Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 275. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2018-12-18 15:10:06+00:00 From: Willard McCarty
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.274: in your genes/DNA > From: Tim Smithers Dear Willard, Henry, and Darby, First, Willard, I strongly share your concern for the passiveness of many people's response to programed computers, and what we can do with these. Computation is such a wonderfully maleable, flexible, convenient, clean (in the sense of not getting your hands dirty), and inexpensive kind of stuff to make things from that I don't understand why people don't do more computational building. Much more. And it's not just Humanities people (Digital or Analogue) who display this passiveness, many engineers and scientists I know do too. Hence I strongly agree with your push for teaching programming. (And programming, not coding, as has been recently discussed here.) A place to go for this teaching of programming, which I very much like, could be Thinking as Computation: A First Course By Hector J Levesque, MIT Press (2012) https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/thinking-computation Levesque's set of slides for this course is available here: https://www.cs.toronto.edu/~hector/PublicTCSlides.pdf Today, this would be described as Old Fashioned AI, but it still provides, I think, an accessible way into computation as symbol processing, and computation as a way of recreating -- thus modelling and understanding -- kinds of thinking. And you get to learn to program in Prolog, which is not trendy, but does engender clear and useful kinds of thinking in the programmer. Second, The Motto, "Computers do what you tell them to do, not what you want them to do." A plain reading of this suggests that you cannot have a computer do what you want it to do, only what you tell it to do, and you can't tell a computer what you want it to do. This is rubbish, evidently. Of course you can tell computers to do what you want them to do. But, as often happens with tools, if you don't make the tool you want, you won't necessarily get the tool you need from someone else. Good crafts people build (and modify, and enhance, and extend, as needed) their own tools, and always have done. Good research do too, I think. The convenience and availability of computation offers an eminently viable way of building tools for ourselves. All you need is to know how to program. That, and an understanding of the value of designing and building the tools you need: designing and building the tools you need helps a lot to understand what you really want the tool to do. Best regards, Tim _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: email@example.com List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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