Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 196.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 10:36:12 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: what if we succeeded?
I recall a story, ascribed in my memory to Tibetan sources, to the effect
that if all the names of God (mutatis mutandis) were spoken, the universe
would cease to exist. There is, I think, a science-fiction story that plays
on the same notion -- as I recall, a computer had been programmed to come
up with these names, and as it generated them the stars winked out one by one.
On this grey, overcast London morning I was thinking about tests for
creative genius, IQ and similarly computable measures when the above story
came to mind. And so the following thought experiment. Let us suppose that
we devised a test which worked; let's say it worked flawlessly. What then?
Ok -- the answer is obvious: having put the light of knowledge out we'd be
sitting in darkness, if "we" and "darkness" continued to have any meaning.
Perhaps a more interesting question is: how does such a silly enterprise as
(if you will) uttering all the names of God differ from the attempt at
technological progress? What ARE we getting at?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)20 7848 2784 fax: +44 (0)20 7848 5081
maui gratias agere
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