I kicked some boxes, replaced the printer-cable, restarted the bastard, rebooted my computer, printed again.
And the sun came out! Page after crispy page there was my report.
And after the last page, just when I collected my prose, prepared to face my master, the printer had one final message for me.
It printed a single page, covered with hearts and squares and numbers. And in the middle only three intelligible words in bold-face:

relax - do it!

And that's what I did.
Ever since.

Feb 3, 2015

Thinking? What?!

I love the folks at Edge.org - they are all hyper-smart and obviously found their dream-jobs, allowing them to muse over stuff they are interested in, add some smartisms to the debate, drink good wine - and still get paid. Where can I apply?
Edge put out the new Annual Question: "What do you think about machines that think" and got a storm of responses.
Folks, please! What do you think about your colleague who *might* think? What do you think about your boss who doesn't? Why a machine? Has anybody ever come up with an idea of what 'thinking' means - how to measure the depth, width, weight,... of thinking? Those questions allow for so much fluffy, touchy-feely response, because they entirely fail to define what you are talking about.
Of course some of the entries zoom in on Artificial Intelligence, that widely misunderstood techno-baby of the sixties.Is 'thinking' really just an advanced mode of 'computing'? Artificial Intelligence was not about Intelligence as (supposedly) engrained in humans but rather about Intelligence as source of the I in CIA and alike - and there is no pun about the absence of this in that).
Just as in the debate about consciousness, free will etc. the very base for all research or musing is missing: what exactly is the definition of what you try to investigate?
But it is entertaining to read - if there is nothing else to do.